623/2022 Marcus Miller
Gerard Roland examines data going back to 3,000 BC for historical roots that might explain the current division of nations as between cultures of collectivism and individualism. In response to the appeal for theories bearing on the empirical evidence presented - and of recent moves by Russia and China to create a ‘New World Order’ based on similar cultural division - three contributions are discussed. First is the ‘competing powers’ perspective of Acemoglu and Robinson, who propose that individualism flourishes where power is evenly balanced between the state and the people : otherwise, either Despotism or Disorder will ultimately prevail. Then there is Ken Binmore’s study of cooperative social contracts: this offers support for stable societies of each cultural type, based on the folk theorem of repeated games. Finally the notion that dictatorship may be sustained by deception rather than repression - by leaders whom Guriev and Treisman call ‘spin dictators’. In the light of these perspectives, what to make of the current drive for a new global order that recognizes different ‘spheres of influence’ for each of Roland’s cultural types? We look specifically at the case of Russia.