Francis Fukuyama and the Origins of Political Order and the State: A Historical Critique



This essay examines the model of state development put forward by Francis Fukuyama in his book, The Origins of Political Order. It argues that the evolutionary model used by Fukuyama experiences problems when it comes to dealing with specific historical examples. Its emphasis on the Qin state as the “first modern state” places an excessive emphasis on coercion and violence as the basis of the state. It attempts to relegate Rome to being equivalent to a chiefdom to fit it into his model whereas in reality Rome evolved differently to China and relied much more on cooperation and networks. England after 1688 provides another example of how Fukuyama's model is deficient. On this basis the paper argues that a universal evolutionary model is insufficient to explain political development and it is more appropriate to begin analysis with real political societies.