The Idea of Political Development: From Dignity to Efficiency
Author's Note: The articles in this section deal with political change, usually the obverse of political stability. Obviously, the absence of conditions that make for the latter also may be assumed to make for change, but this is too facile. For one thing, we can say nothing about kinds of change by such reasoning. Furthermore, certain kinds of change (discussed in chapter 3) may involve the adaptation of the polity to changed conditions and thus denote in fact a kind of stability: the maintenance of a pattern, to whatever extent may be possible, if context changes.
One thing that must be known then if political change occurs is whether it results from a polity's malfunctioning or whether it happens in the nature of things: especially, whether it is "normal" developmental change—as germination, maturation, decay, and termination are normal organic changes.
During the 1960s and 1970s a large literature on political development grew, for reasons that are surely obvious. In the article that follows I tried to do three things: (1) to point out the considerable shortcomings of that literature; (2) to define the traits of proper "developmental theory," following the ideas of the aboriginal developmental theorists who wrote during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; and (3) to sketch a theory of political development that had those traits and also seemed plausible. The theory precipitated considerable feedback, most of it gratifying. It was also examined, again with gratifying results, in a conference on comparative law, in which the legal systems of societies at different levels of development were contrasted on the basis of the theory.
In chapter 1, I wrote that my German experience pervades my work. It may be well hidden in the theory, but it is there just the same: chiefly in the notion that totalitarianism, as what I here call "political society," may be regarded as a developmental stage, already latent in "elementary" political life, and not an aberration. It is all too easy and comfortable to think of totalitarianism as aberrant. The grotesque features of the Nazi version may well be so. But that does not mean that the general phenomenon is no more than a kind of madness. Nor is it to say that there may not be a "democratic" form of totalitarian government. That, however, is too large a subject to be dealt with here—except to remark that recent changes in "political societies" (Eastern Europe especially) may be dramatic, but far less vast than they seem: perhaps they are only changes from one to another kind of political system in its full (total) development.
From one point of view, the study of political development is a major area of achievement in recent political inquiry; from another, which matters more, it is a conspicuous failure.
What has been achieved is great and rapid growth. The study of political development, in contemporary form, started barely two decades ago. In short order, an extraordinary boom occurred in publications on the subject. By 1975, a standard overview listed over two hundred pertinent works. Accretion became especially rapid after 1964, though it seems to have "peaked out" (at a high level of production) in the early 1970s.
The negative side is that the result is mostly muddle. The study of political development has all the traits of too-rapid, jerry-built growth, and of its concomitant, "decay." The muddle is especially pronounced where it does the most harm: in regard to the very meaning of political development. Even scholars who were conspicuous in pushing the boom along are now viewing the matter of definition with dismay. Thus, Huntington and Dominguez start their review of the literature with remarks about loaded and wishful definitions—an "alarming proliferation" of them—and the consequent "superfluity" of much work on political development. It stands to reason that, if a concept is encumbered with many meanings, theories using it also will vary alarmingly because they are not about the same thing.
The study of political development thus is at a critical juncture. One can let it decay further or, not much different, choose to abandon itFrank Lloyd Wright's prescription for what to do about Pittsburgh (and, I think, Huntington's for political development). Or one can try a project in conceptual and, through it, theoretical renewal. In this essay, I develop a basis for renovation. Abandonment might, of course, be the wiser course. But the present conceptual muddle in studies of political development
seems to me due to avoidable causes; the early explorers of the subject were getting at something worth getting at—if it was attainable.
Critical Analysis of the Concept of Political Development
The reasons for the muddle about the meaning of political development start with a strange inversion of the proper and usual relations between concepts (labels), objects, and subjects. Normally, one begins with observations or ideas (or both). Concepts are used to make statements about them: "messages" that convey information. In making statements, difficulties may arise. More or less misinformation, or "noise," may be conveyed. Unless conventional language has been seriously abused, the fault can hardly lie in the words. Messages will be unclear to the extent that observations or ideas are crude or fuzzy. To achieve greater clarity, it is usually not to the point to revise the definitions; the obvious remedies are more exact observation and more lucid thought. The exceptions that call for abandonment are concepts that turn out to be vacuous because they label ignorance itself—like "phlogiston" or "having the vapors."
If, then, one asks what a concept means, the answer ought simply to be that it means what it is intended to mean. If disputes about the labels we ourselves have devised concern meaning as such, one can be sure that something went wrong at the first move. But, in point of fact, nothing is more discussed and debated among specialists in the study of political development than what the concept means. Huntington and Dominguez put their finger on the reason in pointing out that scholars first became concerned with a "thing" called political development, and that this concern "naturally" led them to try to define what the thing is. Trying to find a proper bottle to attach to a label had a predictable result: the "alarming proliferation" of meanings mentioned earlier. One sees this best in overviews of the literature on political development, which generally present lists of meanings—lists that tend to be lengthy as well as different from one another.
Why this topsy-turvy procedure of putting concepts before meanings? The explanation seems to me apparent in the actual unfolding of studies of development since the early fifties. At first, the term "development" became fashionable policy language for describing economic differences between Western (and other) societies and the assumed aspirations of Third World countries. In the economic sense, the concept was reasonably informative: it referred to levels of material abundance and processes of raising the levels. When political scientists appropriated the label, they also referred to assumed aspirations in the Third World and differences be-
tween it and the West; they then searched for a special content for the concept. Since "political abundance" has no immediately apparent meaning, the results were bound to be odd and eclectic.
The search for a political version of abundance is most evident in attempts to define political development in terms of capabilities—levels of them; "crises" regarding them; changes in them; various capabilities (as in Almond and Powell); or some particular kind (as in Organski). [ 7] This tack, however plausible, turned out, at best, to be problematic. Because capabilities are potential, it is intrinsically difficult to be precise about them. More important, the notion of capability only removes the problem of definition by one step. We now ask: Capability to do what, and how?
In most cases, the definition of the "thing" called political development was sought in a manner even more likely to lead to conceptual entropy. From the outset, development was, as stated, a norm-laden concept, distinguishing "us" from "them," Western achievements from non-Western aspirations—much like the earlier, less euphemistic word civilization . The difficulty here is not just parochial bias, but the tendency to conceive political development simplistically—as what exists in the West and had gone on in its history (especially its recent history), and what was sought to be replicated, or was bound to occur, in "backward" societies. Since a great many things have gone on in Western history, scholars were virtually compelled to choose for emphasis some aspect, or aspects, of Western history. They could—perhaps had to—choose by opinion. And so we get eclectic catalogues of meanings, which, taken altogether, simply spell Western history.
Thus, political development has been especially associated with increasing democratization; with growing bureaucratization; with the professionalization of politics (what Weber called living "off," not "for" politics); with the formalization of politics (actions based on explicitly prescribed legal rules); with the decline of ascription and the rise of achievement in political roles; with the growing clarification and resolution of political jurisdictions (the gradual vanishing of parallel or overlapping functions, like those of the Church, principalities, and other traditional corporations, and the clearcut rank-ordering of roles and structures, contrasted to the messy lack of hierarchy produced by infeudation). The very fact of the building of nation-states has also been equated with political development ("nation-building" once was the most common meaning), as has the increased penetration of societies by governmental authorities and the increase in redistributive policies. The list can easily be extended. History is enormously multifaceted.
Granted, development is not a sensible concept unless used in a historical sense. But if the concept remains closely tied to concrete history, there is no need for it. We already have a more intelligible concept for
development as history: namely, history. Development must surely stand for something more abstract and "ruleful" (theoretical)—something that is manifested in histories (plural).
Why not, then, simply abandon the idea of "political development"? In the first place, the present literature on political development simply does not represent "developmental" inquiry properly. In fact, little but the label itself (plus some other, mostly misused, concepts culled from developmental thinkers) links that literature to genuine developmental thought. The state of the literature, consequently, is irrelevant to assessing the utility of theories of development, properly constructed. (It might be added that the disjunction of the label from the theorizing it represents is ironic because developmental thought occurs at the very origin of modern social science in the nineteenth century and was devised to deal with its core issue: what it is to be "modern.") Second, the core issue that gave rise to developmental thought has hardly been transcended by later history. It remains obtrusive and urgent and it is still very much a puzzle. Finally, the potential of developmental thought for unraveling the puzzle it was meant to solve has hardly begun to be realized. The failure is the result of misunderstanding its intention. Very summarily, this intention was to understand our own societies (and, by extension, others) by finding their location in social time as a critical theoretical dimension.
