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Kapea käytävä : valtiot, yhteiskunnat ja vapauden kohtalo (2019)

Tekijä: Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson

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"A crucial new big-picture framework that answers the question of how liberty flourishes in some states but falls to authoritarianism or anarchy in others--and explains how it can continue to thrive despite new threats"--

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In “The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty,” authors Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson assemble an astounding collection of political histories to persuade us that to survive in our age political liberty requires a strong state and a citizenry engaged in politics.

And they almost have me convinced.

They not only employ the histories of states who have significant liberties built into their systems, but many states who do not, and a few who seem to be on the way.

They show how China is a tyranny today and why it got that way. They show how Argentina’s and Columbia’s bureaucracies and Lebanon’s Parliament do their best at sitting on their hands.

And they develop a convincing argument that societies with roots in community discussion and debate lay the groundwork for freedom-loving democracies in Europe, America, and Africa.

I can hear the howls of the American Right complaining that government is just too big for its own good, and the Brexiters saying that Bruxelles was just one government too many.

Acemoglu and Robinson lost me a little bit when they claimed that what societies need is more higher education and an acknowledgement from the people that mass surveillance is really in their own best interests.

Excuse me if I lean on Yuval Harari a little bit, but machines are telling us over and over today that there really is a finite limit to the productivity of humans, no matter how much education you pile on them.

That political compromise is anathema to the new politics and that there is so much inertia built into government today that we are piling laws on top of laws that nobody really care a damn about.

As I sit here today waiting out a global pandemic just to begin thinking about climate change once again, I am wondering where is the political will to save us from ourselves.

The authors write a peon to bills of rights, but nowhere do they acknowledge that rights have no benefit without equal and opposite obligations to the body politic. That political discourse on its own doesn’t make people put up or shut up.

That political mobilization makes little sense in a place like America where more believe in fairy tales than science. Present administrations NOT EXCEPTED!

Do we believe in a fair wage economy? Not unless you believe that the care of children, and the sick, and elderly at home account for no economic value to society. Not in our liberal states and not in our illiberal states.

Our liberal states continue to be extractive in the literal as well as metaphorical sense. And we haven’t figured a way out of the extractive logic. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
This book has a lot of breadth but lacks depth. I've spent a lot of time reading books about how power is organized and controlled in different societies, both contemporary and historical. That's precisely the topic of this book, and the authors go through a multitude of example cases which show great variety, ranging from very recent political events to ethnographic studies and historical societies. I therefore enjoyed reading this book. I checked the bibliography for interesting references and it is not out of the question that I might read the book again just for the sake of repetition.

But a book which presents lots of examples obviously needs an overarching theory to put them in some kind of context because case studies have to exemplify something. The theory needs to connect a few dots in a logical manner and explain at least some aspect of each case with reference to a general framework. This book does contain such a theory, but it is a bit shallow. The authors draw a graph which shows "the power of society" on the x-axis and "the power of the state" on the y-axis. Then they contend that the political system of a society (which they call the Leviathan) is (A) despotic if y is much greater than x, (B) absent if x is much greater than y, and (C) shackled if x is approximately equal to y but neither x nor y is very small (a Paper Leviathan is also presented as a fourth special case). Option C is the narrow corridor which gives the book its name - a state which is powerful enough to provide liberty, yet constrained enough that liberty cannot be easily extinguished. The authors present lots of examples of societies that are in the corridor or on either side of it, others that used to be in the corridor but moved out of it, and yet others that were outside of the corridor but moved into it.

So far so good. But much more explanation would have been needed to explain what the authors actually mean by the "power of society". It's obviously a counterweight to the institutions of the state, but the authors do not categorize different manifestations of this power. It's easy to say that every example of a good society is one where the power of the state is restricted, and all examples of Despotic and Absent Leviathans are ones where that power is too large or too small. But so many different examples of "power of society" are discussed in the case studies that it's not clear what they supposedly have in common. Instead of explaining what they mean, the authors far too often just discuss something they call the "Red Queen effect". As far as I could see, this term is defined only on page 41 of my paperback where the authors refer to a children's book about a red queen and write that "the Red Queen effect refers to a situation where you have to keep on running just to maintain your position, like the state and society running fast to maintain the balance between them". Aha... after reading the entire book, I can only conclude that the author's theory is faulty, and that they just decided to patch up the biggest hole with this Red Queen joke.

