Operationalizing the Demos
How many of “the people” does it take to make decisions for the political
o Unanimity, clear majority, plurality, minority?
o Each of these options are problematic.
How is their possession of supreme political authority by “the people” to be
put into practice?
o Direct democracy (citizens exercise authority and power),
participatory democracy (citizens participate in the process of
decision), non-participatory democracy (referenda, initiatives,
elections; what we create to give the people a sense that they are
participating in the process of decision, but in reality, it is not really
participatory), representative democracy (citizens choose delegates
to exercise power and authority on their behalf; no notion of
participation in the process of decision. The idea of choosing reps is
the only way you can operationalize).
o All of these options are also problematic.
o Even the representative democracy has difficulties because it involves
an idea that doesn‟t actually exist. The idea behind it is that we end up
as the demos, being governed by a select few, and the idea is that we
allow ourselves to be governed because we give this process our
consent. When was the last time anyone was actually approached by
the governing apparatus and asked whether or not you consent to the
operation of this particular system?
o Consent of the governed, though hypothetical, one part. The other part
is periodic accountability, and that is not at all hypothetical.
Periodic accountability: those that make decisions on our behalf
have to periodically become accountable to those whom they
The importance of assemblies in this democratic option.
Assemblies come in many different forms;
o Huge variation in how they were created (elected, appointed, mixture).
o Huge variation in accountability o Huge variety in terms of size and activity. i.e. China‟s national
assembly (3,000 people).
o Variety in internal organization.
o Legislative resources.
o Political function (not as much variation).
Assemblies: political functions
Universal political functions
o Legitimation; serves to legitimize the system.
o Political recruitment
Anytime you get a legislature, even in the most authoritarian systems, there
will be those three factors.
Types of representation;
Styles of representation;
When you look at the assembly and those who populate it, you‟ll see a
different way of performing the representative function.
Needs to represent and reflect the sociological attributes of the many (demos)
that the folks who occupy these institutions are supposed to be representing.
o “[A representative assembly] should be, in miniature, an exact portrait
of the people at large. It should feel, reason, and act like them.” – John
Quincy Adams, Thoughts on Government (1776).
Lebanon case study; before civil war that wrecked what was a peaceful and
wealthy community. Prior to Syrian intervention. Civil war left Lebanon the
broken polity that it is today; active effort to try to reflect deep diversity in the
Lebnon‟s religious representation; o 1970s: Majils al-„Umma (National Assembly) mirrored divisions of
Shi‟ites, Sunnis, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Maronite Christians,
Armenian Orthodox, Druze – always with an overall 6:5
o The seats were allocated in different numbers, but always had a 6:5
o Once the civil war occurred, massive outflow of Christians.
o Nice example of how you can have a hugely diverse political
community and try and ensure that the diversity is reflected in your
Hong Kong‟s “functional constituencies”;
o 30 of 60 members of Legislative Council elected by
economic/occupational groups. i.e. Agriculture and Fisheries has a
seat, hotel industry has a seat, financial services, etc.
o Organization of a representative assembly according to the kind of
broad structure of the capitalist economy of HK.
o Number of voters for these seats vary considerably.
New Zealand‟s aboriginal representation;
o An effort is made to ensure that the Mãoris (indigenous group) are
120 seats: 62 “general” electorates (territorial divisions), 51
party lists, 7 seats allocated to the Mãori, elected by a separate
Mãori electorall roll.
The idea behind this is to try to ensure that there is some
ongoing representation of the original inhabitants of New
Fiji‟s ethnic representation (1990 constitution)
o Deeply divided political community.
o 1990 constitution seeks to try and represent in the parliament the deep
divisions within Fijian politics.
House of Representatives has 70 members:
Indigenous Fijians: 37
Rotuman islanders: 1
Others: 5 The idea was that the Fijians are always going to be in the
majority. This didn‟t work and Fiji is back into another political
Nice example of an attempt to try and mirror a deeply divided
community within the national legislature.
China (3,000 members in national congress, divided in a way to try to reflect
certain attributes of the polity).
o NPC has a percentage of seats allocated to a variety of seats.
Non-communist parties: 15%; allowed to exist in China provided
that they do not challenge article 1 of the Chinese constitution
which gives permanent hegemony to Chinese Communist Party.
Peoples Liberation Army: 9%
Returned overseas Chinese: 1.2%
55 ethnic minorities: 14%
o What you see here is an effort to ensure that when those 3,000 people
meet, they are going to represent certain elements of the PRC.