The Nature of Developmental Thought
Social Time and the Puzzle of Modernity
Societies exist in, and "move" through, history—and social history differs from other sorts of history. Obviously, then, social theories must somehow come to grips with the nature and significance of "social time." One issue that is thus posed is how to think of the flow of history: whether to treat history annalistically, as a continuous thread, or as passing through distinct phases—as Geertz puts it, "a medium through which certain abstract processes move." A further issue arises if the latter tack is chosen: how to think of history as an abstract medium. For the most pan, that question has been dealt with via picturesque metaphors, above all that of organic growth and decay. Developmental thought is preeminent in trying to transcend mere imagery in the treatment of social time, as well as in the extent to which such time is treated as a puzzle and a key to understanding.
The context in which developmental thought appeared had much—perhaps everything—to do with its animus. Developmental theories began, simplistically, early in the nineteenth century and attained their apogee early in the twentieth. Roughly, the period runs from Comte, the first volume of whose Cours appeared in 1830. to Durkheim and Weber; this
period was, as we know, one of rapid, tumultuous, broad-scale, and above all almost wholly unprecedented changes, in scope and in kind, in the West. The changes need no elaboration. They include the spread of industry; the rapid growth of science and technology; the "disenchantment" of the world, as Weber called it, through rational perceptions and behavior; growing bureaucratization; democratization and its many concomitants (the appearance of political parties, changes in the composition of elites, and so on); nationalism and the emergence of new states; vastly increased social mobility; great cities; transformed networks of transport and communications; revolutions; reaction; and much else. Such extraordinary changes, especially while still novel, were bound to pose profound puzzles. They were also bound to unhinge established ideas about the nature of societies' movement through time. And they were, at the least, likely to make the proper understanding of historical process appear fundamental to all worthwhile social understanding. The belief in the critical significance of social time, and of the location of particular societies in it, emerges most categorically in Durkheim's sociology. For Durkheim, all was timebound and, therefore, culture-bound: not just "social facts," but even the epic issues of moral philosophy (because moral imperatives are senseless out of their historical context) and those of validity and truth (because no universal mind exists, only particular cultural consciences collectives ). Thus, the core problem of developmental thought was the puzzle of modernity. That puzzle had numerous related facets. Where were Western societies on the continuum of history? How did they get there? What forces had moved them from some long-past primal condition to the present? Where was historical process taking them? These questions differ from the way the problem of modernity is put now. In its earlier version, the issue was Western society:"we" rather than "they"; modernity rather than achieving modernization. Comparisons with premodern societies might, of course, help in finding solutions, but "we" were the problem. It follows that developmental theories could hardly have conceived of modernity in terms of the general condition, or selected facets, of "advanced" societies. Their first task was to diagnose that condition itself, in contrast to other conditions of societies.
In order to come to grips with the problem of modernity, and with the more general problem of passage through social time, the developmental theorists devised a mode of theory as unprecedented as the social conditions that they tried to understand—a change in thought perhaps as momentous as the appearance of Newtonian mechanics and cosmology in the physical sciences. To understand their mode of theorizing, it is particularly necessary to grasp two things at the outset. One is that the developmental theorists tried, in essence, to find patterns in pervasive novelty and seeming flux—to get bearings in a world devoid of all fixity and pre-
cedents. The second involves the nature of conceptions of social time available for them to find such patterns—conceptions they rejected as inadequate for their task. Discussion of these earlier conceptions should help to clarify the nature and novelty of developmental thought by contrast; and discussion of perceived shortcomings in the conceptions should clarify the animus of developmental theory—and thus also the traits such theory should possess.
Universal-abstract theory . The strict antithesis of developmental theory is a body of social thought not far removed from it in history, and still its chief competitor. For want of a conventional label, I will call it universalabstract thought. In such thought, there is no temporal dimension at all, or at least none that matters.
Although societies and polities exist in history, it is possible to theorize about them as if they did not. Many social and political issues are universal. In politics, the manifest universal issues are those of authority and subjection: the origin or basis of governmental authority, its proper domains, the obligations and rights of subjects and princes, the nature of justice, and so on. Since these issues arise wherever a polity exists, it may seem simple logic to seek their solutions independent of contexts, including temporal contexts. Before the nineteenth century, sociopolitical theory was addressed chiefly to such "universal" issues and aimed at such atemporal solutions.
If issues are not tied to contexts, it will seem plausible to seek solutions by methods that also ignore contexts. The systematic method of abstract thinking thus is deduction, and, in fact, the prototypical method of universal-abstract thought was social geometry. One invoked axiomatic truths and deduced theorems (mostly to serve as normative imperatives) from them. Both the axioms and deductions often were odd and hardly involved tight geometric reasoning. Sometimes, to be sure, premises were stated as explicit postulates, as in the opening of the Declaration of Independence. More often, they made apparently empirical assertions, especially about human nature: that human life is "nasty, poor, brutish, and short," or that people have a "natural identity of interests." Or they postulated some alleged primordial sociopolitical event—usually a social and/ or governmental "contract." At best, the links between the postulates and theorems also were quasi-mathematical; but the spirit of universal-abstract theories certainly was geometric.
Geometry, of course, is wholly abstract. It is a tool for imposing logical exactness on understandings of experience. If geometry as such is made into theory, the world that is theorized about will necessarily seem static,
timeless, ahistorical, and noncultural. The universal-abstract theories of Hobbes or Locke (among many others) do seem to pertain to a son of clockwork social universe. Time exists in it; but societies move in time like planets through their orbits.
Such a theoretical world can only be plausible if one's sense of social life is fundamentally one of fixity. Surely this at least partly explains the historical location of sociopolitical geometry. It postdates the upheavals of the Renaissance and the Reformation. It played a major role in the philosophic of the ancien régime . It was, in short, the characteristic thought of embryonic "modernity" not yet become mysterious and perceived as a sort of permanent, if still youthful, maturity. Therefore, developmental thought should be understood, above all, in counterpoint to universalabstract social and political theories. To repeat, Durkheim insisted on temporal answers even for the seemingly timeless issues of such theories.
Of course, there existed, alongside universal-abstract thought (indeed, long preceding it), modes of social thinking in which time does play a role, sometimes a considerable one. It would be strange if this were not the case. None of these modes of thought, however, could be suited to the goals of developmental theory—though one came close in time and traits and may be considered its flawed precursor.
Social time in classical and Christian thought . In Greek and Roman philosophies, as in the early myths that the classic philosophers rationalized, all time is cyclical: the myth of Demeter made into rational philosophy. The cycle manifestly is fundamental to political philosophy in Aristotle ("the same opinions appear among men infinitely often") and underlies history in Polybius. It was perhaps inevitable that early thought about social time should use the imagery of cycles. The obvious reason is that the perception of time as a cycle surely is the most immediate experience of our personal time as organisms, and of the organisms all about us, in the recurrence of germination, growth, withering, and rebirth.
The idea of organic growth is not incompatible with developmental thought. Perhaps it even is the prototype of all developmental thinking, as Nisbet argues. Growth and development have always been inseparable ideas. But this does not apply to the notion of organic cycles. The idea of cycles, after all, is close to being atemporal: it involves infinite repetitionchangeless change. The idea may be a useful deus ex machina for historical explanation: things happen, as they often do in Polybius, because the time is ripe for them; or they do not happen because their season is not yet. But the notion obviously will not do if the explanandum is considered unprecedented. In fact, when the Greeks and Romans thought of the emergence of their own civilization, they used a quite different imagery: that of a gradual trajectory, so to speak—from an age of childish ignorance
and contentment to philosophic wisdom and serenity. The inconsistency can be explained by the fact that the classical philosophers, quite unlike the developmentalists, knew their historic place: despite imperfections and corruption, they considered themselves to be at the end of "advancement"—certainly not on a novel journey to an unknown destination.
