The Formation of the Modern State

Topics: Marxism, Karl Marx, Communism Pages: 9 (2937 words) Published: June 16, 2013
The Formation of the Modern State
Name: Anjali Sharma

I. Introduction:
Formation of the modern state has been one of the most discussed topics amongst the political scholars. The state being the central of the political science, it is obvious that many scholars have dealt with it. Furthermore, political power means little without the state. Therefore, without discussing the formation of the modern state, discussion of political science is immature. The State has been defined by different scholars on different way. It is difficult to find one fully accepted definition. However, Oxford Dictionary has defined it as “a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.”1 In the words of Aristotle every State is a community of some kind. He further explains that like all other communities, the state must exist for an end, and the end of the state is the highest good of man. He concludes with the popular quote, "Man is a political animal".2 Discussion of Aristotle is highly based on ancient Greek city-state so it cannot fulfill the definition of the modern state. The most acceptable definition is from Max Weber who is a renowned German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist of all times. According to him a State is a human community that claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.3

1, Book One- Chapter II. H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (eds.). 1946. "Politics as Vocation." From Max Weber, page 78




Modern humans arose in Africa about 200,000 years ago, and reached behavioral modernity about 50,000 years ago.4 The historical evidences show that human being dwelled as a hunter for several hundred years and then started to settle in a community with some practices on agriculture. The development of cities became possible with the rise of early civilization which is dated back to 3500 BC (Wikipedia). During a long run, the development of these human communities became the cause for the birth of the modern state. However, steps, process and mechanism of this development is not quite clear and political scientists differ much on this issue. Where does the state come from? This is the question which has been cause for the emergence of several theories on the formation of the modern state. Liberal and Marxist are some of the pioneer theories which we will discuss here.

II. Liberal View:
The leading liberal theory of state formation is by John Loke. He is one of the most influential political philosophers of the modern times. In the second chapter of his book the Second Treatises of Government, he argued that men are by nature free and equal. Furthermore, he says that people have rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property that have a foundation independent of the laws of any particular society. Their actions and choices are free and cannot be limited by other men. All men are born in the exact same state, with no one individual having privileges or advantages over another. Only God is able to impart some advantage in power upon one man over another. On property, Loke's argues that the individual ownership of goods and property is justified by the labor exerted to produce those goods or utilize property to produce goods beneficial to 4


human society. In other words, goods produced by nature are of little value, unless combined with labor in their production and that labor is what gives goods their value. Locke believed that human nature allowed men to be selfish. This selfishness made a man able to raise his property through land and then trade. Man invented money and was again able to gather much of the property than he needed. In order to protect this huge property of individual, natural law was not adequate so people gave up their...

Bibliography: 1. Aristotle. Politics. Book 1, I-II. 2. Charles Tilly.1985.“War Making and State Making as Organized Crime.” in Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (Eds.). Bringing the State Back In. Cambridge University Press. Pages 169-191. 3. H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (eds.). 1946. "Politics as Vocation." From Max Weber. Pages 77-83. 4. John Locke. The SecondTreatiseon Civil Government.Chapters1-5 & 9. 5. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Sections I & II.
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