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January 2, 2015 1:12 am

On Democratic Governance and Fukuyama

avatar by Jeremy Rosen

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The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Photo: U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Francis Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy is a follow up to his earlier The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution. For someone as jaded and mistrustful of politics, establishments, and power as I am, Fukuyama’s work is a breath of fresh air and realism. Though sadly, it gives no cause for optimism.

Fukuyama tempted fate with his The End of History and the Last Man, in which he stated that:

“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

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It is true that Communism has manifestly failed, as have the world’s dictatorships and theocracies. The proof is that so many of the people who inhabit such benighted states, even if they excoriate the decadence of Western democracies, simply cannot wait to emigrate to them. On the other hand, the financial collapses caused by the greed and incompetence of Western liberal democracies can hardly justify the claim that this is as far as we can get in improving forms of government.

Wherever you look, democracies are incompetent, corrupt, or deadlocked to the point of dysfunction. America, Britain, and Israel are all examples of states that we might love for their freedoms but at the same time are dominated by a small percentage of rich and powerful, run by bureaucracies, and hamstrung by incompetence, fraud, and vested interests. Politics is populated by ambitious, concupiscent, corrupt, ideologically straightjacketed, second-rate egos. So-called democratic systems are still full of gerrymandering, and dubious varieties of proportional representation that disenfranchise huge portions of the population or allow a minority to hold them to ransom. And politicians are generally held up to ridicule. “Don’t play politics with me” is another way of saying, “Don’t lie to me.” The result is that at each election, fewer and fewer people seem to care enough to vote.

Fukuyama identifies the essential ingredients of successful government; the State, Rule of Law, and Mechanisms of Accountability. In his analysis of systems historical and current, he identifies the examples of failure in one or more of these crucial elements. Even where the first two exist, the absence of accountability leads to decay. He writes:

“Human beings are social animals…this takes the specific form of altruism towards family and friends…it is universal to all cultures…humans are also norm creating and norm following and make possible the collective action of groups…which tend to be highly conservative and resistant to change…they start with band and tribal societies and then advance to state level societies.

“Natural human sociability is based on kin selection and reciprocal altruism, the preference for family and friends. While modern political orders seek to promote impersonal rule, elites in most societies fall back on networks of families and friends… and when they succeed are said to capture the state…which makes it less accountable”

Fukuyama qualifies his earlier writing:

“All liberal democracies are no less subject to political decay than other types of regimes. Some have argued that accountable political systems have self-correcting mechanisms to prevent decay…but there is no guarantee that this self correction will occur.”

Most significant is the replacement of nepotism or tribalism with patronage or clientelism. Patronage is usually face-to-face, whereas clientelism is more a matter of mobilizing voters and involves mass party organizations distributing favors through complex hierarchical political machines. This is so obvious nowadays in the way left-wing cabals or unions influence politicians through their numbers. Similarly the other side, the Tea Party or anti-immigration groups, mobilize the right wing. Wealthy patrons on both sides invest vast sums of money in the expectation of reciprocity. The battle lines are drawn in the West between those who apply group blackmail and those who use money and influence to countermand ideologies or policies they see as detrimental or immoral.

The United States is a dysfunctional system in which checks and balances make it all but impossible to reform taxation or immigration, let alone curb excessive expenditure. Like two aging boxers, the two sides batter each other into a state of paralysis. “Pork barrel politics” means that you can mobilize large blocks of votes; be they unions, churches, minorities, or sexes, as well as Chasidic dynasties. You can demand a quid pro quo for your support on one issue, which will often contradict your own strongly held ideals on others.

So, for example, Obama wants to help underprivileged black children but cannot support charter schools, which evidently help them, because he is in hock to the teachers’ unions who oppose them. New York City has passed a law requiring that before performing circumcision in the Chasidic manner, one must have written parental approval because of the risks of infection. But because certain Chasidic dynasties command such big blocks of votes in New York, the authorities dare not enforce the law. Similarly, a Brooklyn district attorney avoided prosecuting cases of Chasidic child abuse for fear of offending Chasidic backers. Examples such as these are replicated across the country.

The saving grace of corrupt Western liberal democracies is that there is a better chance of the common man having a say or rising to a position of influence than there is in oligarchies or dictatorships, where it is the man at the top and his cronies who make the decisions and filter out opposition. The situation in China and Russia seems to indicate that so long as people have the opportunity to better themselves financially politics matter less. It is when things turn economically for the worse that the illusion begins to crack.

The challenging question is what can be done. The obvious answer is to move to a state one thinks is less evil or corrupt than the others, or to a state with whose religious or cultural ethos one is more in tune. But this may not always be possible. The second option is to go into politics to try to change it. However, all the evidence is that such moral individuals get compromised or crushed by the system, and the party machinery always wins out – sometimes with beneficial results, sometimes not. In the end one can only try to ensure one’s own bubble is an ethical one, and to do as much good for others as one possibly can. Humans are corruptible animals, and clearly some are more corruptible than others.

Fukuyama’s analysis and scholarship are a good way to start the new civil year!

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  • De – composing of matter, derives from lack of observation, by for example in our days tool of photography where chaotic picture of civil war became an object of beauty, this was possible under scientific discovery for later on money making where human minds became been consumed by pictures forgetting men’s own image. Under these kind of mind space mental labyrinth men becomes blind when for example Mr. Fukuyama with all respect, he goes for voting Obama, and are critical to G. Bush. The funny thing is that Mr. Fukuyama does not know that Obama is a product of Bush., And yet a thinker. It is about what I’m saying, the image of man and his nature. Human will exist so long the universe exists. I don’t think that to day chaotic events are different from the previous historical once, to day events has a larger shape, a global one, more complex and in the same time man is more able to protect values where the destructive man is attacked by his own mind living in a mental close labyrinth of made man image.

