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‘ Waarom Ur en niet Uruk? Zijn er – misschien mede aan de hand van het boek van Acemoglu en Robinson – parallellen te trekken tussen het Mesopotamië van Gilgamesh en het huidige Irak?
Wat hebben de Amerikaanse invallen/invasies voor mogelijke geopolitieke consequenties gehad?’


The Narrow Corridor to Liberty.  (2019, Preface, xv-xvi); ISBN 9780735224384 (hardcover) |ISBN 9780735224391 (ebook) |
%% citaat %%  Our argument in this book is that for liberty to emerge and flourish, both state and society must be strong. A strong state is needed to control violence, enforce laws, and provide public services that are critical for a life in which people are empowered to make and pursue their choices. A strong, mobilized society is needed to control and shackle the strong state. Doppelganger solutions and checks and balances don’t solve the Gilgamesh problem because, without society’s vigilance, constitutions and guarantees are not worth much more than the parchment they are written on.

Squeezed between the fear and repression wrought by despotic states and the violence and lawlessness that emerge in their absence is a narrow corridor to liberty. It is in this corridor that the state and society balance each other out. This balance is not about a revolutionary moment. It’s a constant, day-in, day-out struggle between the two. This struggle brings benefits. In the corridor the state and society do not just compete, they also cooperate. This cooperation engenders greater capacity for the state to deliver the things that society wants and foments greater societal mobilization to monitor this capacity.

What makes this a corridor, not a door, is that achieving liberty is a process; you have to travel a long way in the corridor before violence is brought under control, laws are written and enforced, and the state starts providing services to its citizens. It is a process because the state and its elites must learn to live with the shackles society puts on them and different segments of society have to learn to work together despite their differences.

What makes this corridor narrow is that this is no easy feat. How can you contain a state that has a huge bureaucracy, a powerful military, and the freedom to decide what the law is? How can you ensure that as the state is called on to take on more responsibilities in a complex world, it will remain tame and under control? How can you keep society working together rather than turning against itself, riven with divisions? How do you prevent all of this from flipping into a zero-sum contest? Not easy at all, and that’s why the corridor is narrow, and societies enter and depart from it with far-reaching consequences.   %% einde citaat %%

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