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Francis Fukuyama

Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity

One of the most important lessons we can learn from an examination of economic life is that a nation's well-being, as well as its ability to compete, is conditioned by a single, pervasive cultural characteristic: the level of trust inherent in the society. …

The liberal democracy that emerges at the end of history is therefore not entirely "modern." If the institutions of democracy and capitalism are to work properly, they must coexist with certain premodern cultural habits that ensure their proper functioning. Law, contract, and economic rationality provide a necessary but not sufficient basis for both the stability and prosperity of postindustrial societies; they must as well be leavened with reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust, which are based in habit rather than rational calculation. The latter are not anachronisms in a modern society but rather the sine qua non of the latter's success.

--Francis Fukuyama in Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (Free Press, 457 pp.; $25).

Copyright (c) 1995 Christianity Today, Inc./BOOKS AND CULTURE Review


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