Submitted by Steven. on August 27, 2012

We have just published a draft of our new introductory guide on the state here:
http://libcom.org/library/state-introduction

as with our other introductory guides, we would like to gather users' views, so we can improve the article.

So what does everyone think? Have we covered the most important issues? Have we missed anything out? Is it clear? Is there any better further reading we can suggest?

Please give us your thoughts so we can incorporate them!

Android

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The text was good, covered all the main points. And in a basic and accessible way, which I am guessing was the intention.

So what does everyone think? Have we covered the most important issues? Have we missed anything out? Is it clear? Is there any better further reading we can suggest?

I do not know if there is any unstated criteria for inclusion in 'further reading'. But I'd suggest The State Debate edited by Simon Clarke. And in particular his introduction was good if I recall correctly.

http://libcom.org/library/state-debate-simon-clarke

Bonefeld's The Recomposition of the British State During the 1980s addresses the decline of Keynesianism (welfare state etc) and the rise of Monetarism. It combines theory and history. If I remember right, his opening theoretical chapter places class struggle more central to capitalist development, then Clarke. I remember liking it when I read it for a uni essay on Thatcherism last year.

And this is also relevant:

http://libcom.org/library/against-state-1979

Chilli Sauce

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just got done reading it. Awesome.

The only thing it might be worth elaborating on in the 'private property' section is the notion of "public" property and why we view it as state property and the implications thereof.

Similarly, a discussion of "public" employment might be pertinent: although one may be employed by the state, that doesn't change the social relationship that is capitalism. This is covered somewhat in the later criticisms of Bolshevism and workers' states, but I think elaboration in this earlier sections would be beneficial to well-intentioned liberals and reformists who have faith in social democracy.

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Cheers android. Will check those links out.

What does everyone else think?

klas batalo

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Nice links Android.

Agreed with Chilli mainly for the newbs who might think public workers are worthy targets.

A few other things I am wondering is how left communists and marxists will take this.

I think they would say that they want to abolish the current state and create a new workers state, not seize the pre-existing state. Then from there depending on how libertarian of an analysis some might say that such a state is really a non- or semi- state. At best saying the dictatorship of the proletariat through the workers' councils is what such a state would look like, and that compared to the monstrous states that exist today wouldn't even compare. Some would also call this a council state. I've seen a better description of it as the "council organization."

My main thought is if something is so different why fashion it at all like or after the concept of the State?

But yeah I just figured worth bringing up since Libcom claims to seek inspiration from libertarian currents within Marxism as well as from anarchism.

Cooked

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

But the ability within a given area to make political and legal decisions – and to enforce them, with violence if necessary – is the basic characteristic of all states.

Perhaps clarify that it's geographical area, when I read it it was in such a context discussing areas of society where the state acts so it was confusing for a split second.

The "State welfare" section emphasises protest a bit much I'd say.

We then end up spending the next 100 years hearing people go on about what a 'great reformer' so-and-so was, even though it was our protests which forced those reforms onto them.

Dunno if it can be re-phrased to explain that it's the working class exerting it's power that forces change.

It probably needs to be this long but it is to long to use as a reference during online discussions etc. Covers to much ground, would be useful with a more concise version. Perhaps there could be an intro/synopsis that mentions all the crucial bits and then gives context in a longer text further down? So same text just restructured a bit?

inflaminatus

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Reposted by friend of mine, who is not registered here:

An interesting topic, but there are few parts I can´t agree with. The most debatable is this part: When as a class we are organised and militant, social reforms are passed. But as militancy is repressed or fades away, our gains are chipped
away at. Public services are cut and sold off bit-by-bit, welfare benefits are reduced, fees for services are introduced or increased and wages are cut. What about welfare state in Norway? I don´t have any feelings about social tensions needed for better conditions.

NannerNannerNa…

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oh god yes

Now when some right wing fuck starts flapping his gums about how extreme-right neoliberalism is "revolutionary" I can forward this instead of me screaming "THE ROLE OF THE STATE IS TO PROTECT CAPITAL" and him responding "well thats not what glenn beck told me you dirty communist".

My only issue with it is that it's WAY to brief. It doesn't delve into the history of the capitalist state (beginning with mercantilism and absolute monarchy) and it skims over a lot of details. If I were to link this to someone in its present form, they would just dismiss out of hand.

