chapter  2
Roving elites and sedentary subjects: The hybridized origins of the state
Pages 20

In the introduction to this volume, Hurt and Lipschutz ask about historical precedents for the present-day hybridization of state power and capitalist accumulation strategies and practices. As is well known, the emergence of capitalism was marked by a number of earlier and relevant shifts of governmental rationality, leading back to the break with mercantilism, which was decisive in singling out economics as a separate sphere in western societies. This process was a key drama in western state building during the mercantilist seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and it was indigenous to those states. Similar processes emerged in other states only as a result of contact (trade, conquest, colonization etc.) with western states. Characteristically, at present non-western states have a less clear division of political and economic spheres than do western states, and in some states, it makes little sense to talk about separate spheres at all. One of the defining features of what are often called “fragile states” is precisely that the public and the private is not separate, thus contradicting the ideal-typical model of a Weberian state on which the category rests (Eriksen 2011). The implication of this for hybridization should be clear. Hybridization is a

process of imbrication between two spheres that are seen as previously existing and, ideally, self-contained. It follows that without the existence of separate spheres there cannot be hybridization. The corollary is that hybridization is a characteristically western phenomenon. In non-western states, politics and economics remain imbricated, whereas in western states the process is conceptualized as one where the two were once imbricated, then separated, and are now once again imbricated (hybridized). Western liberals tend to forget this difference in temporality, and so they naturalize a situation where spheres are separate, even though this is actually a historically specific

phenomenon. As Hurt and Lipschutz also point out in their introductory chapter, conventional accounts of neoliberalism-whether on the right or the left-have no good account of how political power is transformed when the lines between the public and private are being redrawn. If we want to understand the evolution and effects of the relationship between the public and the private, however, we must not only historicize it. We must also seek to identify how the drawing and redrawing of the distinction the two sphereshybridization-has a distinctive productive dimension. In this chapter, we will argue that the differentiation and singling out of spheres-state and society, public and private-is in fact a most central source of power. In so doing, we address head on what the editors single out as one of this book’s main intended contributions, namely to account for the seeming paradox that neoliberal reforms have engendered the growth, not the reduction, of governmental intervention. We do so by treating public power as constituted in and through the drawing and redrawing of boundaries, of which hybridization is one key component. A particularly apposite target for us is the Eurocentrism and, we would

argue, weak knowledge of the western state’s own history that permeate western discourse on the state. In western countries, the separation of the public and the private has become toxic. The classics on state formation and on the rise of capitalism-Hirschman’s (1977) The Passions and the Interests and Tilly’s (1992) Coercion, Capital and European States being cases in pointshow us that the differentiation of state and society, public and private, was not an evolutionary process but the outcome of power struggles-politicsbetween (proto-) states and groups within them. The fact that patrimonial rule, which defies the separation between public and private, remains pervasive in present-day western states (Adams and Charrad 2011), is a reminder that any fixing or naturalization of the boundaries between the public and the private blinds us to the “metamorphosis of the state and the power it exercises” (Hurt and Lipschutz: Chapter 1, this volume). We introduce a relational understanding of the social specified through a

focus on the importance of boundary drawings. We argue that polities are constituted in and through boundary drawings-they are things of boundaries (Abbott 1995). We then discuss key theorists of state formation and situate our understanding in relation to theirs. Using one of the editors’ principles for analyzing hybridization-periodization-we round off with an example how one particular state-what was to become Russia-emerged. This exercise yields three insights that are apposite to the volume’s theme, which is presentday hybridization. First, politics: it is a constant of state building that the state attempts to arrogate to itself the right to draw the line between its own domain and the rest (what we now call society). Moreover, what we would now call private actors always challenged state authority, also when the state drew on its services. Second, causality: today’s hybridization may be seen simply as the last phase of a long history whereby the western European state, once it had sufficiently firmed its hold some time in the late 1500s, tried to

govern ever more by indirect means. And as we discuss briefly in the conclusion, our focus on boundary drawing has important implications for how to understand the causal mechanisms of how state governing practices change in an era of globalization: globalization generates small, often unintended, “sites of difference” which are the raw material for boundary (re-)drawings between state and society. What contemporary theorists refer to as “re-assemblage” of the state (Sassen 2008) is in our view a logic of boundary drawing organized around the state in a global age.