Lec 19: Introduction and different conceptions of state & sovereignty
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Lec 19: Introduction and different conceptions of state & sovereignty

October 13, 2019


Hello and welcome friends. In this lecture,
today, we are going to start a new topic on the state and sovereignty. And in this lecture,
we will be focusing on the introduction part of it to understand the significance of a
state and its centrality in political theory or in political discourse. And we will discuss
different conceptions of state and sovereignty by discussing the argument of Hobbes, Locke
and Rousseau. So, in any political discourse in modern times,
state is at the center of any political discourse. So, for a very long time, when we discuss
or think about the state, we think of a state as a kind of institution which is in at least
in the common sensical understanding, it is seen as something, as a kind of distant body
and whole focus of political theory or political discourse is to understand this institution
which we call state. Now, gradually, we have seen, how and that
we will discuss throughout these lectures on state that how state encompasses every
sphere of individual and collective life and no longer merely, a kind of distant body sitting
somewhere at distance and then trying to controlling regulating the rest of the society. So, for
a very long time in political science or in political theory, the theorization revolves
around the state and its institutions. Now, gradually we have seen the pervasiveness
of a state is equally, there in this sphere of say, society or economy or same other forms
of unions or associations and so on. So, gradually, the idea of state has broadened or have become
more comprehensive than merely, the limited or very restrained kind of understanding about
state as a body or as institution sitting at some distance and we should be thinking
about that. Why a state is central to any political discourse?
That all the concepts that we have discussed, say for example, equality, liberty, justice
and so on. It is understood or it can be explained only through its relationship with the state.
State is an institution which ensures the condition of justice ensures the condition,
where individual can exercise maximum freedom and so on.
So, a state is therefore, central to any political discourse in modern times. What are its characteristics?
First, it is impersonal in nature. Now, the state and a kind of political authority did
exist prior to the modern state. So, this definition of impersonal nature of a state
is only, the modern phenomenon. Prior to modern phenomena, prior to a modern state, state
did exist, but its authority was seen as an extension of the personality of say, monarch
or any tribesman or chief. So, when you refer to a state in pre-modern
time, you refer to a particular person, particular dynasty, a particular kingdom and then state
is seen as a kind of private or a kind of connection or extension to that person, that
dynasty, that kingdom and so on. Only in modern times, a state is seen as impersonal. That
means, it is seen as distinct from both ruler and the ruled.
For example, Indian state or India of today, the ruler is the BJP, as a government which
has got the mandate of the people to rule. So, they are the ruler, right and the ruler
of the rest of the people of India. Now, the Indian state and the idea of Indian state
is very distinct from both the BJP as the ruler or the government or the rest of the
population. So, that defining characteristic of modern states its impersonal nature. Its
nobodyís personal property or personal freedom in that sense, it has a very impersonal nature.
It controls monopoly of legitimate violence. Now, that characteristic of state which gives
its monopoly of legitimate violence that we need to understand, why state is central to
political discourse. So, no other authority or institution or association can unleash
violence or can control and subject others in the position of victimhood or so on, that
exercise or that use of violence will be regarded as unlawful or illegal, and that person who
is committed in such violence or such acts, may be subjected to laws and coercive institutions
of state like police army and so on. But, state in modern times, has monopoly of
violence. This monopoly of violence, you can understand by this idea that a state can legitimately,
if, it has not abolished death penalty can take the life of its citizen by following,
the procedure established by law. So, that means, its illegally, has monopoly of violence.
So, within a demarcated territory, it has unquestionableÖ unquestionable in a sense,
its action is subject to criticism or a scrutiny, but it has the monopoly of legitimate violence.
So, the institution like army, police, paramilitary forces, prison, court and so on, are the representatives
of this idea that state in modern times, has monopoly of legitimate violence. All the other
groups or associations or institutions which unleashes violence in the society is or are
subjected to the control or the regulation of the state, but state within a territory
has monopoly of legitimate violence. And is often, regarded as the modern political
institution or a body politic or the institution of government or an organized political community.
So, a state can be understood in all these ways, as a modern political institution or
body politic or the institution of government or an organized political community. So, the
idea of a stateness is about extension of a state from its limited institution or its
limited understanding, to understand how this idea percolates down to every sphere of individual
and collective life. The state has absolute sovereignty over a
defined territory. So, this concept, what is sovereignty and how it gives the state
power and authority within a given territory, we will discuss in the second part of this
lecture. But modern state has absolute sovereignty over it, within it or define territory.
