Erik Moberg ©:
In 2014 I published my book “Towards a Science of States: their Evolution and Properties” as an e-book and then, in 2015 at CreateSpace, as a print on demand paper book. Before that I had made very considerable efforts to get some publisher interested in the book but without success. So in the end I saw no other possibility than publishing myself. And when I had done so I continued with my efforts to make the book known by various means such as e-mails to a large number of political scientists around the world, but again without success.
But then, as late as in the middle of 2019, something happened, perhaps as a delayed effect of my efforts. At last I had some considerable success with my book. First it was mentioned together with a work of the great, but no longer living, political scientist Stein Rokkan in a new book by Ian Budge, also an internationally well known and important scholar within the discipline. Then the first three chapters of the book were taken up as course literature in politics at the University of Essex. At this university the department of political science, in particular, is very highly ranked–in some ranking list, in fact, among the ten best departments in the world.
This being so it may perhaps be of interest to some readers of the book to learn a little about its background. Why did I write it, and how did it come about? Which was my way to this book? It was not, for saying that first, in any way straightforward. To make the story complete I have to go a long time back, that is to my last years in school prior to the beginning of my university studies. At that time my favorite subjects were physics, mathematics and chemistry and I intended to become an engineer. I was in particular interested in electronics and built complicated radio receivers with vacuum tubes–this was just before the appearance of semiconductors. When leaving school I got an award for being the best pupil in physics and chemistry.
But this was to change. During my last year in school I got other interests and no longer wished to become an engineer. I had however time to think about all of this since at first, anyway, I had to make my military service, in my case fifteen months with Centurion tanks. When leaving that service and beginning my studies at the University of Gothenburg, I started with philosophy and then also continued with mathematics. The philosophical discipline at that time, as taught at the university, was totally dominated by British analytical philosophy, that is historically the philosophers Locke, Berkeley and Hume and among the contemporary ones such as Bertrand Russell and Alfred Ayer. For characterizing various kinds of continental philosophy, foremost perhaps existentialism, the expression “darkness begins at Calais” was used. In all of my life since then I have remained convinced about the correctness of what I learned during these early philosophical studies of mine. When thinking about various matters British analytical philosophy, including logical empiricism, has always been my solid ground and ideal. Now, in 2020, when new strange ideas such as “social constructivism” have invaded the social sciences it may be particularly important to emphasize this.
At the department of philosophy I was however also influenced in other matters than philosophical ones. Some of the students there, a few years older than me, were engaged in student union activities and they brought me into that. At that time there was at some universities an institution in which appealing and well known persons, often foreigners, were invited to give evening lectures on generally interesting topics for a very broad public–in principle everyone at the university. Those speakers were also often invited to several universities simultaneously and if so they thus made a kind of lecturing tour. At this time there was however no institution of this kind in Gothenburg and when joining the student union activities I therefore got the task of establishing one. And that was really interesting. To some extent we in Gothenburg collaborated with those arranging evenings like this in Lund and Oslo and quite a lot of famous and well known people accepted the invitations–Arthur Koestler for instance, just to mention one. When in Gothenburg they usually stayed overnight in a hotel where I used to take a dinner or lunch together with them. What is important here is the lunch with the film director and author Erwin Leiser.
I do not remember any details about our conversation but what happened was that somehow he all of a sudden made me strongly interested in social issues and social science. He really triggered something in my mind which earlier had only been latent and I immediately decided to start studies in some social science discipline. What I thought about was economics and political science–for some reason I didn’t consider sociology at all–and the criteria I used was perhaps a bit particular. I decided to choose the discipline with the most well-known department head and professor (at that time there was only one professor in each discipline). The political science professor was Jörgen Westerståhl and the one in economics Ivar Sundbom. Of those two Westerståhl was, it seemed to me, without doubt the most well known and qualified. So I chose political science and thereby my career, if I may call it so, in that discipline started in January 1961. I could perhaps add that if I rather had chosen economics my future could have been a completely different one than in fact it did. I could have become just an economist of some common type.
