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The Nazi State: An Exceptional State?
Any discussion of the character of an ‘exceptional’ state must presumably begin with a notion of what categorizes a state as ‘normal’. [*] My own starting assumption is to accept Max Weber’s concept of the state: ‘an administrative and legal order subject to change by legislation . . . (claiming) binding authority . . . over all action taking place in the area of its jurisdiction, . . . a compulsory organization with a territorial basis . . . (where) the use of force is regarded as legitimate only so far as it is either permitted by the state or prescribed by it’, and to see this as the basis for the ‘normal’ state, residing in ‘legal’ authority executed through a rational-bureaucratic framework.  I accept, too, that the ability to sustain such a state would depend upon what Michael Mann has called its ‘infrastructural power’—‘the capacity of the state to penetrate civil society and implement logistically political decisions throughout the realm’.  This is usually well developed in modern capitalist democracies, but where the capacity is weak, or fails, the consequence is the resort to ‘despotic power’, actions of the state elite undertaken ‘without routine institutionalized negotiation with civil society groups’. A state based upon despotic power, under modern capitalism, can therefore be regarded as an ‘exceptional state’. But, useful as Mann’s two-dimensional model is, it does not distinguish between types of ‘exceptional state’. And theoretically, as well as in actual reality, it seems important to make such a distinction.
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