The surprisingly long history of humanity’s political development

In his latest book, Francis Fukuyama returns to humanity's distant origins to discover how political institutions have developed around the world. Here, he talks to Rob Attar about his findings and reveals how the west can count itself lucky

An aerial view of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Geography has been "enormously important" to the way that political institutions develop, says Francis Fukuyama. "Afghanistan today is proof of that." (Sebastian Meyer/Corbis via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the May 2011 edition of BBC History Magazine

Your story of political development begins in prehistory, with humanity’s distant ancestors. Do you think, therefore, that our biology has impacted on the political systems we’ve created?

In the 20th century, as a result of the reaction against Darwinism, the Holocaust and people who wanted to misuse science, there was a concerted effort by social scientists to argue that biology plays no role in the way human beings organise themselves or manage their institutions. But I think there’s too much evidence that indicates that this isn’t the case. Every man on the street would accept that we have a nature and it inclines us to do certain things.

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