I was, I remember, immediately disappointed. With my background in natural sciences, mathematics and British philosophy–a background not common for those at the political science department–I found, to put it shortly, the total lack of theory both surprising and uninspiring. Everything read or produced was just descriptions of various kinds–sometimes including constitutional matters it should be admitted, but still quite descriptive and hardly analytical.
Before continuing I shall however say a few words about Jörgen Westerståhl, since it was his presence which had made me choose political science rather than economics. He was a very nice man, he appreciated my presence at the department, he gave me encouraging tasks and we never quarreled. So my disappointment was not about him, it rather was about the discipline as such. In spite of the lack of theory it should also be said that Westerståhl, among political scientists in Sweden, pioneered the use of quantitative methods, for instance in election studies of various kinds. That started a tradition which became increasingly more important and, although later on, also came to include some theoretical elements.
Now, given my disappointment I started studying military strategies, game theory and things like that. The reason was that these matters could be considered as belonging to political science but at the same time had some of the rigor and theoretical orientation as economics. I was even lecturing about some of these topics at the department. Furthermore I took part in some important activities outside the department. Thus, and in the summer 1962, I was accepted as a participant in a two-week UNESCO seminar in Austria dealing with the use of mathematics in the social sciences. The teachers there were some very important persons such as, for instance, Howard Raiffa. One of the things I learned about was Arrow’s impossibility theorem. Apart from the UNESCO seminar another important activity also started, this time in Gothenburg but outside the political science department. At the department of mathematics a series of colloquiums, one each week, and again about the use of mathematics in the social sciences, was started by the mathematics professor Tord Ganelius. After some time the Swedish National Defense Research Institute began supporting this activity financially and then it also became more conflict theory oriented. Beside my work at the political science department, I also got a small salary job as secretary for these colloquiums.
I just mentioned the Arrow theorem and I also engaged myself in other rational choice oriented matters related to Swedish party politics. The starting point was a dissertation written by a somewhat older colleague at the political science department. It had some theorizing ambitions and thereby–in the same way as some of the election studies mentioned above–represented a budding interest for theory and rational choice at the department. In the Swedish political science journal (Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift) I wrote extensive comments on the dissertation in two articles.
At this time I also started the work on what was to become my dissertation for the political science degree which in Swedish is called “filosofie licentiat” and which sometimes is considered as about equal to a doctor of philosophy (Ph. D.) in the English speaking world. In English the dissertation had the title “Models of International Conflicts and Arms Races”. It was en elaboration of the well known so called Richardson model and among the references were, among others, Henry Kissinger, Herman Kahn and Howard Raiffa.
In the spring of 1965, and thanks to the contacts mentioned above, I was offered an employment at the Swedish National Defense Research Institute. My task should be to take part in the selection of reasonably possible future attacks against Sweden which could be used for determining the size and the composition of the military defense. I accepted the offer and moved to Stockholm in the autumn 1965. During my first time there, and by working beside my new employment, I also finished my “filosofie licentiat” degree, which I got in 1967. Thereby, and forever, my formal university affiliations came to an end.
The Defense Research Institute had its good sides as well as less good. Starting with the former the intellectual climate was very good–there was a lot of communication between the various departments and much more so than at universities, at least according to my experience. I also made a lot of friends there, friendships which in several cases continued for many years in spite of most of us going to other tasks and work-places. In particular I should mention the economist Ingemar Ståhl, a strong defender of liberalism and market economy. He has, in fact, influenced my thinking about social matters more than almost anybody else. He is one of my great teachers.
As part of my work at the institute I made a tour to the United States in 1967 for studying security policy matters. During that tour I met Herman Kahn who led a course, which I attended, at the Hudson Institute; I visited the RAND Corporation; and I walked across Harvard Square together with Henry Kissinger discussing security policy topics just to mention a few things.
