Analysis of the state

Need for Analysis of the state. 

Since political science is the science at the state, a clear understanding of what is meant by the term “state” is important. From the beginning of social life, humanity has lived under some form of authority. This authority has varied in its nature and has exercised its functions through different forms of organization.

Beneath these differences in the concrete manifestations of political life may be observed a practical identity of purpose, and by disregarding nonessential elements and modifications that arise because of the demands of time, place, and circumstance, we may discover the very essence of the state and the characteristics that distinguish it from other organizations.

In this way, the nature of the state in the abstract, the phenomenon with which political theory deals, may be considered apart from the various concrete states that have existed from time to time, considering which belongs to the field of historical and descriptive political science.

Essential Elements of the State:

An analysis of the state shows its essential factors to be as follows:

  • (1) Population, that is a considerable group of human beings,
  • (2) Territory that is a definite area of the earth’s surface upon which the population Permanently resides,
  • (3) Government, that is, a political organization through which the will or law of the state is expressed and administered,
  • (4) Sovereignty is the supremacy of the State’s overall individuals and associations within it and the state’s independence from external control.

The absence of any one of these elements destroys the state. All must exist in combination. The state is not the people, the land, or the government, but all of them, and also, the state must possess that unity that makes it a distinct and independent political entity.

Therefore, a State may be defined as a community of persons, permanently occupying a definite territory, legally independent of external control, and possessing an organized government that creates and administers law over all persons and groups within its jurisdiction. Abstractly considered, the state is a juridical entity or person concretely considered; it is the community, the territory it occupies, and the governmental organization through which it wills and acts.

The population of the State:

The territory must be inhabited to form a self-evident state. An uninhabited portion of the earth, taken in itself, cannot form a state. The population of a state may be viewed as citizens, that is, as members of the state, entitled to the privileges that result from membership therein, and as subjects, that is, as the persons over whom the authority of the state is exercised and to whom its commands are addressed.

While citizenship is necessary for full membership in the state, there may also be residing in the territory of state persons who are not citizens but who receive the state’s protection and enjoy its benefits. An alien is a person Who is not a citizen of the state in whose territory he is living or through which he is traveling. A national is a person who is entitled to the protection of the state.

For example, the Filipinos were nationals of the United States, although they were not citizens of the United States. Usually, citizenship is required to exercise political privileges and sometimes even for the full possession of civil rights. No definite limit can be fixed for the number of persons necessary to form a state.

The population should be sufficiently numerous to maintain a state organization and distinguish between public and private affairs, between those who govern and those governed. It should not be greater than the territorial area and resources of the state are capable of supporting.

Aristotle laid down the principle that the population should be large enough to be self-sufficient and small enough to be well-governed. Early writers on the state believed that small numbers were essential to good government. Still, modem government devices, such as representation, local self-government, federation, and modern transportation and communication improvements, have made large populations possible successful government. In the modern world, the population of states varies from a few thousand to many millions.

The territory of the State:

Although history shows nomadic peoples, in the hunting and fishing or pastoral stages of development, living under a tribal form of organization in which the idea of definite and permanent territory played little part, it is doubtful whether the term “state” is properly applied to such a condition. Such peoples may have rulers and may be subject to discipline and law.

They are often a state in the making. The state’s origin was the result of gradual evolution, and the exact point at which an earlier social form changed into a distinctly political form is difficult to fix. However, the occupation of permanent abodes and the idea of authority over a definite area were powerful factors in the rise of political organization.

The state, as the etymology of the word shows, is associated with a fixed place. At any rate, the possession of territory is a necessary basis for all modern states, and the idea of territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction is firmly embedded in present political thought.

Ideas regarding the area over which a state should extend have varied widely. To the Greeks, the narrow boundaries of a compact city seemed the proper limit to the Roman. The whole world was not too large for their concept of the state, while modern states have emphasized natural boundaries and geographic units.

Many writers have argued that small states ate proportionately stronger than large ones, limiting the area that can be governed advantage usually from a common center. People have little affection for a government distantly removed. As late as the United States’ formation, it was urged that large states could not be well-governed and that democracy was possible only in small Mates.

On the other hand, writers have emphasized the economic and military advantages of large states. They have pointed out the metal and cultural value of the wide outlook and the national pride resulting from membership in a large and powerful state. Besides, the existence of many small states complicates international relations and increase the difficulty of maintaining peace. Some form of world unification seems essential to the establishment of world law.

At the same time, many of the greatest contributions to human progress and civilization, especially intellectual and artistic contributions, have come from small states. And experiments in social and political reform are furthered by the existence of numerous and varied political types. Suppose the dangers of war and economic rivalry could be removed. There might be distinct advantages in the existence of small states.

The territory of a state includes land, water, and air. A state’s jurisdiction extends over the land within its boundaries and over rivers or lakes in its territory. It extends over a marginal strip of the ocean, usually fixed at a width of three miles from the shore. In practice, many states extend their maritime jurisdiction somewhat beyond this limit, and there is a growing sentiment in favor of such extension.

