Democratic Development and Democratic Decay


Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 5:30pm to 7:00pm


Wiener Auditorium, Taubman Building, HKS

Francis FukuyamaFrancis Fukuyama, Stanford University

About the Seminar
All political orders are subject to decay over time for at least two reasons: first, institutions created to meet one set of environmental circumstances are “sticky” and fail to adapt when the environment changes; second, patrimonialism, the default mode of human sociability that favors friends and family, often reasserts itself in periods of extended peace and stability.

Is the U.S. or China more likely to experience political decay in the coming decades? China builds on a long historical tradition of high-quality centralized bureaucratic government, but never historically developed either rule of law or formal accountability to check executive power. The United States, on the other hand, stands out among modern liberal democracies for the number of checks and balances it imposes on decision making. Both systems display rigidities and signs of creeping patrimonialism. In the end it is Fukuyama’s view that the self-corrective mechanisms built into the US system will make it more sustainable, but only if the nation is able to adapt institutionally.

About the Speaker
Francis Fukuyama is the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and a resident in FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, at Stanford University. He comes to Stanford from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University, where he was the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and director of SAIS’ International Development program.

Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues relating to questions concerning democratization and international political economy. His book, The End of History and the Last Man, was published by Free Press in 1992 and has appeared in over 20 foreign editions. His most recent books are The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution, America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, and Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap between Latin America and the United States.

Francis Fukuyama was born on October 27, 1952. He received his B.A. from Cornell University in classics, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in political science. He was a member of the Political Science Department of the RAND Corporation from 1979-1980, then again from 1983-89, and from 1995-96. In 1981-82 and in 1989 he was a member of the policy planning staff of the US Department of State, the first time as a regular member specializing in Middle East affairs, and then as deputy director for European political-military affairs. In 1981-82 he was also a member of the US delegation to the Egyptian-Israeli talks on Palestinian autonomy. From 1996-2000 he was Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. He served as a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2001-2004.

Dr. Fukuyama is chairman of the editorial board of a new magazine, The American Interest, which he helped to found in 2005. He holds honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, Doane College, Doshisha University (Japan), and Kansai University (Japan). He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Rand Corporation, member of the Board of Governors of the Pardee Rand Graduate School, and member of the advisory boards for the Journal of Democracy, the Inter-American Dialogue, and The New America Foundation. He is a member of the American Political Science Association and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is married to Laura Holmgren and has three children.