For making the path to my future activities understandable I also have to mention that in the autumn of 1968 I got a debate article about arms races published in the big Stockholm newspaper Dagens Nyheter (The Daily News). The Swedish top diplomat Sverker Åström expressed his approval of the article in a letter to me, but even so, and in retrospect, I am not particularly proud of the article myself. But still it was important in two ways. First, it broke the tacit rule that people at the research institute should not take part in public discussions or debates of any kind. Now such activities have become quite common but I was the first one. I broke the rule and changed the behavior. Perhaps it was an indication of my tendency to go my own way when considering that important. Second, it brought me in contact with the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
But even if many things were good at the research institute it also had its deficiencies. In particular, at least according to my opinion at the time dealt with here, the results about hypothetical future attacks, that is those attacks which should be used for designing the Swedish military defense, were overruled by military opinions concerning these matters. That made me leave the research institute in the early autumn of 1969, after four years, for turning to journalism.
I could use my contacts with Dagens Nyheter for getting an employment as journalist–first as a general reporter and then as a reporter about scientific and university matters in particular. Among the things I remember are the reports I wrote from the great Nobel Symposium “The Place of Value in a World of Facts” in September 1969. This was an extraordinary event with a lot of very well known and famous people present, among them quite a number of Nobel laureates, for instance Linus Pauling, Glenn Seaborg and the great physicist Abdus Salam. The latter even approached me in quite a flattering way for a little conspiracy. In an isolated little room with just the two of us in it he formulated an exact question which he wanted me to put to him at a press conference which was just about to take place. I don’t remember the question any longer but I put it at the conference and Abdus Salam could say what he wanted.
But again, and after some time, I left my employment at Dagens Nyheter for becoming, rather, a free-lance journalist. Perhaps it is part of my character that I find it difficult to remain and thrive in a long-term permanent employment. Anyway, and as a free-lancer, I wrote articles not only for Dagens Nyheter but also for a number of other papers and magazines. With this I continued until March 1971 when I became secretary in a Swedish State Public Investigation. I will get back to this in the next section but before that I have to mention a travel to North and West Africa in the winter 1969-70.
I started this travel late in 1969 when making a break in my journalistic activities. Perhaps I had started my free lance writing at this time, perhaps not, I don’t remember. Neither do I remember the reasons for my travel. Perhaps it was just pure adventurism, a willingness to see something completely new. Anyway I took my car and drove southwards through Europe to Sicily and from there to Tunis and through North Africa to Rabat in Morocco. There I got rid of my car and took a flight to Dakar in Senegal. After having been there a few weeks I took the train to Bamako in Mali, and after some time there I flew back home.
What is important about this African tour is that I understood that I understood very little of what I saw around me. In particular I didn’t know enough economics. Political science, by itself, was not enough. But even if that was just a beginning I nevertheless started learning some economics. In a book store in Dakar I found Jagdish Bhagwati’s excellent book “L’Économie des pays sous-développés” (The Economics of Under-developed Countries), which I read eagerly. I made up my mind to continue my economic studies later on.
But understanding, really understanding, is one thing. Getting a lot of new impressions of various kinds is something else, and certainly I got a lot of that. Describing all of this is hardly of any interest in this context but one little episode may perhaps be somewhat amusing. It occurred when I was travelling by train from Dakar to Saint-Louis in northern Senegal. That railway has a number of considerable curves; Senegal is to a large extent a Muslim country; and the time for prayer occurred during the travel. Now, for the one praying it is important to be directed towards Mecca, and therefore the curves was a problem. The solution was that the praying individual had a friend standing behind him all the time pushing him into the correct direction and thereby compensating for the trains irregularities.
After having returned from Africa I continued my journalistic activities and it seems as if what I wrote was observed and appreciated. In the beginning of 1971 I got a call from one of the Swedish government’s ministries, the one dealing with industrial matters, or, in Swedish, "Industridepartementet". They asked me if I would like to become the secretary in the production of a so called State Public Report. This report was about the use and protection of sea resources. I accepted the invitation and got a room of my own at the ministry of industry for working with and writing the report.
