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The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and…
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The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty

de Daron Acemoglu (Autor)

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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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Título:The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty
Autores:Daron Acemoglu (Autor)
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The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty de Daron Acemoglu

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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 vote GShuk | Dec 25, 2019 |
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