State, Market, Community

Shivam Kumar

From morning till night and from birth till death, people’s lives are inseparably stitched to state and market. But are markets and states sufficient for all human’s needs? Or are claims of market and state as facilitator of everything infallible? The answer requires serious consideration.

Human society works mainly in three spheres- community, market and state (Raghuram Rajan:The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind; 2019). In present times, however, the reverse order seems more accurate- state, market and community. Initially in human evolution, community emerged as the first quasi social-political organisation. It used to engage in all types of functions from common laws to morality, from economy to politics and from war to peace. But as society grew bigger, experienced inter-community engagements and with the need to administer it orderly; state and market grew out of yet-only communities.

However, despite rapid expansion and consolidation of the newly emerged institutions, the community never seriously realised its shrinking space as it has been doing since the emergence of modern nation-states first and globalisation later. The situation is so precarious that even villages which are considered as the last left conclaves of the community are now being swayed by the syndrome of individualism and consumerism. There is no disregard to the achievements and advancements of state and market. They are necessary for survival and aspirations but it is essential to understand the price of the community, how it would impact the society once it is entirely consumed and why there is a need to restore/strike a balance between the three.

Community is not merely a group of people living in one region; rather it is a feeling, a spirit, an undeclared contract between each individual and for all. The view that the market can buy and the state can serve anything and everything is slowing making this idea of community weak. People are becoming more and more inward looking, cutting themselves from community life and becoming unaffected by the hardships that a part of their community is undergoing. This is also the reason why human society is becoming increasingly insensitive, uncaring and un-thoughtful for the issues that the society is facing. In these changing times, people need to reorient and reinvent themselves with the rising needs for becoming a responsible member of the human community. How will that be done is for people to decide.

Community, as an institution, is foundationally different from state and market. They are complementary to each other and no one can really be considered as a case of replacement for one another.
State is an institution which is based on the idea of subjugation and authority whereas community offers an egalitarian imagination. State tries to homogenise communities spread across its territory whereas the community seeks to preserve their unique identity. For the community, it is the dignity that matters but for the state, it is securing command of all. Traditionally, a community has been as independent and sovereign as a state. They are independent to the extent that they can survive all their life untouched from state’s blessings/coercion. If the modern state truly believes in promoting human rights and dignity, they must preserve this body-politic from antiquity. It is only today that somehow people think that the state is invincible and life without it is unimaginable but thousand years of recorded history exemplifies the self-sustaining characteristic of human community. They survived invasion and drought alike and they live nearly an autonomous life. They don’t feel the need to buy every single thing; rather they invent independent ways to subsist those requirements. Markets only increase human's temptations for pleasure and taste which is never ending but a life inside a community teaches minimalism and satisfaction which very early in their lives set them for searching the actual purpose of their existence.

Back to Home Page

Vol 54, No. 27, Jan 2 - 8, 2022