Failed States For second semester exam
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March 7, 2011
Origins and Functions of the Modern State
- Modern state is something between an empire and a city
- Process of sovereignty building in Europe.
- State building as a protection racket: “organized crime” verses “organized crime”
- Hobbes: from security dilemma of “war of all against all” to modern “leviathan”
- Weber: “monopoly of legitimate use of violence within a given territory
- Functions: A. Despotic – (Weberian) B. Infrastructural (Regulatory)
- Some are good at A but not B. Some are good at neither.
- State – between an empire and city
o Only existed as we think of them in the last 300-400 years
o Before this there were many centres of competing violence on the same territory
o Historically, it took a long time to take away, to own, the violence that was
controlled by local rulers (tribal chieftains, religious leaders, feudal lords, etc…)
o State building – something that occurs over a long time, mostly failed.
State building projects are used for protection racket
People at the centre city go to the countryside and talk to the
nobles and the peasants saying that if they loan them their services
they will promise protection to them
One way of thinking is one way of organized crime.
There always in progress, they’re never completed.
i.e. American Gangster, The untouchables, etc… mafia creates
state within a state.
- Hobbes was living in 17th century England during a civil war. It appeared to have no
o Hobbes said “how can we get out of this”, because the state of nature (the
condition we are naturally in) he referred to as a war of all against all.
o The only thing we can do is to take our own individual sovereignty and to hand it
over to a sovereign above us all (a leviathan).
- States have despotic power and infrastructural power (regulatory power)
o Some states are good at one of these but not the other.
Puzzle: How do you get a modern state?
- Empirical observation: you need a modern state in order to achieve economic
o You need economic development to avoid corruption.
- But you need a certain amount of wealth in order to create a modern state.
- Alternatives: chaos and corruption
- How do you get there from here?
State authority in poor societies
- Personalistic (no or fuzzy distinction between the public and the private: Saudi Arabia)
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