The remainder of the high seas is international territory, belonging to no state, but open the use of all. The rights of a state over the air above its territory have become important in recent years because of aviation and radio development. While efforts have been made to extend international control over the air, it is generally held that each state has full sovereign rights over the air space above its territory and its territorial waters. Therefore, it may if it desires to prohibit or limit its air space for international aerial navigation.

The territory of a state may be compact, as in Switzerland, or it may be geographically divided and disconnected, as in the British Empire. Anomalous situations existed in the German state’s division into two parts by the Polish Corridor and in the survival of a few “enclaves,” or states surrounded by another state’s territory. The little republic of San Marino, which is surrounded by Italy’s territory, is an example. States have sometimes put forward claims to the right of natural frontiers of strategic boundaries, such as mountains or rivers, and access to the sea.

Although not recognized as rights, such claims have been considered by peace conferences in redrawing states’ boundaries. At the close of the First World War, Italy was given Austrian territory to strengthen its strategic boundaries. Several of the newly created European states were given access to the high seas by transferring them to territory taken from neighboring states.

The factors that determine the division of the earth into states are numerous. Common descent, religion, geographic barriers, economic interests, nationality, military and naval strength, and many other matters have been important. The particular states that exist at any given time are resultants of these forces. Some of the factors are permanent, though their nature and relative importance may change.

Thus the geographic configuration of the earth has always been a factor in state-making. Still, man’s achievements in overcoming natural obstacles and devising rapid transportation means have modified its importance. On the other hand, certain factors, once important, have disappeared or become of little influence. The dynastic intermarriage of royal houses no longer combines states, nor is a common religion generally considered essential today to a state’s existence.

The areas of common economic interests differ in different periods of history, depending upon the stage of economic development. Traditions of the past sometimes account for states that otherwise have little reason for existence. In some parts of the earth, the various factors that create states coincide and furnish a logical basis for state existence. In other parts of the earth, they are so confused that no satisfactory political boundaries can be drawn.

Any attempt today to draw a political map of the earth should be met with insuperable difficulties because of the complexity of forces to be considered and these forces’ failure to coincide in given areas. The states’ existence that makes up the present political world would open up many interesting aspects of political science.

Government of the State:

Given a population inhabiting a definite territory, the next requisite for statehood is some method by which authority may be exercised over these individuals. Some organizations must exist utilizing which the state may express and administer its will. Government is the organization or machinery of the state. Without a government, the population would be an incoherent, anarchic mob with no means of collective action.

All the political community members constitute the state a much smaller number, though, in modern states, a fair proportion comprises the government. It includes all those occupied in expressing or administering the state’s will- the total of all the legislative, executive, and judicial bodies in the central, local, and colonial organs. Moreover, the terms “executive,” “legislative,” and “judicial” must not be interpreted in a narrow sense.

Through suffrage, when the electorate chooses governing officials, it exercises the executive power of appointment utilizing the initiative and referendum it shares in legislation. By jury service, it becomes part of the judiciary. Similarly, the term “executive” must be broadened to include that extensive and important group of officials known as the administration, which, with its own system of law and courts, has become in some states practically a separate department of government. The military, naval, and police forces of the state are a part of the administration.

Finally, some states have established organs exercising the specific function of making or accomplished their constitutions. These also form parts of the government.

In its broader sense, the government may be defined as the total of those organizations that exercise or exercise the state’s sovereign powers. Just as each state is a unit, each state’s government is a unit, although separated of convenience into various departments and divisions. A state cannot exist without a government, and the government exists only as a state’s organization.

While the term “state” is abstract and maybe conceived apart from the existence of any actual state, since all states are alike in essence, “government” is distinctly a concrete term, and its forms vary, being determined in each case by the political conditions that obtain in each state. Government is thus the existing adjustment between the state and its individuals. How interstate relations have maintained the machinery through which the state’s purposes are formulated and executed, and the common interests are regulated and promoted?

The sovereignty of the State:

A people inhabiting a definite territory and organized under a government does not necessarily form a state. A state must possess unity as well as the organization. By unity is meant that the territory of and population constituting a state cannot be subject to any Wider political organization and that a state cannot include any territory or population that is not subject to it politically.

Thus the so-called “states” of the United States are not states from the standpoint of political science since they form parts of the wider political unit, the United States, which itself is one state. On the other hand, though a unit geographically, Europe is not a state because it includes several separate political organizations, each of which is a state. Unity involves the idea of external independence and internal oneness. In this sense, a population possessing unity, if it occupies a definite territory and is organized using a government, invariably constitutes a state.

If then, population, territory, government, and political unity are the essential elements of a state, further analysis may be made. Leaving out of consideration population and territory as the physical elements or raw materials of which a state is composed, and combining government and unity, we find the real essence of the state to be sovereignty viewed internally; this means that a state has complete legal authority over all the individuals and groups that compose it viewed externally, it means that a state is legally independent of the control of any other state. Since a state possesses unity, no member of the

Slate is exempt from its authority, and no power outside the state can exert control over it. Since a state possesses an organization, it has a government that enforces authority over its individuals and maintains its independence from other states. Sovereignty, that is, internal supremacy and external independence, is the distinctive characteristic that distinguishes the state from all other forms of human association. When expressed and enforced using its government, the sovereign will of the state is called law.

