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THE Origins of Political Order

By Francis Fukuyama

Fukuyama is best known for the international sensation caused by the publication of his book The End of History and the Last Man. His thesis ignited a global debate: "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the cold war, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the endpoint of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

In the 20 years since, Fukuyama has qualified his argument, but he has not abandoned it. In The Origins of Political Order, the first of a projected two volumes, he writes: "Alexandre Kojeve, the great Russian-French interpreter of Hegel, argued that history as such had ended in the year 1806 with the Battle of Jena-Auerstadt, when Napoleon defeated the Prussian monarchy and brought the principles of liberty and equality to Hegel's part of Europe." And he continues: "I believe that Kojeve's assertion still deserves to be taken seriously. The three components of a modern political order - a strong and capable state, the state's subordination to a rule of law and government accountability to all citizens - had all been established in one or another part of the world by the end of the 18th century."

By chance, these three elements were united for the first time in Britain, although other northwestern European countries that were influenced by the Reformation, like the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, "also succeeded in putting together the state, rule of law and accountability in a single package by the 19th century." But before their combination in Britain and its neighbors at the time of the industrial and democratic revolutions, the three elements of modern political order had evolved separately in different premodern civilizations: "China had developed a powerful state early on; the rule of law existed in India, the Middle East and Europe; and in Britain, accountable government appeared for the first time."

Most of The Origins of Political Order is devoted to telling the story of how the state, the rule of law and accountability happened to evolve independently in different societies, before their combination in 18th-century Britain

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