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PSIR104 INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL SCIENCE WEEK 5-6 THEORIES AND MODELS OF STATE
WEEK 5-6 Theories and Models of State (Heywood, Chapter 5, pp. 92-106) Rival theories of the state: The pluralist state; the capitalist state; the leviathan state; the patriarchal state. The role of the state: Minimal state, developmental, social democratic state, collectivized state, totalitarian state. The state in a global era: The state and globalization; state transformation.
Basic Questions Answered 1. What are the different roles of states? 2. What are the philosophical bases of different theories of the state? 3. How has the role and power of the state changed?
What is a state? A political unit with sovereignty. A political entity that exercises sovereign jurisdiction within given territorial borders. A system of centralized rule that tends to dominate political life in all its forms. e.g. Financial Bailouts and taxation of individual savings by governments. Is that fair? Would a democratic state do that?
Rival Theories of the State Pluralist State Capitalist State Leviathan State Patriarchal State
Pluralist Theory of the State Pluralist theory of the state has liberal origins. This theory suggests that: The state is a neutral body that arbitrates between competing interests of the society. The state’s mission should be to act like a ‘referee’ and protect citizens and their rights from other fellow citizens. (Show yellow and red cards?) Roots of this theory can be traced back to Thomas Hobbes and John Locke who argued that the state came out of a need to protect ourselves against the ‘state of nature’. What is the state of nature?
Pluralist Theory of the State As Locke put it “where there is no law there is no freedom’. Therefore, the state should guarantee natural rights of ‘life, liberty and property’. Being safe from harm (murder)? Speaking your mind ? Contractual agreements being held ? For Hobbes the state needs to provide a strong alternative to anarchy by being the ultimate power.
Pluralist Theory of the State Pluralism assumes that power is widely and evenly dispersed in societies (at least in liberal democracies). Therefore, different interest groups could, in theory, influence state decisions. e.g. The US government and the issue of abortion (Pro-life versus Pro-choice groups) The Congress on Obamacare (Insurance companies versus Poor citizens)
Pluralist Theory of the State There are several assumptions that underpin this perspective: 1. The state is subordinate to government: police and military (and other unelected bodies) serve the elected. 2. The government after being elected remains responsive to public opinion Do these assumptions hold?
Critique of Pluralism: Neo-pluralism Dahl, Lindblom and Galbraith, amongst others, point out to a need to revise our expectations from the pluralist state. They point out that business interests are more advantageous in being represented. Similarly, the state bureaucracy itself also can pursue its own interests. What is the way out? More checks and balances on the state? Transparency? More elements of direct democracy (e.g. Referendums)?
The Capitalist State according to the Marxist Theory of the State Marxist theory of the state is an alternative to pluralist theory of the state. Marxists argue that the state cannot be understood separately from the economy and economic structure of the society. Marxists argue that the state maintains the class system by either oppressing subordinate classes or elevating class conflict. There is a diverse set of views within Marxist theory.
Marxist Theory of the State Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) did not provide a complete theory of the state. He believed that the state was part of the superstructure determined by the economic base forming the foundation of social life. The capitalist state is an instrument of class rule or a means of arbitrating between competing classes so as to perpetuate a system of unequal class power. In other words, the state is there to serve the purpose of the ruling economic classes in capitalist states (the bourgeoisie). Marxist theory heavily depends on the idea of surplus value. Which postulated that the earnings for the factors of production are not equally distributed. Labour produces more value added but does not get its share (Land, Labour, Capital, Entrepreneurship Rent, Wages, Interest, Profit). What is the solution?
Marxist Theory of the State Marx sees that as class conflict disappears the state will as well. A fully communist society, he purported, would also be stateless. i.e. Marx predicts that state would lose its necessity to exist once the class system is erased. This is because the state emerged out of the class system, once the system is abolished it will seize to exist. Do we have any evidence of this?
Marxist to Neo-Marxist Theory Neo-marxism refer to the attempts of new generation of theorists to revise Marx’s ideas. They refuse to consider economy, single mindedly, as the only factor explaining political and social relations. They also look at weaknesses of Marx’s predictions and consider ideology and state power as other factors. Ralph Miliband, Nicos Poulantzas are examples of theorists providing alternatives.
