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It is an immense honor for me to write the Foreword to the new paperback edition of Samuel P. Huntington'sPolitical Order in Changing book.
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Political Order in Changing Societies. Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language. In an age of rationalized authority, centralized bureaucracy, and totalitarian dictatorship, the American political system remains a curious anachronism.

Political order in changing societies

In today's world, American political institutions are unique, if only because they are so antique. In functions and power American presidents are Tudor kings.

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In institutional role, as well as in personality and talents, Lyndon Johnson far more closely resembled Elizabeth I than did Elizabeth II. Britain preserved the form of the old monarchy, but America preserved the substance.

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  6. Today America still has a king, Britain has only a Crown. An institution is an organization which is valued for its own sake by its members and others. An organization to which everyone can belong or must belong is less likely to become an institution than one in which membership is a scarce resource. In modernizing society "building the state" means in part the creation of an effective bureaucracy, but, more importantly, the establishment of an effective party system capable of structuring the participation of new groups in politics.

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    Audible 0 editions. CD Audiobook 0 editions. Project Gutenberg 0 editions. Google Books — Loading The so-called public interest is really the interest in institutions. In modern states, loyalty is to institutions. To wit, Americans voluntarily pay taxes to the Internal Revenue Service and lose respect for those who are exposed as tax cheaters. For without institutions like a judiciary, what and who is there to determine what exactly is right and wrong, and to enforce such distinctions? Societies in the Middle East and China today reflect societies that have reached levels of complexity where their current institutions no longer suffice and must be replaced by different or improved ones.

    The Arab Spring and the intense political infighting in China are, in truth, institutional crises. The issue is not democracy per se, because weak democracies can spawn ineffective institutional orders.

    The Legacy of Sam Huntington

    What individual Arabs and Chinese really want is justice. And justice is ultimately the fruit of enlightened administration. How do you know if a society has effective institutions?

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    Huntington writes that one way is to see how good their militaries are. Because societies that have made war well -- Sparta, Rome, Great Britain, America -- have also been well-governed. For effective war-making requires deep organizations, which, in turn, requires trust and predictability. The ability to fight in large numbers is by itself a sign of civilization. Arab states whose regimes have fallen -- Egypt, Libya, Syria -- never had very good state armies. But sub-state armies in the Middle East -- Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Mehdi Army in Iraq, the various rebel groups in Syria and militias in Libya -- have often fought impressively.

    Huntington might postulate that this is an indication of new political formations that will eventually replace post-colonial states. Huntington implies that today's instability -- the riotous formation of new institutional orders -- is caused by urbanization and enlightenment. As societies become more urbanized, people come into close contact with strangers beyond their family groups, requiring the intense organization of police forces, sewage, street lighting, traffic and so forth.

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    The main drama of the Middle East and China over the past half-century, remember, has been urbanization, which has affected religion, morals and much else. State autocrats have simply been unable to keep up with dynamic social change. Huntington is full of uncomfortable, counterintuitive insights. He writes that large numbers of illiterate people in a democracy such as India's can actually be stabilizing, since illiterates have relatively few demands; but as literacy increase, voters become more demanding, and their participation in democratic groupings like labor unions goes up, leading to instability.

    An India of more and more literate voters may experience more unrest. As for corruption, rather than something to be reviled, it can be a sign of modernization, in which new sources of wealth and power are being created even as institutions cannot keep up. Corruption can also be a replacement for revolution.