Book Review

The origins of political order by Francis Fukuyama

“Human beings never existed in a pre-­social state. The idea that human beings at one time existed as isolated individuals is not correct.”

I read this book back in 2013 a couple of years after it was released.

This is not a random book that fades away a few years later. Not only because it won the New York Times Notable Book for 2011, the Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year and the Kirkus Reviews Best non-fiction all in the same year.

The author succeeds in analyzing the development of nowadays-political institutions. Fukuyama goes back to our ancestors to understand the origins of political order. He tells stories of tribes; and how the first societies were born covering China, India, Europe, and the Middle East.

The book may seem like a pure political science one. Yet it covers an array of interdependent themes such as history, biology, and economics.

“It is impossible to develop any meaningful theory of political development without treating ideas as fundamental causes of why societies differ and follow distinct development paths.”

I easily qualify this book as provocative. I also wonder why it refers to political order whereby the author asks questions primarily to demonstrate political disorder. Fukuyama seems, in fact, more interested in the ways societies fail to achieve political order than in the ways they succeed.

This book is both rigorous and readable. It conveys silent messages through stories about the evolution of democratic societies.

 “Religion can never be explained simply by reference to prior material conditions.”

One of my favorite reviews of this book appeared in the Independent. You would read across reviews a number of (overly) critical thoughts. I do agree with a few. However, the purpose of this review is to shed light on the genius of Fukuyama and his audacity. Even when accused of determinism by some critics, Fukuyama focuses in his book on the role of contingency and he oftentimes refers to the origins of political institutions of today’s word as “context-specific”.

I have not (yet) read other books for Fukuyama. Still I was curious about his views and statements since 2006. This comes along his advisory role to Muammar Gaddafi as part of the Monitor Group (consultancy firm acquired later on by Deloitte – one of my employers). In 2008, I was delighted that he endorsed Barack Obama for the elections.

I am far from being a political scientist. But Fukuyama is one that makes it accessible.

Who should read this book: Those who want to understand the evolution of political societies

Why you should read this book: To learn about the source of today’s modern democratic institutions

Book genre: Non-fiction, history, political science

Rating by Stylo à Bille

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