Other Theories of the State that revise Marx Critical Theory: Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno The Culture Industry and Dialectics of Enlightenment Deliberative Democracy: Jürgen Habarmas Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy
The Leviathan State The leviathan state is a state that pursues its own interest that are separate from society. This results in the ever increasing powers of the state. For example the interventionist policies of the 20 th century were not demanded by the public but was a result of internal dynamics of the state. Most contemporary right wing theorists (of neo-liberal orientation) view state to be encroaching on the rights of the individuals and societies and demand minimum state involvement.
The Patriarchal State Patriarchy is a term used to refer to the domination of society by men, leading to oppression and exploitation of women. This takes many forms from domination in the family to imbalance of power in all social and political relations between men and women. Feminism and feminist theories of the state highlight the deep injustices towards women. Liberal feminists accept a pluralist view of the state and want women to acquire legal and political equality. They do not question the impartiality of the state. E.g. More women in the parliament Radical feminists, on the other hand, argue that gender divisions are the most significant division in society. They highlight the state’s role in implementing the public-private divide. There isn’t a single feminist theory of the state. There are a diverse set of views within feminist theory: First wave feminism, second-wave feminism(e.g. Simone de Beauvoir), third wave feminism(e.g. Judith Butler) and Post-feminism.
The Role of the State The minimal state The developmental state The social-democratic state The collectivized state The totalitarian state
The minimal state Minimal states merely lay down the conditions for orderly existence. Minimal states could be understood as protective bodies which provide only a framework of peace and social order within which citizens can conduct their lives as they think best. In a minimal state, decisions are usually made at the smallest possible political unit such as a town assembly or a municipality (local government). Libertarian ideology is know to support such a state. E.g. Local schools would be run by the residents of the neighbourhood. Any disadvantages?
The developmental state Developmental states attempt to promote growth and economic development. These are states that intervene in economic life for the specific purpose of promoting industrial growth and economical development. Best example to this type of a state would be post-WWII Japan with its government organized conglomerates (corporations).
The social-democratic state Social-democratic states aim to rectify (correct, cure) the imbalances and injustices of a market economy. Business cycles (booms and busts) are common in market economies and these coupled with externalities (pollution, income inequality) defeat the purpose of having a market economy. Social democratic states attempt to correct these ugly sides of market economies. These states are also called ‘Welfare States’. Examples include Scandinavian states of Norway, Sweden, Finland as well as the United Kingdom in some aspects (free healthcare). They mostly provide free healthcare and free education to their citizens (‘Cradle to Grave’ care of citizens) Social-democratic states are states that practice economic and social interventionism.
The collectivized state Collectivized states exert control over the entirety of economic life, usually through a system of central planning. Soviet Socialist Republics of the Cold War period are a good example. e.g. Shoes. Green plastic boots of size 42 only.
Totalitarian states are all-encompassing states whose influence penetrates every aspect of human existence, thus abolishing the distinction between the state and civil society. Totalitarian states bring politicization of every issue are and, destroy civil society. e.g. Driving. Who can drive a car? e.g. Reading and Writing. Who can go to school? e.g. Who should shave? The Totalitarian State
Globalization and the State Post-sovereign governance: rise of globalization lead to the decline of the state as an international actor. Power has moved away from the state and towards markets [thus Transnational Companies (TNCs)] Economic activity takes place in a borderless world and this is called ‘supraterritoriality’. This limits the ‘economic sovereignty’ of states. e.g. Inflow and outflow of capital. Nonetheless, successful economies and markets depend on the legal and social order created and maintained by states. Globalization also has social and cultural results Some theorists claim that ‘time and space’ is no longer existing. Shares are traded in different time zones at the same time. With the ease of travel and other technologies the idea of ‘space’ disappeared.
Revision and Homework What is a modern state? What are the characteristics of states in the contemporary era? How does Weber define the state? Explain why the New Right is critical of the role of the state?
Further Reading HABERMAS, J, Theory of Communicative Action (Volume 2; London: Heineman, 1981) HABERMAS, J, Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989 ). HABERMAS, J, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1996). SPRUYT, H, The Sovereign State and Its Competitors. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996)