State - Critique of the State - Bartleson.docx

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Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Bruce Morrison

A CRITIQUE OF THE STATE - BARTLESON  If one defined the state tradition on the basis of the concept of the state, one can also defined the content of this concept on the basis of its perceived place in this tradition  The state concept was gradually disentangled from its institutional realities and turned into a means for representing these realities and then criticized for its inability to represent these realities accurately  Early state bashers had to confront a problem of political order which was cast in monist terms  The traditional notion of the state is out of accord with present political conditions, in a word, we have here a case in which the political evolution has outstripped the theoretical statement of political relations  The state was no longer a unity but a multiplicity that happened to be stuck within a given territory  Authority was no longer indivisible but ought to be understood as profoundly and irreversibly divided between groups and institutions in society  Authority was no longer absolute, but ought to be understood as diluted and dispersed in the social body  The state was no longer an end in itself, but ought to be understood as a means to different and sometimes competing ends  The state is more fundamentally unified than its parts, but we, on the contrary admit that the parts are as real and as self sufficient as the whole  Another central aspect of the traditional concept of the state, namely the idea that the sovereignty of the state is or ought to be indivisible – there was a criticism here by behavioralists and pluralists  National sovereignty is by definition one and indivisible; it implies the suppression in the national territory of all groups exercising independent control. It is however obvious that where there is decentralization or federalism such groups maintain a vigorous existence  Recast the problem of state authority in terms of its organization and proper functions in relation to other constellations of interests and need in the social body  Notion that citizens owned their existence as moral beings to the state, which was thought to be devoid of moral obligation outside itself, thus being a self sufficient source  Although the arguments against the assumption of moral superiority were frequently case in terms for the pernicious impact of monist conceptions on foreign policy, such an argument could just as well be directed inwards and then against what were perceived as tendencies to irresponsible state intervention into the economic or society at large  The pluralist alternative was not easy to articulate, since the problem of political order remained phrased within a vocabulary that privileged monist solutions  The critique of the traditional state concept could be articulated against the backdrop fo a presumed convergence between legal and normative ideals on the one hand, and political realities on the other and this without ant profound confusion being felt  The political scientist is logically entitled not to say obliged – to tailor his or her vocabulary in ways that enhance explanatory power, and this without any considerations apart from those dictated by epistemic or intra-scientific concerns  Former kinds of proposition ought ideally to be law like generalizations in order to qualify as candidates for serious scientific discussion  The impact of legal positivism was increasingly being felt within other jurisprudence and political science and began to reinforce the same set of distinctions that made the bifurcation into normative and empirical theory possible  According to the traditional view it is not possible to comprehend the essence of the national legal order, unless the state is presupposed as an underlying social reality  The behaviouralist attitude to the concept or the state was marked by an ambivalence right from the state, since it was difficult to dispose of a concept that had been constitutive not only of political discourse in the past, but also of the state tradition targeted by the early pluralists  Apart from making the case for excommunication stronger on the grounds of the inherent ambiguity and opacity of the state concept, the distinction between descriptive and prescriptive propositions – when itself given a prescriptive twist – made it possible to shuffle all talk about the state that did not obey the logical demands of verifiability to the normative and speculative backyards of the discipline  The implications of this can be seen in the various attempts to reduce the concept of the state to observable entities that followed upon the uptake of
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