SOCS 630
The Evolution of Government: The Rise of the Modern Nation-State

Giulio Gallarotti        

Course Description

This course will analyze the principal movements and  processes which have led to the rise of the modern nation-state.  The theoretical focus will be oriented around the main factors which account for the rise and legitimation of the state, while the historical focus will be on the political evolution across differing systems of governance from the prehistorical to the modern period and beyond. We begin with an analysis of the foundations of the theory of the state. Here we will compare and evaluate differing theories of the rise, consolidation, and legitimation of political communities. This will be followed by a theoretical and historical assessment of the rise and fall of differing systems of governance across time. This evolution will be considered within an interdisciplinary framework which is oriented around the political adaptation to social and economic modernization. We  will start with an analysis of governance in pre-industrial societies and then proceed to governance in ancient societies . We will look at the emergence of  feudalism from the ashes of the Roman Empire, and then the political transition toward the absolutist state. We analyze the democratic challenge to the absolutist state, and then consider the 20th century political movements embodied in Fascism and Communism.  We go on to consider present-day globalization and its challenges to the modern nation-state.

Topics

1. The Rise of the State: The Social Contract and Escape From Anarchy 

2. Legitimation Crisis of the State 

3. Governance in Pre-Industrial Societies 

4. The Ancients 

5. Feudalism and the Political Tradition of the West 

6. The Emergence of the Democratic State and Differing Routes to Democracy 

7. Democratic Culture and Institutions 

8. Communism and the Revolution From Below 

9.  “Il Fascismo” and the Revolution From Above 

10. Challenges to the Nation-State: Globalization 

11,12.  Presentations on Research Essays

Requirements

Assignments will consist of two essays of six to eight double-spaced pages. Grades will be based on the two essays plus class participation (each will account for 1/3). Readings are accompanied by questions and suggestions which will underscore important topics in the readings. These topics will serve as a focus both for discussion and the essays.  All of the weekly readings listed are required. Articles will be available in packet form from PIP Printing (179 Main Street, Middletown-344-9001). Order a copy online by going to www.pip.com, click on customer login, use “WES” both to login and as a password, then click on ordering button on right side. If you have problems, call PIP.  I have recommended for purchase those books which will be most extensively used, hence it would be convenient to own these books. These books can be purchased at Broad Street Books, they are: 

Gianfranco Poggi,  The Development of the Modern State 

Sam Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies 

Barrington Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy 

Vladimir Lenin, What Is To Be Done 

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America 

F.L. Ganshof, Feudalism 

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Course Sections

1. The Rise of the State: The Social Contract and Escape From Anarchy    

How did the state come about? Locke, Rousseau, and Hobbes talk about the emergence of the state from anarchy. Each sees a specific set of conditions that lead individuals to create political communities (“social contracts”). These communities require individuals to give up the right to pursue their desires in an unconstrained manner (i.e., giving up the natural freedom they had under anarchy). Compare and contrast their accounts of anarchy and the process whereby  individuals escape anarchy through the creation of the contract.  In a less idealized context, Herz, Deutsch, and Poggi account for the origins of the state.  What are these explanations, and how do they relate to the views marshaled by Locke, Rousseau, and Hobbes? 

Readings:
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapters 13, 17 

Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book I 

John Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, Chapters 2, 8, 9 

Gianfranco Poggi,  The Development of the Modern State, Chapter 1 

John Herz,  “The Rise and Demise of the Territorial State” 

Karl Deutsch, “The Growth of Nations” 

 

2. Legitimation Crisis of the State    

Once states form and are consolidated, they invariably face (to a greater or lesser extent) a legitimation crisis (i.e., challenges to their political authority).  The sources of this crisis can be numerous and varied. What are these sources, and what can states do to preserve their authority? These questions touch upon central issues involved with the study of the theory of the state.  De Jasay talks about the endemic legitimation problems caused by the “adversary state.” What is the adversary state and what special problems does it create? Huntington talks about the legitimation problems created by the “political gap”: what is this gap and how does it threaten the state?  What special legitimation problems does Nisbet see in the modern western world? What prescriptions for confronting the legitimation crisis can be derived from Machiavelli? 

