From Nordan Symposia
Revision as of 15:32, 4 May 2009 by Rdavis (talk | contribs) (New page: Image:lighterstill.jpgright|frame A sovereign '''state''' is a political association with effective sovereignty over the geographic area of a given ...)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigationJump to search



A sovereign state is a political association with effective sovereignty over the geographic area of a given population. A state usually includes the set of institutions that claim the authority to make the rules that govern the people of the society in that territory, though its status as a state often depends in part on being recognized by a number of other states as having internal and external sovereignty over it.

In sociology, the state is normally identified with these institutions: in Max Weber's influential definition, it is that organization that "(successfully) claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory," which may include the armed forces, civil service or state bureaucracy, courts, and police.


There are only two levels of relative sovereignty on an inhabited world: the spiritual free will of the individual mortal and the collective sovereignty of mankind as a whole. Between the level of the individual human being and the level of the total of mankind, all groupings and associations are relative, transitory, and of value only in so far as they enhance the welfare, well-being, and progress of the individual and the planetary grand total--man and mankind.

The difficulty in the evolution of political sovereignty lies in the inertia-resistance exhibited on all intervening levels. Families have, on occasion, defied their clan, while clans and tribes have often been subversive of the sovereignty of the territorial state. Each new and forward evolution of political sovereignty is (and has always been) embarrassed and hampered by the "scaffolding stages" of the previous developments in political organization. And this is true because human loyalties, once mobilized, are hard to change. The same loyalty which makes possible the evolution of the tribe, makes difficult the evolution of the supertribe--the territorial state. And the same loyalty (patriotism) which makes possible the evolution of the territorial state, vastly complicates the evolutionary development of the government of all mankind.


Condition, manner of existing

  • 1. a. A combination of circumstances or attributes belonging for the time being to a person or thing; a particular manner or way of existing, as defined by the presence of certain circumstances or attributes; a condition. Sometimes qualified by an adj. or a following phrasal genitive. state of nature: see NATURE n. 14. state of siege: the condition of undergoing investment by a hostile army; also transf.
b. in regard to welfare or prosperity (worldly, moral or spiritual). Now somewhat rare.
c. for the state of = for the welfare of (a person prayed for). Obs. Cf. 27.
d. as regards health of mind and body. state of mortality: a fatal epidemic.
e. as regards means of livelihood, riches or possessions. Obs. Cf. sense 36 and ESTATE n. 2.
f. colloq. Used for ‘a dreadful state’ (of dirt, untidiness, etc.). Cf. 2c.
  • 2. a. A condition (of mind or feeling); the mental or emotional condition in which a person finds himself at a particular time.
b. as a technical term of psychology; esp. in state of mind, state of consciousness.
c. Used colloq. for: An agitated or excited state of mind or feeling. Cf. 1f.
d. Condition of mind or feeling as displayed in one's manner or behaviour. Obs.
  • 3. The mode of existence of a spiritual being; a particular mode or phase of (spiritual) existence. future state: see FUTURE a. 1b.
  • 4. a. Physical condition as regards internal make or constitution, molecular form or structure, and the like. Also, one of several forms or conditions in which an object{em}animal, vegetable, or mineral{em}is found to exist; a phase or stage of existence. Also in generalized or abstract sense: each of the possible modes of existence of a system; the condition of a device that determines what output it produces for a given input.
b. spec. in Physics, a condition of an atom or other quantized system described by a particular set of quantum numbers; esp. one characterized by the quantum numbers n, L, S, J, and m. Cf. LEVEL n. 3e.
  • 5. a. the (or a) state of things or affairs: the way in which events or circumstances stand disposed (at a particular time or within a particular sphere). spec. in the philosophy of L. Wittgenstein (1889-1951): see quots. 1922, 1962. Cf. L. status rerum, in reference to public or political affairs; and quot. 1387 in b.
b. A dispensation or system of divine government during a particular era. Also, state of things.
c. state of time or times: a juncture or posture of affairs. Obs.
d. the state of the case: the facts and circumstances of a particular affair, question, etc.
e. state of the art: the current stage of development of a practical or technological subject; freq. (esp. in attrib. use) implying the use of the latest techniques in a product or activity.
f. State of the Union message: a yearly address delivered by the President of the U.S. to Congress, giving the Administration's view of the state of the nation and its plans for legislation.
g. the state of play: the position in which a matter or business stands at a particular time.
  • 6. With contextual implication: a. Original, proper or normal condition; a sound, healthy, flourishing, prosperous condition. (Cf. ESTATE n. 1d.) Chiefly in phrases, as to be (or stand) in state: to be firmly established or flourishing; to be intact; also, to remain ‘in statu quo’. to bring in, to (one's) state: to reinstate, restore. to put of, out of state, to deprive of one's position or status, disinherit, degrade. Obs.
b. Fixed or stable condition. Obs.
  • 7. The height or chief stage of a process; the condition of full vigour. Chiefly Path., the crisis or ‘acme’ of disease. Obs. Cf. STATUS 1.
  • 8. a. Existence. to hold state, to continue or persist in being; to hold in state, to maintain in existence. to have state, to consist in (something).
b. ? A possibility, possible means. Obs.
  • 9. a. Stature, bodily form or contour. Obs. rare. (So L. status, OF. estat in Godefroy.)
b. A person's proper form, shape or nature. Obs. rare.
  • 10. a. A kind, sort or species. Obs. rare{em}1.
b. Bot. ‘A form or phase of a particular plant’ (Cent. Dict.).
  • 11. Phrases. {dag}a. to hold no state of: to disregard, have no respect for. (Cf. F. faire état de, to set store by.) Obs.
b. to make state (to do something): to expect (to do), count (on doing). [A mere Gallicism.]
c. in state, later in a state (now in a fit state) followed by infinitive: fit, likely, ready to do or be something. Cf. F. en état (de).
  • 12. Rhet. (after L. status). The point in question or debate between contending parties, as it emerges from their pleadings; the issue or main question. In full state of the cause, of the plea. Obs.
  • 13. Gram. a. [= mod.L. status.] In the grammar of the Semitic langs., a noun is said to be in the construct state (or state of construction) when it governs a following genitive, and in the absolute state when it does not; the two ‘states’ being usually distinguished flexionally. In Aramaic grammar, a noun is in the emphatic (or, in some recent books, the definite) state when it has the suffix which originally served the purpose of a definite article, but in Syriac became unmeaning.
b. By some English grammarians of the 18thc., foregoing or leading state and following state were used for the nominative and objective cases respectively, the term case being regarded as inapplicable to English. Obs.
c. positive state is used by Lindley Murray for ‘positive degree’.
  • 14. a. Engraving. An impression taken from a plate at a particular stage of its progress and recognizable by special marks.
b. Bibliogr. (See quots. 1931.)

