The Disease that Afflicts all Modern Institutions

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Modern state institutions, which are supposed to be impersonal even if not necessarily democratic, are particularly vulnerable to insider-capture in a  process that I labeled “repatrimonialization.”  As we have seen, natural human sociability is built around the twin principles of kin selection and reciprocal altruism—the favoring of family or of friends with whom one has exchanged favors.  Modern institutions require people to work contrary to their natural instincts.  In the absence of strong institutional incentives, the groups with access to a political system will use their positions to favor friends and family, and thereby erode the impersonality of the state.  The more powerful the groups, the more opportunities they will have to do this.  This process of elite or insider capture is a disease that afflicts all modern institutions.

Francis Fukuyama, Political Order and Political Decay, page 464



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