Readings:
Anthony de Jasay, The State, Chapter 2 

Robert Nisbet, The Twilight of Authority,  Chapter 1 

Sam Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, Chapter 1 

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince 

 

3. Governance in Pre-Industrial Societies   

What were the earliest forms of governance which accompanied humankind’s initial attempts at communal life. Anthropologists and political scientists have, in answering this question, found it useful to study non-industrial societies of both the past and present. A look at such societies and the governments they chose suggests various interesting findings. For one, governments were extremely simple and exhibited many democratic elements. Contrary to what many believe today, early government was neither as primitive nor autocratic as generally supposed. What were the most common characteristics of this pre-industrial governance?  In what forms did democracy manifest itself? How did the style of governance fit the physical and social environments in which these societies functioned?  What common roles did political leaders play? 

Readings: 

Ronald Cohen and John Middleton, Comparative Political Systems, “Introduction” 

E.M. Weyer, “The Structure of Social Organization Among the Eskimo” 

Lorna Marshall, “Kung Bushman Bands” 

Claude Levi-Strauss, “The Social and Psychological Aspects of Chieftainship in a Primitive Tribe: The Nambikuara of Northwestern Mato Grosso 

Robert H. Lowie, “Some Aspects of Political Organization Among the American Aborigines” 

Assignment: Write a six-page essay on a topic to be chosen.  Due October 18. 

 

4. The Ancients    

Ancient civilizations show an interesting political diversity: from the highly democratic governance of classical Athens to the absolutism of the Egyptian Pharaoh. What are the keys to understanding this diversity? Rome presents itself as an interesting case study since its style of governance changed across time: from autocratic, to democratic, to autocratic once more. How can we understand this evolution in historical perspective?  How did the styles of governance fit the peculiar circumstances facing each specific civilization? 

Readings:
The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, “The Athenian Citizen” 

O.R. Gurney, The Hitites, Chapter 2 

F.E. Adcock, Roman Political Ideas and Practice, Chapters 1-3 

Jill Kamil, The Ancient Egyptians, Chapter 3 

 

5. Feudalism and the Political Tradition of the West   

Feudalism represented a system of political organization that emerged from the ashes of the Roman Empire.  It is difficult to understand the origins of modern democratic states without understanding the specific institutions of  governance introduced by feudalism. At the most general level, feudalism was founded on pluralism and constitutionalism.  The contract between government and governed, which is at the heart of liberal democracy, is a manifestation of the reciprocal rights and duties between free persons under feudalism.  What are the main factors accounting for the rise of feudalism? In terms of political organization, was it an optimal response to the turbulent conditions created by the disintegration of the Roman Empire? What were the major problems which feudalism came to face? How did feudalism create the seeds of its own destruction? How did feudalism contribute to the character of the modern democratic state? 

Readings: 

F.L. Ganshof, Feudalism (skim) 

Gianfranco Poggi,  The Development of the Modern State, Chapter 2 

A.D. Lindsay,  The Modern Democratic State, Chapters 2, 3 

 

6. The Emergence of the Democratic State and Differing Routes to Democracy   

The political organization of feudalism was replaced by the nation-state.  With the territorial consolidation of the nation-state came wide-ranging attempts at  absolutist governance: monarchs claiming  authority over large sovereign territories.  Absolutism in turn came to face a democratic challenge as  elements emerged from  society to demand greater political voice.  The success of the political challenge to the absolutist state formed the modern democratic state. While this transition occurred across various nations, it differed in terms of style and timing (i.e., differing routes to democracy).  How do you account for the transition from feudalism to absolutism?  How, in turn, did  absolutism give way to democracy? What were the differing routes to democracy taken by France, the U.S., and England.? 

