By Bernard Crick

Publication by means of Crick, Bernard

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Extra resources for Basic Forms of Government: A Sketch and a Model

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TIIE MODERN NATION STATE So 'the state', strictly speaking, is a unique form of government unknown in Europe before the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and reaching its full development in the seventeenth century. It is this form of state which Max Weber's famous definitionthe monopolist of the legitimate means of violence- alone fits. 48 As the concept developed, it became associated with an attendant philosophy- that of sovereignty, and an attendant form of society - that of a nation. From a world that had known such varying and sometimes coexisting forms of government as wouldbe universal empires, city-states, the great hybrid of Rome, despotism and feudalism, there eventually emerged with the age of discovery and the brief period of European global imperialism, a world entirely constituted of nation states all claiming sovereignty.

It has often been a democratic doctrine, but nearly always an illiberal one. Taken together, as Napoleon was able to do for purposes of war, the slogan and the reality of 'the nation' and 'the people' constituted an almost unique strength. The inhabitants of France, being fired with patriotic ardour, could be generally rather than selectively trusted with arms and could be conscripted without danger to the rulers. The levee en masse, the introduction to Europe (or its re-invention) of this typical institution of despotism, was only possible in a nationalistic context.

He did not mean anything as mad or Nietzschean as that good and evil were meaningless, but simply- as his beloved Ancient Romans would have understood - that without the state no forms of civilised life is possible. 44 The doctrine of sovereignty was made explicit for the first time by Jean Bodin in the midst of the French Wars of Religion. He, 45 too, was a humanist, a member of the party of Michel L'Hopital, nicknamed 'Les Politiques', who argued for religious toleration as a political necessity.

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