The State is the main projector of the image of the nation, but a State is committed to not only to just one class interest but also to the generation of consensuses. For this reason, there is no one social sense, no one social responsibility, no one theme, no one public, no one social group involved in the state social life. Thus, the state can not have just one face and has to be represented in many ways and by the many social roles that it is exercising.
However, even though it would be possible to agree that “the state is a complex amalgamation of particular interests, forces and pressures, at any one time led by a predominant faction” (Harris, 1995: 7), the state itself can be considered an image projector with certain coherent aspects from its continuity in the society where it acts.
Consequently, for the state, the requirement of having a defined image and identity could become the result of the society’s need to have a comprehensive body to be identified and differentiated as the representative of the nation on earth. Regarding that, such a defined image is not necessarily either something spiritual, as the national identity would be, or something material, as the soil and geography of the nation to be represented, not even something called by someone so “biological” as a supposed ethnic composition of a nation, but in fact highlighting something as tangible as the figure of a guardian, administrator, volunteer, coach, referee or a representative of the club would be acceptable.
Hence, if we think of the modern idea of the nation as the one which regulates the world classification and organization, forcing the local to “a national and then global outward orientation” (Campbell, 1999: 37), we can realize that no one has a named place outside a national land, and that the figure of the state would be filled in as of that of the guardian who is always looking after our land, our house or our garden against foreign interest, ensuring that at the same time, we keep our identity (card, passport) alive. Besides, the state has on the national territory the monopoly on the legitimate use of force and violence (Weber, 1958), and as such, the image of the state would have a relation to the way that this violence is executed.
Meanwhile, suppose that an accident took place and children were left alone because their parents died and they had no other relatives to be with, so the state could be imagined as the one who has to find a solution for them. Then the state would be called the one whose labor is to take care of such defenceless people. We can think of the person in charge of this process as a volunteer, a social worker or a doctor, repairing social issues that can disturb the national stability, all based on positive common values.
Moreover, the state can also be imagined by us as a coach, someone that has the duty to encourage and organize the national team through a goal or to look after the goals, this person being the one who is “attempting to translate ideas into reality” (Robertson, 1984: 97). Then this coach is the one who has to awake the tired national resources, sometimes threatening the current players by making the changes. In this way, for Strauss “a coaching relationship exists if someone seeks to move someone else along a series of steps, when those steps are not entirely institutionalized and invariant, and when the learner is not entirely clear about their sequences, although the coach is” (Strauss, 1969: 109).
Additionally, the State could be imagined as the referee that can preserve the logical respect of the rules in the social play or to allow us to maintain our “habitus” (Bourdieu, 1997). This is the one that can guarantee rights and obligations by applying the law.
Last, the state can also be the president of the club or the representative of the club in the sport league and be then the figure of the one who controls the referee’s actions and also who improves the rules of the game.
Thus, the State could be represented in our mind by many figures, maybe by all of them.
© Sebastian Guerrini, 2009