Aretae believes that rulers and citizens have wildly different interests, and that the primary problem of government is constraining rulers so that they don’t take advantage of citizens (too much).
Devin Finbarr doesn’t quite agree and asks, What are the perceived interests of the rulers?
For some lawful autocrats the interest was to grow their kingdom like a garden. That meant establishing justice and the rule of law, and encouraging economic development (examples: Lord Cromer, Henry II, Porfirio D?, William Penn)
For some lawful autocrats their percieved interest was to fight wars of private aggrandizement that ended up draining their countries resources (examples: John of England, Alexander II of Russia)
For most unlawful autocrats or oligarchs the percieved interest has been to enact bloody purges and repression in order to secure their rule (Stalin, Mao, Hitler).
In China, the rulers want to maintain power. They believe the best way to maintain power is to give China rapid growth, because this will keep the Chinese people satiated and prove to the people that the rulers are well fit for the job. The rulers probably also want economic growth for their own personal pride — they look good when they can boast about new technological achievements or spectacular GDP figures. The rulers interests are generally aligned with the people’s although not perfectly aligned (in particular, the rulers care way too much about big flashy projects and too little about simple quality of life improvements).
Rulers chosen by a democratic election, by a selectorate that is small, well educated, and homogenous, and that generally agree on having the same goals, and is generally pacific and moral in culture, will behave responsibly and act reasonably in the interests of the people (examples: Denmark, Switzerland, Vermont).
Rulers chosen by a democratic election by a selectorate that is large, fractured and of diverse interests will make promises to specific voting blocks and interests that will enrich those factions at the expense of the whole.
Rulers chosen by a democratic election by a selectorate that is jingoistic and covetous of their neighbors land, will start wars to invade their neighbors and take their land (19th Century America, Germany under Hitler)
Rulers chosen by a broad merchant aristocracy or an open aristocracy of wealth will tend to promote the interests of business and commerce. Depending on circumstances, that may promote growth, or the aristocracy might combine to restrain new market entrants. (Examples: 19th Century Britain, Venice, Hanseatic League, Dutch Republic)
Rulers chosen by a profit seeking corporation, where the corporation is run by enlightened management and operating in a place and time where there are high returns to human capital investments, will generally provide an attractive environment to attract and enhance human capital (examples: Pullman towns, Celebration, Florida, private cities in India, Banana Republic Guatemala).
Rulers chosen by a profit seeking corporation operating in the 19th century Congo will act with extreme short sightedness and cruelty. The corporate executives are far away and cannot directly manage the operation. Thus they have to set a quota and let the local workers manage how to hit the quota. But the death rate for white colonists was over 50% a year. Thus the incentive for local workers was to tap as much rubber as soon as possible and get the hell out. And with such a high death rate, the workers are naturally the dregs of Europe.
The goal of the formalist is to study governing institutions of the past and present, learn from them, and discover general design patterns that can be used to produce good government in the future. I keep an ongoing list of design patterns here.