Status; high rank; pomp

  • 15. a. A person's condition or position in life; a person's natural, social or legal status, profession or calling, rank or degree. Obs.
b. A person's condition or status as determined by his years. man's state = manhood; cf. ESTATE n. 1b and L. phr. ad statum suum pervenire.
c. Condition or status as married or single.
  • 16. contextually. A high rank or exalted position; an office of power or importance. Obs.
b. In generalized sense: High rank, greatness, power. Obs.
c. to bear (great) state, to hold (high) office; fig. (of a thing), to be of importance, involve great consequences. Obs.
d. man of state: one of high rank or dignity. Cf. ESTATE n. 3. Obs.
  • 17. a. Costly and imposing display, such as befits persons of rank and wealth; splendour, magnificence (in manner of life, clothing, furniture, buildings, retinue, etc.); ‘solemn pomp, appearance of greatness’ (J.).
b. Phr. of state; as in bed or chair of state. Otherwise expressed by the attributive use (see 39); thus bed, rooms of state are = state-bed, state-rooms.
c. in state: with great pomp and solemnity; with a great train; with splendid or honorific trappings and insignia. to lie in state: of a dead body, to be ceremoniously exposed to view before interment.
  • 18. a. Dignity of demeanour or presence; dignified appearance, stateliness of bearing. Now rare.
b. Dignified observance of form or ceremony.
  • 19. Phrases. a. to keep state, one's state: to observe the pomp and ceremony befitting a high position; to keep one's dignity, behave in a dignified manner. Now rare.
b. to take state upon one: to assume an appearance of grandeur or dignity; to affect superiority, give oneself airs; to be reserved and haughty. Obs.
c. to hold one's state, to appear in pomp and splendour. arch. or Obs.
  • 20. a. A raised chair with a canopy, etc.; a throne; = chair of state in 17b. (Cf. ESTATE n. 4d.) Obs.
b. A canopy. Obs.

