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+5 votes
I have a general grasp of it but I was hoping that somebody could maybe explain it a little better. Thanks.

edited to remove "anarchy" from tags.
by (230 points)
edited by
I think this is a good question, as it gets to one of the abstractions anarchists often talk about. A-c99, can you give a little more elaboration on your understanding of the state in a comment? That might help as a springboard for further discussion/contention/etc.
i agree with ingrate. this is another of those great basic questions that it wouldn't occur to me to ask.
i like the question too.

my initial thoughts of the state revolve around laws - the collection of people and the structures who make laws, enforce them, oversee them, and regulate them (congress people, mayors, judges, police, prison guards, military people, etc)...

and related to dot's answer, it also exists through any of us when we relate to others in terms of those laws.

2 Answers

–3 votes
The state is a group of people that have banded together to enrich themselves from the work of others.
Their sole mission is to insure that their wages and retirements are paid.

They are the strongest organized criminals in a geographic area.

They use sophisticated mind control techniques called Public Relations to justify their criminality to the sheep that they shear.

If I told you to send me 50% of your money or my thugs will come and dispossess you, you would rightly call me a criminal and seek help in defending yourself from my attacks, but label me government and my minions the I(t)R(eally)S(teals) and you will put on a uniform and kill me to defend their right to shear you.
That is effective PR.

A state is just the most successful organized crime family in the area.
by (320 points)
0 votes
i think i would say that there are two components to "state"ness.
one is (as fba delineates) a body of people who, simply put, have a monopoly on violence (with the accoutrements that go along with that -- history creation, social structuring, etc). this deserves to be fleshed out more than i'm going to do right now...

the other is a more philosophical/psychological construct, one that permeates all/most of us, that has us looking to other people to frame questions for us, to structure reality (i had a more elegant way to say this when i started typing, but eloquence is fleeting... sigh).
but it's worth saying that the state is not just something divorced from you and me, it is not just an external force.

edit: this internal state-process is one idea that tries to explain (or at least address) the question of why people put up with things that seem so obviously terrible... ie, if we (anarchists) are not crazy, and things really are as bad as they seem to some of us, then how did people let things get this bad, and why don't more people rebel? perhaps it is something inside us that wants to be told what to do, that would rather not take responsibility for ourselves, etc.
by (53.1k points)
edited by
yes, 'the State' may also be considered a state of consciousness. by this, i mean the spectrum of permissible experiences, thought, life-ways, etc. in exchanged for a static set allowable according to those in power. for instance, i tend to think this is why many so-called 'drugs' are illegal, particularly those which establish and/or maintain a kinship with our world, human and non-human, like say psilocybin, which have long historical usage among peoples who had far stronger kinship with the other inhabitants of their places. to be sure, 'the state' is a jealous god vying to become The View. we must be converted through and through.

edit for further thoughts