The conception of history as a trajectory, essential in developmental thought, is, of course, the basis of the Christian idea of social time. The Christian trajectory is a pilgrim's progress. This is especially explicit, before Milton, in St. Augustine: "The education of the human race . . . has advanced . . . through certain epochs or, as it were, ages, so that it might gradually rise from earthly to heavenly things." The pilgrim's advance, though, was gloomy, as befit the time of Alaric's sack of Rome; it was an advance through corruption toward apocalypse. Such a vision could hardly speak to thinkers in a hopeful age. But, more important, what makes the Christian idea of history irrelevant to developmental thought is, again, what is most basic in the latter: puzzlement over social time as a variable. The Christian (and especially the Augustinian) thinkers also knew their historic place: at the nadir of time, when an old world had died and a new one had not yet germinated. It is difficult to think of anything less appropriate to the mystifying ferment and burgeoning of the developmental theorists' world.
Progress theory . A considerable, and familiar, body of thought that lies much closer to developmental theory certainly does not share Christian gloom, nor does it envisage the apocalyptic transformation of a dying world: progress theory. The nature of theories of progress (from Fontenelle and Leibnitz, through the greater intricacies of Kant, to the detailed "sketch" of Condorcet, and beyond) surely needs no discussion here. Progress theory is one of the staples of academic political education. What does need discussion, and a fair amount of it, is why progress theories do not measure up to the developmentalists' task and therefore differ from developmental thought.
We must be especially careful to distinguish progress theories from developmental theories because it is common to think of progress theory as an early version of developmental thought. No doubt there are continuities and resemblances. They occur contiguously in time, and the line of division between late progress theory and early developmental thought (like Comte's) is blurred. But, seen whole, progress theory differs from developmental thought in crucial ways—especially in ways that are important for dealing with modernity as a puzzle.
Most significant, neither the future nor the past really were treated as a puzzle in progress theory in the first place; consequently, the present also was considered to be transparent to clear minds. Even if any specific
location on the path of history might be hard to fix exactly, the path itself was known. It was, typically, denned by the continuous growth of rational knowledge, not least through the waning of superstition and magic. Such a belief seemed plausible, even obvious, when only the lighter side of modern secular history was in evidence. Although in most progress theories, the future was a vague, poetic vision, the theories at least were of paradise glimpsed, if not yet gained. In any case, paradise was certain.
To be sure, there were, as always, thinkers of skeptical disposition (like Hume and Voltaire) who did not so much dissent as abstain; there were also the gloomy-minded. But it was not until the French Revolution and its aftermath that the simplistic, sunny theory of progress wobbled. In the context of developmental theory, pretty visions of constant progress toward utopia were as out of place as doom-speaking. The world was growing richer, more knowledgeable, busier, more secure. But much of what was novel also was patently ugly, and novelty coexisted with reaction.
Also important was the belief of progress theorists in a certain fixity in change itself. That is why some progress theorists fit well into the category of abstract-universal thought. Fixity existed especially in "human nature"; history was the social realization of that nature over time. In retrospect, we ourselves can discern a considerable temporal puzzle here. But that the theorists of progress did not do so is evident in their tendency to write what has been called "conjectural history," the prototype of which is the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality . It is still more evident in their searches for the essence of their own refined identity in rude or savage peoples. (Adam Ferguson's Essay on the History of Civil Society is the outstanding case in point).
Surely there is all the difference in the world between theories that profess to understand the present through the remote past and those in which the nature of the trajectory from past to present to future consists of deeply sensed mysteries. Granted that developmental thinkers, like theorists of progress, made much of rudimentary societies and did so in order to understand themselves and their own times. But developmental theory did not seek the sophisticate in the savage. Rather, like Melville, developmental theorists stressed contrast. Above all, where progress theorists wrote with certainty about the flow of social time, developmental thinkers puzzled and theorized.
We can now outline the essential traits of developmental thought (its form), in contrast to earlier treatments of social time. Each trait can be related to some facet of the puzzle of modernity. And, in each case, the point can
be substantiated that contemporary work on political development represents developmental thought inadequately.
Inherent change . The foremost trait of developmental thought is that it proceeds from the premise that change is inherent in society. Thus, social statics and dynamics coincide, and the dichotomy between order and change is false; order, as Comte said, is order-in-change. All other traits of developmental theories follow from the first in some fashion. The sheer scope and obviousness of change in the context in which developmental theories were formulated demanded that change be regarded as inherent, and thus ubiquitous, in social life.
What is most important theoretically about the premise of inherent change is that it involves an explicit choice at the fundamental dividing line between all theories, the primary branch point at which alternative theories occur. I have made this argument extensively elsewhere, so I will be sketchy about it here. In explanation, the matter to be explained can be considered inherent or contingent. If contingent, it occurs because of abnormal (literally aberrant) conditions that happen fortuitously. If inherent, it occurs ineluctably, unless impeded or diverted by chancy conditions. (Thus, our deaths are inherent, our illnesses contingent.) Everything in theory depends on the choice made at this branch point. As a familiar example, I would cite the fatefulness of the change from the Aristotelian conception of motion, which was contingent, to the Galilean, in which motion is considered to inhere in matter. Developmental theory was, potentially, just as revolutionary.
How does the premise of inherency set developmental thought apart from other modes of sociotemporal thinking? First, in early ideas of social time, change was inherent in society only as changeless change, as repetition; or else, necessary change was a "one-shot" apocalyptic transformation. Even in progress theories, the trajectory of social time always came, inherently, to rest—and rest was never far off.
In all thought before developmental theory, then, social motion was Aristotelian. It tended toward a telos: a literal end. Also (Thucydides is typical), the events of concrete history tended to be explained largely by manifestly contingent causes: by the particularities of acts, contexts, wise or unwise choices, and the like. Historical philosophy and explanation were bifurcated and inconsistent. In the former, cyclical necessity prevailed; in the latter, accidents. This bifurcation is still evident even (or especially) in Marx as a philosopher of history and interpreter of particular events.
The first task of developmental thought, then, is to formulate a really general theory of social time; the next is to apply it, as explanation, to particular cases at particular points in particular histories. "Really general"
means abstract theory regardless of time, place, and circumstance—theory that spans the whole of history, from primal origins to modernity. Clearly, the contemporary literature on political development does not come dose to discharging that task. In much of it, even our own development seems to have begun only in the nineteenth century, or not long before.
Dimensional change . It is necessary in developmental theory to construct what Simmel called "abstract grammars" with which to make sense of the immensely complex actual flow of social time and to locate concrete cases in such time. These grammars, in Kantian terms, are forms of history that fit the contents of particular histories. If social change is regarded as inherent, that flow must be along a continuous dimension—although aberrant conditions might slow down movement, or produce apparent rest, on the dimension.
To define such a dimension, developmental theorists had to characterize its poles: the nature of the primal and of the fully advanced conditions of society—the latter not really "final," but a vision of the future that could link with present and past. Only in this way could developmental theorists hope to find their own place in history, in relation to the remote past and the uncertain future. The polar conditions seem simplistic, and indeed they are so, intentionally. Maine, for instance, considered the poles of the continuum of history to be relations based on status and on contract; he explicitly called them formulas—abstract tools for constructing "the law of progress." The polar types of Toennies were community (Gemeinschaft ) and association (Gesellschaft ): abstract concepts constructed to correspond to "external" (viz., concrete) collectivities; to describe old and new; and to find underlying themes in familial, economic, political, religious, aesthetic, and scholarly life. Durkheim's orienting concepts referred to polar modes of social solidarity, the mechanical and organic; these concepts, again, were used as highly abstract forms to make sense of concrete cultures, by a theorist preeminently aware of their variability. Weber's poles were traditional and rational systems of action: pure types that were useful for describing and explaining impure (concrete) cases.
In regard to the construction of such continuous dimensions, the contemporary literature on political development again falls dismally short. Writers tend to take positions on modernity (as we saw, simplistically), but not explicitly on premodernity, and least of all on the primal conditions from which development flows. Huntington just tells us that traditional political systems vary. And Lerner, typically, says no more than that traditional systems lack modern traits.
