How might we define the modern state?
The inference that we might be able to define what constitutes a modern state presupposes that it already existed prior to it becoming modern. This is not in doubt. What are task then entails is to illuminate the transition from pre-modern to a modern state, and to distinguish its characteristic features. We shall undertake this task by considering historical changes in how the state legitimises its rule, and the relationship between this rule and subjection. What is more, whilst exploring the relationship between rule and subjection we will pay specific attention to the concept of consent, an idea that was first forwarded by the British philosopher, Thomas Hobbes. Herein it will be possible to make links to the analysis of political and social theorists such as Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Emile Durkheim whose concepts of democracy and social organisation have played a major role in how we today define modern states.
To be able to define the state as modern it will be necessary for us to focus our analysis at a time in history when the state, as a political concept, was just beginning to formulate. That is, we will contemplate the structure of the state in the period known as Absolutism, and in particular when this period was drawing to an end between the sixteenth and seventeenth century. ...ruled from his court, not through it.' (Poggi, 1978:70) This was enabled by the In England, Stuart king's attempts to rule and raise taxes without Parliament precipitated the English Revolution of the 1640s.' (Hall, 1990:7) We will now develop the theme of the English civil war, 1642-48, thus making links to Thomas Hobbes political theories of state legitimacy.
The opposing views of Charles I and the parliamentarians, and the pursuing civil war...