Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This book is about the evolution of the modern state. Unlike most theories of domestic change, I examine twentieth-century state transformations through the prism of major global cataclysms. I argue that the success and failure of modern regimes—most notably democracy, but also fascism and communism—have hinged on the outcomes of tectonic clashes between great powers....

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1 Introduction: A Century of Shocks and Waves

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pp. 11-42

The twentieth century was shocking in its volatility. It witnessed the greatest creation of wealth in human history, and the subjugation of millions into unimaginable misery. According to the calculations of some economists, if we take life in the bleak sixteenth century as the baseline level of 100, during the twentieth century the Earth’s average standard of living rose from 700 to 6,500—the sharpest increase ever recorded, by far. During the very same period, the number of people who perished from war, genocide, and other forms...

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2 From Crests to Collapses: The Sources of Failure in Democratic Waves

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pp. 43-69

As Europe began its long recovery from the destruction of World War II, another democratic dawn appeared to be rising across the Atlantic Ocean. Throughout Latin America, countries that had never held elections were suddenly throwing dictators out of their palaces, adopting new liberal constitutions, introducing agrarian and welfare reforms, and expanding political rights. In some countries, like Guatemala and Argentina, transitions happened after popular uprisings; in other cases, like Cuba and Brazil, democratization came...

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3 The Alchemy of War

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pp. 70-110

As the Great War neared its conclusion in the fall of 1918, a group of dignitaries from central Europe gathered in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. The mood in the auditorium was cautiously optimistic: many of the visitors had come from countries that did not exist only months ago and now seemed poised to lead Europe into a new age of freedom. To the peal of a replica Liberty Bell, the group’s chairman—Tomáš Masaryk, soon to become Czechoslovakia’s first president—announced a new Declaration of Independence for Middle Europe....

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4 A Low Dishonest Decade

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pp. 111-161

In 1942, Joseph Schumpeter published his Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. Now remembered chiefly as a paean to the “creative destruction” of capitalism, the book was actually a eulogy for what Schumpeter saw as a dying system. While the ever-evolving nature of capitalism made it the best way to increase productivity and living standards, Schumpeter did not believe it could survive the radical challenges of fascism and socialism. Capitalism, he argued, produced an atmosphere “of almost universal hostility to its own social order.”...

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5 Two Ways of Life

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pp. 162-207

For Germans, the year 1945 became known as stunde null—zero hour, the moment when European history was irreversibly transformed by forces outside of itself. Cleaved by the clash of two messianic powers, Germany became the symbol of a struggle between two mutually exclusive visions of the modern state. World War II was the only hegemonic shock of the twentieth century that produced not one but two rising great powers, and as a result the war’s aftermath witnessed two distinct waves of institutional reforms. Despite profound...

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6 The Winds from the East

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pp. 208-240

The last hegemonic shock of the century offers an unexpected paradox. At first glance, the Soviet collapse presents the archetypal case study. First, the rapid decline of a great power—the discrediting of its ideology, the disruption of its material levers of influence, and the triumph of its democratic rival. Second, a global burst of democratic transitions driven by the consequences of this hegemonic shock. Third, the democratic overstretch— rollback and the rise of hybrid regimes brought about by capricious systemic pressures, adaptation...

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7 Conclusion: Beyond the Great Plateau

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pp. 241-254

For most of the nineteenth century, rulers sought to domesticate the rise of democratic impulses through nationalism. But if World War I marked the climax of this long inculcation, it was also the beginning of its decline. After 1918, faith in one’s nation increasingly came into conflict with faith in a diffuse, nonterritorial ideology. The three contenders—communism, democracy, and even fascism—offered explicitly universalizing claims, and in doing so sought to disengage from an imagined community demarcated by national...

Appendix 1: Regime Classifications, 1900–2000

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pp. 255-256

Appendix 2: Regime Impositions

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pp. 257-262

Bibliography

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pp. 263-288

Index

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pp. 289-304