A class, rank; a person of rank

  • 21. A class, rank, order, sort or body of persons; a ‘condition’, profession, or occupation; the members of a class or profession collectively. Cf. ESTATE n. 5 and F. état. Obs.
  • 22. An order or class of persons regarded as part of the body politic and as participating in the government; an ESTATE of the realm. Obs.
  • 23. a. pl. (= F. états, Du. staaten, etc.) The ‘estates of the realm’ met to form a constitutional assembly; the princes, dukes, nobles, etc., together with the delegates or representatives of the several ranks, orders, chief cities, etc. of a country, assembled in a parliament or diet; e.g. in the United Netherlands (and the several provinces), France before the Revolution, Scotland before the Union, the Holy Roman Empire (and its several members), Hungary, Poland. Now only Hist., exc. as the title of the legislatures of Jersey and Guernsey. See also ESTATE n. 6b and STATES GENERAL. In 16-17th c. ‘the States’ often means: the men at the head of affairs in the United Netherlands; the Dutch government as a European power.
b. Delegates or members of the Dutch government as individuals. (Cf. 24, 25.) Obs.
  • 24. A person of standing, importance or high rank; a great man, personage, dignitary; a noble, lord, prince. (Cf. ESTATE n. 3c.) Obs.
  • 25. pl. The magnates, dignitaries or authorities of a town or district. Obs.
  • 26. collect. sing. a. The rulers, nobles, or great men of a realm; the government, ruling body, grand council, or court. Obs.
b. The governing body of a town; the city magnates collectively. (Cf. sense 25.) Obs.

'Common weal’; commonwealth, polity

  • 27. The condition of the Church, a country, realm, etc. in regard to its welfare and polity. Sometimes, a condition of prosperity, of order and settled government. Obs. with any specific force. So L. status rei publicæ, status civitatis, status ecclesiæ.
  • 28. a. A particular form of polity or government. the state, the form of government and constitution established in a country; e.g. the popular state, democracy (cf. F. état populaire). state royal: a monarchy. Obs.
b. A republic, non-monarchical commonwealth. Obs.
c. transf. Applied to a University. Obs.
  • 29. a. the state: the body politic as organized for supreme civil rule and government; the political organization which is the basis of civil government (either generally and abstractly, or in a particular country); hence, the supreme civil power and government vested in a country or nation.
b. distinguished from ‘the church’ or ecclesiastical organization and authority. In the phr. church and state the article is dropped.
  • 30. a. A body of people occupying a defined territory and organized under a sovereign government. Hence occas. the territory occupied by such a body.
b. Used (from similarity of sound) to render G. stadt, city.
  • 31. a. The territory, or one of the territories, ruled by a particular sovereign. hereditary states: spec. (= G. Erbstaaten) the kingdoms or principalities held hereditarily by any head of the Holy Roman Empire.
b. pl. (Hist.) Applied (? after It. stati) to the cities and territories included in an Italian principality or republic, esp. the grand-duchy of Tuscany and the republic of Venice. Also in States of the Church, Papal States (also sing.), titles of the former temporal dominions in Italy of the Holy See.
c. One of a number of polities, each more or less sovereign and independent in regard to internal affairs, which together make up a supreme federal government; as in the United States of America or the Commonwealth of Australia.
d. the States: the United States of America.
  • 32. (Without article.) All that concerns the government or ruling power of a country; the sphere of supreme political power and administration. The adjectival phr. of state (= F. d'état, It. di stato) is otherwise expressed by the attributive use (see 38). {dag}in state, in the sphere of government or politics. reason of state: see REASON n.1 5b. Secretary of State (Gt. Britain and U.S.): see SECRETARY n.1 3. Department of State (U.S.): see DEPARTMENT 3b; formerly {dag}Office of State.
  • 33. a. Short for state-letter (see 41). ? Obs.
b. Short for State Department (sense 41a below). U.S.
c. Preceded by the name of a State: short for state university (sense 38e below).

Interest in property; possessions

  • 34. Law. a. The interest which any one has in a property; right or title to property; = ESTATE 11.
b. to make a state (of property) to (a person): to give a legal right or title to. Also (without of): to make a (specified or understood) gift, grant or settlement. (Cf. ESTATE n. 11b.)
  • 35. Law. a. Possession (of property); as to give, deliver, receive state and seisin. Chiefly Sc. Obs.
b. to put in state: to put (a person) in possession (of). to be in state, to be seised (of).
c. in state: held in (a person's) ownership or possession. Obs.
  • 36. Property, possessions; one's private means; = ESTATE n. 12. Obs.

A statement. (? Partly from STATE v.)

