4 comments on “Political Order and Political Decay

  1. [if China] had faced a serious risk of being conquered in the 17th and 18th centuries

    That is an odd thing to say when China spent most of the 17th century actually being conquered. Of course, that meant that the Qing were arrogant in the 18th century.

    bureaucracies caring about their long-term revenue source, when individual politicians don’t hold power long enough to care about the long term

    Do you anthropomorphize bureaucracies? If you can usefully think about them as coherent agents, you should elaborate.

    But maybe you just mean the incentives of the individual bureaucrats. But then I am concerned about the factual claim that bureaucrats have longer careers than politicians. It seems to me that they have similar careers, climbing the ladder their whole lives. In modern democracies, national leaders have short careers, shorter than top bureaucrats, but I think at other levels it is more similar. I guess democratic politicians spend half of their careers in opposition. But isn’t this book (also) about non-democracies? Maybe the line between politicians and bureaucrats is amorphous in such states.

  2. Douglas, you’re right that I should have said just 18th century. Although it might matter that China’s 17th century turmoil was mostly insurrection, not threats from external governments.

    I model bureaucracies as agents with basic goals such as survival. I’m unclear on what elaboration would be worthwhile.

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