What Are We Going To Do About The State?
March 14, 2019 8:43 AM   Subscribe

“A directly democratic organizing model not only transforms the way that the workplace functions from a top-down autocracy to a collectivized movement of all workers, but also shows a clear example of how direct democracy can function. This example presents a model that can expand outward from the workplace into the rest of society. As a result, basic confrontation with the bosses, as a form of social struggle, can lead into the functioning of a new social order.” Ready to Fight: Developing a 21st Century Community Syndicalism “Unless we actually run candidates in city council elections, we are not dealing with power. And to live in fear that power might “corrupt” not only ignores the many cases where it did not corrupt; it ignores the need to gain power. Theater, street events, and other photogenic escapades merely play at politics rather than engage in it.” Thoughts on Libertarian Municipalism By Murray Bookchin “...it is important to recognize that no adequate theory of the capitalist state can focus on the national level alone. “The” state must be analyzed in terms of rivalry among *many* states. Precisely because it is organized “as nationality,” the capitalist nation-state expresses an antagonistic logic toward other states.” Should Socialists Want To Keep The State?
posted by The Whelk (19 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
One of the most heartening things about the DSA is its enthusiastic attention to school boards, city councils, city attorneys general, etc. Here in DC, the first candidate they endorsed and supported was our wonderful Ward 1 school board member Emily Gasoi.

She was one of two left candidates elected in Nov., and we've gone from over a decade of relentless neoliberal education reform and unaccountable charter schools to steady, sustained, meaningful pushback. Just a few seats on a city body can make a big difference in the lives of average constituents.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:09 AM on March 14 [7 favorites]


Here, a watered-down “left” thinking unwittingly joins hands with the mainstream media in identifying state services with socialism. Just last week, for instance, a columnist in the Houston Chronicle intoned that “[t]he United States has several socialist programs, including Social Security and Medicare

I see an awful lot of this and it makes me miserable. This line of thinking leads to a justification of state capitalism, and in my view, fascism as well.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 9:39 AM on March 14 [5 favorites]


What is the state, though? When you have a group of people, self-selected or elected, who are responsible for doing things for the common good, does that not become a "state"? Human beings naturally create social structures and hierarchies, in part based on ability to get things done or ability to get others to get things done. I don't forsee this changing any time soon.
posted by SansPoint at 9:56 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


Human beings naturally create social structures and hierarchies, in part based on ability to get things done or ability to get others to get things done. I don't forsee this changing any time soon.

Organization is the force multiplier.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:11 AM on March 14 [6 favorites]


[Marx] had identified the modern state as a suffocating, bureaucratic structure that undermines “the activity of society’s members themselves” and suppresses “the common interests of the people.”
Socialists and libertarians unite!
posted by No Robots at 10:35 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


okay but only if the libertarians give up their capitalist-worshipping nonsense and convert to anarchosyndicalism
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:54 AM on March 14 [8 favorites]


When you have a group of people, self-selected or elected, who are responsible for doing things for the common good, does that not become a "state"?

No. Or at least not necessarily. The modern constitutional nation-state is fairly new. Most historians wouldn't put it older than the 1500s.

And then you've got the work of intellectual anarchists since the 1800s whose entire project is based on figuring out ways to organise a society without involving the state or a state-like apparatus.

I haven't read the entirety of the linked articles yet, but on a quick skim they all appear to engage with the "if not the state then what?" question.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:02 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


The modern constitutional nation-state is fairly new. Most historians wouldn't put it older than the 1500s.

I will not post the text of the Treaty of Westphalia in this thread.
I will not post the text of the Treaty of Westphalia in this thread.
I will not post the text of the Treaty of Westphalia in this thread.
I will not post the text of the Treaty of Westphalia in this thread.
I will not post the text of the Treaty of Westphalia in this thread.
I will not post the text of the Treaty of Westphalia in this thread.
posted by gauche at 12:37 PM on March 14 [9 favorites]


I used to think that socialists could construct a stateless society, but then I realized that without state we wouldn't be able to check if arbitrarily deep sets of parentheses were balanced.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:43 PM on March 14 [11 favorites]


(I have been informed that it is possible to verify nonregular languages statelessly using recursion and continuation-passing, and I can't wrap my head around continuations well enough to tell whether or not this is just another way to implicitly keep track of state using the call stack, but I trust the person who brought this to my attention. so uhh comrades we might be able to smash the state after all.)
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:05 PM on March 14 [4 favorites]


@ Recursive Novelist Thomas Pynchon -

I'm pretty sure you can't do that without at least registering the idea of state.
posted by allium cepa at 3:10 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


I know, right? I guess the takeaway here is that it's sometimes hard to tell whether or not something is implicitly state.

(okay so the trick from here is that we've got to carry on this conversation in such a way as all statements could apply to either or both of the two jargon-heavy technical subjects we could be discussing)
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:46 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


It's all about agreeing on a suitable scheme. Occasionally difficult if both parties suffer from mutually incomprehensible speech impediments.
posted by allium cepa at 4:52 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


[I appreciate a dalliance into discrete mathematics and computational theory as much as the next guy but probably let's let that be.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:38 PM on March 14 [7 favorites]


What Are We Going To Do About The State?

Oh, I'm sure it will just wither away at some point.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:15 PM on March 14


(what are we going to do about the rich)
posted by The Whelk at 11:16 PM on March 14


We could bite them?
posted by gauche at 7:26 AM on March 15


> I will not post the text of the Treaty of Westphalia in this thread.

What about the skit?
posted by CheapB at 1:17 PM on March 15


Firing Your Boss Is Only The Start, run around the state
posted by The Whelk at 3:03 PM on March 15


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