The state regulates our lives in one way or another. The state plays the initial role of birth registration to the final role of life by issuing a death certificate. The nature of the state may seem uncomprehendable, but it all centrally revolves along political and social theory. This book lays focus in the key elements that cause a conflict of in interpreting the nature of the state. In the western countries, the political state is associated with the ability of the state to administer and control a specified territory. This idea dates back from the ancient Rome and though is was not recognized till the development of the early European state system. The political rights and duties have a close relation to the tradition of religion and property rights. The fact that human are dutifully loyal to the state could not happen under this conditions.
There were complicated historical changes that contributed to the transformation of the political era. The struggles by the monarchs and baron to obtain rightful power; rebellion of the peasants objecting excess taxation and social obligation; spreading of trade; the struggle between the church and the state; and the rising of the renaissance culture with its renewed interests in political ideas. A great contribution is loosening the grip of feudal traditions, in relation to the nature of political authority. The concept of the state remained the key subject of political analysis until the sixteenth century. The works of great philosophers like Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) and Jean Bodins (1530-1596), cannot be left out. It was until Thomas Hobbes (1642) expressed his interests by doing research on the rights of state and the duties carried out by its subjects. (Skinner, 1978). His observations were challenged by Karl Marx in the nineteenth century, who felt that the modern state is a form of public power separate from its ruler and those it rules, and constitutes a great political influence within a defined boundary. (Skinner, 1978). The source of controversy was on the power of the state. It brought out several questions in the minds of the key participants.
The history of political analysis answers all these questions. This is explained in various ways. First, there was liberalism, which took the case of sovereignty and citizenship of individuals. Liberal democracy, focused on the concerns of political accountability. Marxism, opposed the terms of reference of both liberalism and liberal democracy. It laid its concentration on structure of different classes and the forces of political oppression. Lastly is the concept of political sociology. This lay focus on the conception of the state, while elaborating the institutional mechanisms of the state and the system of the state in general. Despite the presence of these traditions, none of them forms a unity. Each of them brings out its ideas entailing divergence. Therefore, it is wise noting that in any field that has numerous literatures, and carries out assessment on it, any selection has subjective element to it.
There has always been a distinction between normative political theory or political philosophy and the descriptive explanatory theories of the social sciences. Normative political theory refers to the theories about the correct form of political organization. It deals with the accounts of liberty and equality. Descriptive theory deals with the efforts to characterize actual events and marks a strong empirical element. The difference comes in the theories that focus on what is desirable and what the case ought to be. Many political philosophers describe their thoughts of the state with reference to the current position of the state. The view of the social scientists cannot be left out in this motion. They believe the facts need interpretation and the framework used in the interpretation determines the important aspects that we can see and register.
Understanding the meaning of liberalism is a key concept in defining the political aspects in a state. According to Horbes, liberalism involves setting free members of the civil society from any political interferences and the concurrent delimitation of the state authority. With time, and with the growing division between the state and the civil society, the struggle for a range of freedoms and struggles became acute. Liberalism became associated with the fact that freedom of choice should be applied to matters that affect our daily lives such as marriage, religion, economic and political affairs. Liberalism upholds the values of reason and tolerance in the face of tradition. This brings out the failure of politics in individual rights. Politics should be about the defense of the rights of these individuals. The defense should have an impact of realizing their capacities.
Liberalism lays great focus on the male individual. As freedom cropped in, those who experienced it first were the men of the new middle classes. Liberalism began in the western countries and later liberal democracy evolved. Later the universe franchise won allowing all adults to express their judgement on the performance of those in leadership positions. However, till present, the meaning of liberalism and democracy remain unsettled.
Hobbes was the first philosopher to discover the nature of public power as a special kind of institution. The rough the theory of human nature, sovereign authority and political obligation, he sort to prove that the state must be regarded as both absolute and legitimate so that the worst occurrences are permanently avoided.
In his argument, Hobbes had a political philosophy, which is a captivating point of political exit. He is able to explain the existence of society and the state with reference to free and equal individuals. To him men sprung out of the earth like mushrooms and grew to full maturity without any engagements. Hobbes tries to his level best to find the best circumstances humans exist. He feels the current state is just a form of expression. In addition, it is liberal as it puts emphasis on the importance of consent in making of a contract or bargain. His political position is that he seeks the presence of an all-powerful state where each one creates laws and secures the conditions of the social and political life.
In Leviathan (1651), Hobbes set out his argument systematically. With the influence of Galileo, he intended to build his own civil science basing on his reasoning and deductions. He began from observations of human nature. According to Hobbes, human beings are moved by desires and aversions, which propagate restlessness in them. They are self centered as all there interest is based on the benefit of the individual limiting human cooperation. To fulfill their desires human often seek power. Since obtaining power requires resistance of another in power, conflicts of interest will never cease. They are a fact of nature. He views mankind to have declined in their way of reasoning as they thirst for power, which ceases in death. This makes him feel that human beings cannot trust each other, keeping promises and honoring contracts.
In another thought, Hobbes describes that the consistent search for self satisfaction does not necessarily end in search for power to prove this concept he introduced four concepts. These are the state of nature, the right of nature, the law of nature, and social contrast. Individuals in a state of nature are in a situation without common power. They enjoy their natural rights and use all means possible to protect their lives and do whatever they wish. They have the freedom to do whatever one likes against whoever they wish and enjoy all they would or get. This involves a constant struggle for survival. In the state of nature, one has a feeling that life is brutal, nasty, and short. To avoid the risk premature deaths, one needs to follow the natural laws and rule required. In short, Hobbes feels that the best way out is to do to others what you would love them to do unto you. The state of nature makes agreements between individuals with the purpose of regulating their lives and getting a common stand impossible
Hobbes feels that individuals should surrender their rights by ushering in powerful authority, which can force them to keep promises and covenants. With this is place there is room for an effective and legitimate society and state. The presence of social contrast comes when members of the state hand over their rights to of self governance to a single authority and thereafter the government has the order to carry out its obligations on their behalf. The final result is often a different relation existing between the authorities due to the presence of a different political power. There is also the presence of a sovereign power within a state. The sovereign power has a duty to impose rules and the subjects have to obey to the latter. The position of sovereign is a product of social contrast. The contrasts occur once and this gives the authority the ability to determine the nature and limits of the law.
At all times, power must be effective. This means that the sovereign needs to use their power to make agreement stick and ensure adequate enforcement of the laws governing political and economic life. Within the sovereign governed state, social orders re sustained but along its outskirts, traces of chaos exist. According to Hobbes, the presence of self perpetuation, and unity all this is based on the choice of the members of the state who choose the leaders. The people rule through the sovereign as the sovereign is their protection.
A strong secular state was termed as the most effective and appropriate legitimate political form. The citizens had a right to change their rules in relation to the prevailing circumstances. The fundamental purpose of sovereignty was to develop a culture of safety for the members of the state. This means all the property of the people is guarded. Apart from protection, the sovereign offer education to its people to ensure respect prevails between individuals and they also respect each others property. A state that has respectful members is a prosperous state. The trade industry and the economy are able to flourish very fast. Hobbes further states that the sovereign should gauge their actions. They should not only look at the material well being of its members but also ensure that its members are able to recognize the authority to ensure sustainability of the state. With this adequate protection will be provided to everyone.
Therefore, it is worth noting the conception of the state according to Hobbes. He sees the state as a pre-eminent in political and social life. To him, the presence of civilized state influences the living conditions of the members of the state. In a civilized state, humans cannot stay in a miserable condition as the state influences their interests and activities. The state constitutes society through the powers of command and through the capacity of the sovereign to enforce the law. The state constitutes society through the powers of command of the sovereign and through the capacity of the sovereign to enforce laws.