Growth and stages . If social change is dimensional, all cases fall between minimal and maximal poles. Historic flow along a dimension thus involves
changes in degree, or quantitative growth. Throughout the corpus of developmental thought, change in scale in fact played a major role. In Toennies, for example, Gemeinschaft involved small-scale units (household, kinship, village, neighborhood, town); Gesellschaft was associated with large entities (city, nation, cosmopolitan life, markets, industries, scientific fields). In Durkheim, organic solidarity was associated with growth in the sheer "volume" of society and in "moral density": the number and variety of interactions in which people participate. "Lower" societies were spread out sparsely, lacked cities, had few and slow modes of communication and transport; "higher" ones had the opposite traits, and, above all, denser networks of interaction as a result. In Simmel, the quantitative element played a critical role even more explicitly. Virtually the whole of Simmel's thought was based on a distinction between two-person (dyadic) and threeperson (triadic) relations. This distinction was, for Simmel, a metaphor for small and large—a basis for showing that even a change merely from a relation of two to three would have enormous consequences.
An essential premise of developmental thought, nevertheless, is that not just change (singular) is inherent in societies, but also changes (plural). The developmental conception of social change is typological. Just as the premise of inherent changes responded to the obtrusiveness of change in the developmentalists' social world, so the positing of qualitative changes accommodated their sense of novelty—of new species being originated. Size and growth do matter, but chiefly as bases of generic changes. Durkheim's distinction between mechanical and organic solidarity clearly was typological; but the long process by which organic solidarity replaces the mechanical type results from quantitative change. At the outset, there is a growth of what Durkheim called "moral density"—of the volume of interactions (and hence of regulative mores). As this occurs, conflicts increase—if only through proximity, like conflicts among animals living off the same pans of a tree. The chief mechanism available for reducing conflicts caused by proximity is a kind of distancing: the division of labor separates people and, as a bonus to harmony, makes them more mutually dependent. In this way, a generically quite different kind of solidarity replaces that of early societies. In the latter, solidarity results from the sameness of their parts; in advanced societies, its source is just the opposite: differentiation.
If social change is both quantitative and typological, an obvious issue arises: how to reconcile the two. The developmentalists' solution (the only solution possible) was to think of the flow of social time as involving stages: critical thresholds at which growth in degree generates changes in kind. Comte posited three such stages: theological, metaphysical, and positive. Spencer considered social change to be more obviously continuous, but also to involve typological change: from homogeneous to heterogeneous
societies. Obviously such change is quantitative, but Spencer himself referred to the result as "transformations."
The idea of social stages, essential in developmental thought, sharply distinguishes such thought from progress theories. In theories of progress, change is the growth of some desirable aspect of society (typically, rational knowledge) and a concomitant zero-sum decline in its obverse (superstition or ignorance). Progress theorists thus could, and did, envisage a final resting place for society: in the elimination of its defects. If, on the other hand, the inherency of typological changes is posited, social time must be open-ended. A historical process not conceived in simple monotonic, zero-sum terms can hardly arrive at absolute completion. The resulting theory is gloomier, appropriate to a time of puzzlement about society.
Again, contemporary work on political development has virtually nothing to say about how quantities (and which quantities) flow through political time and become converted into generic transmutations at critical stages. The imagery of developmental thought is much used: for instance, "takeoff." So is terminology that seems typological—above all, the labels "traditional" and "modern." I have already commented on the vacuity of both. If the polar types are vacuous, it follows that "takeoff" and intermediary types (e.g., transitional society) also must be mere imagery. The essential task of developing a theory of political stages—linking changes in degree and kind—remains unfulfilled.
Ruleful, necessary change . One way to orient thought to a world inherently in transmutation, in which all is perceived as time-bound and culture-bound, is to treat all cultures as having "meaning" only in themselves. In that case, understanding consists merely of interpretation. It is no accident that Kulturwissenschafi and the method of Verstehen came into being when developmental thought also flourished. As universal-abstract thought best represents the perception of underlying social fixity and uniformity, so interpretative sociology—"thick description," or cultural aesthetics—is one major response to the perception of social flux and variability.
Cultural science, however, provides no orientation to the general flow of history and offers no solution to the puzzle of modernity. Changes (and differences) may be inherent in societies, but no account of the process of change is provided. The alternative—and the fundamental difference between social science and cultural interpretation—is to proceed from the premise that societies pass through the stages of social time in a ruleful manner. In that case, modernity—as a stage or passage to a stage—may become comprehensible, in comparison to other cultures, as a particular
location on a general and necessary sociotemporal continuum. Also, in this way, comfort can be provided in a still ugly, unfinished world. The tumult of early modernity may be regarded as the onset of a higher stage in which, as in any pure type, all will at last fit coherently. At the same time, the naive optimism of believers in finality can be avoided.
Thus, again, it is a critical task of developmental theory to construct a comprehensive theory of history—one that identifies distinct stages in a continuous flow of social time which links primal to modern society. Such abstract history must, of course, especially describe and explain how changes on the dimension of time have produced whatever is qualitatively distinct about modernity.
As we have seen, though, the puzzle of modernity did not just involve location in historical time. It also involved questions about how we arrived at our temporal location and others at theirs and about where history was taking us and them. A related task of developmental theory, then, was to identify, alongside uniform motion, the uniform forces pushing societies ineluctably along the continuum of history—especially forces inherent in societies. Only thus was it possible to see the necessity of what had occurred since primal times, and only thus can one have a sure sense of direction in looking ahead—orientation to present, past, and future.
All developmental theories posit such an underlying moving force (and special forces at different stages) that pushes societies through time. Specifying such a force—describing historical gravity, so to speak—is, needless to say, a very difficult task. What force could possibly do what was theoretically needed? Obviously, it had to be absolutely fundamental—something "essential" in the very nature of societies and thus always present as a dynamic force, through qualitative changes. The early evolutionists saw the problem, but they tended to circumvent it because they wanted a quick fix to make sense of change. Their circumventions involved truisms—resort to unspecified "properties of our species," as Comte put it —that is, to human nature. But as evolutionary thought itself evolved, the solutions became less vacuous. In Spencer, for instance, the driving force behind social change was the desire for social efficiency, which Spencer equated with complexity of structure. In Durkheim, it was something even more obviously essential: social existence as such—the need for solidarity among the elements of society.
Here, once more, contemporary theorists of political development fail dismally to live up to the form of developmental thought. Not only is their continuum of political time truncated, but the force supposedly driving underdeveloped societies is, generally, little more than an unexplained urge to be more developed. At bottom, this is a truism a la Comte; it involves an assumed intrinsic "property of our species," reinforced by the
extrinsic accelerator of cultural diffusion. What is absent, above all, is a theory of the fundamental force, or forces, that brought "us" to our political condition and continues to push us through political time.
Conclusion . It should be obvious that the mysteries of modernity, as I said above, still are very much with us. For a long time, in contemporary political inquiry, they were shifted to the Third World. But now, again, they arise in reference to ourselves: for example, in the concerns with the nature and future of postindustrial societies, and their governability. Developmental thought was itself developed to deal with these puzzles. Surely, it is uniquely suited to do so; thus, it is sensible to take such thought seriously—that is, to try to construct developmental theory properly. Hence this section, as groundwork for the next.
The quintessential developmental theorist, Durkheim, best summarized the spirit of the developmental mode of thought:
Every time we explain something human, taken at a given moment in history . . . it is necessary to go back to its primitive and simple form, to try to account for the characterization by which it was marked at that time, and then to show how it developed and became complicated little by little, and how it became that which it is at the moment in question.
I propose now to do this, in broad strokes, for the political aspect of human experience.
Sketch for a Revised Theory of Political Development
The passage from Durkheim succinctly describes what is needed to renovate the idea of political development. A more detailed agenda of questions to be dealt with follows from the summary of the traits of developmental thought:
1. What conception of continuous growth can plausibly describe the long passage from primal to highly advanced polities?
2. What is the essential nature of polity in its "primitive and simple" form?
3. What forces make the "advancement" of primal polities toward "higher" forms ineluctable (or at least highly probable)?