Remember that in essence, sociological representation as a way of trying to
reflect the many is a fundamentally failed way.
Attempts to divide the community up territorially and have a representative
from that area.
Nomenclature differs: district (US), ridings (Canada), electorate (Australia,
New Zealand), constituency (UK).
Risk of overrepresentation and underrepresentation. Doesn‟t care about who
gets the represent the individuals.
What happens when those representatives go to the national assembly? Styles of Representation (Geographic)
Delegate: representatives seek to mirror their constituents‟ wishes.
Trustee: representatives act in what they believe is the best interests of their
constituents, knowing that if their choices cannot be justified, the voters will
throw them out at the next election.
o Classic trustee statement: “Your representative owes you, not his
industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you,
if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” – Edmund Burke, speech to the
electors of Bristol, 1774. 1/23/2012 12:22:00 PM Governance
The Essay: A Second Cut
The importance of the puzzle. This is a crucial element of the writing process.
The importance of making the puzzle manageable.
The assignment: Topic of your choice.
o Creation of an outline. Take that which puzzles you and work it
through. Think about how that puzzle is going to translate itself into an
8-12 page paper.
Cover page: proposed title, name, student number, TA‟s name,
date of submission.
2-3 pages of text: outline puzzle and how you propose to
2-3 pages includes bibliography. Number of sources depends
heavily on what you‟re doing.
Due 9 February 2012, before lecture.
Consult course outline for all the information about the outline
and its submission.
10% of winter term grade.
What is Governance?
Making authoritative choices for and about the community.
Regulating the public affairs of the community, not the private affairs of
Ensuring that decisions are implemented by exercising power, influence, and
These 3 elements are all part of a process.
Governance and Government
Governance: The process of decision-making, regulation, and enforcement.
o Term is used to essentially draw attention to that it is the process that
we are interested in.
Government: The institutions that human beings have created to undertake
the process of governance. Sometimes we refer to this as “the state”.
Drawing this distinction allows us to ask the crucial question: Does one need
a government to engage in governance?
Governance without government? Governance without Government?
Possibility that human beings can regulate their political activity without the
institutions? Conditions of anarchy?
26 JANUARY 2012 @ 3:30 PM (LECTURE 2)
Governance and Government
Does one need a government to engage in governance?
Governance without government?
When everyone does their own thing. Everyone pursues their own interests.
Lack of order.
Idea of a dystopia – something negative. Why do we have such a negative
view of anarchy when we shouldn‟t? All that anarchy means is essentially a
community that doesn‟t have a government.
When you strip it of its emotionalism and pejorative connotation, all we‟re
talking about is that condition without government.
An + archy = withour ruler or government.
Global politics – if you have a global government, it wouldn‟t be clear if the
industrial north would enjoy their status.
o A society that lives and reproduces itself for generations without having
invented a state form of government. There are political communities
that have not invented government.
There are a number of communities today that live out their lives in an entirely
stateless condition. Every stateless society lives a paradoxical existence.
Every square metre of land above sea level on the earth today is claimed by 1
or more than the 193 sovereign states. That being said, there are many
places around the world where the claims of those governments simply
doesn‟t reach. There is a dwindling number of such societies. o The !Kung (Kalahari desert, Namibia/South Africa).
o The Yanomamo (northern Brazil).
o The Huli (southern highlands, Papua New Guinea).
o The Jieng aka Dinka (South Sudan).
o The Sentinelese (Andaman Islands, Indian Ocean).
Characteristics of governance in stateless societies (societies having no state
or governmental institutions).
o No “continuous organization of official functions bound by rules” (Max
Weber‟s examination of the contemporary state he was living on
focused on the importance of the continuous organization of the
modern state. In other words, a stateless society does not have
any continuous organization; it has governance functions,
leaders, systems of decision-making, but these are deeply
personal and very much attached to the individual who happen
to be in position of leadership at a particular moment in time.
o No institutionalization that is separate from the continuous
organization. There may be particular norms, but they aren‟t
o No codification of rules for very good reason. Most stateless societies
have no written language and indeed their conception of numeracy are
extremely limited. There is no need to codify rules and no need for a
written language, and so that for the vast majority of stateless
societies, there hasn‟t been a necessity to invent a written form of
communication. There are many languages in the international system
where complex counting is simply not part of the way in which folks
conceive of their particular world. This is not to say that there aren‟t
any rules or that they aren‟t complex. All societies have rules. It is in
how those rules are communicated and reproduced that marks the
difference between stateless societies and regular societies.
o No monopoly on use of force. There is a mythology that without the
oppressive nature of the state, that in effect, life in a stateless society
would be fundamentally peaceful and non-violent. On the contrary,
violence is essential to stateless societies; it isn‟t random violence, but
it is the use of force for the advancement of your particular interests (Thomas Hobbes). The lack of monopoly on the use of force is very
much part of how they govern themselves.
o No classes; classless society. There isn‟t a particular type of class; that
is the consequence of the final attribute of a stateless society.
o No separation of governors from governed. There isn‟t a ruling class
sustained by a surplus produced by the community.
