Social Scientist. v 19, no. 221-22 (Oct-Nov 1991) p. 35.

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The State Apparatus in the Third World:

The Theoretical and Methodological Dimensions

The state—an embodiment of force—has undergone a change during the course of civilisational development. In the course of time it acquired more functions and new sources of legitimisation. In the west, by and large, its role and legitimacy was closely linked to the material advancement. It played a significant role in pushing th material forces to a higher level and the advancing material forces did influence the form and, to a considerable extent, the content of the state. The colonial expansion and its subsequent incarnation—imperialism—were a result of expansion of trade and new forms of extraction of surplus at the global level. The expansion of the economic activity in the west was largely based on the initiative and enterprise of individuals and groups. The state did play the role of a catalyst. It resulted in expansion of the state and its spheres of domination. But in terms of power and domination there was not only reduction in non-market coercion but development of a civil society.

There was considerable conflict and confrontation between the state and civil society giving rise to the rule of law, written constitutions, civil rights and several checks and balances in the exercise of state power. It is in this process that not only the new rising classes ensured a large measure of protection to their economic activity but other political and cultural freedoms. Thus the nation-state in the western, particularly the capitalist, world has performed a specific historical role. The experience is different in the case of most of the Third World societies.

In the Third World societies the origins and subsequent change patterns of the s^ate and society have been different. It is this specificity that led to the concepts of 'Oriental Despotism' and 'Asiatic Mode of Production11 In fact, it was Kosambi who gave a

Dept. of Political Science, University of Hyderabad. Dept. of Political Science, University of Hyderabad.

Social Scientist, Vol. 19, Nos. 9-10, October-November, 1991

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