There are some common attributes of a modern state and these are state is a public institution
and not a private entity. So, modern state or modern Indian state cannot be said it is
say BJPís state or congress state or someone elseís state, but prior to modern state in
India, we could say, there are British rule in India or say, Mughal rule or a Guptas rule
and so on. So, the state was seen as an extension of
a particular individual, dynasty or kingdom and so on. Only in the modern times, state
is seen as a public institution, impersonal in nature and not a private entity. Sovereignty,
as the basic feature of the modern state and what that sovereignty is, we will discuss
in the second part of this lecture. Application of law, the modern state is based
on this application of law as the supreme authority. So, within thisÖthe legitimacy
of that law is within that particular territory over whom that state rules or governs. The
impersonal bureaucracy, so, bureaucracy of the state do not take the partisan position.
It is a kind of impersonal bureaucracy and recruitment to that bureaucracy is through
this impersonal rule, where Weberian model of bureaucracy, if you like is about the impersonality.
So, state and its institution should not and must not take the side, it must be neutral
impersonal in its implementation of policies, in its formulation of policies, in its application
of law and so on. So, the impersonal bureaucracy is the other characteristic of modern state
and stateís capacity to impose and collect taxes from its citizens, that is the another
objective of or characteristic of modern state. This state is necessary, to protect human
lives from two things. Any threat to the individual life internally and externally. State must
ensure that the life and liberty of every single citizen and of its citizen must be
protected from internal and externals threat and the biggest raison deta or the responsibility
of modern state is to maintain law and order. So, this is the prime responsibility of modern
state, to ensured law and order in any society and also, protects individual lives from internal
and external threat. Now, it makes legitimate use of force within
a demarcated territory. This point which we have discussed that modern state uses or has
monopoly of violence and that violence it can unleashes, within a demarcated territory
or if, there is a aggression or it tries to you know, resist the external aggression or
if it is at war with the other state. So, only in that case it can unleash violence,
outside that demarcated territory, but by and large, within a demarcated territory,
a state makes the legitimate use of force. So, a number of political thinkers have put
forward various definitions of state or modern state. For example, the German sociologist,
Max Weber, argued that state is an institution that claims monopoly of legitimate violence.
So, that is the definition of modern state or Weberian model of state, where it is seen
as the institution which claims the monopoly of legitimate violence within a particular
territory. So, these two things, first is the monopoly
of legitimate violence and territory. So, territoriality, monopoly of legitimate violence
is very central to the Weberian conception of modern state. However, he also said that
the use of force is not the only, attribute of the state, but it is a central one. So,
the state therefore, is by nature a coercive institution. So, it restricts, it put limits,
to the individual actions and movement, if, it is against the wider law and order and
so on. So, it is not the only attribute of the state,
but its central one. State can be a welfare state, liberal state, democratic state, authoritarian
state and there are different natures of state which we will discuss later on. But, the modern
state is seen, according to Weber, as claiming or have having the monopoly of legitimate
violence within a particular territory, and this monopoly of violence is legitimate violence.
So, the two things are very clear in Weberian model of or definition of state that it has
monopoly of legitimate violence and the idea of territoriality. So, that legitimate violence
or monopoly of legitimate violence is applicable, within a demarcated territory. So, the territoriality
or monopoly of legitimate violence defines the modern state. Its impersonal nature and
so on, the bureaucracy, then he goes on to explain is something, which also defines the
modern state. Now, for Robert Dahl, he uses, the term government
and state, interchangeably. Now, this point we need to keep in mind when we argue about
state. A state is a permanent body but government is something, which we elect in modern times,
if the state is a democratic state and it holds election regularly, in a free and fair
manner, then government may come and go, but state is a permanent entity which is always
there, right. But, for Robert Dahl, and however, we often use the state and government interchangeably,
and Robert Dahl was one such scholars which argue that government and state is one and
the same thing. For Hegel, the state is seen as a kind of
ëmarch of god on the earthí. So, for him, a state is the realization of morality on
earth or more precisely, a state is the divine idea as it exists on the earth. So, remember,
the idea of monarchy or the king as the divine representative on the earth and the divine
rule of pre-modern state was based on that conception that king is the representative
of god on the earth. Similarly, in modern times, Hegel argues that
state represents the universal will or it is the upholder or the protector or ensures
the realization of morality on earth and therefore, he sees, state as the divine idea that can
exists on earth. So, the state is seen as the representative of such high order, moral,
ethical principles and values. Similarly, T. H. Green, spoke about state
as supreme coercive power, but he also, said that such power should be exercised to achieve
moral ends. So, this coercive power or monopoly of legitimate violence as in Weber must be
used for the realization of something, which is moral or ethical. So, it can be argued
that will and not the force is the basis of a state. So, the will power, the willingness
of the people is the basis of a state and not its force or the physical force.
