Political obligation basically means the Moral obligation that a person gets
to obey a country's laws. It includes the duties performed by citizens like
paying taxes, voting and military services. The state's individuals have to obey
the state's authority and commands. Citizens have duties to make appropriate
returns for benefits received from the state, which they fulfill by obeying the
These duties define how moralistic and logical the political obligation of a
state is. It is significant because it establishes a relationship between a
citizen and a state, where the citizen performs some obligations as exercised by
the state power. It binds the citizen to the state.
The citizen has to follow the rules of the state for his own good conduct and
for others as well. Since the state has been established to fulfil the needs of
the citizens, the citizens thus have to perform their duties for the
well-functioning of the state.
There Are Various Theories Of Political Obligation That Define It:
The Doctrine Of Force Majeure: This theory says that superior strength of the state is the main source of
political obligation. The state is so powerful that the people have no
choice but to obey it. The citizens have no say in the law making of the
country and are heavily bound by all the laws. Obligation is mainly based on
the fear of consequences.
The individual is far too weak to do anything. The state or government forms
a sort of tyranny or dictatorship. While this theory could be effective, it
isn't the perfect embodiment of political obligation. We can see aspects of
this theory in North Korea.
Divine Theory: As the name suggests, it is directly derived from God. It says that God is
the creator of state and his will is binding on everyone. The people have to
obey God's will. God is supreme and the King is the man of God. This theory
is also no the best form of political obligation. We can see this theory in
ancient India and 15th and 16th century Europe.
Consent Theory: This theory regards the individual's consent as main source of political
obligation. It says that the state can only exercise its power if there is a
consent provided by the citizen's. Only due to the will of the people,
authority has been created and accepted. The main followers of this theory
were Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean Jack Rousseau.
Prescriptive Theory: This theory upholds political obligation and the states authority on the
basis of its utility and existence. The authority exercised by state is the
result of many minds of many ages. This theory relies more on being accepted
as legitimate rather than consent or morality.