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Myths and Technologies of the Modern State
The chapter focuses on the modern state, which differs from the 18th-century state in several aspects. The modern state is being closely defined by territories that are characterized by administrative, legal, and educational frameworks. Demarcation of the modern state was achieved by carrying out surveys that helped achieve maps. The demarcation was essential because it helped the state to identify and utilize its resources and tax.
For the state to simplify and strengthen itself, it organized its citizens to take part in large-scale wars and so that it would tax them using well-defined structures. The taxation went a long way in acquiring funds to purchase better military equipment.
The modern world adopted a top-down state-building and monopoly of power and resources. The elite groups were crucial in perpetuating practices that did not enhance the equal distribution of resources and development of all areas. This was evident in some societies in Japan, China, and Ethiopia, where some earlier groups of people subscribed to the idea that the powerful state acted as a barrier to continuing their civilizations.
It is also notable that governments were faced with local disputes, but they were able to mediate. The period 1850-1870 was a turning point for the modern state. The period was characterized by rapid industrialization, expansion of military equipment and skills, revolution, and nationalism. For instance, Bismarck’s Prussia was helped by the adoption of new technologies and professional culture to move to a higher gear.
This chapter also touches on the contributions of historians in shaping the modern state. For example, Marxists claimed that the state was like an engine of some social strata of society. Max Weber held that the state was a local organization that guaranteed civil order and progress. However, it was in the 1960s that historians of the English-speaking world started to collectively appreciate the contribution of the past to the success of the modern state. The geographical spread of the 19th-century state is well discussed in the chapter. The state was experienced much earlier in the West. In Africa, the state was adopted much later due to several factors that delayed the processes of civilization and technological advancements.
The chapter contains the major features of the modern state in the 19th century. Some of the approaches adopted by the modern state were meant to oppress the poor and the marginalized in society. Although the modern state prospered, there was much destruction caused to the poor people and geographical locations characterized by adequate resources in the endeavor of the state to achieve economic stability. Historians could have played greater roles in shaping the destiny of the modern state. They could have helped it to avoid causing harm to human populations and geographical features.
Major international theories
The chapter has highlighted some crucial international theories that were dominant in shaping the modern state. Political realism was utilized by the state to promote survival and self-help. The theory was essential in ensuring that the ideologies of the leaders were propagated and used to move the modern social and political organization forward.
On the other hand, Marxist and Neo-Marxist theories were evident in the modern state and they focused on promoting economic and material achievement. They opposed the liberal theory of state progression. Critical theory was adopted by the leaders of the modern state who viewed capitalism as an ideology that would help the state to prosper.
Bayly, C. A. (2003). The birth of the modern world, 1780-1914. Wiley-Blackwell.