4. What distinctive stages lie along the trajectory of political time? In what ways do these stages involve both quantitative growth and change in kind?
5. What forces move polities from stage to stage?
6. What do the answers to these questions imply for polities that are at present less developed, and for "advanced," modern polities?
What Conception of Continuous Growth Describes the Passage from Simple to Highly Advanced Politics?
I have argued that contemporary theories of political development are historically myopic. Even in Georgian England—hardly remote history—the traits now most widely associated with political development were still embryonic. Democratization was certainly not far advanced. The suffrage was severely restricted; leaders (e.g., M. P. s) either were nobles and gentry or their handpicked clients, bound to serve their patrons' interests. In regard to bureaucratization, administrative and judicial roles remained entangled, nationally and locally; recruitment was highly ascriptive; specialization and formalization were elementary. Among the more familiar conceptions of political development, only the "clarification" of societal authority was mature, for the messiness of corporate jurisdictions had certainly been cleared up by the eighteenth century.
How, then, can one characterize a continuum of political time on which the Georgian polity itself belongs to a rather advanced period? Recall that such a continuum must involve quantitative growth and must be a "form" that can contain much variable content. Moreover, the dimension involved must be anchored in time by minimal and maximal poles, one corresponding substantially to rudimentary cases, the other a vision that links perceptions of modernity to its remote and nearer past and, still more important, to an approximated future.
I suggest that the most serviceable way to characterize such a continuum is also the simplest: what grows in political development is politics as such— the political domain of society. Through political history, political authority and competition for politically allocated values have continually increased. Using Durkheim's terminology, we might regard this as growth in "political density," perhaps as a special aspect of a growing "moral density." More and more political interactions occur, overall and in place of nonpolitical interactions.
To avoid confusion about what is being argued here, a conceptual distinction must be made. One can think of "the political" as any relations that involve, say, legitimate power, or conflict management, or the regulation of social conduct, and the like. In that case, "politics" may simply exist throughout society and not be located in any clearly denned social domain or institution. Or one can think of "politics" as the functions and activities of such a concrete domain: that of the heads of societies, the princes, chiefs, or kings (for, in its modern sense, politics is associated with government, and government and social headship are synonymous). What I argue is that, through political time, the "princely domain" has constantly grown—increasingly penetrating society. And, in conjunction, political activities and relations in the less concrete sense have also grown. Expro-
priation by "princes" and expansion of political activity occur in conjunction.
One pole of the dimension of political time thus might be called the social polity . In the social polity, as a pure type, there exists a "princely" domain: some institution of headship of society, chieftaincy, firstness. That domain, though, is little differentiated from others, in the sense of having separate organizations and administrative staffs; it is anything but a subsociety—neither a "machine" nor a "system" in itself. Above all, next to nothing is done by princes, at least as we understand political activity: there is almost no active princely management of society. The society is virtually all, and the polity virtually nothing. Relations of power exist; regulations of conduct and of conflicts occur; but they do so throughout society, not in special relation to chieftaincy.
At the other pole is political society . In political society as a pure type, "private" relations have been wholly preempted by the "public" domain of the chiefs. The institutions of that domain are highly differentiated and separately organized; governmental officers and staffs constitute a large subsociety. That subsociety is a complex system in itself, while at the same time it permeates social life.
The passage from social polity to political society can be described summarily. The domain of princes, who at the outset do virtually nothing, has great, indeed irresistible, potential for growth: power resources. Over a long period, these power resources are gradually realized. The chiefs of society convert headship into primacy, and primacy into actual control—at first very slowly, then with gathering, ultimately runaway, momentum. The momentum results from the fact that, as power resources are converted, they are not used up, but in fact increase. As this process unfolds, growth in degree corresponds, at specifiable periods, to transmutations of type. In our own modern period, we approach a condition in which the distinction between polity and society has again become blurred—not because the public realm is minimal, but because it has virtually eliminated all privacy. This, though, is not an end, but itself a stage in a continuing process. The political society generates its own dynamics; and we should at least be able to discern the forces likely to move it, even if not yet where it is destined to go.
This conception of political time has been anticipated by other theorists. It parallels Durkheim's view of more general social development. The minimal pole of the continuum is grounded in the anthropologists' notion of "stateless" societies. The conception of political development as expropriation is in Weber: the emergence of the modern state was, for Weber, a process of continuous expropriation by princes of "autonomous and 'private' bearers of executive power," resembling the expropriation by large capitalist enterprises of small, independent economic units. In his
publicist essays written shortly after the Russian Revolution, Weber envisaged the further, accelerating, and continuous expropriation by the political domain of economic life, and then also of the more intimate, and the scientific and cultural, spheres—a remarkable prevision. The idea of "total" politics now also is a recurrent theme in works on modern democratic states. Sharkansky, for example, refers to runaway governmental growth "in response to incessant demands for more services" and repeatedly alludes to the erosion of the "margins" of formal government as a consequence. The vision of political society informs especially the critiques of modern governments by perceptive (if also hotheaded) "libertarians": Hayek, Oakeshott, Ellul, Nisbet, and others.
What is Polity in its "Rudimentary" Form?
To sustain the thesis that what grows and changes in political development is the political domain per se, one must, first of all, characterize that domain in its "primitive and simple form," from which advancement proceeds. None of the many structural or functional notions that political scientists have used to define the essence of polity seem to make sense for its very early forms. What seems distinctive and universal to the princely realm in its simplest form is that its occupants and practices represent the very fact that society exists. Chiefs, khans, liegelords "embody" society. They are figures through whom societies personify themselves or sometimes (much the same) the ideal order of things imperfectly reflected in social order. They stand for the fact that a common, thus moral, life exists, and they celebrate the common life and make it compelling.
Surely that is fundamental in society, if anything is, because societies are nothing if not collective entities with which members identify—that is, define themselves. Thus, ceremony and symbolism—what Bagehot called the dignified parts of government—are not to be regarded as mere pretty trappings of power; nor are consummatory (expressive) and instrumental polities, or "sacred" and "secular" ones, distinctive types at all developmental stages. At the "simple" stage (thus, perhaps, always), symbolism is the very nature of the princely, not a guise. That is why, to us, the primal political domain seems empty. Primal "symbolic politics" does not stand for "real politics." It stands for society.
The evidence suggesting that primal politics is symbolic is considerable. For instance, in Schapera's study of sub-Saharan tribes the following points emerge: The chiefs, as heads of societies, do not do much at all; they are simply marked out from others (e.g., in costume), exalted (in special rituals), subjects of rejoicing and of eulogies. Tribes are often defined simply by identification with chiefs, not by territoriality or even kinship. Sometimes no abstract tribal name exists, only that of the chief. Often, tribal names are the inherited names of the ancestors of chiefs,
and at times chiefs are named by the tribal name. In some cases, any injury done to a member of a tribe is regarded as an injury to the chief (as we talk about crimes against society). In short, the collective and the personal are thoroughly joined in the chief's personage. Much the same comes out in Lucy Mair's studies of primitive governments and African kingdoms. Mair argues, indeed, that the substantive wielding of "power over the conduct of public affairs" generally is not so much the chief's or the court's function as that of lesser figures, for whom kings are mouthpieces. Lowie's work on North American Indian tribes makes a similar point.
More important from the developmental point of view, we find this to be true also in the primitive condition of a prototypical advanced society—English society. (England may be considered as a good concrete approximation of an idealized case of continuous development: something close to an experimentally contrived universe—free of uncontrolled, deceiving contingencies—which any theory of sociopolitical development should fit closely.)
Anglo-Saxon society approaches the extreme of what I have called social polity. If a "public sector" existed in that society, it could only have been that of king, folkmoot , and Witan . The king was principally a source of social identity, as were all lesser chiefs of the English tribes. His one significant activity was leadership in the common enterprise of making war, and practically no other common enterprise was engaged in. The folkmoot originally was not a council, but simply a local muster of warriors. By 900, local moots had pretty much been displaced by the Witan , a "national" council of "wise men." But the Witan's essential function simply was to advise the king on the nature of "unchanging custom." Here the primacy of society is especially evident: while the king embodied its consciousness of itself, the Witan kept him honest, as the guardian of its mores.
