Just finished Francis Fukuyama’s Origins of Political Order. Phew! Only four hundred and eighty-three pages, but it seemed longer. And there’s a second volume. Fortunately, Volume II is not yet in print, so for now I don’t have to even think about reading that.
But despite dreary chapters that read like lectures hastily prepared from a mass of ill-digested data, the Origins, has great merits including that of examining human social development in a Darwinian context. Such an approach permits consideration of the biological consequences of human emotion and belief, without regard for their intellectual merit or factual veracity (Richard Dawkins take note). The result is a plausible account of the universality of religious belief, whether ancestor worship, the religions of the Book, Hinduism, Buddhism, Communism or political correctness.
Religion, Fukuyama argues, arises from the innate human propensity to follow rules and to invest those rules with powerful emotional significance. As a consequence, individuals can anticipate the moral behavior of unknown members of their faith community. It was thus that religion made possible the transition of human society from family bands, in which cooperation is based on personal knowledge of every community member, to larger groups where the good faith of others must usually be taken on trust.
But communities differ greatly in their religious beliefs and hence in the form that society takes, as Fukuyama illustrates by examining social development under the influence of Brahmanistic religion in India, Christianity in Europe, and Islam in the Middle East and Mediterranean World.
In all cases, Fukuyama argues, religion embodied in institutions independent of the state gave rise to the rule of law, a notion of justice to which even the highest political authority is obliged to defer. Moreover, he asserts, the tension thus created between rulers and ruled gave rise to demands for responsible, which is to say representative, government. In China, in contrast with the other civilization examined, religious authorities independent of the state never arose, neither therefore, did either the rule of law or representative government.
That the governed should demand a say in government is in no way remarkable. Rather, what is remarkable is that a government with the power of the police and military at its command should concede to the demand for public representation in government. To explain the transition Fukuyama considers the case of England where representative government first emerged in a powerful state. There, he says, it was the absolutist inclination of the Stuart monarchs and their desire to restore the Catholic church in England to the control of the Pope that provoked first the civil war and then the “Glorious” revolution.
This, however, is a remarkably defective account. Both Charles I and James II wished to rule, as did their continental counterparts, unobstructed by Parliaments and able to impose Papal control over heretical protestants. That Charles I lost his head and James II lost his nerve and fled the country was not due to the peculiar strength of popular demand in England, but to the existence of the English Channel, which spared England the need of a standing army. Instead, England’s security rested on a powerful navy, a useless instrument for the suppression of civil unrest.
Thus, when the armed struggle broke out between the Royalist forces on the one hand and the country gentlemen and city merchants who made up the representatives in the House of Commons on the other hand, the Parliamentary forces were in a fight with a chance to win. But even then it was a chancy and long-drawn-out struggle that succeeded only due to the military genius of Oliver Cromwell, the pusillanimity of James II, and the devious plotting of the Duke of Malborough and others who negotiated a new constitutional settlement with the Dutch Prince William of Orange, crowned William III of England.
Thus, Fukuyama’s idea that the emergence of the rule of law leads in one way or another automatically to the emergence of responsible parliamentary government is simply wrong. Rather, responsible government is weak government that needs the moral sanction of the population at large in order to function. This is consistent with the development of democracy in England during the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries when governments needed to deploy huge armies of relatively unskilled soldiers equipped with cheap easily obtainable weapons in the contest for imperial expansion. Under those circumstances, to rule without even a perfunctory acknowledgment of the rights of the masses, was hazardous, as the Russian revolution proved.
Curiously, Fukuyama seems not to have read key works relating to what he considers a critical transformation in the emergence of the modern liberal democratic state: specifically, Thomas Macaulay’s five volume History of England Since the Accession of James the Second, which is in fact, not a history of England but a hugely detailed account of the so-called Glorious Revolution that resulted in the supremacy of the English Parliament over the power of the crown.
I assert Fukuyama cannot have read Macaulay’s great work because in his only reference to Macaulay, he bizarrely describes him as “a politician and poet,” which is an absurd way to describe the greatest political writer of the Nineteenth Century. True, Macaulay was in Parliament briefly and was at one time referred to as a possible future Prime Minister. But Macaulay abandoned politics after only a brief stint in Parliament for the well-paid position as legal council to the first Governor General of India, an opportunity he seized as it enabled him to provide finanancial aid to his bankrupt father and four unmarried sisters.
It was in the capacity of a servant of the Imperial Government of India that Macaulay drafted his famous Minute on Indian Education that set India on the path to modernization and independence. On returning to England, Macaulay devoted himself to literature becoming, due to the success of the History of England, the World’s first literary millionaire.
Fukuyama seems also to be unaware of the works of Carrol Quigley, Bill Clinton’s admired Georgetown University history mentor whose sweeping history of the world, Tragedy and Hope, offers a much more plausible account than Fukuyama’s of the emergence of democracy in the modern world. Even stranger, Fukuyama seems unacquainted with Quigley’s fascinating book the Evolution of Civilizations, which is directly within Fukuyama’s field of specialization.
But then Fukuyama is as much a professional “nation-builder”, think tanker, US State Department asset, and foot soldier for the New World Order as a scholar. And we know that the US State Department is much influenced by the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank established with JP Morgan funding, in coordination with Britain’s Round Table group, a creation of Cecil Rhodes secret society for global empire, of which Quigley became the official historian. Thus the seeming dissimulation about people and events in history raises interesting questions.
To some, Fukuyama’s most famous work, The End of History, reveals the naiveté and undue optimism of the Western world during the 1990s, in thinking that the end of the Cold War also represented the end of major global conflict. But it could be seen rather differently, as a historicist work of propaganda, the message of which could be translated as: “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated by Western, liberal democracy.” The Origins of Political Order could be interpreted the same way.
A chilling implication of that assumption is that Fukuyama’s penetrating insight into social development is precisely the knowledge required by those intent on building a global civilization, aka, the New World Order, based on the religion of political correctness and governed by a plutocratic oligarchy from whom attention is distracted by a pseudo-democratic charade.