TL;DR
Make it more comprehensive and thorough is my suggestion.

Alasdair

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Excellent introduction.

The only thing I'd suggest, echoing Sabotage really, is a more explicit suggestion of what non-state organisation might look like, and why not having a state doesn't mean complete localism and self-sufficiency.

It might seem obvious to some of us but one of the things I get a lot is people saying that any kind of organisation over a broad geographical area would be a state, even if by another name, and so being against states as a whole is stupid/incoherent.

orkhis

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Some states also provide many services which protect people from the worst effects of the economy. However, this has rarely, if ever, been the result of generosity from politicians but of pressure from below.

Maybe it's just me, but this reads unconvincingly.

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks for the comments everyone.

As I'm sure you appreciate, these introductory guides are quite tricky. Already we have people telling us it is too long and we should shorten it, and people saying it isn't detailed enough and we should extend it.

It's already at 2100 words (2300 including the further reading), and we wanted to try to keep these to 1200-1500.

That said, we are planning further guides where we hope to cover more issues, like talking about alternate organisational arrangements Alasdair.

That said, please keep any criticisms coming and we will try to take everything on board as much as possible

Railyon

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Alasdair

It might seem obvious to some of us but one of the things I get a lot is people saying that any kind of organisation over a broad geographical area would be a state, even if by another name, and so being against states as a whole is stupid/incoherent.

Exactly my thoughts when I read the paragraph on 'what is the state' - I'm kinda missing the typical features that Engels pointed out like class divisions and alienation of political power from those that have to live with the consequences, aka the working class. This is kinda implicit in the last sentence of that paragraph but I think it deserves more emphasis.

welshboy

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The state: Its historical role - Peter Kropotkin - A classic anarchist test examining the state's role in society.

Text, surely?
I liked the article and have forwarded it to folk I've had discussions with on Facebook. :) Cheers.

manon

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is my first post here (I found this through the Exiled). I come from a Marxist background and would like to offer my critique.

It would also be helpful to point out that the current relationship between the state and capitalism has lead to a mass accumulation of capital by a select few. This mass accumulation is irreversible and eventually suck the working class dry. It will continue as long as the fundamental relationship between the state and capitalism remains the same.


Things cannot improve as long as the status-quo remains the same.
Perhaps we, the people, the working-class (or rather, the class that doesn't own anything), could do a better job of organizing things than the state?

Jason Status

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

just did a quick 'find on page' search and the article doesnt include the word 'class' or 'ruling' which seems like an oversight to me.

Jason Status

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

double post. again. sorry.

jef costello

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I thought it was a good introduction, not too long but abou to get there. Why not have libcom's own further reading texts and link to them from the body of the text? That way there could be extra reading easily accessible without swamping the reader.

ccfwo

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We are living in a society in which the relationship between human beings for work and social production is fundamentally based on buying and selling of a commodity named labour force. Within this society, except the people in the middle layers which do not seriously determine the mode of production, human beings are either buyer or seller of labour force. The buyer of labour force is the capitalist and the seller is the worker. The capitalist society consists of these two main classes, the capitalist class or ‘bourgeoisie’, and the working class, or ‘proletariat’. The working class has nothing to live but its labour force, and selling this force as a commodity is its only way to survive. By selling his or her labour force, the worker becomes alienated to this force and loses any control over the work process, the labour product, the kind of product that needs to be produced and the distribution of the product. However, the relationship between the buyer and the seller of labour force is not merely an economic relationship; rather, it is a social relationship and will encompass all dimensions and aspects of the human social life. Indeed, this relationship brings forward the complete deprivation of the workers from any power, any freedom and any free intervention over the fate of their life and all issues that are related to their social being. The capitalist state is the organization to preserve this relationship in all its social dimensions : political, economic, cultural,etc.
The alternative to the capitalist state is the revolutionary workers' council, which is absent in your article.

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jason Status

just did a quick 'find on page' search and the article doesnt include the word 'class' or 'ruling' which seems like an oversight to me.

the article contains repeated mentions of "class". It doesn't say the exact words "ruling class" because personally I don't like that formulation, but it does use synonyms

jef costello

I thought it was a good introduction, not too long but abou to get there. Why not have libcom's own further reading texts and link to them from the body of the text? That way there could be extra reading easily accessible without swamping the reader.

