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Discussion on political disorder midst

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locate the sources of political disorder midst the factors that

lead states to break down.

I anchor this book in the work of Weber (1958) and view

coercion as the distinctive property of politics. As will become

clear in the next chapter, I depart from Weber – and his “struc-

turalist” descendants1 – by turning to the theory of games.

Driven by the realities of Africa, I view political order as

problematic: In light of the evidence Africa offers, political

order cannot be treated as a given. Rather, I argue, it results

when rulers – whom I characterize as “specialists in violence” –

choose to employ the means of coercion to protect the creation

of wealth rather than to prey upon it and when private citizens

choose to set weapons aside and to devote their time instead

to the production of wealth and to the enjoyment of leisure.2

When these choices constitute an equilibrium, then, I say,

political order forms a state.3

To address the collapse of political order in late-century

Africa, I therefore return to theory – the theory of the state – and

to theorizing – the theory of games. I do so because proceeding

in this fashion points out the conditions under which political

order can persist – or fail. I devote Chapter 2 to an informal

1 Evans, P., T. Skocpol, and D. Rueschmeyer (1985), Bringing the State Back In, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press provides perhaps the best-known example.

2 I am drawing on Bates, R. H., A. Greif, et al. (2002), “Organizing Violence,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 46(5): 599–628.

3 The ambiguous phrasing is intended.


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