Another important step is to know and determine the various levels or stages of political development. Brian Berry maintains the concept of ‘level’ as static and cross-sectional. Comparatively, the concept of ‘stage’ is more dynamic and result-oriented. Idea of stages of development has come from economics through W.W. Rostow (Stages of Economic Growth, 1968). Rostow suggested that alike economic growth, there might be stages of political development.
But he stopped short of studying regularities, crises, and order found in economic development. A very successful attempt in this respect was made by Almond and Powell in their book entitled ‘Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach’ (1966). All have agreed with Pye regarding his three-dimensional approach on political development. But none could properly coordinate them at the level of various relevant stages of political development. Pye somehow was successful in indicating six crises in the development-process of England.
Kenneth Organski’s Stages of Political Development (1965) relates national development with political development, and points out that the combined process operates in an orderly manner. Neglect of any particular stage can be the cause of serious consequences or problems.
Some stages can proceed in an overlapping or parallel manner. Using his economic perspective, he has mentioned four stages of political development: political unification, industrialisation, national welfare, and affluence. But he could not evolve any ‘theory’. One follows another. The third and the fourth stages are concerned with participation, integration, distribution etc.
Pye in his Aspects of Political Development (1966) pointed out six crises in the development of England:
(v) Unification, and
One can treat them as six stages of political development. Pye’s first three crises can be equated with Organski’s political unification. Rest are almost similar to the stages of Organski’s process of political development. But, it must be reminded they are related to the developmental process of advanced countries. One cannot legitimately expect developing countries to follow the same order.
However, Edward Shils did make another empirical analysis of transitional political systems and classified them in five categories:
(i) Political democracy;
(ii) Tutelary democracy;
(iii) Modernising oligarchy;
(iv) Totalitarian oligarchy; and
(v) Traditional oligarchy.
These patterns of transitional societies can be taken as stages of political development. In fact, they can display political development in ascending order with the western model as his ‘ideal type’ though, not expressly mentioned.
John Kautsky, in Political Change in Underdeveloped Countries: Nationalism and Communism (1962) has studied both traditional and modern societies and categorised them in five classes, as, (i) traditional aristocratic authoritarian system; (ii) transitional system dominated by national intellectual elites; (iii) totalitarian system of aristocracies; (iv) totalitarian system of intellectuals; and (v) democratic system. He has classified that there can be many other mixed forms or subsets. He has also made up his classification on the basis of social classes, and, has not analytically related them with each other.
Almond and Powell have discussed four problems related to political development. Every political system endeavours to face them: First, There is State-building. In the first phase, the political system has to face the problem of penetrating into every part of the system, and integrate its various segments. Second Loyalty and commitment.
After overcoming the first problem, it has to strive to make itself a nation, by a we-feeling or belongingness to it. Third, Participation. This problem compels the system to invite its various groups, classes, etc. to take part in the decision-making process. Fourth, Distribution. This relates to the demand of welfare. There is domestic pressure on the system to redistribute income, money, opportunities, honour, etc. All these problems can be looked as interconnected stages of political development. All the developed countries have passed through them, and the developing nations too will have to undergo them.
After 1965, scholars of political development freed themselves from the influence of economists and sociologists. In the place of regarding government and development as outcomes of societal forces, they started giving higher status to government, politics, and political leaders, the will and capacity.
They stopped considering political development as a by-product of the world-wide phenomena of modernisation, nationalism, or democracy. Helpern, Eisenstadt, Huntington, Diamant, etc., have treated ‘political development’ as an independent variable. For them, capability, competence, skill, effectively, etc., appeared to be more important.
Samuel P. Huntington has sharply criticised the proponents of stages and unilinearists. He pointed out that (i) they regard modernity and industrialisation as the top most values, and do not think over the possibility of decay of a political system; (ii) they create confusion, by including social, economic and cultural matters in modernisation, even if they remotely or directly concern with politics; (iii) it is wrong to treat everything happening in the Third World as political development; and, (iv) political development is not an irreversible process.
According to him, there are many instances of political decay. He urged to understand political development in terms of ‘institutionalisation’. Institutionalisation consists in existence of properties of adaption, complexity, autonomy, cohesion, etc., in the structures and processes of a polity. It can be observed both in past and contemporary societies.
He has also mapped out three levels or stages of political development: (i) Centralisation – at this stage, one central authority takes over a numerously existing local authorities; (ii) Differentiation – thereafter owing to increase in functions of a political system, there is differentiation in existing structures. The political system begins to perform many new functions; (iii) Participation – later on, groups, sub-groups, individuals and soon begin actively to take part in decision making. According to him, all these, stages should appear in order, otherwise, there can be functional consequences of the system.
In order to avoid such mishap, either slow down the speed of concentrating authority or the mobilisation process itself, or alternatively, the institutionalisation process may be accelerated. By relating political development with institutionalisation, he has been able to apply the concept both on ancient and modern societies.
But Riggs does not agree with him. Old polities, whatever be the degree of their institutionalisation, cannot be equated with modern political systems. Huntington has not explained the meaning of political decay or breakdown. He was expected to elaborate problems attached with it. In fact, he could not rise above his parochial structural-functional approach, despite his high talk about dynamic equilibrium found in the systems.
S.N. Eisenstadt in his Breakdowns of Modernization (1964), Tradition, Change, and Modernity (1973) has stated that in early stages as a result of industrialisation, modernisation, or structural differentiation, numerous political problems raise their head. Governments may or may not overcome them.
When control and coordination utterly fails, system becomes standstill, and political development stops. Many developing political systems are confronting with such obstacles and difficulties. There is breakdown of modernisation in various systems. For him, political development and political modernisation are identical.
Some discussion regarding problems of political development in the Third World has already taken place. Pye has called them as crises which are six in number: (i) identity, (ii) legitimacy, (iii) penetration, (iv) participation (v) integration, and (vi) distribution. These crises are usually the developmental problems of all transitional societies. They can come all together or one by one in an orderly manner.
But there is no limit on the number of problems. Some of the problems have not at all been considered by development-theorists, such as, political succession, choice of development strategy, procurement of resources for development, intervention of superpowers, cold war or military pressure, population explosion, etc. None of them, in fact, could set among the various stages, crises, or levels of political development.