So, the legitimacy of the state or the modern state rests not entirely, on the coercive
or its military nature or the violence or monopoly of violence, but on the willingness,
on the part of people, to give the consent to the state to rule over them. So, the legitimacy
of the existence of a state rests more or at least equally, on the will of the people
than the claim of state over violence and so on.
So, some thinkers have argued that state is mixture of both, force, law, rights and morality.
So, a state is a combination of all these things not merely, the force, nor merely,
the law, not just the will or the rights and morality, but a kind of combination of both.
So, for instance, Machiavelliís Prince and his ways of ruling over people and beasts
through the use of both laws, morality and force is a case in point in this regard.
So, laws, applies to the subject people and force is applied where the need arises to
dominate or fight against the beast or enemy. So, the state in that sense, is a combination
of both the moral, the judicious or the rightful and also, the brute, coercive physical force.
Similarly, Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist, argued that state applies force, but law,
rights and morality are equally, important for the legitimacy of the state. Now, if you look at the formation of modern
state, prior to the emergence of modern state, the idea of divine law governed or ruled human
lives and their relationships. So, every sphere of human life was governed by this idea of
divine law. So, it is believed that such divine laws came from a supreme non-human power or
god to rule over human lives and to make them acknowledge and understand the power of god
or divine laws on earth. So, the monarchy, as a system of political rule was based on
this divine law. So, after the fall of Roman Empire in Europe,
the idea of modern state is also historically, emerged in the Europe, especially, after the
treaty of Westphalia which we will discuss later and then, it extended towards other
part of the world. So, after the fall of Roman Empire in Europe, the landed nobility and
Catholic Church appeared as messenger of such divine laws and imposes, it over the people
to follow and obey them. So, the rise of the church and its authority
after the fall of Roman Empire is the precursor of modern state and then, after the religious
war, there was the gradual decline of church and assertion of political autonomy or the
political independence and that leads to the creation of modern sovereign state which subordinates,
say, religion, economy and so on. So, these laws are found in religious books and it is
enforced through economic and social relationships by the conquerors of then Europe. So, the
rise of the monarchy or kingdom was the result of this fall of Roman Empire and the resurgence
of catholic church in Europe. However, some changes occurred simultaneously,
like the growth of merchant trading or more precisely, the rise of merchant capitalism
and with that growing middle class in Europe and their demand for protection of safety,
security, rights, protection of life and so on, leads to the creation of modern, democratic
or representative form of government which would be impersonal, which should not be the
extension of a person or a dynasty. So, there were significant changes in the
16th and 17th century, in the old sets of social relationship or social transformation
in Europeís. So, 16th, 17th and 18th century was the period, when there was a new discourse
about human being, the fate of human being, idea of dignified life or the idea of legitimate
rule, rule based on the people, the natural right and so on. And, that leads to a new discourse about new
political authority and the political organization of the state and its legitimacy, whether it
isÖ it should be based on this idea of divine right and the legitimacy of a state and its
existence should be justified in the name of divine right or it should be based on the
consent of the rule or concept of the people. So, the whole argument about the social contract
or the Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and so on, are reflection or representative of that kind
of churning that was going on in the political discourse.
So, although, the divine laws were still ruling over the people or their psyche, the monopoly
of church was declining. So, gradually, there is a kind of assertion against the authority
of the church or the Catholic church. So, the church of England was the first such resistance
against the interference of the religious authority in the matters of politics and from
then on, there is a kind of emergence of absolutist state, asserting its independence that further,
leads to the representative or modern democratic state in Europe.
