THE ISSAM FARES INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
IFI and the BOBST-AUB collaborative initiative held a panel discussion titled “Economic and Political Crises and Nation Building” on May 2. The event featured co-author of “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” James Robinson, as part of a panel including IFI Director Joseph Bahout, Professor of Politics and Urban Studies at the American University of Beirut Mona Harb and co-founder of Beirut-based Research Center Synaps Rosalie Berthier, moderated by Associate Professor of Economics at AUB Ali Abboud.
Within the context of the complex dynamics between economic prosperity, political power, and nation building, Robinson's presentation shed light on the intricate relationship between organizing the economy, creating prosperity, and yielding political power. He argued that relinquishing economic and political power is often a challenge for those in positions of authority, and resistance can impede successful collective action, leading to sociopolitical transition. In the case of Lebanon, he referred to the country's pre-war era as an economic and social success story. This was followed by the emergence of a new narrative during the Hariri era., which emphasized the fusion of state building and patronage with the creation of a “new Lebanon.”
Meanwhile, Bahout questioned the assumption that prosperous economies always produce prosperous nations. He gave China as an example where the economy has thrived under an authoritarian state, challenging the traditional notion that economic success directly translates into societal prosperity.
You can watch the entire panel discussion here.