The problem of controlling the use of force and those who are best at wielding it is foundational to human collective life. For most of history, a social order that was relatively “closed” has seemed the most natural way to manage this problem. But over the past century or two, a transition from closed- to open-access orders has led to the emergence of societies with widespread political participation, the use of elections to select governments, constitutional arrangements to limit and define the powers of government, and unbiased application of the rule of law.

For most of history, a closed social order has seemed the most “natural” way to manage the problem of controlling the use of force. The rise of modern democracy can be understood only in the context of the transition to open-access orders.