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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Liveblogging The Origins of Political Order

I have previously protested the abuse of the word "statist" by some libertarians. Here is why it is good not to abuse it: when you find someone who genuinely is a statist (in the sense that Mises, say, used the term), you will not have a way to describe his position.

I happen to have come to believe that the state is what we got now, and what we're likely to be stuck with for some time to come, so we'd better make the best of it. But some people really do see the state as a telos (or perhaps the telos) of history. Take our current specimen under examination, Dr. Fukuyama. His first chapter on India is called "The Indian Detour": it is a "detour" because they didn't form a state. A period of small, competing states is termed "another period of political decay" (p. 184). The Muslim empire in India was deficient because "their state too was limited in its ability to shape Indian society" (p. 185). China had a "superior level of political development" to India's, because they had formed a "true" state (p. 182). Southern Indian history around the first century BC is "rather unedifying to study, since it is hard to place into a larger narrative of political development" (p. 183), in other words, there is no sense studying them: they weren't forming states! When discussing the Han formation of what he considers a true, modern state, he writes, "This was a remarkable political achievement, but one that was not, unfortunately, fated to last" (p. 138).

OK, folks, that's a statist.

2 comments:

  1. yay I came to that conclusion about Fukuyama before you did!

    You will find that almost all historians think in a very very similar way ( the funniest parts are when they talk about something like "the germans" and "germany" as if those were actual things before they actually became things ), and can, in fact, aptly be described as statists.

    They all drool over "unification" and admire the strength of "empires" or "the old republic" or "kingdoms". Its the only way they can think about things, its bizzare.

    Although I agree with you that libertarian word warriors over use the term "statist". It almost sounds like "racist" to me and I do not care for either term.

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  2. "yay I came to that conclusion about Fukuyama before you did!"

    Very good, Avram. You win a set of ginsu knives.

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