Max Weber’s Politics As A Vocation attempts to define the term “state” in the modern view of politics. Weber argues that the standard unit of political studies or debate is the state, which seemingly dictates the policies and thus the well-being of the political world. Weber states that in order for the dictated within the state to obey the ones in power, domination must have legitimacy or justifications of power. He suggests the three types of legitimations: charisma, traditions, and competence. Weber introduces the definition of the state as a community that “claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” 1
However, the territorial of the definition of a state is highly debated when the case of no borders is established. The Economist recently published an article about open borders and the debate surrounding this vision of the future. The article states that there are many benefits of the eradication of borders, both economically and morally, but there are also certain limitations to this proposal. 2
How will the definition of state change if there are no borders? Will there even be states?
Obviously, the territorial characteristic will not be included. But the distribution of power, both among the states and the ones in power within a state, will change drastically. There can be the radical case that the state will no longer be a prominent unit of politics anymore, but it is hardly possible since states would still be able to exist through national identity and legitimacy of leadership.
1 James Tyler Dickovick and Jonathan Eastwood, Comparative Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 49-50.
2 “The Case for Immigration,” The Economist (April 16, 2018), https://www.economist.com/open-future/2018/04/16/the-case-for-immigration.
February 7, 2019
In her article, Julia Ioffe examines Putin’s motivation and intent behind the manipulation of the U.S. elections. She cites the Putin administration’s fear of losing legitimacy and power in the domestic as well as the international scheme as the main reason, stating the failure of Putin to revamp the economy and maintain the sustainable trust from his people. His resistance from the Westernization and privatization of economy is challenged as Ukraine is leaning towards the EU. Putin also feels threatened by Navalny, the only political opposition force that has recently emerged in Russia.
Last week, the U.S. pulled out of the INF Treaty signed in 1983 by both Russia and the U.S., banning short and medium-range missiles from both countries in an effort to ease the Cold War tensions. Russia followed earlier this week, planning to create land-based missiles in the next two years. Both sides accused each other of violating this treaty multiple times before officially ending the treaty. According to the article, the U.S. fears threats from multiple forces, especially China, as the main reason to prepare militarily.
Is this a new arms race a source of confidence and legitimacy for the Putin administration? Do Putin’s worries about his longevity and legitimacy motivate this action for Russia?
According to Ioffe, Russia is preparing a new generation of techies and hackers, people with highly trained computer science skills in preparations of advanced espionage and vandalization of international politics. This restores a sense of pride and a feel of “world power” in the administration and in the people who are fervent nationalists. Therefore, the increase in military force and advanced weapons will reasonably act as the same factor, but in a different sense. They all show Putin’s insecurity about his remaining in power and his shaky legitimacy.
Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Game,” The Atlantic, February 2018.
“INF Nuclear Treaty: Russia Plans Out New Missile Systems After Pullout,” BBC, 5 February 2019,