Decolonization after World War II led to a significant global increase in the number of states. Each new nation was born with high expectations. But these hopes were soon eroded by the ineffectiveness and capriciousness of many of the new regimes. In many states military juntas have become the order of the day, and even where juntas have not taken power, political differences have repeatedly degenerated into violent exchanges that do not readily lend themselves to political settlement. Not only the new states have suffered from these problems; indeed, political solutions to conflict have become depressingly conspicuous by their absence.
Against this background, the last decade has seen a resurgence of interest in evaluating the political capacity or strength of modern nation-states. In Power without Force, Robert Jackman argues that political capacity has two broad components: organizational age and legitimacy. Thus, it is essential to focus both on institutions conceived in organizational terms and the amount of compliance and consent that leaders are able to engender. The emphasis on each reflects the view that political life centers on the exercise of power, and that, unlike physical force, power is intrinsically relational. Although all states have he capability to inflict physical sanctions, their ability to exercise power is the key element of their political capacity.
Drawing on a wide range of studies from political science, sociology, and political economy, Power without Force redirects attention to the central issues of political capacity. By stressing that effective conflict resolution must be addressed in political terms, this volume underscores perennial issues of governance and politics that form the heart of comparative politics and political sociology.