Home >> Political Modernization >> Political institutions of modern times

Political institutions of modern times

Bottomore has identified three types of political situations in the contemporary world: First there are tribal societies mainly in the African countries which are being modernized under western influence on the lines of western political institutions. Africa was parcelled out among colonial powers according to their needs and convenience. As a consequence particular tribe had been distributed among three or four neighbouring nation-states. Thus these African societies faced in addition to the challenge of bringing about rapid economic advance and ensuring economic well-being to the vast majority of the population and consolidating a national community formed out of tribal groups whose existence within their frontiers is in some measure the result of the arbitrary division of Africa among the colonial powers. Another type of political situation obtains in those developing countries of ancient civilization which are attempting to modernize their societies after emancipation from foreign rule.

The Middle Eastern states and North African states, the Asian states and Latin American states fall under this category. These developing countries face a number of difficulties in implementing the aforesaid programmes of work.

In most of these countries, the political institutions set on western model are not working as well as expected because the people have not been able to develop the appropriate political culture. Social institutions in form of kinship system, patterns of families, class divisions and traditional outlook of the life do not favour smooth functioning of a modern political system.

These factors are not conducive to the growth of work culture. As a consequence economic growth is slow. Failures of the government in meeting the aspirations of the people encourage army generals or ambitious leaders in some of the countries like Pakistan, Myanmar etc to assume dictatorial power and do away with democratic political institutions. In the third category are included industrially advanced countries of Europe, North America, and Australia etc.Here a distinction should be made between two types of political systems – the democratic capitalist and communist countries.

The general political characteristics of the modern industrial societies of the first type are the existence of a nation state as the political movement, the election of the political executive by universal adult suffrage and the administration of public affairs by a large bureaucracy. The most important characteristic of the industrial societies of the second type is the existence of a single party which monopolizes political power. The dictatorship of the party is equated with the dictatorship of the proletariat in a transitional period during which the foundations of the ultimate class less society are being laid. After the establishment of the class-less society, the state will wither away. On the contrary the coercive power in the communist states has vastly increased jeopardising in the process the liberty of the individual and freedom of expression.