In his August 2014 piece, D’Anieri (2014: 22) claims that “the state’s capacity stems from the consent of the governed”. Do you agree with this claim? Why or why not?
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The current situation in Ukraine can be discussed as rather problematic, and it represents the new vision of anarchy that is spreading in the modern global society. One of the main questions in this context is whether it is possible to build democracy in the context of the weakened state. According to Paul D’Anieri, “the state’s capacity stems from the consent of the governed”, and “democracy must underpin the strong state” (D’Anieri Anarchy 2014: 22).
D’Anieri’s claim is not only appropriate to explain the current problems in Ukraine, but it can also be discussed as objectively strong because the order within the state, including the order achieved through democratic tools, significantly depends on the consent of the governed people who choose to support the authorities’ actions or protest them and find legitimacy and order achieved by other means.
The first illustration of the idea proclaimed by D’Anieri is the situation in Ukraine. The political forces in Ukraine that claim to be democratic chose the path of revolution to state the principles of democracy in the government. However, there was a lack of the consent of the governed to make the previous or the new state strong (D’Anieri Democracy 2014: 8-9).
From this perspective, previously, the population was against the rule of oligarchs, and now, the part of the population became oriented to the specific principles of the democratic-autocratic regime growing in Russia (D’Anieri presentation, February 26, 2015).
D’Anieri notes that in the situation of revolution, “the interim government’s claim to legitimacy was weak, and in several parts of Ukraine, consent of the governed was less than enthusiastic” (D’Anieri Anarchy 2014: 17). Thus, the Ukrainian state demonstrated the lack of legitimacy and the consent of the governed people. The absence of consent led to the impossibility to regulate the situation by both peaceful and coercive actions.
The United States can be discussed as an example of the opposite situation when the principle of the connection of the state’s capacity and the consent of the governed can be discussed from the other side. In spite of challenges and a range of political issues facing all the democratic governments, the population of the United States chooses to be ruled toward democracy, and the consent of the governed is observed through the wins of democratic leaders for the second terms.
These wins can be discussed as the most vivid examples in order to state that the authorities or the government act according to the consent of the governed. In this context, there is a question about comparing the effectiveness of means that are used by democratic and democratic-autocratic regimes in order to gain the consent of the public (D’Anieri presentation, February 26, 2015).
From this point, it is possible to agree with the idea that the capacity of the state is usually originated from the consent of the governed people due to that fact that the public can influence the legitimacy of the authorities’ actions.
When there is a lack of the public’s support or there is absolute division in opinions, the weak state becomes even weaker while attempting to win control over the situation. In this context, the path to democracy is full of barriers, and opposite opinions can influence the authorities’ choice of forces to stabilize the situation in the state facing the development of anarchy.
D’Anieri, Paul. “Anarchy in [the] Ukraine: How Ukraine’s Crisis Represents “post-Post-Cold War” Politics”. UC Irvine School of Social Sciences. Irvine, California. 26 Feb. 2015. Lecture.
—. Anarchy, the State, and Ukraine. Irvine: University of California Riverside, 2014. Print.
—. Democracy and Geopolitics: Understanding Ukraine’s Threat to Russia. Irvine: University of California Riverside, 2014. Print.