, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 7–14 | Cite as

The Dual States of America

  • David K. TianEmail author


The United States is one of the world’s largest and most powerful democracies, and is not generally thought of as a predatory state. Although most of the literature that discusses American politics has concentrated on the “first face” of American government, including political behavior, public opinion, and questions of electoral representation, recent works have examined the second, more draconian “face” of the American government more critically. However, what is missing in the literature is a systematic conceptualization of the dichotomous structure in the United States that effectively leads to different communities living under two drastically divergent state conditions. I argue that the United States is more accurately categorized as a “dual state,” meaning that it simultaneously behaves like a welfare state in some contexts while it behaves, as a result of wide-reaching civil forfeiture laws, more like a predatory state in other contexts. Using the Marshallian framework of citizenship, I argue that the “second face” of the American government not only qualifies the United States as a predatory state, but it also deeply violates all three dimensions of race-class subjugated communities’ citizenship rights.


Police state Predatory state Welfare state Race-class subjugation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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