Societies Governed By a State
Characteristics of governance in societies having a state and governmental
o “Continuous organization of official functions bound by rules” (Weber).
The state consists of a huge number of offices that are filled with
official occupants, bound by certain rules, to do particular jobs for the
state. These are both elected (House of Commons) or appointed
(governor general) or through birth (monarch). These individuals as
individuals don‟t matter.
o Highly institutionalized.
o Rules codified. They are codified to a high degree of specificity.
o Monopoly on use of force.
o Classes: division of labour.
o Separation of governors from governed.
Ruling class sustained by a surplus produced by the community. Origins of the State
30 JANUARY 2012 @ 2:30 (LECTURE 1)
Stateless vs. state societies (refer to last lecture notes)
Raises a puzzle.
The appearance of states and the non-appearance of states in other places at
When Europeans arrived on the shores of Australia, why is this what
Europeans found everywhere in the 17 and 18 centuries?
Representation of an aboriginal community.
Over the course of 10s and thousands of years, we see no development of a
state. Why is this the case?
Had Europeans not arrived and settled Australia and defeated the aboriginal
peoples and established a European style state, it is likely that aboriginal
peoples in 2012 would have looked exactly like they did in that image. It could
be argued that 10,000 years ago, aboriginal peoples in Australia would still
look like that.
Origins of the State
Where does the state come from? If we think about it arriving at a certain
moment in time or if we think of it as being invented, why does it appear in
some places and not others? o Why do some humans govern themselves in stateless societies while
others govern themselves by means of the state?
Six general explanations for the appearance of the state…
The notion that the state was ordained by god(s). If you are familiar with the
foundation myths of large number of states, you will know that there is often
times a linkage made between the god(s) and the creation of the state.
o Foundation myths of numerous peoples.
o Closely linked to divine claims to authority.
Simple line of argument.
The state is a “natural” occurrence; the state will be the natural (i.e. inevitable
result of humans living together.
The difficulty with this is easily reflected by thinking about the image of the
aboriginals of Australia.
If the explanation cannot explain the absence of the state, we pass it by.
Focus on the state as a voluntary creation of human beings.
Life without a state is so grim that human beings will actively seek to trade
their natural condition (without state) and instead, create a state.
o This, is the essential argument for those who read Leviathan literally by
English philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
o This only captures a bit of what Hobbes was arguing.
Hobbes and the Origins of the State
o Humankind in its “natural” state or the “state of nature”…
A hypothesized condition of individuals who live without society
or government. o To get to this natural state, one had to assume that all human beings
were free and most importantly, equal to one another. This is Hobbes‟
radical contribution to how we think about each other and society. He
was asserting that all human beings are equal to one another.
o The consequences of all this equality, freedom and vulnerability,
Hobbes suggests particular implications in this natural state.
If there‟s no sovereign, everyone defines right and wrong for
Where there‟s no sovereign to “keep them in awe”, everyone is
in a state of war.
The Social Contract
o I agree as a free and sovereign individual, capable of making my own
decisions and standards of justice, along with everyone else, I agree to
trade that right, and give it to a sovereign, the Leviathan, and am now
no longer able to have that right. And in return, the sovereign will keep
everyone in awe.
o Comparable explanations
o Further exploration of these ideas occur in POLS 250.
Assessing Voluntaristic Explanations
Philosophic, not empirical, explanation.
Hobbes‟ entire account of the state of nature is by a logically impossible.
Human beings simply can‟t exist in an atomic state. We don‟t know how far
back we have to go before we find an ancestor that didn‟t live in a society.
Not only is it biologically impossible, but there is no historical example of
stateless societies voluntarily forming a state.
Basically suggest that once agriculture was invented, that the state
automatically got invented. In other words, once human beings began to
domesticate plants and animals, then the state was something that just
Universal condition of Homo sapiens sapiens 15,000 BCE.
o Hunter gatherers. o No food surplus.
o The consequence of this was that the population density is exceedingly
o Life was exceedingly marginal. Small bands.
