Agriculture and the State: Growth, Employment, and Poverty in Developing Countries

By C. Peter Timmer | Go to book overview

10
The Nature of the State and
the Role of Government
in Agricultural Development

Just Faaland and Jack Parkinson

The contributions a government can make toward modernization in agriculture is restricted by its powers, its stability, and its acceptability. The power of a government is reflected in its ability to ensure law and order, to enforce political and administrative decisions, to uphold the discipline of contract in economic life, and to provide for many other needs of society that require government action. The stability of government provides the basis for continuity and predictability of public action to which individuals, markets, and organizations can relate with assurance. It is not only a question of the longevity of particular governments but also one of the nature of the state. In the case of a well-balanced democracy, for example, continuity and predictability may be little affected by successive changes in government. It is the totality of the political system that provides continuity of the government function.

The acceptability of government conditions what it can do, what the response will be to its actions and pronouncements, and how widely and fully its policies will be adopted and adhered to. Acceptability is not to be taken as an attribute associated only with democratic governments; history is replete with instances of authoritarian governments, even fascist governments, that have enjoyed high levels of acceptability and therefore have had wide scope for influence in general and upon agriculture in particular.

-247-

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