The Cartel System of States: An Economic Theory of International Politics

Oxford University Press, 2023

In The Cartel System of States, Avidit Acharya and Alexander Lee provide a powerful and field-shaping theory to address a fundamental issue in world politics: the character of the territorial nation-state. They contend that the modern state system works as an economic cartel in which states have local, bounded monopolies in governing their citizens. States refuse to violate each other's monopolies even when they could do so easily. Acharya and Lee examine what makes this system stable, when and how it emerged, how it spread, how it has been challenged, and what has led it to be so resilient. Drawing from the centuries long process of modern state formation, The Cartel System of States explains both how the present system of territorial states took over the world and how it might change in the future.

“The Cartel System of States presents a striking and systematic argument and evidence that will be of interest to all scholars of international politics.”—Jeffry Frieden, Harvard University

“Acharya and Lee’s cartel theory is a powerful lens for understanding the most important phenomena in world politics.”—Kenneth Scheve, Yale University

“A wholly original and illuminating perspective on the delineation and maintenance of nation-state boundaries.”—James Scott, Yale University

“Cartel theory implies a revised history of the international state system and opens up new ideas for how that system has changed and might change in the future.”—Helen Milner, Princeton University

“Acharya and Lee deploy the tools of political economy to explain the stability and form of the modern state system. The result is insightful and deeply provocative.”—Melissa Lee, University of Pennsylvania

Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics

Princeton University Press, 2018

Highlighting the connection between historical institutions and contemporary political attitudes, Deep Roots explores the period following the Civil War when elite whites in former bastions of slavery had political and economic incentives to encourage the development of anti-black laws and practices. It shows that these forces created a local political culture steeped in racial prejudice, and that these viewpoints have been passed down over generations, from parents to children and via communities through a process called behavioral path dependence. While legislation such as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act made huge strides in increasing economic opportunity and reducing educational disparities, southern slavery has had a profound, lasting, and self-reinforcing influence on regional and national politics that can still be felt today.

A groundbreaking look at the ways institutions of the past continue to sway attitudes of the present, Deep Roots demonstrates how social beliefs persist long after the formal policies that created those beliefs have been eradicated.

"One of the most mind-blowing books I’ve encountered recently."—Chris Hayes

"As Avidit Acharya, Matthew Blackwell, and Maya Sen powerfully argue in their recent book Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics, it is the legacy of slavery and post-Civil War segregation that gave rise to the South’s current political culture."—Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University

"A must-read for those who seek to understand the modern South."—Tony Badger, author of FDR: The First Hundred Days

"This is a gripping book."—David Sears, University of California, Los Angeles

"A seminal look at how America’s extractive past has fundamentally determined its current politics."—James Robinson, University of Chicago