So, what was happening, that divine law was still ruling over the people, the monopoly
of church was declining and as an outcome of religious wars, new system of political
rule emerged. Thus, the modern system of history that we have emerged out of the Treaty of
Westphalia, in 1648, which believes that all states are equal. It divides the world into
different states and all states are regarded as having the equal status in the eyes of
the international. So, in any international debates and discussions
or forum, all the states are treated equally, without any consideration to their territorial
size or the size of their population, all states have equal status in the international
forums. So, for example, in United Nations General Assembly, state like India and USA
has same vote as say, Papua New Guinea or a smaller state like Bangladesh or so on.
So, the emergence of modern system of a state or modern state is the result of this treaty
of Westphalia in 1648 after the 30 years of religious wars which witnessed the emergence
of autonomous political sphere in Europe, independent of Church and religions. So, that
assertion of the independence and autonomy of the state, and which we also, discuss as
the idea of secularism, where the religion must not interfere in the matters of politics.
So, politics and religion is seen as separate and church as the religious authority must
not interfere in the matters of politics which is the domain of monarchs. So, the absolutist
state and their resistance against the interference of the church or the Catholic church was the
result of modern state. Further, on renaissance and religious reforms
movement in the form of protestant ethics which focused on the individual rights and
his or her entrepreneurship that enables him or her to lead a dignified life. So, this
Weberian idea about the rise of capitalism in Europe is the result of the protestant
ethic. Similarly, in the political field, the idea of a dignified life or the individual
having certain rights, individual must take actions concerning his personal life and so
on, is the result of this discourse of renaissance and religious reforms movement in the forms
of protestant ethics. It further, led to the beginning of new thinking
about organizing self and the community lives in Europe and their focus was on rationality
or reasoning capacity of individual. So, individual as rational being or having the capacity to
reasoning must make their lives worth living for or in other words, to live with dignity.
To live with dignity is to have the condition, where individual can take the decision concerning
about his or her life and each individual is regarded capable of taking such decisions
because he or she is rational. So, the Descartes understanding that, ëI
think therefore, I amí. So, that thinking is the reflection of this new discourse in
Europe about how to lead a good life and this idea, this new discourse lead to a new kind
of creation of political structure which recognized the individual, his dignity and protect his
or her rights to create the condition in which he or she can live a dignified life. So, the
whole structure of modern state revolves around this new understanding of self and the community,
and how a state ensure those conditions, where such life with dignity is possible.
So, the formation of modern state and it is legitimacy, was seen as a pre-condition for
living a dignified life. So, state is necessary. Why it is necessary? Because it creates the
condition, it provides the condition for the individual and communities to live a dignified
life. So, therefore, state must protect certain inalienable rights and freedoms of the individuals.
This new discourse replaced the divine right justification for the existence of a state,
as it is based on certain new responsibilities and the consent of the people. Now, modern state is also, a nation-state
and it gives its enormous power and control over its citizen. Now, the state combined
with technology of surveillance governs every sphere of individuals and collective lives
and there are different conceptions of modern states such as liberal, Marxist and this idea
of governmentality, which we will discuss in one of our lectures.
So, these forms of a state and its authority, we shall discuss in the subsequent lecture.
Now, we will come to the second part, where we will discuss the idea of sovereignty which
is the defining characteristic of modern state. So, sovereignty is the absolute authority
of a state within its territory. So, basically, in the simple language, sovereignty is the
power or the authority which ensures the supremacy of state within the territory. So, in a particular
demarcated territory, state is the supreme institution. So, no other institution of the
society is above the state. So, sovereignty is the absolute authority
of state within its territory. It is referred to the coercive form of power and authority.
It legitimizes the use of coercive power of state over its people and their institutions.
So, state can force or compel the people to comply, with its laws and its policies or
any institution of society must functions under the regulation or control of the state.
So, in that sense, state has both the coercive power and its use of that coercive power is
legitimate within the given territory, if the state is the legitimate or it has the
legitimacy in the eyes of people. So, sovereignty is then, dominant absolute
supreme and inalienable. So, sovereignty gives the state the status of absolute authority,
supreme authority and this sovereignty of a state is inalienable. That means, it cannot
be transferred to some other entities internally, or externally. So, it resides with the state.