Can I check what you mean here? Do you mean we should link to articles from the text itself? If so, we do have lots of hyperlinks in the text to explanatory articles/tags as we go along.

Railyon

Alasdair

It might seem obvious to some of us but one of the things I get a lot is people saying that any kind of organisation over a broad geographical area would be a state, even if by another name, and so being against states as a whole is stupid/incoherent.

Exactly my thoughts when I read the paragraph on 'what is the state' - I'm kinda missing the typical features that Engels pointed out like class divisions and alienation of political power from those that have to live with the consequences, aka the working class. This is kinda implicit in the last sentence of that paragraph but I think it deserves more emphasis.

can you explain more about what you mean here? Or even better, suggest a way we could reword a bit about text to incorporate what you think is missing?

Klaus

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

here are some comments on the first bits of the pieces (before I ran out of steam). I hope this is somewhat helpful. I suck at forum debates, so I hope my points are clear etc.

What is the state? All states have the same basic functions in that they are an organisation of all the lawmaking and law enforcing institutions within a specific territory.

This answer seems circular to me. You answer the question of what a state is by the form in which it rules: lawmaking and enforcing law. To explain the state you refer to law which presupposes a notion of the state. Furthermore, by jumping to the form in which the state rules - law - you do not actually mention that it rules of land and people (you do that below, but it seems you identify law and domination).

I'd suggest that the first and and most basic determination of any state is that it subjugates people and rules over a territory: complete submission. Everything else depends on this determination. For example, the form in which it rules over its subjects - law - may change: in states of emergency the state does not rule by law but by decree, but this form clearly could not exist without the fact that the state asserts its authority.

Also, in determining the state as a state of law you restrict your attention to modern, capitalist, (democratic) states. I think it is good to discuss these specific states but your piece claims to engage with states as such.

One more small point: You ask the question what a state is but continue to talk about what functions it has. The state having a function for something else expresses a relation between the state and that something else. For that to be determined one must have determined what a state is already. What you then describe is then actually not a function but a determination of the form in which the state rules.

So sometimes, a state will consist of a parliament with elected politicians, a separate court system and a police force and military to enforce their decisions. At other times, all these functions are rolled into each other, like in military dictatorships for example.

If the state's authority rests solely with a particular dictator one cannot call this rule a rule of law, it is not governance by principles but by whatever the dictator thinks is right. His/her thoughts might be informed by or take measure in the rule of law, but only because his/her act of will to do so. So in that sense this paragraph is a rectification of your previous paragraph.

But the ability within a given area to make political and legal decisions – and to enforce them, with violence if necessary – is the basic characteristic of all states. Crucially, the state claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, within its territory and without. As such, the state is above the people it governs and all those within its territory are subject to it.

I'd put this paragraph first as it correctly and clearly expresses the fundamental determination of the state. I would change two things though:

1) I would drop the "legitimate". The state does not content itself with claiming its violence is legitimate (it does claim that though, don't get me wrong) or with claiming a monopoly on legitimate violence only, but it claims the monopoly on violence and therewith declares any other violence illegitimate. In your phrasing it seems the qualifiers are the wrong way around: first violence is legitimate and then the state claims the monopoly on that violence, while the actual relationship is the other way around: it claims the monopoly on violence and all other violence illegitimate: "monopoly on the legitimate use of violence" is a doubling.

2) I would drop the qualification "within its territory and without". When dealing with claiming a monopoly on violence without, we are dealing with states confronting each other. However, in order to understand confrontations between states, we presuppose the state. So dealing with "without" in determining the state leads to a cycle.

The primary need of a sound capitalist economy is the existence of a group of people able to work, to turn capitalists' money into more money: a working class. This requires the majority of the population to have been dispossessed from the land and means of survival, so that the only way they can survive is by selling their ability to work to those who can buy it.