  • “Natural human sociability is based on kin selection and reciprocal altruism, the preference for family and friends. While modern political orders seek to promote impersonal rule, elites in most societies fall back on networks of families and friends… and when they succeed are said to capture the state…which makes it less accountable.
    It is like a painting I did intuitively named “The birth of Death”

    I understand the cause of Fukuyama been disillusioned by Roland Barthes and Jacque Derrida. Man can not knock down something already broken! Mr. Fukuyama goes on life circle from Japan to western culture and back to perhaps Japan culture roots which is a fact about what does happen to a man which his parents did move from Japan to USA. I mean the image of man and his natural nature been detached by war been forced to move to another country.

    • Jeremy Rosen

      Yes we are born to die
      Beauty to decay
      And humans to ruin everything they lay their hands on!

  • “Natural human sociability is based on kin selection and reciprocal altruism, the preference for family and friends. While modern political orders seek to promote impersonal rule, elites in most societies fall back on networks of families and friends… and when they succeed are said to capture the state…which makes it less accountable.
    It is like a painting I did intuitively named “The birth of Death”

    I understand the cause of Fukuyama been disillusioned by Roland Barthes and Jacque Derrida. Man can not knock down something already broken! Mr. Yokohama goes on life circle from Japan to western culture and back to perhaps Japan culture roots which is a fact about what does happen to a man which his parents did move from Japan to USA. I mean the image of man and his natural nature been detached by war been forced to move to another country.

  • Lets make it simple, I our day any political system can succeed only when the masses minds is correctly informed on life values, life values is directly related to mans culture and nature forces which man does belong to. I do not mean directly religious, political or social life values, but life values which derives from the understanding of mans image and his nature which can be also social, religious and political . Mean the majority of the masses. There is always individuals who do suffers because their minds and bodies are rejected by the nature forced they do and did live in it and were not aware of! How many religious people and individuals did when mad in cities which has nothing to do with politics? For example how can a man as the German philosopher Nietzsche write about the superman when been scared to hell seeing blood, a paradox which does split men’s mind and of course does influence the masses minds. Therefore illusion which did harm millions of people, I guess some of those individuals who did writes about politics were not in balance with there own nature, they perhaps enjoyed to watch nature been lost in it. When man moves to other lands country culture man mostly live in bobble thoughts. I’m thinking about it. In fact man is lucky by chance to live in harmony with him self when living in a country where nature forces round him are perfectly in harmony whit his mind and body no mater which political system is. To be positive is that mans sees the whole and according to it, man has a chose not only by intellectual thoughts but also by life experiences that derives from living in other countries. It is difficult to judge others until man is in other life situation. It is about man ability to communicate been trusted, trust come with mans behavior and action which is in the interest of the whole no matter which political system mans lives in. Political system can rapidly change not by will to change it, but by the understanding of what comes first. Peace among man! Respect! I have seen man made to became slaves living in a mental close labyrinth. I was claimed anti – Palestinian in Norway, an act against civilization. An act under staged fake event! This fake event I must react to it according to what it deserves! It is better to be poor and free man than having a lot of money for a life which has no meaning! A better political system is the understanding that not all people can be rich or poor, man understand to deserve to be happy in civilized poverty where there is an understanding of what man does for living. Not to rob others, no to stage fake events. In this life understanding even when things turn economically bad man surly is prepared to it and willing to go trough it with dignity. It is all about mind and matter.

  • Lets make it simple, I our day any political system can succeed only when the masses minds is correctly informed on life values, life values is directly related to mans culture and nature forces which man does belong to. I do not mean directly religious, political or social life values, but life values which derives from understanding of mans image and his nature which can be also social, religious and political. Mean the majority of the masses. There is always individuals who do suffers because their minds and bodies are rejected by the nature forced they do and did live in it and were not aware of! How many religious people and individuals did when mad in cities which has nothing to do with politics? For example how can a man as the German philosopher Nietzsche write about the superman when been scared to hell seeing blood, a paradox which does split men’s mind and of course does influence the masses minds. Therefore illusion which did harm millions of people, I guess some of those individuals who did writes about politics were not in balance with there own nature, they perhaps enjoyed to watch nature been lost in it. When man moves to other land culture man mostly live in bobble thoughts. I’m thinking about. In fact man is lucky by chance to live in harmony with him self when living in a country where nature forces round him are perfectly in harmony whit his mind and body no mater which political system is. To be positive is that mans sees the whole and according to it, man has a chose not only by intellectual thought but also by life experiences who derives from living in other countries. It is difficult to judge others until man is in other life situation. It is about man ability to communicate been trusted, trust come with mans behavior and action which is in the interest of the whole no mater which political system mans lives in. Political system can rapidly change not by will to change it, but by understanding what comes first. Peace among man! Respect! I have seen man made to became slaves living in a mental close labyrinth. I was claimed anti – Palestinian in Norway, an act against civilization. An act under staged fake event! This fake event I must react to it according to what it deserves! It is better to be poor and free man than having a lot of money for a life which has no meaning! A better political system is the understanding that not all people can be rich or poor, man understand to deserve to be happy in civilized poverty where there is an understanding of what man does for living. Not to rob others, no to stage fake events. In this life understanding even when things turn economically bad man surly is prepared to it and willing to go trough it with dignity.

  • Reform School

    As General [and later President] George Washington warned in his Farewell Address to the fledgling republic, its Constitution was not designed to co-exist with ‘Factions’ (he colonial term for ‘Political Parties.’

    Please phoneticize Francis’ surname.Watch your French!

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