State Building Essay

1087 words - 5 pages

In his book State-building: Governance and world Order in the 21st Century, Francis Fukuyama examines the multiple dimensions of stateness and illustrates the significance of establishing a strong and capable state to individual states and the world order. As Fukuyama points out, it has been a recent trend to weaken stateness for some reasons. Many states were so powerful that they waged wars on their neighbours and the development of global economy tended to erode the autonomy and sovereignty of nation-states through international laws, rules, treaties and so forth. However, after September 11 event, the crucial issue for global politics will not be how to cut back the state sector; ...view middle of the document...

7). Fukuyama takes a further step to prioritise state strength or state capacity over scope. It is because the power of states is likely to be eroded by excessive scope of state activities. Fukuyama concurs with Max Weber about the significance of state strength. They agree on the point that “the essence of stateness is enforcement: the ultimate ability to send someone with a uniform and a gun to force people to comply with the state’s laws” (Weber, 1946 cited in Fukuyama, 2004, p. 21).

One of the main positions made by Fukuyama is that it is to be tested to what extent demand for institutions can be generated externally. Fukuyama identifies two major sources of demand for institutions—demand generated domestically or externally. This turns out to be a thought-provoking analysis of both domestic and external source of demand for institutions.

Fukuyama suggests that most “cases of successful state-building and institutional reform has occurred when a society has generated strong domestic demand for institutions” (2004, p. 35). Then the state carried out institution reform, imported institutions from the outside, or adapted foreign institutional models to local conditions. However, it takes external shocks or extraordinary circumstance to stimulate domestic demand for institutions and even then the domestic demand may not be strong to last long enough to accomplish the institution reform. Instead, in the absence of sufficient domestic demand, demand for institutions must be generated externally. This can come from two sources, namely, lending arm-length conditionality by aid agencies, or foreign governments, and the direct deployment of political power by outside authorities.

One intriguing paradox related to external incentives to demand is that external aid often diminishes rather than build up the state’s capacity. It is because foreign donors typically prefer to simply rely on their own resources to provide public services directly rather than to train local practitioners or bureaucrats or to fund the local services. Fukuyama defines the ultimate aim of “nation-building” by foreign governments is to create a self-sustaining state with the capacity to survive even after the withdrawal of foreign support and aid in any form. In practice, the direct provision of services by foreign governments almost always undermines the local government’s capacity to govern and survive once the programme terminates....

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