Discuss different Perspectives of the State.
A state is an institution that has emerged out of a process of evolution, witnessing changes in its nature over the passage of time. Varied social, economic and political conditions have contributed to these changes. Different perspectives are available that illustrate the nature of state.
Liberalism as a political ideology took shape in the 16th century. Many noted economists and liberals like Adam Smith, Ricardo, Hobbes and Locke were important proponents of this ideology. This perspective advocated freedom of people. The main characteristics of this ideology were representative democracy, rule of law, human rights, secularism and struggle for political power.
Liberalism views ‘man’ as a focal point in any social setup. It highlights complete freedom of the people with the least amount of control and interference of state in its people’s lives. It actively supports capitalism along with discouraging the state to interfere in people’s economic activities. Although liberals view the state to be ‘essential, they criticize its rules and regulatory environment that interferes with people’s freedom. Besides, they also accept the fact that the state is able to perform several important and critical functions like ensuring the overall welfare and development of people.
Marxists believe the state to be an unethical institution that does not represent the actual social requirements of its citizens. They believe that the concept of state has been invented and propagated by a social class that owns the means of production and that it has been done to protect their own economic interests. The prevailing class differences in the society have also contributed to its development.
Particularly, industrial development led to feudalism and the growth of capitalist style of economies. In turn, it made the class differences stronger, thereby leading to factors that led to state’s formation. The prevailing Marxist thought believes that the state eventually functions to protect the interests of the ruling class and other influential groups connected with it.
This particular view believes that state works for the interest and welfare of special groups by using its authority to fix economic transactions in order to benefit them. This perspective on the nature of state propagates a market-based model of state and encourages the thought that government is the best which rules the least.
Herein, the market is accorded superiority over the state along with an approach to downsize administrative machinery and promote an active, participatory role of non-governmental entities. This can only be achieved through privatization. The Neo-liberal view of a state believes that state should play a minimum role in the economy although in developing economies, the state eventually ends up playing an important role in its citizens lives as a large percentage of them are poor and disadvantaged.