This book is a sweeping historical survey of the origins, development and nature of state power. It demonstrates that Eurasia is home to a dominant tradition of arbitrary rule mediated through military, civil and ecclesiastical servants and a marginal tradition of representative and responsible government through autonomous institutions. The former tradition finds expression in hierarchically organized and ideologically legitimated continental bureaucratic states while the latter manifests itself in the state of laws. In recent times, the marginal tradition has gained in popularity and has led to continental bureaucratic states attempting to introduce democratic and constitutional reforms. These attempts have rarely altered the actual manner in which power is exercised by the state and its elites given the deeper and historically rooted experience of arbitrary rule. Far from being remote, the arbitrary culture of power that emerged in many parts of the world continues to shape the fortunes of states. To ignore this culture of power and the historical circumstances that have shaped it comes at a high price, as indicated by the ongoing democratic recession and erosion of liberal norms within states that are democracies.
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