Much the most perceptive study of primal politics as I conceive it is Geertz's magnificent book on the nineteenth-century "theatre-state" in Bali, Negara . Geertz alone seems to have grasped fully the critical significance of political ceremony and ritual: of the "poetics" of power as against its "mechanics"—as Bagehot alone discerned that the dignified parts of English government were not mere vestigial histrionics, but essential to its "efficiency." Geertz does temporize between regarding theater as essential in polities as such and considering Bali an exotic alternative to politics as efficient power. But, at least in Bali, "power served pomp, not pomp power."
What Forces Make the Growth of Primal Polity Ineluctable?
Chieftaincy in primal polities is much indulged and rewarded, with awe and with goods. But that does not immunize chiefs (much less their retainers) against the appetite for mundane power; and, perhaps just because
the chiefs are symbolic figures—awesome rather than powerful—power struggles are pervasive in primal societies. For the purpose of developmental theory, it is necessary to show next that in such struggles the princely domain has overwhelming resources for subduing rivals and enlarging its effective control over society. What, then, are its power resources?
By itself, the representation of societies is an essential resource for power—perhaps the one seed that is capable of growing into political society. Societies are requisites of personal identity, safety, the satisfaction of material needs. But, though necessary, they are highly intangible. They are complex even when they are rudimentary. Seeing them as networks, or complexes of roles, or fields of interaction, or patterns of exchange—these are major feats even for modern professionals. Even if the task of abstract understanding were less difficult, such understanding would hardly move affections, which surely are needed for identification and legitimacy. So the personal symbols of society derive potential from the fact that they perform the most necessary of societal functions: making society appear "real."
It is true that there are other ways of making societies tangible. Primal societies, in fact, are always personified in their gods, through rites and magic. Thus, priests and magicians are the logical (and actual) main rivals of the chiefs for principal power. But the chiefs themselves are generally presumed to have special links to the supernatural, magical world—for instance, as rainmakers, healers, invokers of prosperity, possessors of sacred objects (fishing spears and the like), and as wielders of curses.
These links to the supernatural not only reinforce secular symbolism (or make it sacred) but also associate chiefliness and "potency," for the magical world is a world of fateful powers. Chiefs are also considered especially potent figures in the material sense of prowess. All societies have collective business of some sort—in primal societies, for instance, moving camp and herds. The function of making decisions about societal business naturally tends to be lodged in the locus of collectiveness. The one universal collective business of rudimentary societies is warfare: in defense against predatory others, for conquest (slaves, tribute, etc.), or, often, simply as a ritual. So chiefs, though they have rivals in heroes, generally are the main loci of potency as prowess. This accounts for the strange duty of chiefs in some tribal societies to be in good health, as well as for the use of wars of succession (in which the strongest survive) and for the frequent use of the phallus as a symbol of chieftaincy.
To exist, and to carry out collective enterprises, societies must, of course, be harmonious in some degree. Conflicts must be managed, quarrels mediated, crimes avenged. There is a universal social need for adjudication and, again, a "natural" tendency to associate that necessary function with
society's embodiments. The actual management of conflicts and deviance tends, in fact, to be decentralized and dispersed in primal societies—a matter of self-help in feuds, revenge, and exacting reparations. But the chief always has at least some vague special responsibility in regard to justice. For instance, we are told by Traill that a basic function of the Anglo-Saxon kings was to go about the kingdom putting down "evil customs." Traill's catalogue of judicial duties actually is a list of things kings could not do; and it seems evident that kings were little more than especially prestigious "oath-helpers." Still, justice and chieftaincy had special, even if largely hortatory, links.
The moral, surely, is evident. The primal princely domain is ages removed from the monopoly of legitimate power. But where could there be greater potential for eventual monopoly than in a domain standing for society itself; for potency, military and magical; and for justice? "Dignity" and "efficiency," granted, are obverse faces of politics—but also interchangeable resources.
What are the Stages of Political Time?
The fact remains that in primal polities, whatever the chief's potential, one can barely detect an active public core. Our own political world could hardly differ more. At "our" location in political time, as stated, it is difficult to find anything that is clearly private. I am not referring to "totalitarian" polities, or only to those, but (less categorically) to the other typically modern form of polity: popular democracies. (Modern democracies, in historical perspective, simply are the gentler twins of totalitarian rule, mitigated by open competition, free communications, and a sense of rights and liberties—which, compared to earlier times, no longer really divides the public from the private, but is a sense of political decency.)
I have described the extraordinary pervasiveness of political authority in contemporary British society elsewhere and need not dwell much on details. To convey the flavor of the matter, suffice it to say the following: (1) The national government (as in other modern democracies) now directly controls about half of GNP, and indirectly plans, guides, and channels most of the remainder. (2) Parliamentary sessions, once convened only occasionally, fill up the whole available legislative work-year, and even this at the cost of large omissions—uncontrolled "executive legislation" and a severe decline in the role of private members. (3) The Cabinet has virtually disappeared; as I wrote in 1958:
Cabinet functions have become dispersed to an almost unfathomably complex administrative and deliberative machinery. Decisions once made collectively in the Cabinet are now made by cabinet committees, by individual Ministers, bureaucrats, the Treasury, official committees, party machinery, and even private associations; and, most often, by interaction among all of
these bodies. If power is concentrated anywhere in the British machinery of government it is concentrated not in the Cabinet but in this complex framework of decision-making.
One can argue that what mainly mitigates the darker aspects of fully politicalized society is the very inability to control such a concentration of functions, due to sheer diversity and overload. The gentle myths of liberal rule surely help, but perhaps no more than the fact that monolithic authority itself is too large to manage. Privacy, in political society, is found in the interstices of authority; it is, perhaps, itself mainly a product of the structure of the public realm.
How did this transmutation to something close to "political society" come about? What lies beyond the primal polity's potential for growth? This is an enormous question, and we have not even the beginning of a plausible answer. As such a beginning, I suggest a six-stage process. The process is "logical" in that each stage manifestly is a condition for the next. The stages also make sense in the context of the English polity—our standard case for observing gradual, evolutionary "unfolding" (the literal meaning of développer ) in politics. For this reason I will use English history—in gross summary—to exemplify the stages.
The politics of primacy . I have already treated the first stage, primal polity, using Anglo-Saxon England to illustrate its nature. The second stage involves what might be called the struggle for, and achievement of, primacy. The forces that push polities to and through that stage (and later stages) will be discussed presently. Here, it must suffice to say that nothing in political development can possibly come before the clarification of a distinct public domain that, in regard to "efficient" functions, is minimally primus inter pares . Without this, there is nothing that may grow. One may suppose that the establishment of a realm of substantive primacy—one that involves more than symbolic headship—will not be a tranquil process but will involve stubborn conflicts over domination and autonomy. Aside from chiefs, there are others who have politically convertible resources: religious, economic, and military. But, as we have seen, the chiefs generally have much weightier resources for providing political goods—not least, safety, in a context of continuous struggle among social domains: Hobbes's good, and no doubt the fundamental value.
This general stage fits, in England, the period of feudal monarchy , say of the twelfth century. The feudal monarchy certainly was quite different from the Anglo-Saxon, despite the fact, generally agreed, that the Conquest caused no sharp break. The domain of the Angevin and early Plantagenet princes, to be sure, remained mainly on the level of symbol and pomp; its practical authoritative functions were sparse. What is most con-
spicuous about the period is struggle for "dominion" as such. The histories portray incessant turmoil. But the tumult was not about policy, in our sense. It involved competition about spheres of autonomy and subjection; and the fundamental source of that struggle was a lack of clarification and resolution of the functions of the great and small corporations of society—all authoritative in their own domains and constantly striving to expand or protect them.
