An Anarchist View of the Class Theory of the State

  • Posted on: 27 July 2018
  • By: thecollective

From Anarkismo by Wayne Price

A Libertarian Socialist Defense of the Class Theory of the State

In order to understand government politics, it is necessary to have a theory of the state. The essay reviews classical anarchist and Marxist views of the class-based, pro-capitalist, nature of the state. But there are also non-class and non-capitalist influences on the state. These need to be integrated into a class theory of the state.

For anarchists and other radicals to really understand the Trump administration, and what is generally happening in U.S. politics, requires an analysis of the U.S. government. This, in turn, requires a theoretical understanding of the state, the basic framework of government. Yet, as Kristian Williams writes, in Whither Anarchism?For a group so fixated on countering…the state, it is surprising how rarely today’s anarchists have bothered to put forward a theory about [it]….The inability or unwillingness to develop a theory of the state (or more modestly, an analysis of states)…has repeatedly steered the anarchist movement into blind alleys.” (Williams 2018; 26-7)

Of the theories which place the state within the context of the capitalist economy and all other oppressions (patriarchy, racism, ecological destruction, etc.), anarchism and Marxism stand out. Yet few Marxists know anything of the anarchist view of the state, and few anarchists know anything of Marxist state theory. (For that matter, as Williams implies, few anarchists know much of any state theory.) For example, most Marxists believe that anarchism denies that class factors are important for the state—and that it contradicts anarchism to believe that they are. They see anarchism as focused solely on the state, ignoring factors of class and political economy. Meanwhile, many anarchists believe that Marxists see the state as simply a reflex of the wishes of the capitalist ruling class, with no independent interests of its own and no reaction to other class and non-class forces.

I am going to review the classical anarchist and Marxist theories about the nature of the state and its relationship to classes and political economy. By “classical anarchism,” I mean essentially the views of J-P Proudhon, Michael Bakunin, and Peter Kropotkin (and not the views of individualists, Stirnerites, or “post-left”/“post-anarchists”). By “classical Marxism,” I mean the views of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (and not the views of social democratic reformists or Stalinists).

When writing of “the state,” I do not include any and every means of social coordination, collective decision-making, settling of differences, or protection from anti-social agression. Humans lived for tens of thousands of years in hunter-gatherer societies (also called “primitive communism”) and early agricultural villages. They provided themselves with social coordination, etc., through communal self-management. What they did not have were states. The state is a bureaucratic-military institution, dominating a territory through specialized armed forces (police and military) and bureaucratic layers of people who make decisions, ruling over—and separate from—the rest of the population.

The State…not only includes the existence of a power situated above society, but also of a territorial concentration as well as the concentration in the hands of a few of many functions in the life of societies….A whole mechanism of legislation and of policing has to be developed….”
(Kropotkin 2014; 254) The state is a “public force [which] consists not merely of armed men but also of material appendages, prisons, and coercive institutions of all kinds…organs of society standing above society…representatives of a power which estranges them from society….” (Engels 1972; 230-1) This is the view of both Kropotkin and Engels. When speaking of the end of the state under socialism/communism, they did not mean the end of all collective decision-making, etc., but the end of this bureaucratic-military, socially-alienated, elite institution.

The Views of the Classical Anarchists

The first person to call himself an “anarchist,” Proudhon, wrote, “In a society based on inequality of conditions, government, whatever it is, feudal, theocratic, bourgeois, imperial, is reduced, in last analysis, to a system of insurance for the class which exploits and owns against that which is exploited and owns nothing.” The state “finds itself inevitably enchained to capital and directed against the proletariat.” (Proudhon 2011; 18)

Bakunin, who as much as anyone initiated anarchism as a movement, wrote, “The State has always been the patrimony of some privileged class: the sacerdotal class, the nobility, the bourgeoisie—and finally…the class of bureaucracy….” And “Modern capitalist production and banking speculations demand for their full development a vast centralized State apparatus which alone is capable of subjecting the millions of toilers to their exploitation.” (quoted in Morris 1993; 99)

Kropotkin elaborated anarchist theory: “All legislation made within the State…always has been made with regard to the interests of the privileged classes….The State is an institution which was developed for the very purpose of establishing monopolies in favor of the slave and serf owners, the landed proprietors,…the merchant guilds and the moneylenders, the kings, the military commanders, the ‘noblemen,’ and finally, in the nineteenth century, the industrial capitalists, whom the State supplied with ‘hands’ driven from the land. Consequently, the State would be…a useless institution, once these [class] monopolies ceased to exist.” (2014; 186-8)

In brief, the classical anarchists saw a direct connection between the state and exploitative class society, serving the various upper classes as they lived off the lower, working, classes. This is the “class theory” of the state, also called the “materialist” or “historical materialist” state theory.