A second fundamental requirement is the concept of private property. While many had to be dispossessed to create a working class, the ownership of land, buildings and factories by a small minority of the population could only be maintained by a body of organised violence - a state. This is rarely mentioned by capitalism's advocates today, however in its early days it was openly acknowledged. As the liberal political economist Adam Smith wrote:

The order of these two fundamental requirements is the wrong way around. The guarantee of private property is essential for capital to exists, without private property no society based on exchange, no widespread commodity production, no money, no capital. Before the question how to turn money into more money can come up, exchange as the central mediation of production and therewith money must exist. Hence, private property comes logically before the working class. Put differently: the accumulation of private wealth presupposes the existence of wealth in private hands.

Secondly, you phrase private property as the means to prevent the poor from dispossessing the rich. However, private property is more general than this. It guarantees ownership against anyone - poor or rich. Capitalists are confronted with many incentives to deprive each other of their property, the whole economy is based on competition for social wealth and against one another. The act of exchange - not only between capitalists and workers, but also between two capitalists - presupposes a conflict of interest: I only give you what you need if you give me what I want (and vice versa). This is the most abstract social relation maintained by the state, and this relation is more general than keeping the poor out.

This continues today, as laws deal primarily with protecting property rather than people. For example, it is not illegal for speculators to sit on food supplies, creating scarcity so prices go up while people starve to death, but it is illegal for starving people to steal food.

I'd suggest to drop the speculators and use a normal supermarket instead. The state protects the right of a supermarket to demand payment for their food. Their business is based on the fact that people need to eat and so they can make their customers pay money: they are exploiting other people's dependency on the means of subsistence (they have good reasons to do so but that is not the point here). This is the social relation the state maintains. It does not only start with speculation and attempts to create scarcity but is a lot more fundamental.

That's how far I got so far.

jef costello

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

jef costello

I thought it was a good introduction, not too long but abou to get there. Why not have libcom's own further reading texts and link to them from the body of the text? That way there could be extra reading easily accessible without swamping the reader.

Can I check what you mean here? Do you mean we should link to articles from the text itself? If so, we do have lots of hyperlinks in the text to explanatory articles/tags as we go along.

I didn't see the links, I think my laptop was in power saving mode :) Those types of links are exactly what I meant.

davidbroder

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think the explanation of what the Labour govt did post-1945 is more complicated than a ruling-class strategy to prevent revolution.

For a start, that Quintin Hogg quote is wheeled out all the time in such discussions, but... how important was he, really? What threat of revolution was there, in fact?

Even if the welfare state did serve to pacify/integrate potential forces of rebellion, its coming-about is much more complicated than a matter of warding off revolution - e.g. mediated through the hopes of social change aroused by the war, the fact Labour had not 'betrayed' its electorate as spectacularly as it later would (or e.g. the SPD earlier had)...

Really it is a coming together of liberal bourgeois plans like Beveridge etc., who saw some need for a fit, healthy, reasonably quiescent population to keep the economy running and growing, plus the partial, distorted yet real way in which Labour expressed/channelled pressure from its supporters for reforms.

inflaminatus

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

State is historically, only effective tax (in some form) collector. I don´t see this condition in the draft.

Railyon

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

inflaminatus

State is historically, only effective tax (in some form) collector. I don´t see this condition in the draft.

I consider the Tithe to be a pre-state form of tax, so I don't quite know about that. I don't quite know whether taxes are fundamental to our understanding of the state anyhow, unless we consider it as a part of another context like the welfare state.

JustDumbLuck

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

An excellent article, of which I have only a couple of things to point out. The first one is the way I see it, there is no such thing as private property, only state granted exclusive use. After all, if you don't pay your property taxes, the state will take that property away, and can fine you for zoning violations, etc. Not sure how much of a distinction that is, but it seems to me to be significant. Then there is money, and the role of the state in it's creation and use. Maybe that is implicit in the text, but if so, I missed it.

inflaminatus

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It not necessarily must be a cash tax - therefore I wrote "in some form".

But it is a significant attribute of "state" (or pre-state, if you want - i don´t now what exactly do you understand by the term state) from his formation to the present day.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Re: post 20 "legitimate"

I'd personally keep it in. Possibly tweak it to say say something along the lines of "Arguably the defining characteristic of the state is that it grants itself to be the sole legitimate arbiter of violence in society".

Also, I like the "arbiter" bit as it covers the role of the state, in say, allowing lynch mobs and the like.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In a capitalist society, the success or failure of a state depends unsurprisingly on the success of capitalism within it.

