The State


The term ‘State’ is central to the study of Political Science.

But it is wrongly used as synonym for nation, society, government etc. The term ‘state’ is also used as State management, State aid and so on. Also as the States of Indian union or the fifty States that make the United States of America.

In Political Science, this term is used differently and has a more specific meaning. Some of the definitions of the concept of State are as follows:

“The State is the politically organized people of a definite territory”
– Bluntschli

State is “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.”
– Garner

State is “a territorial society divided into governments and subjects, whether individuals or associations of individuals, whose relationships are determined by the exercise of this supreme coercive power.”
– Laski

State “is a people organized for law within a definite territory”.
– Woodrow Wilson

“The State is a concept of political science, and a moral reality which exists where a number of people, living on a definite territory, are unified under a government which in internal matters is the organ of expressing their sovereignty, and in external matters is independent of other governments.”
– Gilchrist

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Human beings are social animals and cannot live alone. When people live together, they fulfill their social needs. But everybody is not good and kind. There are all sorts of men and women, who exhibit various emotions such as pride, jealousy, greed, selfishness and so on.

According to Burke, “Society requires not only the passions of individuals should be subjected, but that even in the mass and body as in the individuals the inclination of men Individual and the State should be thwarted, their will controlled and their passions brought into subjection.”

The best is to control human perversity through means of political authority. Therefore people are bound by rules of common behaviour. If these are broken then they can be punished. Society fulfills people’s need for companionship; the state solves the problem created by this companionship.

The state exists for the sake of good life. It is an essential and natural institution and as Aristotle said, “The State comes into existence originating in the bare needs of life and continues its existence for the sake of good life.”

It is only within a state that an individual can rise to his or her ability. If there is no authority, no organisation and no rules, then society cannot be held together. The state has existed where human beings have lived in an organized society. The structure of the state has evolved gradually over a long period of time, from a simple to a complex organisation that we have today.

The essence of state is in its monopoly of coercive power. It has a right to demand obedience from the people.

However, the Marxists believe that state is a class organisation, which has been created by the propertied class to oppress and exploit the poor.

  • They refuse to believe that the state is a natural institution.
  • To them the propertied class created the state and it has always belonged to them only.
  • Thus, the state is just a means of exploitation.
  • Therefore, they visualize a situation of classless society or communism in which there will not be any need of the state. State will, thus, wither away.

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Elements Of The State

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Bibliography : NIOS – Political Science

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