The state does not record or reflect the actual reality in the socio-economic life. It enters into every constructional works in a defined form and through coding its forces. The self-seeking nature of some members of the state through their behavours and patterns of interaction that make the state power necessary. The sovereign state must be strong and able to act in a single force. The sovereign state must also be able to act decisively to counter t he threat of anarchy. We must consider the state and all its functions legitimate. Different members of the state have different ideas. It is the notion of these ideas in relation to the nature of the state that can articulate and defend the general public interests. The sovereign state represents the public meaning the total ideas brought out by its members. This means it is guide to individuals on the way to go about with their lives and to go about their business peacefully.
Hobbes also has an extraordinary argument. He feels that an individual being self-interested is not real. This doctrine is presupposed in the economic and political doctrines. He feels the doctrines of human nature revolve around accountability, obligation, representation, and sovereignty. One philosopher John Locke, decide to object the views of Hobbes. He objects the fact that individuals can only find peace with one another if they are governed by the dictatorship leadership. To him, this notion is absurd. He compares this to pole cats that conduct mischief and expect to be guarded by the lion. In other word, he says that it is hardly that humans do not fully trust one another and care most on their personal interests. According to Locke, the state should be used as an instrument of governance and provide defense to life liberty and the state if its citizens. This means the main function of the state id to protect its citizens according to the state rule and the laws laid by God. Locke describes the society as the sum of individuals who exist prior to the state and establish a guide to the state. He states that the government should lay importance on the purpose of its existence and know that it can be revoked if it fails to sustain its individuals at its level best.
Locke feels that a legitimate government requires the approval of its citizens. The government is at risk of dissolution if it fails to adhere to the interests of its citizens and its citizen’s loose trust in it. Despite the difference in opinion of Locke and Hobbes, the fact remains that the state has a role to play to its citizens. Locke accepts that the state has a jurisdiction over its territory and feels the division of state power is an important conception.
Contrary to individual expectations, it is interesting that the nature of the state can be political. The existence of political power dates back from individual endowed with natural rights. Both Locke and Hobbes are concerned in the form the legitimate government should take and the way it implements security, peace, and freedom. Locke describes individuals to be in a state of nature. They have to be in a state of perfection to order their actions and thought in a way that suits everyone and is bound by the laws.
The state of nature is a state of liberty in which individuals are bound by the laws of God and governed by the laws of nature. The law of nature specifies individual morality. It states that individuals should not infringer the liberty of others but at all times strive to preserve each others interests. Locke feels that men are free and equal because they are similar in reason and capable of rationality. Individuals have the right to dispose their labour and poses property. The right to property is the right to life liberty and estate.
According to Locke, a state that adheres to the law of nature is not a state of war. In the state of nature, not all the rights of individuals are safeguarded. In addition, not all individuals respect the rights of others. He believes that when individuals have the option of respecting the right of others, there comes up several judges who eventually cause a conflict of interpretation. When people are loosely organized, they get vulnerable to the aggression from abroad.
In terms of property management and ownership, property is prior to both the society and the state. Regulating property is often difficult. The law of nature states that there has to be an agreement or contract to create an independent society and political society. There should also be a clear distinction between this two so that assigning authority can be easy and individuals can feel the taste of proper governance. The process of the formation of the state does not transfer all the rights of its citizens to the state. Only the rights of making laws and its enforcement are transferred but the whole process is conditional upon the state sticking to the essential purpose of preserving life liberty and estate.