Since the state is internally sovereign, its jurisdiction extends over all persons in its territory except those over whom it has Waived authority by the generally accepted rules of international law or following special treaty concessions. Internal sovereignty implies that there can be but one State organization upon the same territory over the same people; for purposes of convenience, the state may divide government powers between central and local bodies exercising authority in the same territory. Still, all such bodies are exercising the indivisible sovereignty of a single state.

Moreover, states may change their form of government completely, legally or by revolution, without destroying the state of its sovereignty. Only by continued anarchy, by absorption into another state, or by subdivision into several states can the permanent life and sovereignty of a state be destroyed.

The state’s external sovereignty or independence implies that it is free from any other state’s control. This aspect of sovereignty is less absolute than its internal phase. The rules of international law and the treaty agreements of states place practical limitations on all states’ complete independence.

A certain degree of control, especially regarding foreign affairs, may be exercised by one or more states over another without destroying the latter’s statehood. Protected states, such as Cuba, and neutralized states, such as Switzerland, are considered sovereign states, despite external limitations upon their powers in international relations. The self-governing dominions of the British Commonwealth may be considered states despite the nominal control that Great Britain exerts over them in certain respects.

The exact degree of external independence necessary for statehood is difficult to define. If, however, a state is a recognized member of the family of nations, it is considered the legal equal of all other states. All are entitled to equal status and protection under international law. This does not mean that states are equal in size, population, wealth, power, or degree of civilization. All states are entitled to an equal voice in determining international questions or equal representation in international organizations. The supremacy of the great powers is more important in fact than the theory of legal equality.

The State in Constitutional and International Law:

Some differences in opinion concerning the state’s nature exist between writers on constitutional law and writers on international law. The former is interested in the state’s internal sovereignty and its relations to the individuals that compose it. The latter are interested in the external sovereignty of the state and its relations to other states.

In the actual political world, some forms are difficult to classify. Some states apparently possess limited internal sovereignty; others possess partial external independence. Members of federal unions, protectorates, states under mandates, vassal states under the suzerainty of other states, and autonomous dependencies, such as the British self-governing dominions, are viewed as states some writers. However, they do not possess Complete external sovereignty.

Nor are they fully recognized as states in international law, though some may have definite international status and powers. Some of these are tending to lose the traces of sovereign powers that they possess. Others may be developing into full-edged sovereign states.

Besides, petty states, such as San Marino and Monaco, seem to possess complete internal sovereignty and are not recognized as full international persons. In international law, a state must possess the power to fulfill the international obligations required of all members of the family of nations. International law also requires a certain type and degree of civilization before admitting a state into the International community.

Turkey was not recognized as a state in the international sense until the middle of the nineteenth century, and Chum and Japan came still later into the family of nations. These countries possessed a state’s requirements from the internal point of view long before they Were recognized internationally. For some years after the 1917 revolution, Russia was somewhat outside the international circle because her government refused to recognize Certain previous international obligations. However, there was a ho question that Russia was a state from the point of view of internal sovereignty.

Much of this confusion results from the fact that sovereignty is viewed as having an internal and an external aspect. In reality, internal sovereignty and external sovereignty are two Quite distinct, though closely related, concepts. Internal sovereignty is the legal supremacy of the state overall persons and associations Within it. External sovereignty is the independence of the state from interference by other states. If the term “sovereignty” were limited to the former meaning, and the term “independence” was used for the latter, clarity of thinking Would be furthered. The one does not always coincide with the other. Internal sovereignty is legally absolute, while external sovereignty is always relative and often decidedly limited.

The State as People or as Territory:

While population and territory are essential to the state, in the modern sense, a certain confusion has resulted, especially in the past, from viewing the state primarily as a group of people or primarily as an area of territory. In the first case, the sovereignty of the state would be personal.

Its jurisdiction would extend over its members wherever they were, and they would carry their law with them wherever they went. The rulers of the state would become the lords of their people. In the latter case, the sovereignty of the state would be territorial. Its jurisdiction would extend to all persons on its territory, whether members of the state or not, and it would apply to all. Of them, its own law for the rule of the state would be lords of their land.

In the modern world, the theory of territorial sovereignty is generally applied. However, traces of the other principle appear in the freedom from territorial jurisdiction possessed by ambassadors and foreign sovereigns or foreign public vessels temporarily in another state’s territory.

Likewise, the principle of personal sovereignty is applied in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the great powers over their citizens in certain Oriental countries and in the practice of certain European countries of punishing their citizens for crimes committed outside the territorial limits of the state. The method of acquiring citizenship at the time of birth shows a similar confusion.

According to the principle of personal sovereignty, children born to the citizens of a state become its citizens regardless of the place of birth. According to the principle of territorial sovereignty, children born in a state’s territory become its citizens, regardless of their parents’ citizenship. Both principles are applied in the modern political world, with resultant contradictions and controversies.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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