Theoretical Basis of State​

The following are the most popular theoretical basis of Sate.

Divine Right Theory

This is the theory that claims that state has been divinely designed for the benefit of the people. The state is considered to be of divine origin. It is usually equated to the political theory of absolute monarchism and the Divine right of Kings.

The Social Contract Theory

It puts forward the idea that the state is a product of social compact or agreement among people originally living in a state of nature. Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau are the pioneers of this state theory.

Thomas Hobbes, “The Leviathan”: Men are forced to enter into a social contract because there was a need for power and for security in the State of Nature. The mutual transferring of rights is called contract. In a state of nature, man is in a condition of war. Life in the state of nature is short, nasty, and brutish and this forces men to look for the Leviathan or the absolute ruler who will help them transcend the state of nature. The leviathan is the origin of governments which makes States possible.

John Locke: “Two Treatises of Government”: Unlike Hobbes, Locke claimed a more peaceful state of nature. According to this theory, man in the state of nature is already rational and understands the laws of nature. But since there are no bodies of person who can decide whenever conflicts arise, or no one has the right to formulate a common law that is binding to all men, people existing in the state of nature are predisposed to form governments to address this inconvenience. But the government rules not without limits but to live its purpose to protect men’s person’s and properties. This acts leads to the development of the state.

Jean Jacque Rousseau, “The Social Contract”: In a state of nature the human race would perish. Since men cannot engender new forces to confront the challenges or the resistance as imposed by nature to the existence of man, man by act of rationality will unite existing ones. In place of individual personality is a, moral and collective body called the State or Body politic. The moment man forms the State, he leaves the natural state and lives in a civil state. Here, he loses his possessions and receives his properties, he loses his natural rights but assumes civil rights. Man thus, becomes a part of a greater body: the State.

The Patriarchal and Matriarchal Theories

This collection of theories shares a common claim that the “State” is the extension of “family” – that is, it originated in the gradual transformation and development of the original family. The family, through time, has developed into primitive communities which in turn developed into the first modern state.

Instinctive Theory

This theory claims that political institutions are but the objective expressions of the instinct of men for association.

Aristotle, in his book “The Politics”, claimed that it is natural for men to join or to form association because man by nature is a social animal. Man’s nature is the force behind the creation of the first families, which later developed into communities, then into the city-states, and finally, to the modern States.

However, It is important to take note that for Aristotle, there’s another instinctive basis for the formation of human associations: “self-sufficiency”, or the instinct of man to satisfy his needs which, without other people, he cannot possibly meet. The city-state already satisfies the requirement of “self-sufficiency”, hence, he does not originally contemplated the necessity of forming large units of association like our modern States today.

Following the Aristotelian tradition, St. Aquinas claimed that men are not only social animals but also political animals who naturally play politics. The state is therefore natural, since it is a product of man’s instinct for association.

The Necessity and Force theory

This theory asserts that states are products of conquest or wars, and hence, the state is a product of man’s desire for self-protection.

The basis of authority to rule is strength.

Examples include the ancient wars of the Western and Eastern world, the conquest of Alexander the Great, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the rise and fall of the Spanish and Portuguese empires, etc. all of which have created States, and more States when the products of these conquests fell because of succeeding invasions and conquests by other States. More contemporary examples include the rise and fall of Hitler’s Germany and Hirohito’s Imperial Japan in WWII, the rise and fall of the British empire in Asia in post WWII (which, among others, created India and Pakistan).

The Economic Theory

The state is a product of men’s multifarious needs. Plato was considered the pioneer of this theory. In his book “The Republic”, Plato argues that men need a lot of things which he cannot provide all by himself. Men naturally need the help of other men and this predisposes them to form associations. These associations will later develop into states.

Aristotle’s idea of “self-sufficiency” should also be recalled here.

The Historical Or Evolution Theory

The State is a product of a long history of development. As compared to theoretical theories, the historical theory is the only theory that can be validated by facts; hard evidence such as historical records and other artifacts support the development of primitive societies to the modern-day state.

However, this theory has its limitations. It cannot, for instance, account for the first-ever “coming together” of men and women to form the very first stage of State development. What it could only discuss is when this event has already taken place. What made the first wondering men and women finally decided to stay in just one place and form the first State? The answer to this question falls in the realm of speculative theories.

Noting this, we now discuss in detail the Historical Basis of the Modern States