Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Anarchist view of the state.

The Leninist view of the state (allegedly Marxist  -which is debatable)

Simply put- the capitalist state is bad .We must crush it , destroy it, in revolution then take control of it making  it into a peoples or workers state,  while we transition into Communism and then it will wither away.

The Anarchist view of the state

"State, any State -- even when it dresses-up in the most liberal and democratic form -- is essentially based on domination, and upon violence, that is upon despotism -- a concealed but no less dangerous despotism. "-Bakunin

The Leninist view of the state is naïve and dangerous .

There can be no democratic 'good government'.  The state is an institution which claims  to be the only holder- the monopolist -  of the legitimate  right to use of violence in society and the ultimate  arbiter of all decision making  in a territorial area. The state constitutes formal institutional  hegemony.

  The state by definition is minority rule, is by definition oppression. The state can never be just or egalitarian or democratic. There can never be a 'peoples or workers state'.

 The state is vital to the long term existence of capitalism. Without the state, capitalism could not expand nor defend itself  nor could capitalisms inherent tendencies be curbed.

The state helped capitalism come to exist by using its monopoly on violence during the enclosures thus opening the way  to wage labour and the wage system , by way of imperialism  etc.
 This point  illustrates that the state existed before capitalism and before class society therefore the state and capitalism are not synonymous but exist in an uneasy harmony.

The state helps capitalism co-opt threats to its existence channelling resistance into reformism, into support for voting for political parties by representative democracy etc.

Representative democracy seems to be capitalisms favoured kind of society since it perfectly gives power relations  false legitimacy. Representative democracy is an extremely mystifying counter revolutionary kind of society since representative democracy makes  reformism - the idea that the existing system can be altered by laws political parties and voting within itself and its own logic to be empowering- it's officially sanctioned means of social change and so revolution is considered evil.

Representative democracy   deflects the oppressiveness of the system itself onto individual politicians, policies, or political parties. Representative democracy expresses a liberal set of philosophies - atomized  individualized, 'neutral ' , ahistorical,  etc -  completely opposed to revolutionary thinking which is historical , contextual , intersectional,  collective,  and considers  the interrelations and interdependence  of all of  society.

The problem is not WHO controls the state (either from the outside or who is in power)
but that the state exists at all. While capitalists do very strongly influence the state and the state can't help but be forced by necessity to follow the demands of the market  the state does have some independence (contrary to the Leninist view).

The State, being the depository of society's greatest physical and material force, has too much power in its hands to resign itself to being no more than the capitalists' guard dog." -Luigi Fabbri.

For the state  its interest is in maintaining its own existence and its own power and extending that power further. if those interests conflict with capitalism then it will subdue capitalists to those wishes.

 The state  needs to be independent to protect capitalism  effectively. The state  needs to be able  to act in the interests of not one specific group of capitalists but to act in the long term  interests of capitalism  itself i.e. it seeks to preserve the existing system even if this means  sacrificing some capitalists or short term interests.

  If you become in control of the state those interests become synonymous with your goals  .To seek to run the state for whatever purpose  under whatever  name  maintains the existing order -as the Bolsheviks proved- thus Leninism is a reformist strategy despite it's revolutionary rhetoric. It is reformist not just in practice but also I would argue in theory. When Leninists have carried out their strategy they have just turned the state into a collective capitalist or corporation  i.e. what we refer to as  State capitalism.

Anarchist believe strongly that means  and ends cannot be separated,  that   we must prefigure- that is embody- the principles of the society we wish to create , in the process of creating that society (  as much as is possible in existing oppressive society  -recognising this is limited )

 Following from this we do not believe you can create  liberated society by oppression .We do not believe you can create a stateless classless society with a state ( we reject the idea of a transition  to communism by using the state)  nor can you empower ordinary people or have  workers control if you have top down hierarchy whether that is by bosses in capitalism or politicians in state capitalist nationalization. anything else is contradictory dangerous naïve nonsense.

The state is by definition a hierarchy and a separation. While states exist, society is divided into rulers and ruled.Leninists( and others) claim a state could exist while this division does not . Anarchists consider this idea nonsense . Anarchist seek to abolish this distinction completely, since it is contrary to freedom, equality, and solidarity.  In it's place we think those who make the decisions should be the ones to carry them out, therefore we favour direct  democracy. However we do not favour just any old direct  democracy. In existing society,  direct  democracy  would be negated by the existence of the state- it's hierarchy and the division of ruled and rulers which would make it neither direct nor democratic  - and capitalisms overriding influence on decision making  processes which would limit how direct or democratic it was also.

The oppressiveness of the state especially its hierarchal undemocratic inegalitarian nature  cannot be voted away.  Voting does not even touch on what the state is or how capitalism operates. You need to properly understand oppression and how it operates  to effectively destroy it.

The state is by definition and in actuality above the people and has its own interests. The state is not and never could be neutral. The state's interest is in maintaining capitalism and other kinds of oppression as well as itself. It will use propaganda  (Ideology or 'the ideological state apparatus' as althusser calls it ) to do this because this most effectively allows it the illusion of legitimacy   and when this fails  it will resort to physical violence( 'Repressive state apparatus' as althusser calls it)
It will use any and all means  it can to protect itself .Those in power- the ruling class- never voluntarily give up power. The state will never just wither away. It must be destroyed by violence in revolution.

(Writers notes:- inspired by reading a Marxist book chapter on the state, and various discussions I've had, trying to clearly explain how we see the state.Inspired by  Anarchist FAQ as well)

Further Reading :-

I would recommend the either Anarchist  FAQ  in book for though it's 550 pages (so much for us having no theory )  or it's much easier  to read online versions especially these sections

B.2  Why are anarchists  against the state?-
  Section  D  How does statism and capitalism affect society- 
 H.3.7 What is wrong with the Marxist theory of the  state?-
H.3.8  What is  wrong with the Leninist  theory of  the  state?

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