Acknowledgements and preface to the second edition


We would like to thank the many people who have helped in the preparation of this book. Most of all we are indebted to the sixteen people whose description of their predicament forms the basis for the first chapter and many of whom gave us additional help with the postscript. They gave their time to talk to us, to read the transcripts and help work out a reasonable representation of their feelings. A further, more extended group took time to read the drafts and help us to make the book better and clearer.

We acknowledge our debt to everyone who helped and encouraged us.

Preface to the second edition

When we wrote the pamphlet In and Against the State we called it 'Discussion Notes for Socialists'. We hoped that it would be part of, and bring a new dimension to, the process of building ideas about how to work towards socialism.

There has been discussion, debate, criticism and support. We have been encouraged by the fact that people have found our ideas important enough to spend time talking about them, arguing with them and working to clarify them. It seems that In and Against the State has succeeded in speaking to people's experience. The response to it has confirmed that this is part of the socialist struggle where new ideas and forms of action are needed.

We have decided to republish In and Against the State for a number of reasons. It has given us the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the ideas we are putting forward, and to bring them up to date: to develop them in the light of the deepening crisis and the rapid changes now taking place in the way the state affects and controls people's lives. And it has allowed us to respond to the discussion and criticism of the pamphlet which has taken place.

We do not go from pamphlet to book without reservations. We have discussed at length the political issues involved in changing the form of presentation and distribution. The size and layout of the pamphlet, its price, and most of all the photographs, which we feel often say as much as the words, will be lost. And we are aware that by going through a professional publisher we give up our collective production and financing of In and Against the State, and remove the work of distribution from PDC (Publications Distribution Co-op), whose setting up of a socialist collective in this field we feel is important.

In the end, we have chosen to publish through Pluto: we feel that this will mean that In and Against the State will reach a different and wider group of people and, more important, it will ensure its continued availability and distribution over a longer period of time.

We have made only minor alterations to the original text, trying to clarify it in areas where there has been misunderstanding, and to simplify our ideas where they have been confusing or confused. It is in the Postscript that we have attempted to develop the discussion.

We recognise that In and Against the State speaks directly of and to only one group of state workers. Its main message is about the frustrations, contradictions and opportunities experienced by the more 'professional' state workers-teachers, social workers, advice workers, nurses, DHSS workers. We said in the preface to the first edition what kind of work we do and have done, and the pamphlet of necessity came largely out of our individual and collective experience.

We understand, perhaps even better for having written this work, that the everyday experience of and problems facing manual and low paid, clerical and industrial state workers will in many ways be different from ours. But we believe that the basic point we are making is relevant to those workers, as it is to all workers, whether in the state sector or private industry. It is essential to find ways of working for change from within our jobs and our private lives; ways of developing effective, organised oppositional action which comes directly out of the everyday oppression we experience.

London Edinburgh Weekend Return Group Summer 1980