Essentially, this means that within its territory profits are made so the economy can expand. The government can then take its share in taxation to fund its activities.

I was thinking about this bit here. I think it can make it seems like taxes are the main reason the state is intertwined with capital.

As you go into shortly after, "promoting...the growth of the economy is the key task of any state in capitalist society" and I think this is a more accurate analysis, with taxes being a secondary consideration. Perhaps tie it back into the notion that, to survive, capital needs expansion and accumulation. To do this it needs stability (role of the state in regulating capitalism, printing money and setting interest rates, settling disputes amongst capitalists, enforcing labor discipline, and ultimately providing force on the side of capital in labor disputes), so that capital needs a state to function. Therefore the state is part and parcel, an inherent and inseparable part of capitalism (and, indeed, any hierarchical economic system).

Also, y'all don't talk much about the role of the police as protectors of private property and agents of social control. Since most people--to one degree of another--still buy into the idea that police are actually there to perform their stated purpose of crime prevention and control, it seems like it'd be a topic worth covering. Again, worth noting that to some degree, the police do deal with crime, but that's secondary to their role in maintaining and protecting private property and, therefore, class society.

EDIT: In the interests of space, adding that section about the police might be better handled in it's own introduction and then linked from this article. Not to give y'all more work...

C-hwyl-dro

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

State welfare

Some states also provide many services which protect people from the worst effects of the economy. However, this has rarely, if ever, been the result of generosity from politicians but of pressure from below.

State welfare is not necessarily because of working class "pressure". It can simply be capital functioning differently - "wages" reaching workers in a different manner (f.e the wage freeze that was happening when Britain's welfare state was fully formed).

Diggerlover

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As of today, Fri 31 Aug 2012, I wouldn't change a thing. The writing explains things very clearly and coherently. I am continually amazed how difficult it is to write things that will be understood by "normal" people, but I think this is about the best durn'd handling of Anarchism you'll find anywhere. It is very succinct--brief, in fact--considering the amount of ground you've managed to cover in so few words. Usually, works of this kind are spoiled by endless rants, radical jargon, or just the author's sheer passion for the subject matter, but I think practically any reasonable reader could read and understand this "draft."

Comrade Motopu

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I like the article. I see that you don't want it to be too long. Maybe you could do another article on how states interact, or how their respective ruling classes interact and how this affects the working class in each state. One of the state's major functions is projecting its economic power globally, and this has been intertwined with military might, imperialism, and the extension of capitalist imperatives globally. Cooperation between ruling classes in different nation states, or competition between them can lead either to "comprador" classes controlling their own population for the benefit of themselves and a foreign capitalist class, or wars respectively (or other outcomes). Powerful states can use the WTO, IMF, World Bank to their advantage to open up states for firesales of public assets and so on.

I know this is a huge topic, but even just thinking about what role the U.S. and other countries play in stifling or distorting uprisings in the middle east that are in part against austerity and about class struggle, made me wonder if an intro to the state could not use a companion piece about the interaction of states.

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Comrade Motopu

I like the article. I see that you don't want it to be too long. Maybe you could do another article on how states interact, or how their respective ruling classes interact and how this affects the working class in each state. One of the state's major functions is projecting its economic power globally, and this has been intertwined with military might, imperialism, and the extension of capitalist imperatives globally. Cooperation between ruling classes in different nation states, or competition between them can lead either to "comprador" classes controlling their own population for the benefit of themselves and a foreign capitalist class, or wars respectively (or other outcomes). Powerful states can use the WTO, IMF, World Bank to their advantage to open up states for firesales of public assets and so on.

I know this is a huge topic, but even just thinking about what role the U.S. and other countries play in stifling or distorting uprisings in the middle east that are in part against austerity and about class struggle, made me wonder if an intro to the state could not use a companion piece about the interaction of states.

hi, yes these are all good points. We are planning on adding future introductions covering in some way things like war/nationalism/geopolitics, but haven't figured out the best way of dividing things up yet.

