“The State is a mystical, nonhuman entity that exists only in the agreed minds of humans. By this I mean to say, you cannot touch the State, you cannot hear the State speak, the State is not an object that you can point to and say, “Look. There’s the State.” People believe in the State therefore people act on behalf of those beliefs and the actions of those people become the actions of the State.”
lol wut is state?
See we have a word for this format of existence already, it’s called a social construct. All social organisations are socially constructed entities: they have no meaning or purpose outside of those which society chooses to apply to them. But the bullshit of this comment is that it’s also completely wrong about what the state is and how it functions.
We can define state institutions and organisations very easily. I can point at parliament, at police stations, public schools, NHS hospitals and say “look, there’s the state!”
I can be arrested, healed, taught by the state. I can shake the hand of an MP and I am touching a person who functions as a part of the state, in doing so I am touching the state. I can climb on the lions at the base of Nelson’s Column (well indeed I have), a symbol erected to glorify and commemorate the “glorious” history of British imperialism, and I am climbing on an aspect of and a representative of the state which propagates an anglo-centric historical hegemony. Which is created by and thus a part of (you guessed it) the state.
When a doctor tells me that the state will pay for this or that treatment, I am listening to a part of the state speak (or when the doctor says I’ll have to pay for it myself that’s a big fuck you from the state, but still speaking to the state). When a police officer says he’s going to arrest me, or a judge says he’s sentencing me to 5 years: what is their voice on behalf of?
It doesn’t exist only in the agreed minds of people, it exists for the people who don’t agree with it as well because they’re still expected to abide by the rules. It isn’t mystical, it’s tangible. When a baton hits you over the head on a protest, when you learn how to do multiplication at school: these things aren’t mysteries unto the world they’re a very real and physical action of existence.
Can we please try to kick it up a gear when we talk about what the state is? If you never get around to deconstructing “the state”, if you think that contemporary bourgeois states represent the only way in which “the state” can exist and don’t understand states as a much less contiguous concept you may as well lie on your back and piss in your own mouth.
Smash the bourgeois state, but without becoming a hermit you can never get rid of “the state” because any subsequent formation of social interaction that is able to provide services for people in itself becomes a state of it’s own.
So, the issue with this last bit is primarily semantic (which isn’t to say it’s not a real issue). People who talk about building a stateless society/smashing the state usually have a conception of the state as necessarily hierarchical. When they say they want to get rid of the state, they’re merely saying that their political ideal is a non-hierarchical society. The definition you provide – “any subsequent formation of social interaction that is able to provide services for people in itself becomes a state of it’s own” – strikes me as over-broad.
Under it, things like soup kitchens and grocery co-ops are states.
Well, if the sovereign body provides them, then yes.
Perhaps it could be argued that a view of the state as necessarily hierarchical represents a failure to deconstruct the bourgeois capitalist vision of the state,
It should be.
but “you may as well lie on your back and piss in your own mouth” isn’t that argument.
Because I’m not here to teach people the fundamental distinction between bourgeois and proletarian if they already buy into class struggle rhetoric. If they recreate class struggle rhetoric they should show a basic comprehension of what it is that they’re repeating, as opposed to just repeating it because it sounds cool.