Structure 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9
LIBERAL AND MARXIST PERSPECTIVE
Learning Outcome Introduction Thinking about the State The Liberal Perspective of the State The Marxist Perspective New Trends in Marxist and Liberal Thought Conclusion Key Concepts References and Further Reading Activity
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Throw light on the Liberal perspective of the State Analyse the views of Marxist scholars on the State, and Discuss the new trends in the Liberal and Marxist analyses of the State
After reading this Unit, you will be able to:
In this Unit, we propose to analyse two major perspectives of political philosophy regarding the origin, nature, role, purpose and functions of the State. These are the Liberal and Marxist perspectives, which seek to describe the State as an institution / apparatus grounded firmly in two major ideologies with the same name that is, Liberalism and Marxism. The discussion on these ideologies reflects on certain basic questions pertaining to the relationship between the human beings and the State; what is/what ought to be the nature of this relationship, what is/ought to be the relationship between State and society or civil society, what are the functions of State, how are they to be performed and most importantly, why do human beings need the State. The State is a highly differentiated, specialised and complex institutional phenomenon. We have already dealt with the nature, purpose and evolution of the State in the first Unit of this Course, this Unit would delve more into the different viewpoints on the State. In modern western political thought, the State is usually identified with an impersonal and privileged legal or Constitutional order with the capability of administrating and controlling a given territory. The earliest expression of this conception could be traced to Rome in the ancient world, but it did not become a major object of concern/analysis until the development of the European State system from the 16th century onwards. The historical changes that contributed to the transformation of medieval notions of political life were immensely complicated. Struggles between monarchs and feudal lords over the domain of their rightful authority, peasant protests, revolts against the tyranny of excess, taxation and social obligation, spread of trade, commerce and market relations, flowering of Renaissance 1
culture, consolidation of national monarchies, challenge to the universal claims of Catholicism and religious strife, struggle between the Church and State and emergence of the secular domain-all these played a part. While the works of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) and Jean Bodin are of great importance in these (1530-1596) developments, Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) clearly expressed the new concerns regarding the nature of State as the public power and its relationship to the ruler and the ruled. The major concerns of political analysis were: What is the State? What are its origins and foundations? What is the relationship between State and Society? What should this relationship be? What does and should the State do? Whose interest does the State represent? Some of these queries have been raised in the initial three Units of this Course. Some of them pertaining to the relationship between the State and the civil society will be dealt with later in Unit 19. In modern societies, the relationship between the State, as the sphere of political authority and economy in which wealth is accumulated, goods and services produced and income distributed, is regarded as crucial to the overall pattern of relationships. The most important issues concern the extent to which resources should be allocated by people who can control them through having money and the extent to which they should be allocated by the people who can control them through having political authority. The State is seen as the only system of relationship, powerful...