Nevertheless, the authors are good writers and have clearly spent decades studying how politics and power work. They are also well-read in history, ethnography and modern politics, so you should read this book if you're interested in how societies have been organized and how they should preferably be organized.
  thcson | Sep 22, 2022 |
Excellent read. As in their previous book, Acemoglu and Robinson posit a model - more refined and sophisticated than the previous one, and subsequently set out on a journey through time and across different geographies to explain instances which underpin (though this is insufficient to prove or disprove) their model for moving into an equilibrium between a strong state vs a free society. Would have deserved 5 stars had the book not run out of anything new and interesting to say before the final two chapters, which made it more of a painful slug towards the end rather than an interesting read. Remove the last 80 pages and you've got yourself a great book. ( )
  Herculean_Librarian | Sep 10, 2022 |
The breadth of historical examples was overwhelming for me. The examples themselves are often difficult to convincingly tie to the theme of a "narrow corridor" of development between the powers of society and state, and go beyond my background and interest.

> While during the Bronze Age the metal of choice for weapons was bronze, by the eighth century BCE, iron had supplanted it. Bronze weapons were expensive and hence the natural monopoly of the elite. Iron weapons, on the other hand, were much cheaper and "democratized warfare," in the words of the archaeologist V. Gordon Childe. In particular, they led to the famous hoplites, the heavily armed Greek citizen-soldiers, who could fight not just other city-states and the Persians but also overeager elites.

> two variables. The first is how powerful a society is in terms of its norms, practices, and institutions, especially when it comes to acting collectively, coordinating its actions, and constraining political hierarchy. This variable, shown on the horizontal axis, thus combines society’s general mobilization, its institutional power, and its ability to control hierarchy via norms, as among the Tiv. The second is the power of the state. This variable is shown on the vertical axis and similarly combines several aspects including the power of political and economic elites and the capacity and power of state institutions.

> the arrow inside the corridor is heading toward higher levels of state capacity than the Despotic Leviathan is achieving … This is because China doesn't have a robust society to push it, cooperate with it, or contest its power. Without this balance of power between state and society, the Red Queen effect doesn't come into play and the Leviathan ends up with less capacity.

> in addition to all the required labor services, the average farmer was passing on a massive two-thirds of all of the output he produced to the king and the different chiefs. This extractive system culminated in the Great Mahele of 1848, when King Kamehameha III decided on the radical distribution of lands we mentioned above. The outcome of this was that 24 percent of the islands' lands were taken as private property by the king. A further 36 percent went to the government—again, in effect, to the king. A further 39 percent went to 252 chiefs, leaving less than 1 percent for the rest of the population.

> you could give politicians that were too big for their britches a "bad name"—literally. Take the Milanese Girardo Cagapisto, who was consul fourteen times in Milan between 1141 and 1180. His name begins with the word caga, or caca, meaning "shit." Cagapisto means "shit pesto," as in the Italian pasta sauce.

> All of this trade needed advanced accounting practices. It's not a coincidence that it was an Italian from Pisa, Leonardo Fibonacci, who revolutionized accounting by adapting the Arabic numerical system in 1202. This made financial calculations much more straightforward. By the middle of the fourteenth century, double-entry bookkeeping appeared in Italy

> William removed the legal right of vengeance and continually attempted to discourage kin groups and clans from dispensing justice themselves and engaging in feud and vendetta. A consequence was the disintegration of kin relations.

> state institutions from the Roman Empire and participatory norms and institutions from Germanic tribes. Neither was sufficient by itself to bring forth the Shackled Leviathan. When only the former blade was present, as in Byzantium, a typical Despotic Leviathan emerged. When only the latter blade was present, as in Iceland, there was little political development and no state building

> the Tangs owned lineage land collectively and have ancestral halls and temples where they honor the Tang ancestors through rituals and ceremonies. In one county in Guangdong Province, close to the New Territories, lineage groups owned 60 percent of total land before the Communist revolution. In another Guangdong county the proportion was 30 percent. Lineages were not therefore just a group of individuals, they were organized corporatively, and these institutions, their halls and lands, have a deep history in China. Lineages imposed their own rules and tight norms. They dealt with disputes and disagreements. They were in turn fostered and encouraged by the Chinese state because they were deemed to be useful for controlling society and managing disputes, especially given how thin on the ground magistrates were and their limited ability to govern society, resolve conflicts, or provide basic services

> The South that Redemption created persisted right up to the 1960s. A major disruption came with the appointment of Earl Warren to the Supreme Court in 1953 just as the civil rights movement was gathering momentum. Warren decided that the Constitution had to adapt to changing circumstances, and there was a majority of like-minded justices on the court. They decided that many of the police actions being used in Southern states to repress and harass civil rights activists were unconstitutional, police power or no police power. ( )
  breic | Jan 29, 2021 |
Long and hard to keep focused on. It was not a page turner, however it was worth the pain for insights about why some countries become democracies while others do not. It also gives a different view of history. Worth reading a second time. ( )
1 ääni GShuk | Dec 25, 2019 |
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Acemoglu, Daronensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Robinson, James A.päätekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Pietiläinen, KimmoKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
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