In this, our first live webinar, a panel of experts will discuss The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty, a crucial new big-picture framework that answers the question of how liberty flourishes in some states but falls to authoritarianism or anarchy in others, by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, the authors of the international bestseller Why Nations Fail.
Watch online from 4pm BST on Friday 12 June, and put your questions to the panel.
Liberty is hardly the “natural” order of things. In most places and at most times, the strong have dominated the weak and human freedom has been quashed by force or by customs and norms. Either states have been too weak to protect individuals from these threats, or states have been too strong for people to protect themselves from despotism. Liberty emerges only when a delicate and precarious balance is struck between state and society.
There is a Western myth that political liberty is a durable construct, arrived at by a process of “enlightenment.” This static view is a fantasy, the authors argue. In reality, the corridor to liberty is narrow and stays open only via a fundamental and incessant struggle between state and society: The authors look to the American Civil Rights Movement, Europe’s early and recent history, the Zapotec civilization circa 500 BCE, and Lagos’s efforts to uproot corruption and institute government accountability to illustrate what it takes to get and stay in the corridor.
Today we are in the midst of a time of wrenching destabilization. We need liberty more than ever, and yet the corridor to liberty is becoming narrower and more treacherous. The danger on the horizon is not “just” the loss of our political freedom, however grim that is in itself; it is also the disintegration of the prosperity and safety that critically depend on liberty. The opposite of the corridor of liberty is the road to ruin.
Denis Galligan, Emeritus Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford University
Bogdan Iancu, Associate Professor, University of Bucharest
Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Anniversary Chair in Law, Queen Mary University, London
Praise for The Narrow Corridor:"This book is more original and exciting than its predecessor. It has gone beyond the focus on institutions to one on how a state really works."
— Martin Wolf, Financial Times
"A work of staggering ambition … It is chock full of delightful detours and brilliant nuggets."
"The Narrow Corridor is destined to be the landmark book that maps the future of freedom for any serious policymaker, scholar, or citizen."
— Erik Brynjolfsson, coauthor of The Second Machine Age