The work, which started in March 1971, was quite interesting and of a new kind for me. Those preparing the report were selected specialists forming a committee and I was the secretary writing the final text, the report, which was published in June 1972. The sea resources are of many kinds of course, fish for instance, but here and in this context only one kind of resource, namely oil and gas on the continental shelves, is of importance. About this I learned a lot and thereby many years of work with different kinds of energy issues and energy problems began. As an organization for this work I started a consulting firm with myself as the sole employee. Before describing these matters another engagement should however be mentioned.
The United Nations had started a number of investigations about various weapons and forms of war with the purpose, ultimately, to formulate some kind of laws of war. One of these investigations was about incendiary weapons and my former chief at the defense research institute, Carl Gustav Jennergren, suggested that I should be the Swedish expert in the internationally composed committee preparing that report. I was given the task and the work was done during the summer and early autumn of 1972. The committee met, if I remember correctly, one time in Geneva and twice in the UN building in New York. When being at home from the sessions in Geneva and New York I had a working room of my own at the Foreign Ministry.
Even if this engagement was an interlude for me two episodes may be mentioned. First, when we met in New York all of us in the committee were invited by the General Secretary Kurt Waldheim to his office in the uppermost floor of the high UN building to shake hands with him. And second, when in New York we were all invited to some kind of dinner or party at the Soviet (we were still in the cold war) mission there. Among the things served were avocado halves with pure sturgeon caviar inside. And so one of the Russian committee experts and hosts pointed at a dish and said, slowly with a very stumbling English pronunciation, “American fruit, Russian caviar, peaceful coexistence”.
The UN work was however just a short break unrelated to my other activities. Therefore, when it was over in the autumn of 1972, I started my long period of energy consulting. At first I did some work for the shipping industry since they were interested in the future for tankers of different kinds. But then, in 1973/74, came the very considerable OPEC crude oil price hikes which immediately triggered important political activities in oil-importing countries, and so in Sweden as well. A lot of energy investigations of various kinds were initiated and therefore, all of a sudden, the demand for the kind of services I could offer increased most considerably. This was something I couldn’t predict in any way when I started my consulting firm, but still it occurred soon thereafter, and I got a lot of demands for my work.
I did many kinds of work which were more or less general or specific, for instance about solar energy, wind energy, and so forth. Most important, in a sense, was however my contribution to a new so called State Public Report, namely one dealing with a program for research and development in the energy field. Again there was a committee of people, in this case both politicians and energy experts, who were responsible for the report, and so there was a secretariat that produced the written and printed reports. Being a member of that secretariat I wrote a substantial part of one of those reports.
The energy policy adopted by the Swedish state after the price hikes in 1973/74 was however quite planned and since I myself rather tended to be market oriented I became more and more skeptical about this policy. I therefore, in my consulting, more and more abstained from making policy recommendations and undertook only purely descriptive works such as, for instance, surveys of energy research and development in various interesting countries. After some more time I stopped even doing that and turned to writing texts which were openly critical of the Swedish energy policy. But before going into that I will say a few words about an electric analog machine and a travel to India.
At some time at the end of the 1970's, being technically interested, I thought about the possibility of simulating the world’s production and consumption of oil, and the trade of oil between different regions in an electric analog machine. And I not only thought about the possibility but also built such a machine. It had fifteen regions and for each one the supply and demand for oil could be “programmed”. Then, and as a result, the production and consumption of each region was determined, as well as each region’s import or export. Flows of oil were measured in ampere and prices in volt. Everything was easily seen on a number of measuring instruments on the front of the machine.
Here I don’t have to write much more about this machine. Just one thing is of interest, namely that when one variable was changed, for instance the supply or demand in some region, it affected all variables in the whole world. And this kind of market interdependence is often not taken into account in political contexts. Thus, and for instance, prices may be fiddled with for some particular reason without considering all other effects. Food may for instance be considered very important and therefore politicians may lower food prices without realizing that the production will also decrease. So the lesson is: Think very carefully before touching a market price.