So, thus, the possessor or holder of sovereignty is superior among all other authorities, under
its jurisdiction. So, within a demarcated territory, the state which holds or possesses
sovereignty is the supreme authority. So, French theorist, Jean Bodin defines sovereignty
or law as the command of the sovereign. So, sovereign is the supreme authority and it
resides in the single individual. So, in Jean Bodinís conception of sovereignty, it resides
in the single individual. Hobbes said and we will discuss Hobbes that sovereign is above
the law. So, the one, who is sovereign according to Hobbes, is not subject to the laws which
governs and controls the ordinary citizens in a society or in a state. Sovereign is above
the ordinary laws. So, an important element of sovereignty, however,
is the idea of territoriality. So, the exercise or the legitimacy of the state as the sovereign
entity is within a particular territory. So, it defines, that sovereign can rule over all
members residing within a given territory and that is the defining feature of modern
state. So, some political thinkers, argue that sovereignty
has always, existed and it is not a modern concept or it came into existence along with
the arrival of modern state. So, there are many arguments about the existence of sovereignty.
So, many scholars have argued that all the states when the monarchs or the feudal states
or so on did enjoy sovereignty. However, it forms, were perhaps, different
in nature the idea that god exercised sovereign powers or divine laws had absolute power or
control over people, and it focuses that sovereignty was existed even in pre-modern period or before
the existence of modern state. So, many scholars have argued that sovereignty
as a form of authority, as a phenomenon which gives the state or the political organization
of a society, the supreme status is something, which existed prior to modern state, also.
So, for a monarch, in pre-modern time, he was the supreme entity within his monarchy
or within his or her kingdom. So, sovereignty, in terms of absolute supreme authority within
a given territory is something, which existed prior to modern state as well.
However, the idea of modern state as a sovereign body has a particular use in modern times.
So, perhaps, it has existed in pre-modern times, but its nature might have been very
different. Now, in modern times, modern state as a sovereign entity has two dimensions.
First, within its internal demarcated territory, it is the supreme authority. So, the citizens
of a particular a state must abide himself or herself, by the laws of that particular
state. So, every sphere of individual and collective
life within a given territory is governed and controlled by the state and within that
territory, there cannot be outside interference or any external authority must not interfere
in the internal matters of the state. So, that is the guiding principle of modern inter-state
relationship or the foreign relationship, where all the states treat other states as
sovereign and thereby, independent or supreme authority within that given territory of that
particular state. So, internally, a state is regarded as a supreme
authority and externally, state is treated equally. So, this point, we have discussed
that even the smaller and the bigger state has the same or equal status in the international
forum and regarded as the legitimate representative of the voices of their people, internationally.
So, the on the international forum that particular state is regarded as the authoritative voice
or the representative of the voices of their people.
So, Indian state or Indian Prime Minister in the international forum represent authoritatively,
or the legitimate representation of the voices of people of India. So, that is the understanding
of modern state which is also, a nation-state and its sovereignty has two dimensions. Internally,
it is regarded as the sovereign and externally, it is treated as equal at par with the other
states and representatives of the voices of their people.
Now, if you look at these three scholars, and through them, we try to understand this
idea of state and sovereignty. So, starting from Thomas Hobbes, he wrote a text in the
beginning or he is regarded as the first modern political thinker for his understanding of
this state and why, we should obey the state not because a state exists for some divine
purposes. But the very creation of a state is based on the consent of the people and
once, we give the consent to the state, we must obey the state. So, his theory of political
obligation is a kind of radical departure from the earlier understanding of political
obligation. So, for the existence of his state, he argues
that the individuals life in the ëstate of natureí which is a hypothetical state which
is believed to have no law, no security and no authority, to arbitrate disputes and protects
the life of individual. So, in that ëstate of natureí, there lies an atmosphere of tension
and fear of violence of war of all against all. So, in that ëstate of natureí where
the very life of individual is at constant threat and everyone was at war with each other.
There cannot be progress, there cannot be order there cannot be any development.
So, when the very survival of the person is under threat, there is no possibility, of
any progress, any development or any growth for the individual and for the society. Now,
to regulate, to ensure order or to establish order in such a ëstate of natureí, there
was necessary, to come together and have a contract thereby, trading certain rights of
the individual to the sovereign who can be a person or a body of person and this person
he called the sovereign which is the result of the people living in a ëstate of natureí,
where the condition of life is nasty, brutish and short, everyone is at war with each other
and there is all pervasive violence and constant threat to life.
