Government scholar compares founding histories of six modern states

Which came first, the democratic state or the will of the people?

Book cover: The Founding of Modern States

In his book “The Founding of Modern States,” Richard F. Bensel, the Gary S. Davis Professor of Government in the College of Arts and Sciences, examines how six modern states – three democratic and three not – came to be.

By comparing Britain, the United States and France side-by-side with the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran, Bensel uncovers a paradox at the heart of every modern state founding: a people cannot collectively participate in the founding of a new state without prejudging and predetermining the outcome of their participation. His state-by-state analysis details the myths required to secure political and social order in the modern era.

The College of Arts and Sciences spoke with Bensel about the book. Read the full interview on the College of Arts and Sciences website.

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