One of the regions in my machine was India, and I was interested in the effects of the crude oil price hikes on this large, underdeveloped country. So I went there in the autumn of 1978. Before going into the details of the journey I should just say that I was determined not to repeat the mistakes from my African journey in 1969-70 and I had therefore, since then, studied quiet a lot of economics. Anyway, the general idea at this time was that underdeveloped countries were more hurt by the price hikes than developed ones. When oil became more expensive many customers in the underdeveloped world could no longer afford it–or often, and to be more exact, the distilled products paraffin or kerosene–and therefore turned to cow dung, wood and similar substitutes which would enhance erosion and deterioration of fields used for agriculture. To get an idea about these matters I started my Indian project by cycling in the countryside from Bangalore to Madurai and visited farms, interviewed farmers, and so forth. That led to a first result: The people living there had never used or seen any oil products at all so there was no substitution effect. To the extent that they burnt cow dung, and wood, and the like, they had always done so.
There was however another effect which I gradually came to recognize when talking to people. This made me turn from cycling to studying recent and new statistics at the Reserve Bank of India in New Delhi. The results became clear. Indian people were guest workers in the oil producing countries around the Persian Gulf and when those countries earned more that also affected the guest workers. Their number increased and the remittances they sent home became larger. Indian export to the oil producing countries also increased–for instance export of Tata trucks which were suitable for the often primitive roads in these countries. So India was favored by the crude price hikes rather than the opposite. When a dollar was transmitted from some western oil importing country to an oil producer, the probability that that dollar, thereafter, should buy something from India increased considerably. All of this is described in much more detail in a report with the title (translated from Swedish) “The Impact of the Crude Oil Price Hikes on the Indian Economy” and paid for by the Swedish National Defense Research Institute.
Here I will also make a comment about my relation to economics. The analog machine as well as my Indian experience contributed, each one in its own way, to my support for and understanding of the subject. As for the machine I have already mentioned its very effective demonstration of the interdependence of economic activities of various kinds. And in India it was easy to see how economic variables, as they should according to the theory, took completely different values than people in industrialized countries are accustomed to. Thus, as a first example, when cutting the grass on lawns machines were not used. Rather masses of people, usually women, were spread all over the lawn cutting the grass with some small scissor-like tools–an effect of the cheapness of human labor and the scarcity and high prices of capital goods. Or, to take another example, the building of high houses. When such a house is built in the developed world you see just a few people and one or two high cranes, often so called Lindén cranes, and the house rises quite rapidly. In India everything was totally different. Masses of people with small heaps of bricks carried on their heads walk upwards on simple staircases for delivering the material at the place where the building goes on and the house grows very slowly. Finally, and writing about my attitude to economics, I could add that gradually I have become more and more of an Austrian, that is a follower of Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.
For many years I have been interested in the Swedish labor market and also very critical about its organization and character. Being in general a supporter of free markets I was, consequently, also against the so called Swedish model with trade union monopolies and collective bargaining. I wrote articles about this in various newspapers and magazines, the first one in 1984. Considering this subject important I wanted, however, to study it more thoroughly. But I saw no obvious market for this kind of activity and therefore, and in order to become free to do whatever I wished in this field, I had to bring down my living costs considerably. Therefore I moved, in the spring of 1987, from a small one-family house in Stockholm to a much cheaper place in the countryside in the southern part of Sweden, called Skåne. The decision about this move should prove to be one of the best and most important decisions of my life. Among others it gave me a lot of freedom for intellectual work and writing but not, as it turned out, mainly about the labor market but rather about other much more important matters.
Within the energy field I had started as an ordinary consultant but ultimately, as described above, wrote a few books in which the energy policy was openly criticized. As things were, it was in fact possible to get paid for this kind of work as well. The most important of these books was published in 1987, that is shortly after my arrival to Skåne even if the main part of the work had been done before that in Stockholm. It was written in Swedish with the title, as translated, “Swedish Energy Policy: a Study in Public Decision Making”. Already from the title it is thus clear that the perspective is now widened to public decision making and thereby the political science discipline in general is also brought into the fore. In the book’s introductory chapter the concept of public choice is correspondingly mentioned. Later on I moreover came to know that the book had been used as a text book at the university in Uppsala.
