Someone like Polanyi would no doubt not agree. And what about India, with its own long and varied history? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Nor do these categories allow the authors to escape the chicken-and-egg conundrum: as they amply demonstrate, good institutions certainly foster prosperity, but why are the institutions good in the first place? Inside this Instaread Summary of Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. And there is the example of a resurgent China. For me the accumulation process is primary; the entrepreneur falls in with it and plays a part in it. The authors also argue that growth under extractive institutions is possible. They fail when those state-run institutions break down.
The authors also gloss over other exceptions to Free Market dogmatism. It seems they would lay the occurrence of all those events at the feet of inclusivity. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories. Mexico was the first to be colonised, under a system of slavery and extraction. So this is the latest in a long line of works by the likes of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Ludwig Von Mises, Frederick Hayek, Milton Friedman, Mancur Olsen, and Francis Fukuyama. Also signficant is that, following Colonialism and the discovery of diamonds, the Tswana chiefs passed a law that all diamond wealth was to be national property, rather than giving the rights to individuals or Corporations like neoliberals would claim should be done, and like what happened in Sierra Leone.
A very tight group of elites created and maintain an excellent, stable society that benefits everyone, and not just the few. These policies give a political voice to a large segment of the population, rather than only to a small elite. Even within the focus on institutions, the concentration specifically on inclusive institutions causes the authors to give inadequate accounts of the ways that natural resources can be a curse. But the book falters by overreaching and by arguing that differences in development progress are due exclusively to institutions. No matter, however, because the country has turned to children to harvest the cotton, and every September-November the schools are emptied of approx. If, that is, we haven't already passed the ecological tipping point.
This brief summary gives a detailed overview of the book, section by section, and can be read in less than 15 minutes. Also, sometimes the sentence constructions are a bit awkward. Nevertheless, the book gives some fascinating insights into political science, and why nations become progressive, or tend toward failure. The core theme here is not new: sustained prosperity arises where there is pluralistic government under the rule of law. We don't really know what causes the form encountered, nor what might cause a change of form.
I would give it 5 stars except it is very long, detailed, and not an easy read. This kind of irony is well over the heads of our authors. The long agony of the Congo The Congo has not developed since independence because it has not been in the interests of the ruling elite to build a centralised state which includes all voices, or in their interests to use the state to provide public services which will benefit the masses — instead the institutions remain extractive. For instance, Acemoglu and Robinson try to dismiss Jared Diamond's wonderful look at the impact of biology and geography on history, Guns, Germs and Steel, ignoring what the book actually says. In the cases of Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone this led to total state failure and economic stagnation.
This is an excellent book about the reasons why some nations are prosperous, while others are steeped in poverty. The rest of the world passes it up, or in some cases the country descends into ruin. Colonial regimes serve as an example, as well as aristocratic, dictatorial, or otherwise authoritarian regimes. A lot of people will be threatened by this book and they will nibble and nitpick at it in the way creationists attack evolution. Even while they are still alive, workers in the tropics are often sick and unable to work.
But that's unlikely, isnt it? That is the very basic summary of Why Nations Fail --- and the authors do a great and, yes, detailed job of illustrating these two systems in multitudes of nations over many centuries. But they're not the only reason why some countries are poor and some rich. The Party still holds its fist over every important enterprise, and every entrepreneur still needs party permission and support to succeed. I would argue that the Glorious Revolution could not have occurred without the scientific and philosophical progress that was occurring and accumulating at the time. Building a vote-winning political party is hard work—and work that carries few guarantees of success in advance. The most common reasons nations fail today is because they have extractive institutions — and Zimbabwe illustrates the economic and social consequences of these…. But this does not mean that institutional dynamics are simply random; our book explains how institutional variation today is largely a systematic outcome of historical processes, and how these processes can be studied, revealing, for example, why Europe, the United States, and Australia are richer than the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
I also felt that many of the examples they gave were anecdotal which I suppose is the nature of these types of books and perhaps even extreme situations that exemplified their theory. This virtuous cycle helps to accelerate the tendencies toward inclusivenes This is an excellent book about the reasons why some nations are prosperous, while others are steeped in poverty. I find this to be a compelling theory and I think it is an extremely useful framework from which to view economic and political development. After these interesting concepts, the rest of the book is devoted to examples, from Ancient Rome to Axum to Uzbekistan. The rejoinder is straightforward: if you disagree, produce your own historical chronicle impeaching this one. A very thought provoking book on the causes of poverty and wealth among nations. It is politics, not any of those other things, that is decisive.