Are anarchists playing with semantics by saying we're anti-state?

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Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
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May 14 2018 16:30

Lucky Black Cat #31

I generally agree with your understanding of the state.

The problem with pinning labels on words is that most words take their meaning from the context in which they are used. All states evolve and no two states are identical. This thread has singled out some important elements of ‘the state’, however because the modern state is a centralised forum for the competing interests of the ruling class and no one is in complete control (witness Brexit in the UK) it is hard to say which elements can safely define all the world’s states.

Perhaps something I could add would be that no state exists if the dark arts described by Niccolo Machiavelli in ‘The Prince’ have become redundant. While capitalism is not capable of being meaningfully reformed, Machiavelli shows that the mechanics of running a state requires even well intentioned people to act despicably (witness Lenin, in the USSR). Machiavelli’s practical advice got him into hot water, as the powerful like to keep their dirty secrets. Though printed in 1532 it is still relevant today.

Hope this is useful.

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Lucky Black Cat
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May 15 2018 04:54

Thanks for the reply.

Auld-bod wrote:
While capitalism is not capable of being meaningfully reformed, Machiavelli shows that the mechanics of running a state requires even well intentioned people to act despicably (witness Lenin, in the USSR).

I've never read Machiavelli but I agree with this point entirely. There's an excellent video on YouTube that makes this argument very concisely and convincingly. I was already a libertarian-communist when I saw it, but it gave me a deeper understanding of why the state will chew up your good intentions and spit them out in your face.

Here's the video -- The Rules for Rulers by CGP Grey https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs

(About 19 minutes, based on the book The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics, by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith)