Random text on the state
Much of this may not fit into the article on User:172/State(polity). What does fit, will have to be rewritten for copywrite as well as stylistic reasons. It also gives you sources to rely on:
(Hoebel 1949: 376). Virtually all anthropologists have rejected this position, arguing that power and politics take many different forms in societies outside of, or still in the process of being colonized by, states. This has challenged anthropologists to rethink both “power” and “the state.” In the next few pages I shall review certain concepts concerning the state that are essential to the analysis in this book. Anthropologists have long recognized that there are societies – like the very societies in which virtually all anthropologists were reared – that are characterized as “states” (e.g. Radcliffe-Brown 1940: xxi). A clear and useful definition of “the state” however has been more elusive; alluding to the theories of philosophers Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Radcliffe-Brown famously remarked, “The state, in this sense, does not exist in the phenomenal world; it is a fiction of the philosophers” (Radcliffe-Brown 1940: xxii). Radcliffe-Brown understood “the state” as a form of government: centralized authority with an administrative and judicial apparatus. Daryll Forde and E.E. Evans Pritchard also emphasized centralization as a deictic (Evans-Pritchard 1949, Forde 1948).
It has been much easier for anthropologists to define and characterize the “state-level societies” than “the state” as such. Morton Fried emphasized that an important characteristic of states is that they are all stratified, by which he meant, “members of the same sex and equivalent age status do not have equal access to the basic resources that sustain life (Fried 1967: 186). Although Fried was certain that there must have been stratified societies without states, he admitted that they “are almost impossible to find” (Fried 1967: 185). The reason, he believed, is that “The maintenance of an order of stratification demands sanctions commanding power beyond the resources of a kinship system” (Fried 1967: 186). Unlike Radcliffe-Brown and others, however, Fried was not satisfied with identifying the state with an administrative and judicial apparatus. The closest he came to a definition was, “a state, then, is a collection of specialized institutions and agencies, some formal and other informal, that maintains a order of stratification” (Fried 1967: 235). One could say that Fried was moving away from defining a state based on its form, to a definition based on its function, or perhaps, caring less about what a state looks like and more about what a state does. As Pierre Clastres put it, states are societies in which “coercion and subordination constitute the essence of political power” (Clastres 1987: 13).
Fried and Clastres implicitly call attention to two different kinds of power operating in state-level societies: relations of inequality – that is to say, “stratification” or “subordination” – and the coercive sanctions required to maintain these relations. Sociologist Johan Galtung characterized the former as “structural violence,” to emphasize its bond to the more blatant forms of violence exercised by police, military, and paramilitary forces (Galtung 1969). Sociologist Max Weber’s classic definition of the state as a ruling organization that “successfully upholds the claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order” (Weber 1968: 54) introduces a third characteristic of states. As Fried explained, “legitimacy” functions “to explain and justify the existence of concentrated social power wielded by a portion of the community and to offer similar support to specific social orders, that is, specific ways of apportioning and directing the flow of social power” (1967: 26). As Fried suggests, legitimacy serves a particular regime. A good deal of political science examines cases where regimes lose legitimacy, fall, and are replaced by new regimes. But even as regimes fall and are replaced, people typically maintain their belief that some sort of regime is desirable. In times of chaos this belief may be all that is left of “the state” but it cannot be explained (let alone described) by the notion of legitimacy.
Here, sociologist Philip Abrams makes an essential contribution to our understanding of states. Abrams cautioned us about a danger in our own political discourse: talking – thinking – about “the state” as if it were a real thing. The concept of “the state,” he argued, is a mask; a term that “conceals the real history and relations of subjection behind an a-historical mask of legitimating illusion” ( 1988: 77). When its subjects talk about “the state” they are invoking “the unified symbol of an actual disunity” ( 1988: 79). As an object of study, it dissolves into the state-system and the state-idea; in order to understand the history and relations of subjugation as well as the ways they are concealed, Abrams argues, we must study these as distinct objects, and the relationship between them.