The class theory of the state is frequently criticized as a “reductionist,” “instrumentalist,” theory, which crudely reduces all government activity to the desires of the capitalist class. It is criticized for allegedly ignoring conflicts within that class, the pressures of other classes (such as lobbying by unions), and non-class forces. Non-class forces include all subsystems of oppression: sexism, racism, sexual orientation, national oppression, etc.—each, in its own way, maintained by the state. There are other pressures on the state, such as by the churches. As an institution, with its personnel, the state has its own interests. Supposedly, the materialist or class state theory ignores all this. In my opinion, it is this criticism which is itself oversimplified, as I will try to show.

The Views of the Classical Marxists

As with the anarchists, the Marxist form of the class theory of the state has been accused of being class reductionist, oversimplified, and mechanical.
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels wrote, “The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” (in Draper 1998; 111) Draper calls this sentence, “the most succinctly aphoristic statement by Marx of his theory of the state.” (same; 207)

This is often taken to mean that the state is merely a passive reflex of the capitalist class, with all the influence going from the bourgeoisie to the state. In fact, the sentence says that the state—or rather its executive branch—actively manages the interests of the bourgeoisie, as opposed to merely reflecting them. In any case, it is a brief and condensed (“succinctly aphoristic”) statement, by no means a whole exposition of a theory.

Over the years, Marx and Engels developed their analysis of the state (an excellent overview is in Draper 1977). Marx’s major work on the state appears in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. It was written in 1852 and covered French politics leading up to the elected president, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of the Emperor Napoleon), seizing power and establishing his dictatorship (Marx 2002). Here and in other works he goes into the details of French politics. It become clear that Marx regards the state as full of conflicts among classes, fractions of classes, and agents of fractions of classes.

He uncovered the political-economic conflicts among the financial aristocracy (who supported one claimant to the monarchy), the large landowners (who supported another), the manufacturing bourgeoisie, the “republican” bourgeoisie (an ideological current within the bourgeoisie), the “democratic-republican” petty-bourgeoisie, and, below them all, the proletariat (mostly passive due to a recent major defeat), and the peasantry (who gave their support to the conman Louis-Napoleon, partially due to his name). There were splits within each of these forces. Marx also included the government officials and the army officers (all seeking money). He was clear that there were personal hostilities, ideological commitments, prejudices, and ambitions through which these conflicts worked themselves out.

Applying this approach to the current U.S. government would analyze the differing fractions of the capitalist class and its ideological and political agents and hangers-on, in their conflicting relations with each other and with sections of the middle and working classes.

The other main theme of Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire is the increasing independence of the state from all classes, including all sections of the bourgeoisie. Balancing between conflicting class forces, the executive branch of the state tends to rise above them all. Marx called this “Bonapartism,” and it has been discussed as the “relative autonomy” of the state. With the dictator’s abolition of the legislature and its political parties, as well as censorship over political discussion, the bourgeoisie lost direct control over the government. The capitalists were made to focus on running their businesses and making money, while Louis Bonaparte ran the state (declaring himself the new “Emperor”). This he did through the state bureaucracy, the army, and a quasi-fascist-like mass movement, as well as with popular support from the peasants.

In Defense of the Class Theory of the State

So, there are many fractions of the capitalist class, other classes, and non-class forces all competing for state influence. And the state itself has its own interests and a degree of autonomy from even the bourgeoisie. Does this mean that the class theory of the state is wrong?

I do not think so. In itself, that there may be multiple determinants of something does not decide the relative weights or importance of each determinant. There are many influences on the state, all of which may have some effect. Still, the overall need of a capitalist society is to maintain the capitalist economy, the growth and accumulation of capital, the continued rule of the capitalist class. Without the surplus wealth pumped out of the working population, the state and the rest of the system cannot last. This is the primary need of the society and the primary task of the state. Even if the bourgeoisie has little or no direct control of the government (as under Bonapartism or fascist totalitarianism), the state must keep the capitalist system going, the capitalists driving the proletariat to work, and profits being produced. The extreme example of this was under Stalinist state capitalism (in the USSR, Maoist China, etc.). The stock-owning bourgeoisie was abolished, yet the collective state bureaucracy continued to manage the accumulation of capital through state exploitation of the working class. (That is, until it fell back into traditional capitalism.)

This has been elaborated by Wetherly (2002; 2005). The class theory “involves a claim that the capitalist class is able to wield more potent power resources over against pressure from below and the capacity for independent action on the part of the state itself….The political sway of the capitalist class [is] not exclusive but predominant.” (Wetherly 2002; 197) “It does not claim that the economic structure exclusively explains the character of the state, but it assigns these other influences a minor role….Economic causation plays a primary role in explaining state action to sustain accumulation as a general feature of capitalist society. The state normally sustains accumulation and this is largely explained by the nature of the economic structure.” (same; 204-5)

Others have theorized the interactions and overlapping of oppressions with each other and with class exploitation as “social reproductive theory” (Bhattacharya 2017). The different oppressions are not simply separate while occasionally intersecting; rather, they co-produce each other, within the overall drive of the whole system to reproduce and accumulate capital. For example, the oppression of women is directly related to the need for the system to reproduce the labor power of all workers (a necessity for capitalist production), which is done through the family. Similarly, Africans were enslaved to create a source of cheap labor. African-Americans remain racially oppressed in order to maintain a pool of cheap (super-exploited) labor, as well as to split and weaken the working class as a whole through white racism. (These factors are not the whole of sexism or racism, but are their essential overlap with capitalist exploitation.)

