chapter4_cq--C_1 - Principles of Comparative Politics...

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Principles of Comparative Politics Chapter 4: The Origins of the Modern State
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What Is the State?
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Some Common Definitions The state “is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” ( Max Weber ) “A state is an organization with a comparative advantage in violence, extending over a geographic area whose boundaries are determined by its power to tax constituents.” ( Douglas North ) States are “relatively centralized, differentiated organizations, the officials of which, more or less, successfully claim control over the chief concentrated means of violence within a population inhabiting a large, contiguous territory.” ( Charles Tilly )
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Common Factors Two common factors in all three of these definitions: 1. A given territory 2. The use of force or the threat of force to control the inhabitants A state is an entity that uses coercion and the threat of force to rule in a given territory.
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Threat of Coercion and Force Unlike other social organizations, the state is “a violence producing enterprise.” (Lane) All states use the threat of force to organize public life. States never perfectly monopolize force. States never perfectly enforce their will. Coercion may be justified in different ways, may be used for different purposes, and with different effects. But all states use it.
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Failed States States that cannot coerce are often described as “failed states.” Afghanistan, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Congo, and others A failed state is a statelike entity that cannot coerce and is unable to successfully control the inhabitants of a given territory.
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Somalia: A Failed State “In 1993 I did emergency relief work in Baidoa, Somalia. This was a time when the Somali state had truly collapsed: there was no army, no state bureaucracy, no police force or courts, and no state to provide electricity, water, road maintenance, schools, or health services. I have a passport full of immigration exit and entry stamps from Wilson Airport in Nairobi [Kenya], the departure point for Baidoa, but there is no evidence that I was ever in Somalia because there was no immigration service to stamp my passport. I would get off the plane, and simply walk though the airport gates and go to town. As journalists often remarked, Somalia during this era had similarities with the Mad Max/Road Warrior movies: water wells guarded by armed gangs, diesel fuel was society’s most precious commodity, and ubiquitous ‘technicals’–4WD vehicles with heavy machine guns mounted onto their rear trays–cruised the streets hoping for trouble.” (Nest 2002, vi)
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Somalia: A Failed State Somalia independence in 1960. Coup in 1969–General Mohamed Siad Barre. Ogaden War with Ethiopia in 1977-1978.
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