It is these two components, according to Abrams, that are real in the sense that one can observe their presence and effects. The “state-system” is “a palpable nexus of practice and institutional structure centred in government and more or less extensive, unified, and dominant in any given society” ( 1988: 82). The “state-idea” is for Abrams a “thing” only insofar as it takes the form of a particular ideology:
- … in terms of which subjection is legitimated …. It presents politically institutionalised power to us in a form that is at once integrated and isolated and by satisfying both these conditions it creates for our sort of society an acceptable basis for acquiescence. It gives an account of political institutions in terms of cohesion, purpose, independence, common interest and morality without necessarily telling us anything about the actual nature, meaning or functions of political institutions” ( 1988: 79)
The state-idea, as I understand it, is more than a belief. It is a structure of thinking (cf. Williams 1977: 132), of thinking like a state – what, following psychologist and philosopher Michel Foucault, we might call govern-mentality (Foucault 1991) or “the government of individuality” (Foucault 1982: 212) – that turns members of a society into citizens, into subjects of the state in that one’s subjugation itself becomes the grounds for agency. As Foucault observed, the word “subject” has two meanings: “subject to someone else by control and dependence, and tied to his own identity by a conscience or self knowledge. Both meanings suggest a form of power which subjugates and makes subject to” (Foucault 1982: 212). Citizens are agents of the state precisely because they are subjects of the state. When an individual’s subjectivity and agency are constituted in this fashion, “the state “ – socially ordered inequality and subordination – is taken for granted to the point that any other kind of social order, any other kind of agency, is virtually unthinkable. Central to the state-idea, I believe, is the privileging of “the center.” As Radcliffe-Brown and others remarked, centralization is often a defining feature of the state. In fact, state-systems may to varying degrees be de-centralized, but it seems to me that the idea of a center is essential to any conception of the state. Fried’s metaphor of strata, a hierarchical metaphor, is useful in a society where inequality is described through such words as “upper” and “lower.” Nevertheless I would replace it with the metaphor of concentric rings, each more distant from the center. This metaphor has been seized on by economist Andre Gunder Frank and sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein in their studies of the world capitalist economy, but it is appropriate for state systems of inequality as well. It certainly applies to the Shuar, who are acutely aware of their marginality, yet experience their distance from centers of power as a sign of their autonomy (see Keane 1997 for a detailed study on this theme). Centralization has an ideological function for elites as well. As Ronald Cohen has pointed out, in a stratified society, a dominant class may itself be divided into competing elites (e.g. land-owners, merchants, and soldiers); for a state to function, there must be some force binding these elites together, some force “by which groups in a polity competing for scarce resources rewards especially high political office are made to believe that they can still receive more rewards by remaining in the polity than by leaving it or starting a civil war” (Cohen 1981: 112). That is to say, even if a segment of the elite does not have direct control over the state-system, it must believe that such control is both desirable and possible.
As Fried observed, one feature of the state – conceptually secondary but practically primary, is to “have means of transforming basic resources into more fluid kinds of wealth” (Fried 1967: 239). Such funds can be fed back into the other institutions of the state-system such that [m]ore than any other form of human association, the state is devoted to expansion – of its population, of its territory, of its physical and ideological power. Small wonder there are so few pristine states in history for when such a state appears in a given area of the world it quickly sets about converting its environing societies into parts or counterparts of itself.” (Fried 1967: 240)
The first human being evolved about 2.4 million years ago; the first modern human, about 250,000 years ago. It was not until 3,500 BCE in the Near East, and 2,500 BCE in the Indus Valley, that the first states developed (Renfrew and Bahn 2004:173). It then took only 5,000 or so years (2% of human history) until the entire terrestrial planet, excepting Antarctica, had been divided into territorial states.
Prior to the 15th century, all states were tributary states “based on the extraction of surpluses from the primary producers by political or military rulers;” that is, cultivators or herdsmen typically owned their means of production, but gave tribute, directly or indirectly, to ruling elites (Wolf 1982: 79-80, see Amin 1973). It was this kind of state that thwarted European expansion into, and limited European trade with, Asia. It was also this kind of state that underwrote and supervised the conquest and colonization of the Americas by Europeans.
Some you know about, the others I think you should check out even if it is just to use their index to find a short passage that is relevant.
Abrams, Philip 1988  “Notes on the Difficulty of Studying the State,” in Journal of Historical Sociology 1(1): 58-89.
Amin, Samir 1973 Neo-Colonialism in West Africa. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books 1976 Unequal Development. New York: Monthly Review Press.
Claessen, Henri and Peter Skalník, eds 1978 The Early State. The Hague: Mouton. 1981 The Study of the State. The Hague: Mouton.
Clastres, Pierre 1987 Society against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology. Robert Hurley in collaboration with Abe Stein, trans. New York: Zone Books.
Cohen, Ronald 1981 “Evolution, Fission and the Early State,” in The Study of the State, edited by Henri Claessen and Peter Skalník. The Hague: Mouton. 87-117
Comaroff, Jean and John - edited volume on the neo-liberal state
Corrigan, Philip, and Derek Sayer 1985 The Great Arch: English State Formation as Cultural Revolution. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Evans-Pritchard, E.E 1949 The Sanusi of Cyrenaica. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Forde, Daryl 1948 “The Integration of Anthropological Studies,” in The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 78:1-10.
Foucault, Michel l991 "Governmentality," in The Foucault Effect, ed. By G. Burchell, C. Gordon, and P. Miller. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Frank, Andre Gundar 1969 Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America: Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil. New York: The Monthly Review Press.
Fried, Morton H. 1967 The Evolution of Political Society. New York: Random House.
Galtung, Johan 1969 “Violence, Peace, and Peace Research,” in Journal of Peace Research 6(3): 167-191.
