Personal Identifier No: Date: 14 May 2014
Question: Examine and assess the view that the legitimacy of states is always contested.
It is first important to establish the definition of the term “State(s)”. Blakely & Saward describes “as a formless mass that can be considered everywhere and yet nowhere at the same time”, “it is based on shared expectations and the ordering of social lives” which increased dramatically during and following the restrictions the World Wars placed on society. The state could now be described as “Big Brother” or “Nanny State”. (Blakely & Saward, (2009), pg. 354-359).
John Hoffman (Hoffman (2007) cited in (Blakely & Saward, (2009), pg. 373) purports, that no internal or external challenges to the state could lead the state becoming a redundant entity. Conversely German Sociologist Max Weber (Weber (1991) cited in (Blakely & Saward, (2009), pg. 361) claims the state is an organisation that claims a monopoly of legitimate use of power in a given territory. Both historically, and today there are examples where control and order by both ‘extreme and more democratic states’ over its citizens could be considered restricting and sometimes dictatorial, so leading to civil and international tensions, conflict and even wars. These pressures can lead to challenges and contestation of authority both from within the state or from external influences and organisations, including other recognised states, criminal and terrorist organisations. In an attempt to control status quo, the states governing body creates structure to solve contestation, authority and legitimacy with one such structure being a democratic electoral process.
For the purpose of this assignment the “State” will be referred to as the government, corporate and/or established institutions within a given country. To examine the question of legitimacy and continual contestation, the following examples will be reviewed: The international relationships of the United Nations (UN). The relationship between Great Britain and Northern Ireland (GB & NI) and finally the United States of America (USA) terrorist attacks of 9/11.
The first example reviews the challenge between the UN’s constitution, with the USA and its allies, in a case against the authority of Iraq’s sovereignty, eventually identified as the Iraq war. As part of its constitution the UN has in place an inner Security Council where each of the inner councils five permanent member states, has the ability to prevent proposed legislation being implemented, and so to the international world, the UN can be seen to restrict individual states ability to govern based on this veto process. In this example of the Iraq war, the UN refused authorisation for the USA and her allies to declare war, so further challenging the authority of the USA to legitimately use force against Iraq. The outcome was of course that war was declared on Iraq without UN approval, so showing a double contestation of authority by the USA and the officially recognised non-state body the UN against each other, resulting in military action without authorisation.
The next example is the GB and NI general election process and social conflicts. One could first question if the democratic election process used fully establishes true challenges. History shows the election process is not always fully participated by voters, suggesting that voters may feel it not necessary to engage, that their vote will make no difference to the outcome, or as this process has been created and endorsed by the state, it is questionable whether it really provides fair contestation. The election process however does provide the wining party effectively with a four-year period where representative democracy is not fully contested or challenged by the countries eligible voters.
NI has been united with the UK since 1921 and during this period NI has experiencing major religious and political divisions, with the Catholic…