No complex social organization.
No social stratification.
No occupational division of labour.
Agriculture was “invented” at different times in different places.
o Food surplus.
o Increase in population density.
o Conflict management becomes more difficult in larger communities.
o Emergence of “Big Men” (chiefs) and governing apparatuses to resolve
o Some members of the community freed from food production.
o Division of labour, emergence of distinct occupations (farmers,
o This all leads to the emergence of chiefdoms.
o Chiefdoms expand, conquer other communities to form increasingly
o This leads to the formation of the state.
2 FEBRUARY 2012 @ 3:30 PM (LECTURE 2)
The Origins of the State
Automatic Explanations Assessed
When agriculture is invented, when the knowledge of how to domesticate
plants and animals is there and practiced, then, automatically, the state
But if in fact the automatic explanation is correct, it would follow that wherever
agriculture is practiced, you will find a state emerging. The problem is that
that is just not the case. Many places in the world where we see the practice
of agriculture for thousands of years, yet no state emerges.
o New Guinea – state was brought to New Guinea by Europeans. o Mississippi basin/eastern North American – agriculture but yet, by the
time Europeans arrive to wipe out much of the population, we do not
see the emergence anywhere of a state form of governance. Not to
suggest that the aboriginal people of this continent weren‟t governing
themselves in highly complex ways. But what we don‟t see in N.
America until Europeans came, we do not see the appearance of the
state. No state in Eastern Latin America.
o Amazon basin
We can‟t find an example of the state that emerges without first the invention
and practice of agriculture. We simply don‟t have any example at all of where
hunter-gatherers emerge immediately and create a state. So, we must think
about the question here of universality.
Automatic explanation assumes a universality that is not there.
o Food production does not lead to state formation.
o No states emerge unless there is food production, increased
In other words, food production is not a necessary condition, but not a
What conditions are necessary and sufficient for food production to give rise
to state formation?
Necessary and Sufficient Conditions: WAR?
War is this necessary and sufficient condition. War and conquest is crucial to
Examples of states that had their origins in war and conquest…
o Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, Greece, Japan, Rome, northern
Europe, Polynesia, Mesoamerica (Aztecs, Maya), Andes in South
America (Incas), central Africa.
There‟s a difference between
There seems to be no exception to the rule that states do not emerge without
But… The problem is universality.
o All states emerge from war.
o Not all wars lead to state formation. Human beings and their ancestors
are/were a deeply violent species. All the mythology to the contrary not
withstanding. War is something has always been a feature of a vast
majority of people.
o War is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition.
What are the sufficient and necessary conditions?
What this focuses on is the geographic environment in which states emerge.
Geography is crucial for an understanding in the circumstances in which war
between agricultural communities give rise necessarily to the state, while war
in agricultural communities do not.
Take a look in the last 7,000 years at where the state actually emerged and
focus on the most obvious…
o Tigris/Euphrates valley
o Nile valley
o Indus valley
o Valley of Mexico
o Coastal valleys of Peru.
Differences: altitude, rainfall, temperature, soils, drainage.
One commonality: the limitation of arable land. Has crucial impacts on the
way in which politics in a particular area gives rise to the state.
Contrasting two particular areas that essentially are exceedingly similar in
some respects, but give rise to different political results…
o Peru vs. Brazil. Amazonia.
o Answer found in ecological and political environment of both places.
o Ecological: unlimited rainforest (capable of sustaining huge
o Political: farming communities, autonomous villages. They were as
large of a political unit as you could find. The number of villages kept
growing. Part of the political environment of Amazonia was marked by
war between these villages. What did they fight over? Women and
Fundamental difference in what wars are fought over. The State and Sovereignty
6 FEBRUARY 2012 @ 2:20 PM (LECTURE 1)
From Band to Chiefdom
Consequences of victory and defeat; the price of not being exterminated…
o Tribute of food to victor. This frees victors from food production, which
is argued to lead to…
o The need for administration.
o Incorporation of defeated villages into larger political unit: chiefdoms.
We see the emergence of a ruling class; other classes of individuals within
the conquering units designed to perform a variety of political tasks.
The creation of different strata within the new chiefdom. In particular, the
marks of “rulership”…
o Different forms of dress
o Accommodation for the leaders.
o Difference in terms of treatment.
