• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Article

The Fiscal Economy of Good Government. Past and Present

Current Anthropology. 2021. Vol. 62. No. 1. P. 77-100.
Blanton R. E., Fargher L. F., Feinman G. M., Kowalewski S. A., Bondarenko D. M., Carballo D. M., Heredia Espinoza V. Y., Moore M., Moreno García J. C., Robinson J. A., Thurston T. L.

We demonstrate that good government, similar to modern liberal democracies, emerged apart from Western history or influence. This finding is counter to the conventional understanding that democratic state building is an expression of Western-inspired modernity. Yet, we argue, irrespective of cultural context or time period, good government policies and practices will be instituted when revenues that underpin governance are jointly produced, as predicted by collective action theory. We also find that good government will be relatively weakly expressed when private wealth plays an uninhibited role in political agency and when leaders have direct, discretionary control over fiscal economy. These research findings, derived from an extensive comparative study of past societies, provide theoretical support for scholars who argue that contemporary democracies are threatened by economic and political forces that undercut the fiscal foundations of good government while strengthening the link between concentrated private wealth and the political process.