Legitimacy enables a state to depend not on shear force or coercion, rather the idea of consent of the governed. Consent of the governed is a principle that goes back to the English philosopher John Locke, stating that a government’s legitimacy and moral right to use state power is justified and legal when it is consented by the people or society that the power is being exercised over. Consequently, this makes legitimacy an integral component of any successful modern state. Various forms of political organizations can be affiliated with the few basic forms of legitimacy.
Legitimacy has also transformed into a key to assist in explaining the rise and decay of electoral and authoritarian regimes. Said regimes can instruct states and construct the state’s power and authority over their people. State power and legitimacy have a strong correlation in the sense that states who are considered strong states are commonly regarded with a high capacity of legitimacy. Max Weber argued that political legitimacy comes in three basic forms: traditional, charismatic, and rational-legal. Traditional legitimacy is based on continuity between the past and present.
States can develop traditional legitimacy over time if their government and regimes span over the course of that state’s history. Change becomes difficult if the institution has the weight of history on its side. An example of traditional legitimacy is the English monarchy. Charismatic legitimacy is built on the force of ideas and the presence of the leader. It is normally weakly institutionalized. Charismatic legitimacy can easily corrupt. North Korea is an example of charismatic legitimacy becoming corrupt.
Kim Jong II received all of the power in North Korea resulting in the state becoming a very corrupt, fascist state. Rational-legal legitimacy is the concept on which modern states are based off of. It is a system that is based on a system of laws and procedures that are presumed to be neutral or rational. An example would be an elected executive leader, such as Barack Obama. States do not just simply develop from nothing into a land with a high amount of legitimacy; they must obtain and their legitimacy as they curate a constitution or a comparable document.
A vital component in a state achieving legitimacy is establishing a sense of cohesiveness and a common perception on how the state should be run. If the people of the state believe in their government and the power that the state hold, they are more likely to obey laws even when the threat of punishment is nominal. When citizens trust their state government, the state runs more efficiently as a result. In the case of Zimbabwe, the government officials that were in control discombobulated the country’s substantial agricultural economy.
Desperately seeking a fix for this quandary, the country began to print more money in hopes of stimulating the economy. The insertion of more money into the economy dangerously backfired on the African country; inflation escalated to an all time high of 231,000,000 percent. To explicate the extreme inflation rate further, 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars were worth approximately 30 U. S. dollars. The demise of Zimbabwe occurred because of the perceived inadequacy of the Zimbabwean government to the citizens.
The country may have printed more money; however, the public did not believe that Zimbabwe was a strong enough state to to buttress the influxion of currency. As a result, the legitimacy of the state crumbled. Based on the case of Zimbabwe, legitimacy inside of the state uses trust as a crutch. People trust the state, people are more likely to do willingly partake in state programs, such as paying taxes. Obtaining legitimacy within the state is one great task; however, getting other states to view another state as legitimate is a tremendous task as well.
Freedom and equality are not correlated with legitimacy, meaning a country like North Korea can see themselves as legitimate. Other states most likely do not see North Korea as legitimate because their regime is very differentiated from a greater part of the world. States who see themselves as legitimate have a higher possibility of seeing countries with similar regimes as a legitimate state. For example, the United States wishes to disseminate democracy throughout the world because that is the political organization that the United States deems legitimate.
If a developing country wishes to have great state power and legitimacy an advantageous plan for them would be to model their developing country after an already prosperous state. If a state would like to be viewed as legitimate by, for example, China, that state would be best off attempting to develop and government and regime that is most like China. Because China sees their communistic society as legitimate, if the developing state successfully rises, China will presumably see that state as legitimate. Capacity and autonomy also have a large impact on the legitimacy of a state and their state power.
Capacity is defined as the ability of the state to wield power in order to carry out basic in the state such as providing security. Autonomy is the ability of the state to wield its power independently of the public or international forces. The combination of the two and the ratio at which they act is a substantial indicator of how that specific state functions. If capacity and autonomy do not interact in an advantageous way, the state has potential to become a failed state. Worst case scenario is that the state has low autonomy and low capacity.
In that situation, the state is in critical danger of failing. That state would have such weak institutionalization and authority that it would simply crumble. A higher capacity is generally a more efficient system; the state is able to formulate and enforce fundamental policies while keeping the state stable. A bad mix of capacity and autonomy can lead to a failed state. Before a state is tilted a failed state, they are considered a weak state: a state in which laws are haphazardly applied and corruption is widespread throughout the state.
Currently, the states that are at risk of becoming a failed state are South Sudan, Somalia, and the Central African Republic, to name a few. What puts a state on the fragile state index? A number of factors come into play when determining whether or not a state is to be labeled as fragile. Legitimacy, uneven economic development, and external intervention are all key factors in determining the fragility of a state. The most fragile state on the list is South Sudan. South Sudan is a state that is enormously underdeveloped with little existing infrastructure.
The autonomy and capacity of South Sudan are dangerously low. This new country is struggling to find its legitimacy which makes it and its people at a strain to succeed. All of the states that are on the fragile state index are struggling to find a regime and government to give them legitimacy within their state and outside of their state. They ways that a state goes about obtaining legitimacy and state powers varies on if the state adopted a democratic or nondemocratic regime.
Different types of regimes struggle in various forms concerning state power. The United States, as a democracy, must combat issues that are differentiated from a country such as China. China has been struggling with gender imbalance in their country due to their one-child policy and the preference for male children. The ability for China to implement a policy such as the one-child policy is due to their state power. If the United States attempted to implement such a policy, it would likely be seen as an infringement on the citizens freedom and privacy.
Nondemocratic and democratic regimes do not have an advantage over each other, they simply battle different issues and rise in different manners. Copious factors affect the state and all of the components that go into making that state unique in the way that it functions. State power, regimes, and legitimacy are a few of the elements that make each state into its own based on how that state utilized and to what extent they utilized them. States will continue to struggle internally and externally with obtaining and retaining legitimacy and power.