Essay on the Future of Federalism

Rise of Welfare State and consequently remarkable increase in the power of Central or Federal Government. According to Individualists the nineteenth century state was a Police-State.

It means the state had only three functions to perform:

(1) Defence;

(2) Maintenance of Law and Order;

(3) Implementing mutual agreements.

Because of the influence of the Individualist Theory the functions of the state became limited and the conditions of the working class deteriorated in England as well in other countries of the world. Karl Marx criticised the Police-State very bitterly and emphasised that instead of Capitalist States, there should be Socialist State and they should exercise control over every sphere. The principle of the welfares state has been adopted in the countries which have not become fully socialists it includes India.

According to the principle of Socialism and Welfare State, he state shall take up maximum welfare programmes for the people. It will also chalk out-many plans for this purpose, with the result that the powers of the state will increase.

Secondly, during war and emergency there is an increase in the powers of the state. Only the central government can make and implement plans. It can face the war and emergency very successfully. The state governments cannot perform these functions.

Thus, in every federation, the powers of the federal government are continuously increasing. This tendency can specially be noticed in India, Australia, the United States of America, Canada and Russia.

Danger to Federalism from the increasing powers of federal government:

The powers of federal government are increasing for many reasons. Therefore, many critics are of the view that in the long run federalism will vanish and unitary government will take its place. For example, Sait has said, “States move forward from alliance to confederacy, from confederacy to federation, from federation to complete union, that is, from lower to higher forms. These successive forms, therefore, may be regarded as a biological series.”

W.F. Willoughby maintains, “If this step is taken (the formation of a federation), there immediately develops a steady growth of the spirit of nationalism and in response to needs actually felt, a progressive development both absolutely and relatively, of the powers of the Central government as opposed to those of the States. So marked is this that it may almost be said that from the moment the system of multiple government is adopted, the tendency is for efforts to be made to get away from the consequences of the decision that has been made”.

Lipson concludes that, “Older patterns of decentralization whether in the form of local autonomy under a unitary system or state’s rights in a federal union here doomed to dissolve in the corrosive acids of twentieth century politics, economics and technology virtually all the great driving forces in modern society combine in centralist direction”.

The critics of federalism are also of the view that there is no coherence in Economic Planning and Federalism, the form of Economic Planning is national, while a federation is established on the principle of division and diversities.

Support for Federalism:

Professor Wheare does not accept the point of view that federal government is really no more than a stage towards unitary government. He say, “This is prophecy, not an historical judgement, for, so far, no federal government as I define it-has become a unitary government”.

“Now-a-days provincial or a state government has undertaken many such jobs which were either not assigned to it at the time of the formation of the federation or it was doing very little of them”.

Keeping these consideration in mind Professor Wheare concludes that, “the prospect of federal government is not so short as is suggested by those who concentrate entirely on the tendency of the central government to increase at the expense of the regions.

Federal government is still desired by some regions in all the federations. There is no conclusive evidence that federal government is to be no more than a stage in the process towards unitary government.

Bright future of Federalism:

After discussing the merits and demerits of federalism we come to the conclusion that the future of federalism is bright because there are diversities of language, religion, culture and race in most of the countries and unity in diversity can only be established in a federal state. A unitary government is incapable of bringing about such unity in diversity.

Even the great admirer of Unitary Government, Professor W.F. Willoughby admits that we should not “close our eyes to the immense service which the development of the idea of multiple government has rendered in the past and may still render in knitting together under a common government people whose political interests are largely identical but which for sentimental reasons are unwilling wholly to surrender their political autonomy”.

Federal Government, as Professor Wheare says, “Does not stand for multiplicity alone. It stands for multiplicity in unity. It can provide unity where unity is needed, but it can also ensure that there is variety and independence in matters where unity and uniformity are not essential”.

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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