Diggerlover

As of today, Fri 31 Aug 2012, I wouldn't change a thing. The writing explains things very clearly and coherently. I am continually amazed how difficult it is to write things that will be understood by "normal" people, but I think this is about the best durn'd handling of Anarchism you'll find anywhere. It is very succinct--brief, in fact--considering the amount of ground you've managed to cover in so few words. Usually, works of this kind are spoiled by endless rants, radical jargon, or just the author's sheer passion for the subject matter, but I think practically any reasonable reader could read and understand this "draft."

thanks very much for your kind words!

We will be incorporating some of the very helpful comments we have received here, but hopefully in a way which doesn't make it any longer or less cohesive, so the final version should read in pretty much the same way.

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A couple of things have come to my mind, some of which other people have already touched on, to incorporate:
- the key defining feature of the state is the body of organised violence, not the lawmaking institutions, and importantly it is a body of organised violence controlled by a small number of people. We need to make this clear, if we are to say that a stateless world is possible, and what we propose as a model is not a statist model.
- We should make clear in the end when we talk about the new type of society, that in a society where the haves do not have to be protected from the have-nots that the state is unnecessary.

Kaze no Kae

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Some bits are badly worded (the references to "the economy" are too ambiguous, a liberal reader would assume they were referring to the balanced economic interests of everyone in society rather than just those of the ruling class) and the bits on electoralism and "workers' states" are a bit simplified, but overall this is pretty good :)

Auld-bod

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think this reads very well. The links for extended reading to expand points is good rather than being integrated into the main text. My only concern is the paragraph under State welfare:

‘This does not mean we oppose reforms as 'counter-revolutionary'. It just means that the state is not the engine for reform; we, the working class – and more specifically, our struggles – are.’

I think this reads like a later insertion to clarify the point. The same point however is well made as the piece progresses and I think the paragraph redundant and poorly expressed. (First ‘we’ means libcom, second ‘we, the working class’ means the working class - or playing devil’s advocate - libcom=the working class!)

I’d suggest deleting the above and in the next paragraph start with ‘So when our protests get to a point…’

Tulipan

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We like your article. Unfortunately we were not able to read through all the comments here but we would like to put some additional information to this.

First of all, the state is a hierarchical and (in the modern ages) bureaucratic system of institutions. The government is only a (relatively small but important) part of the state. The state is disjointed from the population, which means that the average person is not a member of the state apparatus. Within the state, there is a strict division of labor. It is determined that which organ of the state and which person can do something and have to do something in different cases. Ordinary persons who do not belong to the state apparatus usually cannot do anything e.g. to solve social problems. For example, if there is a person, who is well-known gangster, you cannot stop or punish him; only the police can arrest him, only the judge can send him to prison and so on. Each person is alienated from the state, and the individuals, even the masses cannot directly influence the state, except maybe the case of high-level and widespread organization. The power of the state is the alienated power of the people. Similarly, politics of today is managing social issues in an alienated way, partly because they can be managed through the state. This hierarchical system makes the people passive and egocentric (or family-centric). This system seems to be the most effective, but only if the conscious level of the working class is low. The passivity of people is not only the result but also the condition of the proper operation of state. For example, when the Bolsheviks consolidated their power after the revolution in Russia, the party wanted to seize all initiation, and thus it suppressed the people’s initiative and their revolutionary feelings, see for example: The Unknown Revolution by Voline. We note that it was a historical process that the state gradually grabbed and centralized the social functions, see for example: Mutual Aid by Kropotkin. (This process was reversed by the revolution in Russia but then reintroduced and accelerated by the Bolsheviks’ state party).

In an anarcho-communist society, everyone could participate in the organization of social life, and because of the higher level of activity and consciousness, this society should be much more effective. Unlike in the current capitalist society, people would take the responsibility for each other, not just in the sense of sheer life but the general material and psychological well-being.

“this was not because Labor Party members or officials were necessarily bad people but because at the end of the day they were politicians whose principle task was to keep the UK economy competitive in the global market.”

Another reason is that they were in a top-position of a hierarchy, and therefore, similarly to Lenin and the Bolshevik leaders, their way of thinking was distorted.