The sovereign has the ability to enact rules as an agent of the members of state and in accordance to the law of nature and the executive power. Locke has different views in relation to the conception of the political institutions. He believes that the constitutional monarchy should hold the executive power and the parliament bears the right to legislation. Though the problem comes in with who is to vote for the assembly. Many may feel that it is obvious that the people have the right to vote for the assembly, but Locke thinks otherwise. The government is ruling the state and its legitimacy are sustained by the consent of its individuals. An agreed choice by members of the state is sufficient to ensure the government authority and legitimacy. The actual consent of individuals is effective in the inauguration of legitimate state. Consent represents the decision of the majority members of the state. The government by the means of the original contract is bound by the law of nature meaning members are guaranteed of life liberty and estate. The price being a duty to obey the law unless political actions cause interference.
The duty of the state is to protect its members from aggression from abroad. It has to maintain law and order ensuring there are no interferences. It should be the regular and protector of the society. One the state satisfy its members, they will be free to develop and perfect their capabilities hence satisfying their needs as they exchange ideas freely with each other. According to Locke, political activities also play a key role within the state. Political activities secure the framework for freedom such that the private ends of the members of the state are met within the civil society. Creation of a political system poses a burden to members of the state.
In relation the Hobbes way of thinking, this is the most significant view. This view demonstrates freedom from European liberalism. The state is able to safeguard the rights of its members, as they are the judges of their self interests. The interests of the members of the state are restricted and confined to ensure maximum freedom of every citizen. In a closer analysis, Locke’s ideas have led to the development of liberalism and prepared the way for government traditions. Compared to Hobbes, Locke has greatly influence the presence of practical politics. His views give direction to the important concerns of the state from securing the rights of citizens, describing the form of majority rulee, and others. He gives direction on the importance of division in power within the state, constitutional monarchy and also emphasizes on a representative system of parliamentary government. This is a direct anticipation of the British government as it developed and a clear demonstration of the modern representation of the state.
Despite his numerous achievements, Locke did not see the crucial components of democratic representation. For instance, he did not mention anything on competitive parties, the party rule, and the way to maintain political liberty irrespective of an individual’s class, sex, colour, or creed. He also did not point out ways of developing a detailed account on the limits of state interference in the lives of the citizens and state the condition upon which civil disobedience is justified. He brought out that political power is held for the people basing on their trust. He did not have the idea that power can be exercised by the citizens themselves. Locke is a great philosopher whose works symbolize both liberal and democratic government.
People cannot live without any guiding force despite the presence of trustees who are not trustworthy. This is the introduction of two other philosophers Jeremy Bentham and James Mill. According to Jeremy and James, liberal democracy is a form of political apparatus that ensures accountability of the governors to those who are being governed. Bentham states that democracy is a characteristic object used to secure members of a given state against oppression and depredation in the hands of those in authority. Democratic government aims to protect citizens from despotic use of political power whether it is by a monarch or other groups.
According to Bentham and Mill, democracy is achieved through a secret ballot. Citizens chose their leaders and politicians through competition in the form of elections, separation of power, and the liberty of the press. This way the interests of the members of the society are sustained. Bentham and Mill feel that the concepts of natural science are misleading. To them, these philosophical fictions fail to elaborate the real basis of the citizen’s commitment and the duty of the state. To them, the basis of human actions lies on the fact that humans act to satisfy desire and avoid pain. This means that the actions of humans are mainly to fulfill their desires, maximize their satisfactions and utilities, and minimize their suffering. The society consists of individuals who are seeking much utility as compared to what they can get.
Hobbes thought that human nature is subordinate. He states that those who are in authority will act naturally in relation to those they govern. This means that the government in order to avoid abuse has to be accountable to an electorate when they are called upon to assess whether they have met the objectives they set. This is to say that the government ought to act according to the principle of utility. It must aim to ensure by all means involving careful calculations that there is achievement of greater happiness by the greatest number.
Bentham and Mill believe in the contentment of the general public. There are four subsidiary goals laid to achieve this major goal. This includes providing subsistence, producing abundance, favoring equality, and maintaining security. The most critical of these is providing security. A state that lacks security will have its members lacking the incentive to work and generate wealth. The result is that there would be insufficient labour leading to poor productivities and commerce will not prosper. If the state pursues this goal, the citizens will have no choice but to follow this rule. Bentham and Mill have also provided a clear justification for the liberal democratic state. This ensures that there are conditions necessary for individuals to pursue their interest without the risk of political interference. Citizens will be able to participate freely in economic transactions, practice trade, and appropriate resources privately.
