Debating the state - Rival theories of the state - The leviathan state

5 important questions on Debating the state - Rival theories of the state - The leviathan state

What is the leviathan state associated with in modern politics?

With the New Right.
Commitment to a radical form of individualism.
Strong apathy towards state intervention in economic and social life, born out of the belief that the state is a parasitic growth that threatens both individual liberty and economic security.
State is an overbearing nanny.

The 20th century tendency towards state intervention reflects the internal dynamics of the state.

What is the central feature of the leviathan state?

The state pursues interests that are separate from those of society (setting it apart from Marxism), and that those interests demand an unrelenting growth in the role of responsibilities of the state itself.

How do New Right theorists explain the expansionist dynamics of state power?

By reference to both demand-side and supply-side pressures.
Demand-side: those that emerge from society itself. Electoral competition encourages politicians to outbid one another by making promises, regardless of the long-term damage such policies inflict on the economy.
Supply-side: those that are internal to the state. Institutions and personnel of the state apparatus.

--> government oversupply thesis (often associated with the public choice theory)

Where are the parallels between the public choice model and the Marxist view?

Government is dominated by the state (the state elite being able to influence the thinking of elected politicians).

Where do the public choice model and the Marxist view diverge?

In relation to the interests that the state apparatus serves.
Marxists: the state reflects broader class and other social interests.
The New Right: portrays the state as an independent or autonomous entity that pursues its own interests (bureaucratic self-interest invariably supports 'big' government and state intervention, because this leads to an enlargement of the bureaucracy itself - ensures job security, improve pay etc.)

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