With the emergence of chiefdoms, comes literacy, numeracy, and
Also an emergence of religion as legitimating ideology; linking the ruler to the
Emergence of public works – things created at the order of the ruling class
that aren‟t necessarily necessary for the community as a whole.
o The indulgence of the ruling class.
o Means of legitimization.
Emergence of slavery as an institution.
o Public works need concentrated labour that can be provided by slaves
captured in warfare.
o In some circumstances, slaves are integral and useful for the
requirements of religious belief. i.e. Mayan civilization and the
importance of human sacrifice.
The dynamic that transforms a village to a chiefdom gets reproduce at a
larger level. Chiefdoms, just like villages, find an expansion of population
density that leads to wars between chiefdoms and the argument is that it has
precisely the same dynamic, except 1 level up. From a chiefdom, you get a
creation of a kingdom.
o This leads to the invention of urban centres; people made landless by
war gravitate to military administrative centres.
o This, then, leads to the formation of the state. Back to the Puzzle
The argument is essentially that Australian aboriginals, having lived in that
state for many years, would continue to live in that state because of the lack
Wasn‟t because they didn‟t know about agricultural practices, but because of
the unpredictable Australian weather and there wasn‟t anything to
domesticate. You could hunt them, but domesticating couldn‟t happen.
Why look at the origins of the state?
To understand its inevitability – path dependency. The logical consequences
of the invention of agriculture, there is no going back; the impossibility of de-
inventing the state. The best you can do is not practice it.
To appreciate the essential unchanging nature of the state and its power over
time. The dynamics of domination are not that different from the first states.
The essence is the same, even though the outcome is rather different.
Because of the centrality of the state to politics everywhere.
The State: Ancient and Modern
Naming the state
o The “states” of antiquity.
o The “modern state”
The notion of the state as a particular political form didn‟t emerge as an
abstraction until the last millennium. The term that we use today that is
reflected in all the European languages emerges out of European experience.
The words must be self-conscious of its European origins. Although it is
European in origin, it has spread over the world.
The Functions of the State
Define the community. This definition takes place in a number of different
o Establishment and maintenance of borders.
o Fix membership: define who the Other is. Most essential and binary
definition that states always make; who we are, who they are.
Conduct relations with the Other(s) 9 FEBRUARY 2012 @ 3:30 PM (LECTURE 2)
Extra lecture Tuesday Februray 28 , 2012.
The Functions of the State
Define the community; the membership of that community, in particular,
establishing the most basic duality between us and them.
o Establish and maintain borders.
o Fix membership: define who the Other is.
Conduct relations with the Other(s).
o Defense against attack.
o Conquest and war.
Maintain internal order; to maintain order within the political community.
Takes different forms.
o Articulate and enforce rules. The attempt by the state to ensure that
there is a set of understood of informal and formal rules.
o Pattern maintenance: Designed to capture the essentially conservative
and inertial nature of the state wherever it appears. To maintain certain
patterns; patterns of wealth, privilege, status, etc. The state is
committed to seeking to ensure that these patterns are continued and
perpetuated into the next generation. The reason for stressing this is to
underscore the fundamentally conservative nature of the state
wherever it appears. Seeking to preserve what is and extending that
into the future.
o Social reproduction; the state is very committed to what is. States are
deeply resistant to serious change.
Engage in economic redistribution (produce, labour, capital, goods, income,
o Duties and levies.
o Taxes of different sorts.
Establish and maintain community infrastructure (“public works”).
o Monuments; most common form. Not simply for the indulgence of the
ruling class, but also for the politics of the state. o Palaces and other awe-inspiring edifices.
o Education; concerned with the reproduction of patterns. Every state
has interest in how the young are formed in their youth and thus
released into the community to establish themselves as adults. This
suggests that every state has an interest in how the young are formed.
o “Welfare” (i.e. the well-being of the community).
No state is able to perform these varied functions by power (or influence)
alone. How does any state manage to operate when the state is a tiny
amount of people? How do these people end up performing these functions
for hundreds of years for millions of people? Answer: through power and rule
of anticipated reaction. The State and Sovereignty
13 February 2012 @ 2:30 PM (Lecture 1)
The State and Political Authority
No state able to perform these varied functions by power (or influence) alone.
Authority is crucial.
The Rule of Anticipated Reaction
Crucial for our understanding of how power works.
Essential difference between having power and exercising power, which
leads to power analysis.
Power analysis: A, B, X, and Y.
o The A‟s want X; the B‟s want Y.
o Represents the conflict of interest.
o We want to understand how the A‟s and the B‟s act towards each