MorphouBey

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven's comment is, to my mind, key. (Steven. Sep 1 2012 19:11) The distinctive feature of the modern state is its organisation of violence and the creation or adoption of institutions to assist in enhancing the states capacity for meting violence. Other characteristics mentioned in the draft such as borders, defined jurisdiction, and so on are ephemeral and historical. Indeed modern states do not have borders and are not sovereign in the ordinary and traditional meanings of those terms. Insofar as states are some form of extortion racket backed by violence they serve particular interests while presenting themselves as essential public goods.

I would have thought, following this, a basic lib-com analysis and politics would, at minimum, be to endeavour not to reproduce the structuring of society through the organisation of permanent violence. Surely one of the lessons of 'successful' revolutionary movements is that the temporary resort to violence transformed into a permanent adoption of violence. The revolution, like Saturn, eats its own children. See Goya's "Saturn eating his child"

On the whole I agree with those previous posters who note that many of the key ideas are too vague and general and, ironically for an anarchist effort, tend to reproduce classic bourgeois concepts. We need to learn at least one thing from Marx : it is not enough to object to bourgeois political economy, one has to engage in a critique of political economy and transcend its bourgeois expression.

Tim Finnegan

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MorphouBey

I would have thought, following this, a basic lib-com analysis and politics would, at minimum, be to endeavour not to reproduce the structuring of society through the organisation of permanent violence. Surely one of the lessons of 'successful' revolutionary movements is that the temporary resort to violence transformed into a permanent adoption of violence. The revolution, like Saturn, eats its own children.

It's debatable whether the revolutionary violence was ever a "temporary resort" on the part of those who later implemented it as permanent. A Robespierre or a Lenin may say that their violence is merely temporary, but when it is organised in the same statified forms as permanent violence, there isn't any obvious reason to believe that this is anything more than rhetoric, or, at best, wishful thinking.

wojtek

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have the same reservations about libcom's, Solfed's and now Phil's argument that the welfare state was created solely to prevent revolution as davidbroder:

davidborder wrote:

I think the explanation of what the Labour govt did post-1945 is more complicated than a ruling-class strategy .

For a start, that Quintin Hogg quote is wheeled out all the time in such discussions, but... how important was he, really? What threat of revolution was there, in fact?

Even if the welfare state did serve to pacify/integrate potential forces of rebellion, its coming-about is much more complicated than a matter of warding off revolution - e.g. mediated through the hopes of social change aroused by the war, the fact Labour had not 'betrayed' its electorate as spectacularly as it later would (or e.g. the SPD earlier had)...

Really it is a coming together of liberal bourgeois plans like Beveridge etc., who saw some need for a fit, healthy, reasonably quiescent population to keep the economy running and growing, plus the partial, distorted yet real way in which Labour expressed/channelled pressure from its supporters for reforms

http://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/what-you-think-libcoms-introduction-state-27082012#comment-493210
Rarely does any historical event happen for just one reason.

How widespread was squatting by returning conscripts? Surely squatting would have constituted only a small part of the militant struggles at the time if revolution was on the cards? And if so why the omission of the others - lack of research?

ocelot

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Agree with wojtek. First of all, the welfare state did not appear, newborn, in the post-WW2 situation in 1945.

But more importantly, the development of the welfare state - i.e. the provision of health, education, pension and unemployment transfer payments, etc, - can be seen as an unfolding of the capitalist need to reduce living labour to labour power, or the labour commodification process. Capital pushes towards the creation of a labour market, where labour power can be purchased as a pure factor of production, divorced from all the messy needs of its production and reproduction. The cycle of capital's valorisation, seeks to expell the cycle of labour's reproduction from its process. It is more efficient for the costs of education and health to be socialised (in the capitalist sense of transferring to state responsibility) so that individual firms don't have to pay for the upkeep of their individual labour units.

Also, you could argue that the process of labour reproduction is irreducibly more political. Hence it makes sense to expell it from the labour market/wage relation as much as possible, as part of the capitalist separation of the political and economic spheres. With the additional benefit that this can also help the gendered appropriation of unpaid female labour in the reproduction sphere.

ocelot

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

dp

ocelot

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To put it another way, whereas Radical Chains' notion of the prevention of communism, and Negri's notion of the crisis (or suspension) of the law of value, took the development of the welfare state as the political overriding or suppression/limitation of the law of value, I would argue that you could actually see the development of the welfare state as the unfolding development of the autonomy of the law of value. Perhaps counter-inituitive, I know.