Geertz, Cliffor Negara Gledhill, J. 2000 Power and its Disguises: Anthropological Perspectives on Politics. London: Pluto Press.
Guss, David 2000 The Festive State: Race, Ethnicity and Nationalism as Cultural Performance. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hoebel, E. Adamson 1949 Man in the Primitive World. New York: McGraw Hill.
Johnson, Allen, and Timothy Earle 2000 The Evolution of Human Societies: From Foraging Group to Agrarian State. 2nd edition. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Kurtz, Donald, assisted by Margaret Showman 1981 “The Legitimation of Early Incohate States,” ,” in The Study of the State, edited by Henri Claessen and Peter Skalník. The Hague: Mouton. 177-200
Leach, Edmund Political Systems in Highland Burma
Locke, John 1948 The Second Treatise of Civil Government and a Letter Concerning Toleration. Edited by J.W. Gough. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Miliband, Ralph. 1983 Class Power and State Power. London: Verso.
Nugent, David 1994 “Building the State, Making the Nation: The Bases and Limits of State Centralization in ‘Modern’ Peru,” in American Anthropologist 96(2).
Poulanzas, Nicos 1973 Political Power and Social Classes. Trans. Timothy O’Hagan. London: NLB
Radcliffe-Brown, A.R. 1940 “Preface” to African Political Systems ed. M. Fortes and E.E. Evans-Pritchard. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Renfrew, Colin and Paul Bahn 2004 Archeology: Theories, Methods, and Practice. 4th edition. New York: Thames and Hudson.
Sawyer, Suzana 2002 “Bobbittizing Texaco: Dis-Membering Corporate Capital and Re-Membering the Nation in Ecuador,” in Cultural Anthropology 17(2): 150-180.
2004 Crude Chronicles. Indigenous Politics,. Multinational Oil, and Neoliberalism. in Ecuador. Durham: Duke University Press
Scott, James C. 1992 Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven: Yale University Press 1999 Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (The Institution for Social and Policy Studies). New Haven: Yale University Press.
Swartz, Marc J., Victor Turner and Arthur Tuden, 1966 “Introduction,” in Political Anthropology. Chicago: Aldine. 1-42.
Tully, James 1995 Strange Multiplicity: Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wallerstein, Immanuel 1974 The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World Economy in the Sixteenth Century. New York: Academic Press.
Weber, Max 1968 Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. In three volumes. Eds. G. Ross, C. Wittich. New York: Bedminster Press
Wolf, Eric 1982 Europe and the People Without history
Yashar, Deborah J. 2005 Contesting Citizenship in Latin America: The Rise of Indigenous Movements and the Postliberal Challenge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The basic classification of states i use comes from Wolf.
My idea of an outline
- 1. The prehistory of the state
- 1.1 ethnographic evidence
- 1.1.2 Fried
- 1.1.3 Clastres
- 1.2 archeological evidence
- (rely on Claesen and Skalnik - an extremely vluabl resources - and the Renfrew textbook, and Johnson and Earle)
- 2. History (draw exclusively on historians and archaeologists, keep it empirical rather than theoretical; provide case-studies)
- 2.1 The rise of the first city-states
- 2.2 the rise of centralized tributary states
- 2.3 the rise of decentralized tributary states
- 2.4 the rise of the liberal (capitalist) state
- 2.4.1 nationalism (rely on Ben Anderson and Ernest Gellner here)
- 2.5 so-called neo-liberal states
- 2.5.1 the rise of quasi-statal organizations (UN, WTO, IMF)
- 2.5.2 the rise of NGOs
- 3. Ideologies of the state
- 3.1 Sophists, Plato and Aristotle on city states
- 3.2 look for Muslim and Chinese sources e.g. Mencius, Confucious, on centralized tributary states
- 3.3 Aquinas, Marcilius, Hooker - theorists of decentralized tributary states
- 3.4 theoriests of modern states: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau
- 4.Social scientists theorize the modern state
- 4.1 legitimacy: charismatic, bureaucratic, traditional
- 4.2 sovereignty: (no idea what goes here but i m sure it is Rousseahu versus someone ... the trick is to make this way more sophisticated than the other article; it wil have to include a section on divided sovereignty.
- 4.3 governance: (Habermas and Foucault would be in here but I am not sure how best to organize it)
- 4.4 politics: statism, liberal pluralism, marxism
- 4.5 Neoliberalism's others: civil society versus social movements (Sawyer, Nugent, Comaroff, Yashar would be good here)
I think there has to be a section on deinitions of the state (which is what most of what i wrote above is about), but I am not sure where that belongs - at the beginning or end. People at the other article are all bogged down on administrative versus international, or sovereinty, but of course the virst question is, state vs. government)
I am not sure whether there is a need for sections that deal with participatory versus represntative democracy, authoritarianism vs. totalitarianism, populism ....)