And, therefore, individual came together to form a sovereign which will establish the
order in the society and that will lead to a kind of protection of life and that will
lead to further progress and development, and so on. Now, the creation of the sovereign
is the result of the people coming together and giving away or compromising certain rights. Now, the subject must establish a mutual contract
to obey a common authority. Now, this idea that all the people living in a ëstate of
natureí come together to establish a mutual contract to have a common authority who is
the sovereign and this sovereign, he gives the name ëleviathaní and they must obey
his commands. So, here, for the first time, the idea of
political obligation is not embedded in some religious or the cultural discourse. It is
very scientifically, objectively, explained in a sense that people came together themselves
to create a sovereign which is ëleviathaní and that creation of ëleviathaní is the
coming together of the people. So, the basis of the existence of the sovereign
is not in divine right or not some religious discourse, it is the people coming together
creating a sovereign. Now, once the people decided mutually, to form a sovereign, then
it is the responsibility of the people to obey that sovereign or the command of that
sovereignty. So, they cannot reject the commands or the orders of the sovereign and therefore,
the people must obey the commands of the sovereign. However, in this scheme of the sovereign,
in this scheme, the sovereign is not the subject to the terms of contract. It is also scientifically,
explained, why? Because the sovereign is not the party of the contract, it is the people
who are the party of the contract and therefore, sovereign cannot be subjected to the terms
of contract. Because it is the independent, autonomous from the contract because it the
contract that creates the sovereign is among the people and therefore, the terms of contract
is applicable to the people and therefore, they must obey the sovereign. However, the
sovereign himself is not party to the contract and therefore, is not subjected to the terms
of that contracts. So, in other words, the sovereign is free
and independent of the terms of contract and Hobbes further, emphasized that individuals
should surrender or transfer their rights and freedom to the sovereign. But he also,
said that the political obligation or obedience to the sovereign would end, if he fails toÖ.
here is the sovereign, if he fails to protect individuals from war and violence. That means,
if he the sovereign fails to protect the life of the people, then people can defy or reject
to follow the command or the order of the sovereign.
Because the very purpose of coming together and creating the sovereign is to protect oneís
life, if that is not being protected by the sovereign, then people may not obey this sovereign.
Otherwise, people must in all conditions subject or surrender himself or herself to the order
or the command of the sovereign. So, there are criticisms to Hobbes concept
of sovereignty and critics have argued that Hobbes, leave the individual at the mercy
of sovereign. So, sovereign is given the supreme or absolute power over the people and their
existence is at the mercy of sovereign. Macpherson criticized Hobbes sovereignty and model of
state on the ground that Hobbes was arguing for creation of a free market society and
protecting the possessive individuals of a capitalist economy.
So, the kind of behavior that Hobbes is arguing in the ëstate of natureí was actually, the
way individual behaves in a competitive market economy. So, it is not really, the ëstate
of natureí, but the market economy that Hobbes is talking about and he wanted the state to
enforce the contract, enforce the order in that society whether that that kind of Bourgeoisie
or the possessive individual can interact for commerce, trade or industry and so on.
However, what we find in Hobbes is a kind of creation of absolute, all powerful sovereign
who is independent of any covenant is not part of that contract and citizens are duty
bound to obey the sovereign. So, why, we should obey the sovereign is rationally, scientifically,
explained because we ourselves come together and form the sovereign body and therefore,
since that sovereign body is our own creation, we cannot defy, we cannot disobey that sovereign.
Only condition of disobeying is when that sovereign fails to protect the life of the
individual, otherwise we must in all conditions, in all circumstances subject or surrender
ourselves to the command of the sovereign. So, there is a kind of absolute or all powerful
sovereign in the Hobbesian understanding of sovereignty. Now, in Locke, what we find however, is a
kind of minimal or it is kind of accountable or what you called a limited sovereign. So,
Locke did not support an arbitrary or absolute sovereign power or sovereignty like Hobbes.
For him, the state is bestowed power by the individuals to protect their lives and property.
So, these two things not just the life, but also, the property is the responsibility of
a state to protect the individuals life and liberty.
However, if state fails to protect individuals and fulfill their interests, individuals have
the right to overthrow the government. So, in Locke, there is the scope for people to
resist, to revolt against the state, to throw the sovereign and create a new sovereign which
can then promise to protect individual lives and property.
