Absolute State and Patrimonial Administration

Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira

in Democracy and Public Management Reform

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780199261185
Published online November 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601507 | DOI:
 Absolute State and Patrimonial Administration

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State formation to be an essential part of the capitalist revolution and of the modernization process that begins with the Renaissance and the commercial revolution. Its completion, which happened with the industrial revolution, required definite and regulated markets, which were brought by the absolute state. Hypothetically, the absolute state was the outcome of a Hobbesian social contract; in actual terms, the consequence of a historical agreement between the monarch and the new emerging merchant bourgeoisie at the expense of the feudal lords’ power. The monarch used tax revenues to maintain a dependent patrimonial aristocracy, living at the court, to take care of war, and a patrimonial bureaucracy to collect taxes and administer justice. It is a mistake to see patrimonial administration as merely corrupt and inefficient. Under such bureaucracy, the state apparatus advanced hugely in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

Keywords: patrimonial administration; patrimonial aristocracy; patrimonial bureaucracy; social contract; state formation

Chapter.  2240 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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