The Origins of Political Order Book Summary - The Origins of Political Order Book explained in key points

The Origins of Political Order summary

Francis Fukuyama

From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution

4.4 (44 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

'The Origins of Political Order' by Francis Fukuyama offers a comprehensive analysis of political developments worldwide. It covers the emergence of states and institutions, and explains the role of religion and culture in shaping political order.

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    The Origins of Political Order
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    Humans are social creatures who naturally seek to be part of a group.

    How can we make sense of our evolution? Our progression from hunter-gatherers to life in today’s complex, organized societies has been so vast it seems to defy comprehension.

    We must first understand that we’re social creatures. We thrive by cooperating with our family and others around us.

    Our natural sociability derives from our kin selection, whereby we help others according to the percentage of genes we share with them. People help their siblings more than their cousins, for example. We share 50 percent of our genes with siblings, but just over ten percent with cousins, and obviously we are less inclined to help those who aren’t blood relatives.

    Reciprocal altruism also shapes our social natures. It means that, beyond the bounds of kinship, we’re kind to people who’ve been kind to us in the past. In the classic game theory experiment, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, two players choose to either cooperate with one another or sell each other down the river. In repeated rounds, players always help those who have cooperated in the past instead of those who have previously betrayed them. If family comes first, friends are a close second.

    We also naturally conform to the rules of groups we belong to, because we want to be accepted. This process is quite nuanced, because of our high intelligence as a species.

    We developed abstract thinking as our brains became more and more complex. We created theories about our world to give us a sense of control and understanding.

    This fostered the creation of transcendent beliefs and religion, which helped make our social groups more cohesive still and gave us something to live for. We didn’t just seek material resources, but social status as well.

    Eventually, these changes led to the development of politics. Different social groups with separate gods, flags or races fought to assert their place in the world. These bonded groups can be powerfully enduring. Group identity is still very important to us – we are biologically inclined toward it.

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    What is The Origins of Political Order about?

    In The Origins of Political Order, Francis Fukuyama delves into the history of modern state-building. Instead of focusing on Ancient Greece or Rome like many earlier scholars, he traces political histories in China, India, the Middle East and Europe. Using a comparative approach, Fukuyama explains how diverse political and social environments allowed Europe to develop many different political systems.

    The Origins of Political Order Review

    The Origins of Political Order (2011) is a captivating exploration of the origins and evolution of political institutions. Here's why this book deserves a spot on your reading list:

    • It offers deep insights into how political order emerges and evolves, providing a comprehensive understanding of the foundation of societies.
    • With its meticulous research, the book presents a wealth of historical examples and comparative analysis, making the content rich, informative, and thought-provoking.
    • The author's clear and articulate writing style ensures that the wealth of information is accessible and engaging, making it a page-turner rather than a dry academic text.

    Best quote from The Origins of Political Order

    Fact: According to DNA testing, an estimated eight percent of present-day males in a very large region of Asia are thought to be descended from Genghis Khan.

    —Francis Fukuyama
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    Who should read The Origins of Political Order?

    • Anyone interested in history
    • Anyone interested in politics or international relations
    • Anyone curious about the role of human biology in history

    About the Author

    Francis Fukuyama is a world-renowned historian and philosopher. He is especially well-known for his 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man, in which he argued that liberal democracy represented the end of political evolution – a thesis he has since revised. Fukuyama is currently a senior fellow at Stanford, and he’s lectured at John Hopkins, George Mason and many other top universities. He’s also completed research for the RAND corporation and the US State Department.

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    The Origins of Political Order FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Origins of Political Order?

    The Origins of Political Order explores the conditions necessary for the development of successful political institutions.

    How long does it take to read The Origins of Political Order?

    Reading time for The Origins of Political Order varies. The Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is The Origins of Political Order a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Origins of Political Order is worth reading as it sheds light on the origins and evolution of political systems.

    Who is the author of The Origins of Political Order?

    The author of The Origins of Political Order is Francis Fukuyama.