Readings:
Gianfranco Poggi,  The Development of the Modern State, Chapter 4 

Sam Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, Chapter 2 

Barrington Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, Chapters 1, 2 

Assignment: Write a seven to eight page paper on a topic to be chosen.
                                   Due December 6

 

7. Democratic Culture and Institutions

Scholars who have studied political transition in the early-modern period argue that with the advent of democracy came a democratic mind-set:  unique ways of thinking that characterize democratic societies.  Individualism and a belief in equality, for example, are two of the principal elements in this mind-set.   This mind-set was a necessary precursor to the institutional changes that led from feudalism to democracy.  De Tocqueville identifies a unique American mind-set and traces it to the particular forces shaping institutional and demographic patterns in colonial America. What are the components of this democratic mind-set?  Are these components as unique to democratic nations as many believe? What are the origins of this mind-set?

Readings:
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America,

                Volume I, Chapters 2-4, 8-10, 13, 17

                Volume II,  Book I, Chapters 1-10

                     Book II, Chapters 1-14

                                     Book III, Chapters 1-4, 13, 22

                                     Book IV, Chapters 1, 2, 6 

 

8. Communism and the Revolution From Below

Huntington defines a revolution as not only a transformation of political institutions, but of political ideologies as well. Such pervasive political changes within nations are rare. While political change through insurrections, revolts and coups  has been common in history, many fewer instances of political revolution have occurred.  Communist revolutions have effected pervasive changes within various nations in the 20th century.  For Huntington, these leftist transformations would not have been possible without Lenin’s theory of revolution. Lenin took the a-political ideology of Marxism and infused it with a practical political orientation (i.e., revolutionary organization through the Party). How would you describe Lenin’s theory of revolution, and what special role does the Party play? What are the major strengths and weaknesses of this theory?  In terms of weaknesses,  what elements of  the theory encouraged totalitarian regimes?  Why, according to Huntington, do revolutions occur? Huntington talks about two styles of revolution: East and West. What are they, and how do they differ? According to Huntington, what are the pre-conditions for a successful revolution?

Readings:
Vladimir Lenin, What Is To Be Done 

Sam Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, Chapter 5 

Barrington Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, Chapters 4, 9, and Epilogue

 

9.  “Il Fascismo” and the Revolution From Above 

Fascism (il fascismo) was originally  an Italian political movement. The term comes from the verb “fasciare” which means “to bind together.” In its general manifestations this movement (which has been referred to as an elite revolution--”revolution from above”) represented the old power elite aligning with peasants to maintain traditional social  structures through a powerful state bureaucracy. This was a reaction to capitalistic modernization which was shaking the old political order by bringing new groups into the political nexus and adversely affecting old groups. What specific factors led to the rise of Fascism in Italy, Germany, and Japan? How would you describe the Fascist system of governance? What is the Fascist ideology? What is the role of the state in the Fascist doctrine? As a system of governance, what do you think are the major strengths and weaknesses of Fascism?

Readings:
Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, Chapters 1,2,8 

Adolph Hitler, excerpts on “The State” and “Propaganda” from Mein Kampf 

Benito Mussolini, “The Doctrine of Fascism” 

Alfredo Rocco, “The Political Doctrine of Fascism” 

Barrington Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, Chapter 8 

 

10. Challenges to the Nation-State: Globalization 

Technology and communication have made the world smaller. Is this new “global world” a drastic change from what has previously existed. In other words, is it the end of the nation-state? LeFeber and Sklair talk of the global society being created by modern capitalism. The modern transnational corporation is spreading both goods and ideas, such that national boundaries will crumble in the wake of common images and practices. While LeFeber fails to make many value judgments about the implications of this emerging global society, Sklair, Cox, and Khor take a more pejorative view of such a society as a manifestation of Western-capitalist imperialism.  Huntington thinks that there is much more resilience to the state and to cultural identity than the globalist perspective admits. For Huntington, things will change, but the divisions will be along cultural rather than national lines. Barnet and Cavanagh, alla Le Feber and Sklair, would reject Huntington’s divisions, saying that the global culture of the future will be homogeneous. Which view or combination of views do you think is correct?

Readings:    
Walter LeFeber, Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism, Chapters 2,6 

Sam Huntington “The Clash of Civilizations”  

Leslie Sklair, “Sociology of the Global System” 

Martin Khor, “Global Economy and the Third World” 

Robert Cox, “Global Perestroika”                   

Richard Barnet and John Cavanagh, “Homogenization of Global Culture”

 
11,12. Presentations of research projects

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