'The purpose of the State is always the same: to limitthe individual, to tame him, to subordinate him, to subjugate him.'MAXSTIRNERThe Ego and His Own (1845)The shadow of the state falls upon almost every humanactivity. From education to economic management, fromsocial welfare to sanitation, and from domestic order toexternal defence, the state shapes and controls, and where itdoes not shape or control it regulates, supervises, authorisesor proscribes. Even those aspects of life usually thought of aspersonal or private (marriage, divorce, abortion, religiousworship and so on) are ultimately subject to the authority ofthe state. It is not surprising, therefore, that politics is oftenunderstood as the study of the state, the analysis of itsinstitutional organisations, the evaluation of its impact onsociety, and so on. Ideological debate and party politics,certainly, tend to revolve around the proper function or roleof the state: what should be done by the state and whatshould be left to private individuals and associations? Thenature of state power has thus become one of the centralconcerns of political analysis. This debate (the so-called 'statedebate') touches on some of the deepest and most abidingdivisions in political theory.The key issues discussed in this chapter are as follows:Key issues?What is the state, and how can it be distinguished fromgovernment??How has state power been analysed and explained??Is the state a force for good or a force for evil??What roles have been assigned to the state? How haveresponsibilitiesbeen apportioned between the state and civil society??Is the modern state under threat, and, if so, how are its powers beingusurped?ContentsWhat is the state?Rival theories of the stateThe pluralist stateThe capitalist stateThe leviathan stateThe patriarchal stateThe role of the stateMinimal statesDevelopmental statesSocial-democratic statesCollectivised statesTotalitarian statesThe twilight of the state?Summary/Questionsfor discussion/Furtherreading845 • THE STATE
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)German philosopher. Hegel was the founder of modern idealism and developed the notion that consciousness and material objects are in fact unified. In Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), he sought to develop a rational system that would substitute for traditional Christianity by interpreting the entire process of human history, and indeed the universe itself, in terms of the progress of absolute Mind towards self-realisation. In his view, history is, in essence, a march of the human spirit towards a determinantendpoint. His major political work,Philosophy of Right (1821), portrayed the state as an ethical ideal and the highest expression of human freedom. Hegel's work had considerable impact upon Marx and other so-called 'young Hegelians', and it helped to shape the development of both liberal and fascist thought.