A recent journal article explains America’s transformation in the first half of the 20th century from a country with a weak national government and internal instability into a global power with an effective administrative apparatus. New forms of public law institutionalized mechanisms for compromise, bargaining, and channeling of conflict among governmental, business, and labor stakeholders. This increased state capacity (the ability to get things done) instilled norms and confidence in the system. The national government restructured the country’s political economy and its relationship to the world’s.
Fast forward to contemporary America. Deficiencies of government capacity – evident in recent years but magnified by the coronavirus pandemic – raise serious questions. Why has state capacity devolved instead of evolved? Are institutional arrangements designed to channel conflict equipped to deal with the frailties of the country’s current political economic framework? Is the U.S. government still equipped to be the global power it once was? Do the conditions exist for institutional change?
The authors of the article – Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Margaret Levi, and Barry Weingast – will use their findings about an earlier America as backdrop to discuss the implications of their work for the present and future America.
This event is presented by CASBS in partnership with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University.
This is episode 2 in CASBS's webcast series "Social Science for a World in Crisis." View the series announcement: bit.ly/36zFFK1
Send questions for the panelists in advance of the event to email@example.com.
In advance of the event, read "Twentieth-Century America as a Developing Country: Conflict, Institutions, and the Evolution of Public Law," Harvard Journal on Legislation, v57 n1 (2020): 25-65. Access here: https://harvardjol.com/volume-57-number-1/