The Inevitability of State Formation and Its Prevention

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A ‘state’ is socio-geo-political entity with a government which exercises control over all spheres of life. State is a construct thus fluid in nature. The formation of ‘state’ is still a polemical issue, various historians have tried to provide logic to this answer in their own ways. This even leads to question- whether the emergence of state inevitable, was there any possibility to prevent it?

As pointed out by H.J.M. Claessen, “this process had a long gestation period”. In his article ‘Before Early State and After’, he describes how he to studied few ‘non-literate principalities’ or ‘primitive states’ to unroot the undiscovered causes behind emergence of state. Later he was joined by Peter Skalnik in this study and they came up with a [PG-6] new term ‘Early State’, which they thought was more suitable for such emerging societies. They came across some common points like – Territory, Sovereignty, Stratification, Functionaries [which were common in almost all the societies]. [PG-6], broadly categorised rise of early state as 3 tier process – Inchoate, typical and transitional, which Bbrings about formation of ‘mature state’. This categorisation was based on power exercised- Consensual [as in chiefdoms] or Coercive [as in state]. According to Claessen and Skalnik, 5 factors were responsible for the same- Demographic factors, War-conquest, Production process and surplus, State’s ideology and influencing of already existing states. [PG-11] Claessen came up with Complex Interaction Model [CIM] which includes- ‘societal format’ and 2 other nuances of – ideology and control of economy.

On the other hand, 19 century British historians name the kind of state which existed in Asian societies as ‘Oriental Despotism’ where a ruler has all the power and society was ‘unchanging and uniform’. A similar term ‘Asiatic Mode of Production’ is used by Marxist scholars to describe Asian societies where whole lad was owned by king [who extracted taxes], there were no markets and society was self-sufficient, But on contrary, in Indian states people had their own property [example of grihapati] and peasant were free to migrate to another place if they found existing authority as oppressive and tribute/taxes as unbearable and India had vibrant market centres too. As Romila Thapar puts it “the nature of Asian state was easier process of state formation, this included conquest theory [by Aryans] and internal stratification theory.” [PF-656] She also focuses on Vedic texts like Rigveda to draw reference of Bharata tribe who were in transitional phase to monarchical system, where “Kuru, Panchala were typical”.

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