Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX

The Basic Characteristics of
Political Modernization

INTRODUCTION
TO THE READINGS

The passages included in this part of the book aim at presenting, first, the various symbolic and structural conditions of modernization in different parts of the world and, second, the types of modernizing and modern regimes which emerge under such conditions. They attempt to show how different social conditions influence the concrete process of center formation and of different modern political regimes.

The first section in this chapter deals with the revolutionary origins of the modern state, in which there evolved a secular legitimation of the political order. First come political ideological texts representing the political thought in the first modern societies. Jefferson's letter to Colonel W. Stephens Smith, the French "Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen," and passages from the Communist Manifesto represent the various revolutionary approaches on the symbolic level.

Then come excerpts which analyze the characteristics of the social and political revolutions that ushered in the first historical types of modernization. Gentz compares the French and American revolutions and emphasizes how the strength of the emerging center determines the process of crystallization of a new social order and how the lack of congruence between its ideological and structural aspects prevents the formation of a new stable social order. Lindsay shows how the traditional premise of the Divine Right of Kings was undermined by the Puritan revolution; that is, from within the fold of a religious movement which ushered in the more secular type of legitimation of political regimes and was based on the individual's responsibility, on the one hand, and on the state's accountability to the conscience of the individuals, on the other. In this, his analysis parallels Weber's famous Protestant Ethic thesis. Schieder analyzes the ubiquity and limits of revolution in modern society, especially the differences between the revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In the next section, entitled "Transformation of Legitimation in Modern Political Systems," some of the major political philosophies are presented which questioned the basic premises of traditional legitimation and suggested a new "true" legitimation that required change of all the social institutions. Excerpts from only a few of the most famous treatises which addressed themselves to the problem of the legitimation of the political order could be presented in this book. From among the older classicists we have selected excerpts from Hobbes and Rousseau; from the later ones an excerpt from J. S. Mill.

These selections all deal, on an ideological level, with one of the central problems of mode; namely, of how a sociopolitical order which is based on its acceptance by individuals and is continuously judged by them is possible at all. However great the differences among these answers, all of them stress the continuous tensions between the individual and the social order.

The ideologies that carried on the revolutions of the twentieth century were, like their predecessors, secular in their nature. Yet many of them, and mainly the Communist ideology, were totalistic in their approach, stressing to a much larger degree than the former the necessity of submerging the

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