Then a most important thing happened. When relaxing and taking an afternoon walk in the early autumn of 1990 I was suddenly struck by the fact that there were so few political views about energy conveyed in the Swedish parliament. There were no ones favoring market solutions. All supported plans of some kind–the only difference was that some had nuclear power in their plans whereas others were against nuclear power. This being so there had to be some mechanism behind this scarcity of opinions, or party discipline as it was, and I hypothesized that it was the combination, in the Swedish constitution, of proportional elections and parliamentarism. Hereby a new track in my intellectual development started.
But even so it took some time for me to develop the idea and in the beginning hardly anyone I communicated with found it interesting–on the contrary most were quite critical. Thus, and after presentations at political science departments at Swedish universities in Lund, Uppsala and Gothenburg, no one was interested. Therefore, and since I believed in the idea myself, I thought I should update my own knowledge in political science and I did so by writing a text book in public choice theory, something about which I had learned nothing during my first period in the political science discipline. The book I wrote, in Swedish unfortunately, was published in 1994 and used at first by my friend Ingemar Ståhl at the Lund University and after that at other university departments in Lund and at other universities as well. Since the book contains a lot about contributions of important scholars such as Mancur Olson, James Buchanan, and so forth, I contacted some of them while writing–by ordinary letters at this time–for getting ideas clarified or for similar purposes. My ideas about constitutions and party discipline were not included in the book, but they were not forgotten either.
THE YEARS WITH MANCUR OLSON 1992-1998
Having written to Mancur Olson I got a letter from him dated May 11, 1992. It was extremely positive in various ways. Even if I don’t have my own letter to him any longer, and even if my main purpose was to get something about his own ideas clarified, I obviously also had written something about my ideas about democratic constitutions. Thus he wrote that “Your point about the incentive for parties in a parliamentary system to become more centralized is especially good”. Thereby Mancur Olson, in fact, became the first one who appreciated my ideas about democratic constitutions. After that our correspondence continued. I commented on his little book “How bright are the Northern Lights? Some Questions about Sweden” and he commented on what was the very first draft of my manuscript “Democracy: Constitutions, Politics and Welfare Effects”. In the next section there will be more about this manuscript.
Our correspondence was, I think I can say, honest and respectful in both directions. And we not only sent letters, we also had a lot of telephone talks during the years. As a result he invited me to take part in a lecturing tour in India which he was arranging and, of course, I accepted. For me this was utterly flattering since the other ones taking part in the tour were US top academicians such as for instance Oliver Williamson. In advance of the tour I, like the other participants, had to prepare a paper containing the same matter as the future lecture, although somewhat more detailed. The title of my paper, finally, became “The Swedish Model: A Comment on Mancur Olson’s Analysis”. A pleasant memory from this writing is Mancur’s reply when, in a telephone call, I asked him how long the paper could be. In his very characteristic somewhat clucking voice he answered that “Abraham Lincoln used to say that the legs of a man should be long enough to reach the ground.”
The tour to India took place in January 1996 and we lectured in New Delhi, Madras and Calcutta. It all went well and my own contribution was, as I heard from Mancur, quite appreciated. In a letter (not to me but to somebody else) he even called it “outstanding”. After the tour all participants’ lecture papers were to be published, but before going into that I should mention that, later in 1996 if I remember correctly, Mancur Olson invited me to be one of a few teachers in a social science course in Swaziland paid for by the World Bank. Again, of course, I accepted, and it was a very interesting and successful trip.
Now, back to the printing of the Indian paper. In spite of the Abraham Lincoln comment mentioned above my paper was considered far too extensive to be printed in the book that was planned. Mancur and I had some arguments about this and my first reductions of the text were not nearly radical enough, they were much too small. So I made a new more drastic effort and almost wrote a new and much shorter text. Which was a success. Mancur wrote “Hooray! Brevity is indeed the soul of wit.” This text also became printed together with the contributions of the other lecturing participants in the book “A Not-so-dismal Science–A Broader View of Economies and Societies” published by Oxford University Press in 2000. But before that Mancur Olson had died–much too early–in February 1998.
