The Balance of Power: The Race between State and ?· 1 The Balance of Power: The Race between State…

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    The Balance of Power: The Race between State and Society

    By Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

    In contrast to many leading theories, very different types of states and associated state-society relations

    emerge and endure under similar circumstances, but with far-reaching consequences for the prosperity,

    welfare and security of citizens. Specifically, historical and political dynamics tend to push societies

    towards one of four model types of states: an Absent Leviathan, essentially corresponding to a society

    without an effective state that can resolve conflicts, coordinate actions or provide public services; a

    Paper Leviathan, where the state has the power to repress society in certain domains, but lacks the

    capacity to resolve conflicts or provide public services; a Despotic Leviathan, which has the capacity to

    both repress and provide public services, but tends to use its capacity much more to repress than to

    deal with problems paramount to citizens lives and provide public services they do not want or value;

    and finally a Shackled Leviathan, which has the capacity to resolve conflicts and provide public services,

    but is constantly checked and challenged ---shackled--- by society. It is the Shackled Leviathan that

    underpins many dimensions of human progress, including the ability of most people to achieve greater

    prosperity and security and live without constant fear of violence, bullying and intimidation from others.

    Perhaps paradoxically, we show that the emergence of a capable state as epitomized by the Shackled

    Leviathan necessitates not the ability of the state and political actors controlling it to dominate the rest

    of society (as many social scientists have argued) but a powerful society to compete against, threaten

    and constrain the state. In fact, we argue that the path in which the state and society to gain greater

    capacity in a perpetual race with each other, which we call the Red Queen effect, is central to both to

    the fundamental contribution of capable states to human met welfare and to the development of an

    assertive, mobile and active society.

    Finally, we delineate the economic, technological and political factors tend to locate countries in the

    basins of attraction of different Leviathans, thus influencing whether certain historical early conditions

    will take us towards one type or another of state-society relations.

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