So, Locke, emphasized only constitutional and not absolute, and arbitrary forms of government,
where the executive and the legislature uphold the political power and they will continue
to enjoy powers, so, long as they are based on the consent of the people. So, the consent
is very crucial. So, he said that man may have at one time been willing to give power,
to a single good and excellent man, to a kind of national authority but then, finding that
his successor could not keep their property secure in the same manner, insisted that power
be placed in collective bodies of men. So, there is the possibilities of throwing
the governed and the sovereign and creating a new sovereign for the protection of individual
lives and property. So, Locke was against absolute form of monarchy or any kind of absolute
government. So, he talks about a limited government based on the consent of people which can protect
the individual lives and property. Rousseau, on the other hand, we find a kind
of a radical interpretation of sovereignty which he explained in his text, On the Social
Contract written in 1762 and for him, state resides in the people who actually, surrenders
their freedom or liberty to the state and state is representative of general will. Sovereignty,
resides in the people who actually, surrenders their freedom or liberty to the state and
a state is representative of this general will. So, this general will is the central
idea in Rousseauís conception of sovereignty and state.
So, state formed by a social contract. So, treat every individual as equals. The idea
of general will that is a basis of such a state has a radical conceptualization in Rousseau
and he argued that general will is about ensuring the maximum freedom of all. So, in Rousseau,
the starting point was in the ëstate of natureí the life was really, perfect. There was no
inequality, there were no injustices and people had maximum freedom in the ëstate of natureí.
It is only, in the society and state, where there is all pervasive inequalities, injustices
and people are everywhere in the chains. So, to create that kind of society and state,
where individual can exercise maximum freedom, Rousseau talks about this idea of general
will and he wanted the state and the sovereignty based on this idea of general will. So, only,
that government is legitimate which is based on the general will. Now, this general will
is something, which is in the interest of all and not in the personal interest of few,
many or one person. So, once, this general will is constituted that is the basis of a
state and sovereignty, individual must obey it.
So, here, unlike Locke and like Hobbes, he is also, arguing for a kind of absolutist
state or absolutist conception of sovereignty, where he want that the state and the sovereign
must be based on general will that is will of everyone, that is in the interest of every
member of that society, which will ensure their maximum freedom, but once, that conception
of general will is constituted, then everyone must obey it, they cannot defy, it.
In fact, he goes on to argue that one can be forced to be free. This idea of forced
freedom individual can be forced to be free by ensuring that he must follow the ëgeneral
willí. Thus, in Rousseau, like Hobbes, we get an idea of an absolute and all pervasive,
all powerful sovereign. Now, there are many criticisms to Rousseauís
idea of sovereignty or ëgeneral willí. Many scholars have argued that it may legitimize
the authoritarianism or dictatorship. So, for Rousseau, ëgeneral willí can be the
will of all people or few people, if they are working in the interest of all or it can
be the will of a single individual. So, the ëgeneral willí not necessarily,
require the consent of everyone. It may be the will of only few, if they are working
in the interest of everyone or even one person who is working in the interest of everyone
in the society. So, that may lead to legitimize some dictators or some undemocratic authority
who claims to work on behalf of people or in the name of general will, they may legitimize
their undemocratic actions. So, now, this idea of ëgeneral willí, as
the will of all or few or even one person gives a lot of a scope to governments or rulers
to justify, their undemocratic action in the name of ëgeneral willí. So, that is the
kind of understanding that we have in Rousseau about the idea of sovereignty.
So, in summary, what we find in Hobbes and Rousseau, we have the absolutist conception
of sovereignty, where within a demarcated territory, the sovereign body is the supreme
body. In Locke, where we have a kind of limited or a kind of accountable sovereign, where
the existence of sovereign is based on its ability to a) protect the individual life
and property and be) it should be based on the content of the people. So, people have
right to overthrow the sovereign in Locke. But in Hobbes and Rousseau, what we find,
once you create the sovereign, it is your obligation to obey the sovereign in all circumstances.
So, Rousseau, goes to the extent of forcing the individual to obey the sovereign in the
form of ëgeneral willí. So, these are some of the debates about the
idea of state and sovereignty. In the next class, we will discuss about different forms
of state and sovereignty like liberal, Marxist and so on. So, on this lecture, you can refer to some
of these readings like Rajeev Bhargava and Ashok Acharyaís, Political Theory: An Introduction,
there is a chapter on state. And then Martin Conroyís, The State and the Political Theory,
you should refer to and also, John Hoffman and Paul Grahamís, The Introduction to Political
Theory is a useful resource to understand the conceptualization of modern state. So,
that is all for todayís lecture. Thanks for listening. Thank you all.

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