The state should have a role as individuals pursue their interests according to the rules of economics and free exchange. The abolition of power of the monarchy, and the division of powers within the state leads to maximum benefits for all citizens. The objective of acting for the good of the public could be properly realized in many domains of life only if everyone interacted in competitive exchange, pursuing their utility with minimal state interference. Those who challenge the security of property undermine the realization of the public good. Prisons are a mark of this new age. The enacting and enforcement of the law backed by the powers of the state and creation of new institutions was the legitimate extent that it upheld the general principle of utility.
Bentham and Mill were reluctant democrats. Bentham is reluctant in the point of suffrage and later abandoned his reservations about universal manhood suffrage. However, he retained some reservations about the ideal extent in women political involvement. Bentham and Mill have a model that is described as the founding model of democracy. To them, democracy is nothing but an obligation for the governance of the society. Their account of democracy establishes it a nothing but logical requirement for the governance of the society. Democracy is thus a means for the enhancement of cultivation and development of all citizens.
Despite being reluctant, Bentham and Mill were prepared to develop arguments to justify democratic institutions. They preoccupied their studies with the extent of individual liberty in all spheres of the human endeavors. Liberal democracy is important to James Mill, not because of its role in the establishment of boundaries for the pursuit of individual satisfaction, but because it was an important aspect in the free development of individuality. Participation in political life is also an important aspect in the creation of direct interests with the government. Mill states that democratic politics is a prime mechanism of self-moral development. He relates periodic voting to the passing of verdicts whose outcome is an active deliberation of facts about public affairs and not basically expressing personal interests.
Mill elaborates and defends the principle that establishes the nature and the limits of power, which can be legitimately exercised by the society over an individual. This makes him realize that interfering with human lives is necessary but requires self interested intervention. Social and political interference with individual liberty may be justified only when an act concerns others and when it harms others. Self regarding activities are a concern of an individual.
In conclusion, politics refers to the discourse and struggles of human possibilities within a state. Politics mainly revolves around power. This means that it is about the capacity of social agents, agencies, and institutions to maintain or transform the environment socially and physically. Politics is expressed in all relations, institutions, and structures that are implemented in the production of human life. Politics creates and conditions of all aspects of life, as it is the core of development of collective problems and their resolution. The study of politics is much involving than the study of the state. It involves studying the way the state is meshed and giving reasons for its structure. T he state forms a set of complicated relations and processes.
It is important to understand the way the state is embedded in a particular socio-economic system in relation to its distinctive structures and set of institutions. If politics is a discipline, it should be taken seriously. There are several philosophers who explain the nature of politics in relation to the state. The process of analyzing aspects of the political world contributes to self-understanding and self-formation. There are several theories to explain the nature of the state. These theories are complex concepts and generalizations about the nature, purposes, and key features of government, state, and society, and about the political capabilities of human beings. In order to assess them, one must attend to the nature and coherence of their theoretical claims. This should be done in detail to the practicality of political goals. Key political ideas often clarify certain central political processes and raise question on the political nature of a given state and how the citizens respond to it.
There are central perspectives on the relationship between the state and the society. These perspectives are based on the aspects of liberalism, liberal democracy, Marxism, and political sociology. Within the state, there are contemporary theories of state examining. This includes contributions of pluralism, corporatists, and the analysis between the interrelation between class, structure, power, and state. The modern state experiences conflicts and problems of order. A political system with a defined form of order has a defined government.
It argued that, if the government tries to move in the direction of democracy, then it is right to be labeled democratic. Therefore, a democratic political system is one, which the ultimate political authority is vested in the people.