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Saturday, August 26, 2006

State-ments

Among the least damaged of the books waiting to be reshelved are two very different approaches to the modern state.

Morris, Christopher W. 1998. AN ESSAY ON THE MODERN STATE. Cambridge (UK): Cambridge University Press. This is a book of philosophy, in one sense, but also a realistic critique of the claims made on behalf of the state as a political organization. Morris' extended essay ends up by viewing the state as just another way in which we politically organize ourselves -- and in that sense comparable (rather than distinct from) to corporations, associations, city states, etc. Central to its success is legitimacy, claims Morris, but it is a legitimacy based neither on monopoly of the "legitimate use of force" (per Weber) or some form of popular consensus (per democrats), but instead on its capacity to sustain a regime that is perceived as reasonably just and minimally efficient. Hmmmm....

Paddison, Ronan. 1983. THE FRAGMENTED STATE: THE POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY OF POWER. New York: St. Martin's Press. This was an eye-opening book for me when I first read it back in the 1980s. Here was a geographer making more sense of the political organization of the state than any of my political science colleagues. I still regard this as the best introduction to federalism and other forms of center-periphery relations -- but unfortunately it is an obscure title that rarely gets noticed.

Which highlights for me why I have accumulated so many books over the years. Many of those on my shelves were probably not worth the investment of time and money I've devoted to them. But over time I think I have put together a really useful collection that has served me well...


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