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20151128 Our Enemy the State

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MAIN IDEA:

The State is a tool for violent suppression of one group of people by another with massive transfer of resources from producers to the State’s clients. The State grows within Society pretty much like cancer grows within organism with the similar result achieved over time. There is no way to stop it, but it still worth to try to understand process and write about it for individuals with interest in understanding   of society history and future.

DETAILS:

Part One

  1. Author introduces notions of difference, conflict, and distribution of power between the State and Society. The State in this case is government with its hierarchy of bureaucrats and violent machinery of army and police continuously obtains more and more power pushing out Society from different areas by using mechanism of emergencies and protection from various threads.
  2. This chapter is about USA specific indexes of increase in the State power: Concentration of power at the federal level; Dramatic increase in numbers of bureaucrats at all levels; Conversion of poverty and government provided assistance into permanent political asset for the State
  3. This is a brief review of the State growth with emphasis on history, which clearly demonstrates that it is not a new process brought in by the New Deal, but rather continuing development from the very beginning of the republic. Author also stresses the generic nature of this process common for all humanity and easily recognizable in all its variations existing at the time whether it is Italian Fascism, Russian Bolshevism, or German Hitlerism.
  4. This is a look at the specifics of the process of the State taking power from Society as it occurred in Western democracies: USA and Great Britain. The key difference is that in democracies no spectacular revolution similar to Hitler’s or Lenin’s occurred and the State grab on power is conducted in stealthy way, successfully trying to avoid cultural resistance. It also stresses indoctrination of youth as one of the post important tools of the State expansion.
  5. This is an interesting discussion on nature of societal change with stress on cultural socialization that instills specific attitudes to the State, Society, and power in people’s mind so some conditions of live perceived as normal and dramatic change in such conditions leads to revolutions and change. The examples are: conversion of colonial America into republic via revolution against Britain, monarchical Russia into collectivistic via revolution against Russian upper classes, Germany and Italy from constitutional states into totalitarian.

 Part Two

  1. This chapter represents a more detailed discussion about two different method of organization that author calls Society and State with reference to Thomas Paine and Jefferson’s contemplation on organization of Indian tribes that represented Society without the State.
  2. Here author goes even further back into history discussing Aristotle who, author believes, confused state and government. Author then expresses the opinion that the State is based on banditry, war, and confiscation. The important point here is that the State is predicated on existence of wealth to steal or rob. If there is no such wealth as in prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies, there is no place for the State.
  3. This part is about Herbert Spencer and his analysis of the State with specific examples of British state encroaching on British Society. From these examples the State comes out not as some acting entity, but rather as a tool in form of bureaucratic hierarchy that violently redistributes resources to benefit controllers of this hierarchy. Theoretically aristocratic state uses force in interest of aristocracy, merchant state in interests of merchants, and proletarian state in interests of proletarians.
  4. Here author looks at the reality of the State when it is quite obvious that it is bureaucratic hierarchy and regardless of formal arrangements it always uses its power in interests of bureaucrats. The danger of this is that in its growth and aggrandizement the State is devour Society that could mean its destruction similar to destruction of Rome and contemporary Europe is moving closer and closer to the point of no return.

 Part Three

  1. This part is about the State’s development in America. The interesting point here is that American colonial institutions were to large extent of Dutch origin rather than British. These institutions were geared up to serve merchants rather than aristocracy. Author discusses in details what he calls Merchant-State that opened road for individualism in all areas of live including religious live and eventually leading to ideas of popular sovereignty.
  2. Here author reviews history of American institution and influence of the fact that British state and its American subjects were separated by ocean and it was really impossible for this State to have close control in such circumstances. It was also complicated by civil war in England and by the fact that semi-private entities such as Massachusetts Bay Company were real power in colonies at the beginning.
  3. Here author discusses the idea that natural rights and popular sovereignty not necessarily were philosophy of American Merchant-State at the beginning. Rather it was quite undemocratic based on practices of Bay Company and provided support for state religion. However author also reviews role of the people of Rhode Island and their subversive promotion of democratic ideas, that eventually took root everywhere in America.

 Part Four

  1. This is continuing discussion about history of the State in America where violent nature of the State as tool of robbery was somewhat limited because of huge amount of available land and small numbers of population made land speculation relatively poor method of exploitation.
  2. Here author looks at causes of American Revolution and comes to a tentative conclusion that main cause was English attempt to limit westward expansion and acquisition of the new land for increasing population. Overall however it was clash between existing British State violently protecting interests of British upper classes and fledgling American States violently protecting interests of Colonial upper classes.
  3. This is an interesting look at contradiction of ideas expressed in Declaration of Independence versus actual practices of colonial leadership, and Constitution of 1789, both of which practically ignored these ideas.

Part Five

  1. Here author looks at the idea of the State and its application by mass-men who kind of support this idea and happy to see use of State power to support their interest. However in reality the State slowly takes over society killing it as parasite kills a living organism.
  2. This is look at the mechanics of power play of 13 initial states of America with specific stress on absence of any attempts to support ideal of the Declaration of Independence.
  3. This is the review of multiple interests and ideas that drove 13 states together leading to creation of union that become much more powerful state than was possible in previous arrangement.
  4. This is a look at the American party system that even in its infancy demonstrated an interesting variance of attitude to strict constitution depending on position of the Party. Party in power neglects constitution and Party out of power demands strict adherence.

 Part Six

  1. This is a discussion of seemingly parallel development of people’s attitude to the state to historical development of attitude to the Church: initially unrestricted support with slowly growing enervation. This enervation develops as result of continuing intervention of the state into multiple economic activities sometime leading to improvement, but much more often to deterioration of quality of live.
  2. Here author discusses ethical approach to the state that he characterizes as ignorance and delusion combined with moral debility and myopic self-interest. This follows from general lack of understanding of the nature of the State as anti-social institution. Author believes that the State growth is a natural condition of humanity and it will continue until the State completely destroy Society similarly to what happened many times before with ancient civilizations.
  3. In the final chapter author expresses believe that Western society went too far in the process of destruction by the growing State. But he still believes that it worth to write such essays for some individuals who enjoy understanding of the world, even if there is no practical way to correct its problems.

My Take on it:

I think it is a very nice and neat essay about the State nature and characteristics. It is very much close to my understanding of this thing, but the big difference is that authors believes that process of state growth and killing society is non-stoppable, while I think that it is just an intermediate part of process and society has great chance of recovering mainly due to development of new information processing technology resulting in complete change in relations between humans and environment on one hand and different groups of humans on another. Obviously it remains to be seen, which one of these two believes will eventually pan out.


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