Government and the Individual

44. Government and the Individual

Discussing the ideas developed by Acemoglu and Robinson in their book, Why Nations Fail. This book is extremely wide ranging, covering human events from 11,000 years ago to the present day. Acemoglu and Robinson analyze and discuss many, many interesting and important historical episodes. These include
the end of the Roman Republic in the first century B.C.,
the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century,
the Black Death, which killed a huge fraction of the population of Europe in the late 1340s,
the expansion of trade between Europe and the Americas in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries,
the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which established that the English King was subordinate to Parliament,
the Meiji Restoration of 1868, which put Japan on the path to economic development,
the rise and fall of the Soviet Union,
the Civil Rights era in the southern United States,
the economic rebirth of China after 1978,
and many more.
I would like you to write a short paper, commenting on one (or a few) of the events which receive prominent attention in the book. The idea of the paper is to identify an event, or a set of events, and describe why those events are important, and how they contributed to subsequent economic and political development. You should connect the event(s) that you have chosen with the broader themes of the Acemoglu-Robinson book.
You may choose from the list above, or you may choose from among the many other episodes covered by Acemoglu and Robinson. In class, I will try to provide some perspective on Acemoglu and Robinson, and you may incorporate the ideas discussed in class into your paper. And, of course, you may also do your own research.
You may quote from Acemoglu and Robinson, and from other sources, but it is best not to use lengthy quotes. I would like you to develop your own ideas, and not merely to string together a series of quotes.

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