Edited By Jan Kysela
Societal limits on the state
This chapter, which deals with societal limits of contemporary states, will chart those actions originating from society itself that limit the power of states and their representatives. We have identified two main groups of these limits. The first may be summarised under the heading of the distrust of people in (their) state. Irrespective of whether this takes the form of distrust in state institutions, political representatives, or the possibility to formulate a common public interest, this reflects the attitude of a considerable part of society that does not consider the state in which they live to be their state. There are many reasons for such an attitude, however the effects are quite similar: alienation from the state and low motivation to become involved in state administration and decisions both of legal and political character. The distrust limits political representatives by making their ideas and power more difficult to implement because they must be prepared for a certain degree of resistance on the part of society.
The second group relates to how the many activities formerly carried out by the state or at least kept under the close supervision of the state are now often taken on by specific groups of citizens or organisations which cannot be simply subordinated to the state. These are activities of civil society with its initiatives, associations, not-for-profit organisations and also direct participation in state decision-making in the form of referenda, and also the effort to introduce elements of corporativist organisation and...
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