Meaning of The State. The term “State”, which is the central subject of Elements of state in political science study, has scientific meaning. We do not use it With the same vagueness and ambiguity as it is used by a man in the street. It is often, but erroneously, used as a synonym for “nation”, “society”, “government“, etc But all these terms have definite meanings of their own in Political Science and should be clearly distinguished one from the other. The term State is also very commonly used to express the collective action of the community, through the agency of the government, as distinguished from individual action. For instance, when we talk about “State management“, “State regulation”, “State aid”, etc.
we actually use the word State for government. Similarly when we talk about the twenty six units of the Indian Republic or the filly states which make the United States of America, we do not give the word its scientific meaning. None of them is really a State. In Political Science the term State has a more specific and definite meaning which has little in common with most of its various ordinary meanings.
As used in Political Science, the term State means an assemblage of people occupying a definite territory under an organized government and subject to no outside control. One hundred and eighty live (185) manifestations of it are members of the United Nations. There are many more which are not members of the organization. All of them share common characteristics. They are groups of people living on, and exercising control over, a definite territory. They are divided into government and subjects, the rulers and the ruled. Some sort of system or order is represented by each. Rules of law are established and in crime measure maintained, and compulsion is exercised and the right to it is recognized both by the members of the group and by the outside world.
There can be no community without the people to form one, and no common life without some definite piece of territory to live in. When people live a collective life, they fulfill the meaning of Aristotle’s famous phrase, “Man is a social animal”, and when they live a settled life on a definite territory to realize the purpose of collective living, they fulfill the meaning of Aristotle’s second famous phrase: “Man is a political animal.” But man is not so good as we want to believe that he is. There are all kinds of men and even good men exhibit selfish behavior because they live in society. Pride, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, hypocrisy and other traits of disorderly appetites race with the goodness of man and people are usually concerned with their own welfare first and foremost.
This is the evidence of history. “Society”, Burke says, requires not only that the passions of individuals should be subjected, but that even in the mass and body, as well as in the individuals, the inclinations of men should frequently be thwarted, their will controlled, and their passions brought into subjection. The best that can be done is to control the worst manifestations of human perversity by means of political authority. The people are bound by rules of common behavior and their violation is accompanied by punishment. That is the State Society meets man’s companionship, the State solves the problems created by such companionship. The State is, thus, some form of association with some special characteristics, particularly that of its territorial connection and of its use of force. It is charged with the duty to maintain those conditions of life for which the State came into existence and for which it continues to exist.
The State is a natural, a necessary, and a universal institution. It is natural because it is rooted in the reality of human nature. It is necessary, because, as Aristotle said, “The State comes into existence originating in the bare needs of life and continuing in existence it for the sake of good life.” Man needs the State to satisfy his diverse needs and to be what he desires to be. Without the State he cannot rise to the full stature of his personality. In fact, in the absence of such a controlling and regulating authority, society cannot be held together and there will be disorder and chaos, What food means to the human body the State means to man Both are indispensable for his existence and development. The State is, accordingly, a universal institution. It has existed whenever and wherever man has lived in an organized society, although the term State is the product of the sixteenth century and Machiavelli was the first to give it a scientific meaning He observed, “All the powers which have had and haw: authority over man are states (state) and are either monarchies or republics. ” The structure of the state had been subject to a great evolution. The general process was home the similar and simple mechanism of the past to a highly dissimilar and complex mechanism of today.
Definition of the State.
Though the State is a necessary and a universal institution, no two writers agree on its definition. There have been many different views about the nature of the State and hence its incompatible definitions. It may well seem curious, says R.M. MacIver, that so great and obvious a fact as the State should be the object of quite conflicting definitions. Some writers define the State as essentially a class structure others regard it as the one organization that transcends Class and stands for the whole community. Some interpret it. as a power system, others as a welfare system. Some view it entirely as a legal construction, either in the old Austinion sense which made it a relationship of governors and governed, or, in the language of modern jurisprudence, as a community organized for action under legal rules Some identify it with the nation others regard nationality as incidental or unnecessary or even as a falsifying element which inhibits the State in its natural functions.
Some regard it as a mutual insurance society, others as the very texture of all our life. To some it is a necessary evil, and to a very few an evil that is or will be unnecessary someday, while to others it is the word the spirit has made for itself Some class the State as one in the order of corporations and others think of it as indistinguishable from society itself.
Gabriel Almond prefers to use the term “Political System” for the State, as the latter is limited by legal and institutional meanings.This disagreement is primarily due to the fact that every writer has defined it from his own point of view. if the author It a sociologist, like Oppenheimer of a philosopher like Hegel, or an economist, or n behaviorist, or a lawyer, his peculiar prepossessions may lead him either to distort the reality by attributions some new characteristics of the State and ignoring the rest, or to free himself altogether from reality and picture the State as he thinks it ought to be. Out of this maze of confusion we select a few definitions which fairly represent the weight of authority, and by comparing them try to know what is common in them
Holland defines “the State as a numerous assemblage of human beings, generally occupying a certain territory, among-st whom the will of the majority, or of an ascertainable class of persons, is by the strength of such a majority or class, made to prevail against any of their number who oppose it.”
Hall says, “The marks of an independent State are that, the community constituting it is permanently established for a political end, that it possesses a defined territory and that it is independent of external control, and a State exists, according to Oppenheimer, when a people is settled in a country under its own sovereign government ”
Bluntschli says,”The State rs the politically organized people of a definite territory, and, according to Woodrow Wilson, it is the people organized for law within a definite territory.”
MacIver defines “it as an association which, acting through law as promulgated by a government endowed to this end with coercive power, maintains Within a community territoriality demarcated the universal external conditions of social order.”
Harold Laski defines “the State as a territorial society divided into Government and subjects claiming, Within its allotted physical area, a supremacy over all other institutions.”
Gabriel Almond says “that the Political System, the term he uses for the State, is that system of interactions to be found in all independent societies which perform the functions of integration and adaptation (both internally and vi-a-vis other moieties) by means of the employment, or threat of employment, of more or less legitimate physical compulsion The Political System, he explains, is the legitimate, order maintaining or transforming system in the society.”
Pennock and Smith define “the State as a political system comprising all the people in a defined territory and possessing an organization (government) with the power and authority to enforce its will upon its members, by resort, if necessary, to physical emotions, and not subject in the like manner to the power and authority of another polity”
Robert DahI Says “The political system made up of the residents of the territorial area and Government of the area is a State”
Notwithstanding the disagreement among st these the writer all agree in ascribing to the State the three elements People, territory, and government , Disagreement again to the prominent in respect of the fourth elements of sovereignty.
Those who deny to the state the element of sovereignty, attribute a special quality to government. It is habitually obeyed, says Sidgwick, it is superior to individual wishes, says Esmien, it claims unlimited authority, says Zimmern, it is endowed with coercive power, says Maclver, it is sovereign, says Oppenheimer. When government is accorded superior quality, it is really the quality of the State. The essence of the State, according to Finer, is in its monopoly of coercive power. This then, is the State and its supreme power and monopoly of coercion (which it can devolve in many ways on its own terms) IS sovereignty. ” The sovereign is legally supreme over any individual or group”, says Laski, and the sovereign possesses supreme coercive power. The State and government are by no means the same thing Government is merely an essential instrument or contrivance of the State through which its authority is manifested and purpose realized. Taking cognizance of all Such considerations, Garner gives a matter-of-fact definition of the State. He defines the State as a community of persons, more or less numerous, permanently occupying a definite portion of territory, independent, or nearly so, of external control, and possessing an organized government to which the great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience.