Review of Why Nations Fail
By Arnold Kling
The book is by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. The review is by Paul Collier. Collier writes,
Their argument is that the modern level of prosperity rests upon political foundations. Proximately, prosperity is generated by investment and innovation, but these are acts of faith: investors and innovators must have credible reasons to think that, if successful, they will not be plundered by the powerful.
For the polity to provide such reassurance, two conditions have to hold: power has to be centralised and the institutions of power have to be inclusive…
it is only in the interest of the elite to cede power to inclusive institutions if confronted by something even worse, namely the prospect of revolution. The foundations of prosperity are political struggle against privilege.
Read the entire review. I have not read the book. I have read Violence and Social Orders, by North, Weingast, and Wallis, which seems to offer a roughly similar thesis.
Pointer from Mark Thoma.