I have already mentioned the idea about party discipline which I got on a countryside walk and then also about the text I started to write about these matters. In 1998 I was ready with a draft for a book manuscript of about 150 pages entitled “Democracy: Constitutions, Politics, and Welfare Effects”. I sent this draft to a number of scholars and also got positive, or even in some cases, very positive reactions from them. Some ones such as Mancur Olson, already mentioned, and Gordon Tullock had also got earlier versions before, or long before, 1998. Other addressees who got the manuscript were Arend Lijphart, James Buchanan and Michael Munger. I also sent it to some publishers to make them interested.
For starting with Michael Munger at Duke University he began his first letter to me in this way:
“Thanks so much for sending me your very innovative and provocative manuscript, Democracy: Constitutions, Politics, and Welfare Effects. That title, while hardly modest, does describe pretty well what you are about in the book.”
Later on he also wrote a review of the manuscript to Cambridge University Press to make them interested in publishing it. He started by writing that “This is one of the most promising, most frustrating, and most interesting manuscripts I have ever seen.” Then he continued with a more detailed discussion including critical remarks as well as more favorable comments. In the end, however, nothing came out of this. I never got any reaction from Cambridge University Press.
Another recipient of the draft, James Buchanan, was also quite positive and it made him invite me to the Liberty Fund seminar in Germany in 1999 in which the first volume of his collected works “The Logical Foundations of Constitutional Liberty” was to be penetrated and discussed. Of course I accepted and it was a very fine and pleasant seminar.
From Arend Lijphart I also got a very positive letter but rather than quoting sentences from that I will turn to another matter, namely that at the end of 1999 I acquired a website of my own. On that site I posted quite soon a somewhat new version of my theory of democratic politics. About that version Arend Lijphart wrote in February 2003 that it was “A highly innovative and theoretically very significant contribution to political science”. His entire comment can still be read on my website.
Well, that is what happened with my book manuscript about democracy. It never became a book but led to some important contacts. The main written result, at least for some time, was the presentation of it on my website. But, as we will see in the next section, this was to change.
In May 2000 I acquired Mancur Olson’s posthumously edited book “Power and Prosperity” in which I read about his concept of a second “invisible hand”. The first invisible hand, as we know, was identified by Adam Smith, and was a mechanism making markets producing optimal results. The second invisible hand was of a different kind, it explained the appearance of small monopolies of violence, or small dictatorships. Mancur Olson got the idea about this invisible hand when studying the chaotic conditions in China in the 1920s. When I read and learned about it an enormous possibility became evident for me. It would be possible not only to describe the conditions in all kinds of states, not only in democracies, but also to explain how they came into being. So I started, for the first time in my life, to think about a more general theory of states. Such a theory ought to be possible and my efforts resulted first in the Swedish book “Statsvetenskap” and then in the somewhat extended and improved English version “Towards a Science of States: their Evolution and Properties”. The theory developed in this book is based not only on Mancur Olson’s innovative contribution but also on those of Albert Hirschman and Ronald Coase. The book thus includes, which goes without saying, my theory about democracies in a still somewhat revised version, but also much, much more about all kinds of states in the whole history of states.
As mentioned in the introduction to this little essay I have had great difficulties in getting my book recognized and spread. In spite of very positive endorsements by some very qualified scholars which are shown on the back of the English version of the book it has hardly got any reviews. The prior Swedish version, however, got some reviews, a positive one from an economists and a negative one from a political scientist.
However, as mentioned in the introduction, a breakthrough came with first Ian Budge’s book and then with adoption of some of my book’s chapters as course literature at the University of Essex. What is particularly interesting is that the book’s third chapter, entitled “Basic Theory”, is one of those chapters adopted. So at last, and because of these positive things, my way towards a science of states has, as it seems, ended happily. At least intellectually although not, so far, commercially.
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