Swords and plowshares: Jewish non-Weberian governance in British Palestine

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What does it mean to speak of governance in the absence of states? This dissertation seeks to answer this question through an empirical examination of the founding of two unique

What does it mean to speak of governance in the absence of states? This dissertation seeks to answer this question through an empirical examination of the founding of two unique agricultural settlements constructed by the Jewish community of Palestine, also known as the Yishuv: the kibbutz and the moshav. Commonly, in order to be considered effective, states must, at minimum, provide their population with two critical public goods: the satisfaction of their material needs and their physical protection through a military or police force. Dominant assumptions across multiple subfields of both Comparative Politics and International Relations content that because weak and failed states cannot provide their civilian populations with these critical public goods, that governance in the absence of effective, sovereign, and territorial states is a myth. It is often argued that violence, anarchy, and human suffering inevitably follow in the wake of state collapse and that in order to alleviate these problems, state building practices must focus on creating a fully sovereign state that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence within its borders. This dissertation questions these assumptions. Through quantitative analysis of an original dataset constructed from Israeli archival sources as well as a qualitative historical examination of declassified Israeli archival material from 1920-1948, this dissertation demonstrates that it is possible for non-state actors to construct institutions of governance within the context of a weak or failing state. The Jewish community, through its organs of governance, utilized the kibbutzim and the moshavim to provide the all important public goods of military defense and economic growth respectively. It is shown in this dissertation how political institutions can be crafted endogenously within weak and failing states and how these institutions may actually serve to increase political stability, staving off anarchy and violence.