Corporate boundaries now, though, mattered for more than symbolic reasons. They mattered because the princely domain had begun to acquire a critical function: material extraction—a condition of all effective action, and thus an obsession in feudal monarchy. The Treasury preceded all other political institutions in development. The classic account of twelfth-century royal "administration" is FitzNeal's Dialogue on the Exchequer , the exchequer being its one great administrative creation. It regularized the royal revenues, and the great pacification under Henry II was, at heart, a matter of reestablishing the central revenues in face of embezzlement by the barons. Extraction increased political "density," and the latter changed institutions.
Still, Henry's charter upon his coronation was little more than an assurance of liberties, grants, and customs. Petit-Dutaillis's study of feudal monarchy does tell us that the King's concilium attended to "all sorts of business"; but, as to particulars, he lists only personal issues (e.g., marriages) and familiar matters of peace, war, loyalty, treason, and the administration of justice.
The last is important, however. Judicial activities now were much enlarged and wholly reorganized—coequal with pomp and war as the core of royal primacy. Indeed, aside from finance and war, the whole royal establishment now looked like a sort of national judiciary. The King's "prime minister" was the chief justiciar; the curia had become a "normal court" for the kingdom, not just an occasional tribunal; the judicial circuits, administering common law, had been established; and central justice had largely expropriated the seignorial jurisdictions, of which only a few islets remained.
The feudal monarchy thus achieved, gradually, a considerable legal and extractive permeation of society, as a material basis for primacy. Contestation persisted for a long time, but in an increasingly muted, one-sided way. The nascent monopoly over extraction, the increasing practical responsibility for the management of conflicts, and the emergence of specialized institutions to handle these functions, realized a potential already present in the primal polity; but, more important, all this added to the growth potential of the prince's domain.
The "prophylactic" polity . Substantive primacy, especially when added
to symbolic headship, is both gratifying in itself and a supremely valuable resource for acquiring additional resources. Once it is established, struggles for its possession inevitably occur. One of the fundamental tasks of politics is to institutionalize such struggles in order to defuse them—a basic function, for instance, of competition among political parties. But institutionalization is always gradual—a sort of subtheme of development. Early on, contestation for possession of the domain of primacy must involve—in greater or lesser degree—unregulated, brutal conflicts. Lacking institutionalization (or the transformation of real and deadly conflicts into ritualized competition) damage can be limited only by prevention: prophylaxis.
In the prophylactic polity, the overriding objective of the prince is to detect and disarm usurpation, while that of others is to seize or control principality. To protect principality, it is functional to place it in a tangible physical domain and to draw potential usurpers into that domain. Hence, the identification of primacy with the prince's court. It is there that the game of trying to get and keep primacy and its perquisites is played; politics turns inward.
To a degree, however, prophylactic politics must also reach out into society, further than before. Courtly politics cannot be wholly isolated because the discontents of society might play into the hands of usurpers. Therefore—rather than for altruistic reasons—the princely domain begins to furnish something else that is valuable to society: a degree of controlled social order, as prophylaxis in everyday life against society's misérables . The result is both a qualitative change in the nature of politics and the increased penetration of society by its political domain.
In England, the era of the Tudors illustrates the stage. The late medieval and Renaissance political struggles in England increasingly had a flavor different from those of feudalism. They were epitomized, and pretty much ended, by Tudor rule, for which "absolutism" is an egregious misnomer. Nothing really was absolute. Rather, the Tudors—especially Elizabeth—successfully coped with conspiracies within the realm of princely authority. If anything authoritative was absolute it was courtly absolutism, which transformed lords into mere courtiers. Concomitantly, political competition was courtly competition—scheming within the firm.
Nevertheless, one can discern a threshold in the permeation of society by authoritative policy. Outside of the royal palaces, authoritative regulation was still sparse; but before the Tudors (conflict management and extraction aside), authoritative space, outside its royal core, had been virtually empty. A good many histories refer to an abundance of "proclamations" by the Crown, and subservient parliaments and courts, in Tudor times. Elizabeth's parliaments did indeed pass 429 bills. The figure is
often mentioned to impress. Actually, it brings out only the limitations of policy making. Elizabeth's reign lasted forty-five years; nowadays, British legislative output runs to about a hundred bills a year. Much of Elizabethan "legislation" had to do with issues of diplomacy, foreign intrigues, war, and extraction. Some of the regime's authoritative activities, however, involved a novel extension of authority into society: the systematic maintenance of roads and bridges, the licensing of alehouses, controls over wages, the mobility of labor, entry into trades, dealings in commodities, interest rates, and—most familiar—a uniform law to care for the poor.
Growing political density surely is evident, especially since this reaching out into society supplemented unprecedented ceremonial activity (royal equipages and pageantry) and an even greater increase in foreign adventurism, war, and defense. The primacy of feudal monarchy clearly was now being put to use as a generalized resource. Perhaps this was a response to much-increased "social density": the manufacturing revolution in textiles, mining, iron making, and petty trades (perfumery, barbering, etc.)—a response, in general, to a busy society of promoters, speculators, patentees, dramatists, composers, astronomers, astrologers, physicians, surgeons, alchemists, sorcerers, explorers. What Black calls "the chaos of society," however, did not engender policy as an attempt to impose any sort of rational order. Rather, the point of authoritative "outputs" seems to have been an extension of the defusing of courtly intrigues: the prevention of social discontents and marginality that were potentially threatening to the security and isolation of the courtly domain. The increased permeation of society under Tudor rule aimed, above all, at prophylaxis: controlling vagabonds, dealing with food riots, limiting speculators, usurers, and drunkards. The Poor Law and the relentless pursuit of religious recusants are all of a piece in this effort. A valuable resource was now being hoarded—though not yet much used for additional gain.
The polity of interests . When principality no longer needs to be preoccupied with usurpation, but has been institutionalized at least in accepted rules of succession, politics can turn outward for reasons other than prophylaxis. The primacy of a social domain above other domains and, even more, the "distancing" of courts from societies, inevitably lead to a conception of princely power and the social order (not "orderliness") as being somehow unrelated. The initial extroversion of the princely domain thus can hardly be concerned with such matters as engineering social harmony or just distribution. In introverted politics, these are matters for natural order or divine ordination. When politics turns outward from the court, then, the purpose initially is not so much to manage society as to exploit primacy as a resource: the gainful use of primacy by privilege. In the polity of interests, competition overshadows majesty. Though it in no sense in-
volves democratization, the arena of politics as competition becomes much enlarged and structurally altered. It still takes place in the court, but now also in institutions associated with the court (e.g., parliament) and, to a degree, in society. Through the "outputs" sought by patrons and their clients, the polity, as Durkheim would say, markedly "condenses." Royal administrative and judicial institutions become a rather complex "machinery" government.
In England, such acquisitive exploitation of established primacy—and through it the much enlarged penetration of society—is the essence of the Georgian period . One sees the scope of the eighteenth-century British polity best in the activities of its local officials. The justices of the peace were broadly charged with collecting and delivering revenues; assuring the proper practice and flow of trade; looking after the poor, the food supply, prices, and wages; licensing brewers and drinking houses; supervising gaols; establishing asylums and confining lunatics; seeing to the lighting of streets, their paving, policing, and cleaning. All this required at least an embryonic differentiation of political labor—though bureaucratization had hardly yet begun. There were now distinct judicial and administrative sessions, distinct highway and licensing councils, as well as individual specialists, like road surveyors and constables. Late in the century, new statutory authorities, with special dudes, appeared: for instance, turnpike trusts, corporations for administering relief to the poor, and, above all, a growing number and variety of improvement commissions.
This expansion of activities, and of organizations for performing them, was not intended to manage society. The overriding trait of the Georgian polity was that it was a marketplace of influence and spoils. The central level did not really manage society, yet there was extraordinary jockeying among parliamentarians and, as a result, ministerial instability. According to Namier, men went into parliament partly out of a sort of "predestination" (men of "political families"), but even more as clients looking after patrons' interests: as placemen and as purveyors and receivers of favors (there was, says Namier, a "universal . . . plaguing of Ministers on behalf of friends and relations"); to advance themselves in the military and administrative services or reap rewards from service; to obtain contracts, jobs, subscriptions, loans, and remittances. The Enclosure Acts and what Beer calls "canal politics" epitomize this extraordinary politics of interests.