Steven.

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, those are valid points. If you can think of a good way we can include that in our text please suggest some wording!

ocelot

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hmm. Sorry, that just came off the top of my head. I'm still figuring out the implications tbh. Couldn't fix a textual presentation at this stage.

In terms of implications tho, if the social wage is not external to the labour commodity wage, but develops out of it, then any contradiction between the wage and the social wage is an internal, rather than external contradiction. Which means that the question of which between the capitalist and communist advocates of "basic income" are right, is settled definitively in favour of the former.

wojtek

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The level of militancy at the time was very low in comparison to say '26, the 70s and 80s, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a reaction to nullify/ co-opt workers. According to Jim Frank's history of squatting From Frestonia to Belgravia and Dialect the occupation of disused military bases received widespread support and was tolerated by the government. It was only when squatting became explicity political with the Communist Party squatting the homes of rich people who had moved elsewhere during the war that Labour began to clamp down. I can't find any good reading material on the subject tbh.

Schmoopie

5 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

admin: nonsensical post removed. Banned returning user re-banned

jamieguillaume

5 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[not native english speaker here]

Hello everyone,

As I am making a video introduction to capitalism (ergo, state), I’m looking for the source of the Adam Smith quote, in plain text.

Laws and government may be considered in this and indeed in every case as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor, and preserve to themselves the inequality of the goods which would otherwise be soon destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the government would soon reduce the others to an equality with themselves by open violence.

It is also quoted by Howard Zinn.

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Zinn/BigGovernWhom_Zinn.html

It seems to came from his Lectures on Jurisprudence (aka Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arm) (1763)

The quotes with sources I stambled upon redirect to an 404 at oll.libertyfund.org.

http://www.solfed.org.uk/brighton/notes-on-the-violent-minority
https://freedomthistime.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/equality-of-opportunity-is-not-enough/

However, I don't find the quote in the versions of archive.org (1896 version) and oll.libertyfund.org (1869)

https://archive.org/stream/lecturesonjustic00smituoft#page/n7/mode/2up
http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/smith-lectures-on-justice-police-revenue-and-arms-1763/simple

So do anyone here know where this quote in context could be found?

Jara Handala

5 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jamie, the source of the quote is:
Adam Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, R L Meek, D G Raphael & P G Stein (eds.), Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1978, p.208 [Glasgow Edition of the Works & Correspondence of Adam Smith, volume V]

Laws and government may be considered in this and indeed in every case as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor, and preserve to themselves the inequality of the goods which would otherwise be soon destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the government would soon reduce the others to an equality with themselves by open violence.

Those writers who don't give references, eh?

The front flap of the book explains that in 1958 a new set of student's notes of the lectures was discovered, augmenting the set published in 1896. (The Liberty Fund online edition you cite has a typo: publication wasn't "1869" - see pp.xv-xvi for how the notes were passed to the publisher in 1895.)

Problem solved. Hope the video making goes well.

seahorse

5 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jamieguillaume

[not native english speaker here]

Hello everyone,

As I am making a video introduction to capitalism (ergo, state),

Will you post it to libcom when you're done? I'd love to see it. Unless you're doing it in a language I don't speak.

If it's not a hassle to remember, PM me the link when you're done. If you just post it I might miss it.

Best of luck!

jamieguillaume

5 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Will you post it to libcom when you're done?

I’m not familiar with libcom content creation, but yeah, why not.

Unless you're doing it in a language I don't speak.

The video will be in french, probably with english subtitles.

I'd love to see it. […] If it's not a hassle to remember, PM me the link when you're done. If you just post it I might miss it. Best of luck!

Thank you!

jamieguillaume

5 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jara Handala

Jamie, the source of the quote is:
Adam Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, R L Meek, D G Raphael & P G Stein (eds.), Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1978, p.208 [Glasgow Edition of the Works & Correspondence of Adam Smith, volume V]

[…]

Those writers who don't give references, eh?

The front flap of the book explains that in 1958 a new set of student's notes of the lectures was discovered, augmenting the set published in 1896. (The Liberty Fund online edition you cite has a typo: publication wasn't "1869" - see pp.xv-xvi for how the notes were passed to the publisher in 1895.)

Wow thanks!