‘ The Narrow Corridor ‘, by Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson

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Am recommending everyone to read this book ‘The Narrow Corridor‘, on the topic of ‘States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty’. Seems timely, especially as our liberties are being restricted, all for the best of motives. But then that is always the case.


Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson are professors in the USA. But that is where the similarity ends, as one is from Armenian heritage, and the other British. They rose to prominence with the book ‘Why Nations Fail‘ in 2012.

This new book describes societies from around the world, how they formed, and why. Not just today, but all the way back to the earliest human history.
The vast majority of those societies created elites who prosper, whilst everyone else suffers.

How does this happen?

Each society grows a “leviathan”, which can be a ruler, elites, a bureaucracy, or even a set of cultural and/or religious rules that have to be followed. This leviathan is necessary, a “referee/enforcer” to protect society, from internal and external forces.
The problem is the leviathan keeps growing, and will devour the society that created it. The leviathan needs to be shackled. But not too much. There needs to be a balancing act, between the leviathan, and activism from society. Society needs to be vigilant, and work together to ensure that the leviathan is strong, but shackled, otherwise the leviathan will trample on society.
There is no perfect solution, just a narrow corridor that the leviathan and society must run along together.

And the solution?

There have been many varieties of a successful society. But only the one model for a successful society. That society is always inclusive, adaptable and persistent. The successful society allows very different opinions to co-exist, yet reaches consensus on what needs to be done. It is not easy. Requires compromise. And eternal vigilence.

The incentive?

If society, or the leviathan, leave the corridor, everyone, and the book is full of examples, but everyone ends up on the road to ruin.

MY COMMENT…………………………….

At the moment the leviathan is putting the shackles on society. All for the best of reasons. But then, restrictions on society always arise for the best of reasons. Society puts on just the one shackle, and liberty diminishes. Then another shackle, and another…..until liberty is gone.

The book starts with a quote from John Locke, arguing that liberty is when society has the “……freedom to order their actions, ………… as they see fit……without asking leave, or depending on the will of any other man.”

And today, we do NOT have that liberty.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions


Alex K says:

Good to hear from you and the book recommendation. I’ll take a closer look at “The Narrow Corridor”.
This theme appeals to me, especially in these times, when many of our societies are currently governed by tyrants, despots, clowns, jesters, self-proclaimed know-alls, self-made winners etc, each a variation on the Leviathan theme.

Another book similar to ‘The Narrow Corridor’ that I’d recommend is called ‘History’s Fools – The Pursuit of Idealism and the Revenge of Politics‘ written by a friend of mine, David Martin Jones. A tale of Western liberal hubris and our failure to escape from history.

biker says:

Thanks Alex.
Took the liberty of trimming the blurb, and substituting with links.

‘History’s Fools – The Pursuit of Idealism and the Revenge of Politics‘ is not in the library system 🙁
But I have recommended it 🙂

Alex K says:

Cheers! Thanks for trimming the blurb which, dare I say to the bookworms out there, makes good reading by itself. Perhaps something to dwell on in between your marathon rides, assuming you’re ready to roll, or while nursing a hangover after a tapas crawl the night before. Take care.

biker says:

Blurb still available via the links 🙂

I was back to Carbonera Taberna, for a very swift and restrained lunch. Sin chupito !

All being well, shall be rolling the bike out tomorrow. Only allowed to ride in the region, but that is going to be far enough after 3mths of the bike sitting in the garage.