The politics of incorporation and of incumbency . When the domain of politics is used chiefly for acquisitive purposes by privileged groups, other groups will try to become incorporated into the game as players, rather than be excluded from it as passive victims. As the stakes grow (that is, the spoils increase) so, one may suppose, does the appetite for shares.
Certainly the pervasive theme of early modern (nineteenth-century) British politics is democratization. Tilly depicts the process as one in which excluded subjects first become "challengers," and then, through challenge, incorporated "members" of the polity: voters and those eligible to hold office. The transformation of challenge into membership occurs because the challengers have resources of their own that can be effectively mobilized—if only strikes, violence, and the like.
As the polity's membership expands and thus becomes more diverse in interest, the political penetration of society necessarily grows rapidly in scope; when "civic inclusion" is virtually total, so is the politcization of social life—but not just in the sense of universal citizenship. Two other processes occur that rapidly transform social into political space. One is familiar: as new members are incorporated, the volume of political demands grows, and with it, the volume of outputs; with outputs, the network of committees, agencies, departments, boards to define and deliver them; and, with such organizations, their own demands: "withinputs," as David Easton calls them.
Perhaps this chain reaction sufficiently explains the rapid development of political society out of acquisitive politics. I would suggest, though, that a second process supplements the demand-response relation and perhaps is more consequential. It bears at least a vague resemblance to the Tudor preoccupation with political prophylaxis. To put it starkly: political primacy in the modern polity clearly is more than ever worth possessing and keeping in possession; however great the resources of princes before, they were puny compared to the fully realized monopoly over legitimate power. The theater of political struggle, though, is no longer confined to the small stage of the court; it comprises society as such. Thus, the modern counterpart of coping with conspiracy in order to retain control over the princely domain is either mass suppression or the search for mass support (plus the special support of the more powerful, better organized interests). Mass support is elicited, at least in part, by going beyond responsiveness: by "redistributive" policies that make large public groups into clients—collective placemen. The unparalleled scale both of repression in authoritarian modern polities and of the political provision of all sorts of goods in welfare states serves the maintenance of incumbency. No doubt welfare policies and other distributions of benefits result from good intentions; but surely, they also provide benefits, in the form of political support, for their providers. At any rate, here is a parsimonious explanation of the substantial consensus on social policy in the contemporary British welfare state. The politics of incorporation leads logically to that of incumbency.
"Political density" during these stages grows rapidly toward its maximal pole. The vastness of the business done by the machine of government requires, as Durkheim realized, more and more internal complexity of
structure, in large part just for keeping things sorted and coordinated; it requires the development of a political "system," which is not at all the same as a machinery of government. Structures of political competition also become highly organized and institutionalized networks of organizations. In gist, the pomp of primal chiefliness virtually disappears within the systems and networks of the polity.
Two important questions should be raised about the abstracted stages to determine whether they indeed constitute a general developmental sequence. First, do the stages occur, mutatis mutandis , in other longitudinal political processes, and do they furnish a good typology for the "cross-sectional" classification of polities in the present? If so, we can assert (in the manner of early exponents of the "comparative method"—Ferguson, Comte, Tylor, Morgan) that typological differences among polities are basically developmental: namely, that there is history, not just histories. Second, would a schematic treatment of political functions, goals, and structures by stages indeed show qualitative distinctions in each class, along with the quantitative growth of the political domain? These questions cannot be treated briefly; they are posed here as items on an agenda to follow up this essay.
What Forces Move Polities from Stage to Stage?
In the preceding section, I have tried to show sequential connections between stages of political development: how the earlier stages are preconditions for those that follow, and how these, in turn, are latent in preceding stages. (An important, familiar issue for praxis—too large to be tackled here—is raised by the question whether stages can be skipped, without the occurrence of pathologies and without regression.) This demonstration, though, says nothing about the forces that propel polities from stage to stage. We need at least a summary answer to complete our sketch for a theory of political development.
In developmental theory, one wants, ideally, to identify a general motive force that operates throughout developmental time (akin to physical inertia) and also special forces, generated in each earlier stage, which similarly lead to each later stage.
The general motive force at work in the sequence of stages I have described is surely the drive for the direct and indirect benefits of "efficient" primacy in and over society—the direct benefit of social elevation and indirect perquisites, such as material goods. That drive characterizes most directly the transformation of primal, ceremonial polity. The maintenance of primacy for getting other values follows in the polity of interests and leads to the challenges that incorporate excluded groups in the domain of primacy. The possession of higher positions—primacy in the domain of primacy—animates political motion in the most advanced stage.
Although primacy seeking is the essence of the initial developmental transformation of polities, it is clear that struggles for establishing an "efficient" principal domain are only resolved when an urgent societal need for such resolution arises. In the West, that need arose from the differentiation of society into distinct but overlapping "corporations" in virtually continuous collision. One may surmise, more generally, that an initial locus of efficient primacy will emerge when it is functionally critical to social integration that this occur—that is, when the integrative force of "mechanical solidarity" no longer works. The theatrical chiefs are destined to win struggles to perform the integrative function and to reap its benefits.
If there is such a thing as "pure" power politics, it occurs when struggles for primacy have been resolved. Pure power politics is about possessing primacy, not about establishing it. Once the domain of the prince itself is safe, a different propulsive force emerges; we might call it resource conversion.
The results of converting political into other goods now come to pose a quite different, but again functionally critical problem of integration: not of society but of the political domain itself, for the sake of its effective operation. The need for political integration has two facets. As new groups are incorporated into the polity, the plethora of interests and demands they generate must be coordinated: in Almond's terminology, a need exists to aggregate interests, so that demands may be effectively pressed and responded to. More important, as society is greatly politicalized through processes of civic incorporation, the machinery of government grows into a complex system; as a result, efficient management of the system itself must increasingly become a sine qua non of political goals, even exploitative ones. Without efficient political management, social life itself is imperiled, precisely because the polity pervades it; and, without such management, power itself is a chimera. In this way, we can see in political development a diminution, if not a metamorphosis, of pure power politics—and still avoid the "fault" of tendermindedness.
Thus, while struggles for primacy propel politics throughout developmental time, at each stage they take different forms and are reinforced by special forces: forces of greed and, more important, forces generated by collective functional needs. These themes of politics—primacy seeking, power seeking, greed, and integration—are familiar. What are not familiar are the special roles they play at different stages of political development.
The process of political development moved by these forces is monotonic in two senses. I have stressed one—the politicalization of society. The long trajectory from social polity to political society can also be considered a modulation from "dignity" to "efficiency" (the most fundamental qualitative social change conceivable), and each stage of the process can
be treated as a changing balance between the two. In parallel, polities change structurally from personage to court, to machine, to system.
The idea of political development, then, seems to me capable of renovation along the lines sketched. What I have tried to present is a design along proper "developmental" lines. The design is, and must continue to be, far from a completed theoretical structure. But if it proves to have merit, it helps to answer the final question raised above. It has important implications precisely for the issue that a developmental theory should illuminate: the puzzle of our own modernity. I will mention one such implication for a critical problem in modern political life.
We have lately heard much about a crisis of authority in highly advanced societies. The evidence is overwhelming that there is at least a malaise about authority. Strangely, that malaise seems to exist concurrently with the progressive growth of what people supposedly (and no doubt actually) want authority to be: decent, down to earth, participant, lenient, concordant, open to achievement. Might not the solution of this riddle lie in the "disenchantment" of theatrical politics (which moves affections), by rationally effective but too-drab systems? After all, society and polity remain intangible mysteries; the social sciences are devoted to their understanding. They have become all the more mystifying as they have grown in scale, density, and differentiation. At the same time, dignity has waned in relation to efficiency. More and more, our representative figures are capable but plain, managers not princes: Fords, Carters, Wilsons, Heaths; in our families, schools, and workplaces, authority increasingly also has derogated rank. We want this, and it seems good; but can we live with it?
Perhaps that is what Weber saw when he forecast a political "polar night of icy darkness and hardness." Perhaps, too, the tension between the needs for what Weber called matter-of-factness and devotion is the force propelling us into the future of political time.