  • 37. a. A statement, account, description, report (of a transaction, events, a legal case, etc.). Obs. in general use (partly superseded by STATEMENT).
b. A detailed enumeration or report of particulars or items; esp. a statement of items of cost or outlay, of actual or estimated expenses. (Cf. STATE v. 7d.) Obs.
c. Mil. A report of the numbers of a corps, regiment, etc. in the field, with details of casualties.
d. state of a vote: the framing or putting a question in the form in which it is to be voted upon. (Cf. STATE v. 7e.) Sc. Obs.

attrib. and Comb

  • 38. Attributive uses of senses 29-32. a. in sense: Of or belonging to the State, body politic, or civil government; made by, issuing from the State; employed by, in the service of, the State; recognized, supported or enforced by the State. Often equivalent to ‘of state’ (sense 32).
b. In a wider or generalized sense: Relating to politics or the art of government; concerned with or depending on political considerations. Very common in the 17th c.; sometimes with unfavourable implication, e.g. of crafty or tortuous or time-serving policy.
c. with reference to affected solemnity of countenance, as of one ostensibly burdened by secrets of state. Obs.
d. with reference to offences against the State and their punishment; as state-crime, -criminal, -offence, -offender, -prisoner, -trial.
e. U.S. Of or belonging to a State of the Union. For numerous other attrib. uses see D.A.E. and D.A.
  • 39. (Attributive use of sense 17.) Belonging to, employed on, reserved for, occasions of state or ceremony; accompanied with pomp and ceremony; richly or splendidly decorated, furnished, etc. (Equivalent to ‘of state’: see 17b). Also STATE-ROOM.
  • 40. Objective and instrumental uses of sense 29. a. objective.
b. instrumental, chiefly with pa. pples.
  • 41. a. Special comb.: state-cabin = STATE-ROOM 2, 3 (cf. states-cabin, quot. 1767, 23b); state capitalism, a system of socialism whereby the State exerts exclusive control over a substantial proportion of the means of production, and over the deployment of capital created by this; hence state-capitalist, -capitalistic adjs.; state-centred a., that centres on the State; state-church, a church established by the state; hence state-churchism, -churchman; State Council, the highest administrative and executive body of the People's Republic of China; State Department U.S., the federal department for foreign affairs, presided over by the Secretary of State, = Department of State s.v. DEPARTMENT n. 3b; State Enrolled Nurse, a nurse enrolled on a State register and having a qualification lower than that of a State Registered Nurse; {dag}state-fallen a., fallen from high estate; state-letter, a letter written officially by a secretary of state; {dag}state-like a., stately, magnificent; state line U.S., the boundary line of a State; {dag}state-making, conveyance of an estate (see 34b); state-oriented a., directed towards the State; state-paper, an official document in which some matter concerning the government or the nation is published or expounded; also attrib. in State Paper Office; state-prayers, the prayers for the king and royal family in the order for morning and evening prayer; state-prison, (a) a prison for political offenders (cf. 38d); (b) U.S. and Austral., a prison maintained by a State for the penal confinement of criminals; in U.S. also state's prison; state-quake jocular, a convulsion of the state; State Registered Nurse, a nurse enrolled on a State register, and better qualified than a State Enrolled Nurse; State rights, the rights and powers vested in the separate States under the Federal constitution of the U.S.A. and other federal nations; also attrib.; State Scholarship, a scholarship awarded by the State for study at a university; state secret, a matter kept secret by the government; jocularly, an important secret; state socialism, socialism achieved by State ownership of public utilities and industry; hence state socialist a. and n.; state-socialistic a.; state-statue nonce-wd., a mere image of a statesman; state vector Physics, a vector in a space whose dimensions correspond to all the independent wave-functions of a system, the instantaneous value of the vector conveying all possible information about the state of the system at that instant; state visit, a visit by a head of state to a foreign country for ceremonial rather than official purposes; also fig.; {dag}state-ward, one's post as ‘watchman for the state’; state-wide a., of, pertaining to, or extending over a whole state (usu. in sense 31c; occas. sense 30); also as adv.; {dag}statewise adv., in regard to the State.
b. Combinations of the genitive or pl.: State's attorney U.S., a lawyer commissioned to represent the State in the courts, esp. in criminal actions; state's evidence: see EVIDENCE n. 7c; states-folk, {dag}(a) persons of (great) estate or position; (b) dial. yeomen-farmers, owners of small estates (cf. STATESMAN1 2); states-people dial. = prec. (b); States rights = State rights in sense a; hence States-righter, an advocate of States rights in the U.S. or other federal nations; states-system (tr. G. staaten-system), the federation of a number of states with the object of preserving the actual balance of power.


  1. Building the City of Man, by Warren Wagar, ISBN 0670194611
  2. One World Democracy, by Jerry Tetalman and Byron Belitsos, ISBN 157983017X