Comparative and International Perspectives
Edited by Jens Bartelson, Martin Hall and Jan Teorell
Chapter 5: When does war make states? War, rivalries and fiscal extraction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
This chapter evaluates the applicability of bellicist theories of state formation beyond early modern Europe. First, we offer an analytical overview of academic research that has examined the effects of military pressures on state making in different parts of the world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We discuss how, as the literature has matured, the de-centering of bellicist theory has increasingly focused on providing fine-grained empirical assessments of the scope conditions of the theory rather than on discussions about its transhistorical applicability. Second, we present our own set of empirical tests and models to examine the effects of wars and military rivalries on levels of fiscal extraction as an indicator of state building from 1815 to 2006. Our analyses further reinforce the point that interpreting bellicist theory as a transhistorical explanation of political development is misguided. If there is a causal relationship between military pressures and state building beyond early modern Europe, it is conditional on country- and system-level factors and is highly sensitive to measurement choices and model specifications.
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