The state is not something added onto the capitalist economy, but a necessity if the capital/labor process is to go (relatively) smoothly—just as (reciprocally) the efficient functioning of the capitalist production process is necessary for the state to exist.

Primitive Accumulation and the State

The classical bourgeois economists, such as Adam Smith and David Riccardo, had speculated that capitalism began by artisans and small merchants gradually building up their capital, until they had enough to hire employees. This was called “primitive (or primary) accumulation.” Marx rejected this fairy tale, showing how the state and other non-market forces played major roles in the early accumulation of wealth. There was state-supported dispossession of European peasants; slavery of Africans and Native Americans; looting of Ireland, India, and South America; piracy; and plunder of the natural environment. In Capital, Marx wrote of “the power of the state, the concentrated and organized force of society, to hasten, hothouse fashion, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode….Force is…itself an economic power.” (Marx 1906; 823-4)

Kropotkin criticized Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation—not because he disagreed that state coercion played a major role in the development of capitalism! He completely agreed with Marx on that point. Rather, Kropotkin insisted that state support for capitalism had never stopped; there was no distinct period of early accumulation, followed by a period of state non-intervention in the economy.

What, then, is the use of talking, with Marx, about the ‘primitive accumulation’—as if this ‘push’ given to capitalists were a thing of the past?….The State has always interfered in the economic life in favor of the capitalist exploiter. It has always granted him protection in robbery, given aid and support for further enrichment. And it could not be otherwise. To do so was one of the functions—the chief mission—of the State.” (Kropotkin 2014; 193)

Similarly, the Marxist feminist Silvia Federici writes, “The need of a gendered perspective on the history of capitalism…led me, among others, to rethink Marx’s account of primitive accumulation….Contrary to Marx’s anticipation, primitive accumulation has become a permanent process….” (2017; 93)

However, Marx had expected that once capitalism had reached its final development, its epoch of decline, it would once again rely heavily on non-market and state forces. In his Grundrisse, he wrote, “As soon as [capital] begins to sense itself as a barrier to development, it seeks refuge in forms which, by restricting free competition…are…the heralds of its dissolution ….” (quoted in Price 2013; 69)

In any case, no one could deny today that government intervention is an essential part of the economy—from massive armaments expenditures to central banks to regulation of the stock exchange, etc. The key point is that the state is not an institution truly distinct from the capitalist economy. On the contrary, it is a central instrument in the creation, development, accumulation, and eventual decay of capitalism. “Force is itself an economic power.”

Disagreement between Anarchists and Marxists on the State

Revolutionary anarchists and Marxists agree that the working class and the rest of the exploited and oppressed should overturn the power of the capitalist class. The workers and their allies should dismantle the capitalist state, capitalist businesses, and other forms of oppression, and organize a new society based on freedom, equality, and cooperation.

But they draw different conclusions from the class theory of the state. Marxists say that since the state is the instrument for a class to carry out its interests, then the workers and their allies need their own state. They need it in order to overthrow the capitalists and create a new socialist society of freedom and solidarity. The new state will either be created by taking over the old state (perhaps by elections) and modifying it, or by overthrowing the old state (through revolution) and building a new one. Over time, Marxists say, the task of holding down the capitalists and their agents will become less important, as the new society is solidified. Then the state will gradually decline. There may still be a centralized public power for social coordination, but it will become benevolent and no longer have coercive powers.

However, anarchists have a different conclusion. Since the state is a bureaucratic-military elite machine for class domination, it cannot be used for liberation. Such a supposed “workers’ state,” however it comes into existence, would only result in a new ruling class of bureaucrats, exploiting the workers as if the state was a capitalist corporation or set of corporations. This was predicted by Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin, way back in the beginning of the socialist movement. History has more than justified the prediction.

Instead, the anarchists propose that the workers and oppressed organize themselves through federations and networks of workplace assemblies, neighborhood councils, and voluntary associations. They should replace the police and military with a democratically-coordinated armed population (a militia), so long as this is still necessary. Such associations would provide all the coordination, decision-making, dispute-settling, economic planning, and self-defense necessary—without a state. It would not be a state, because it would not be a bureaucratic-military socially-alienated machine such as had served ruling minorities throughout history. Instead it would be the self-organization of the working people and formerly oppressed.

Conclusion

The class theory of the state claims that the bureaucratic-military social machine of the state exists primarily to develop and maintain capitalism, the capitalist upper class, and capital’s drive to accumulate. There are also other influences on the state. These include factional conflicts within the capitalist class, demands by the working and middle classes, pressures to maintain other oppressions (race, gender, etc.) and resistance by these oppressed, other non-class forces, ideologies, and also the self-interest of the state itself and its personnel. Yet these myriad forces work out within the context of the need for capitalism to maintain itself and to expand. Therefore the political sway of the capitalist class is not exclusive but it is predominant. The fight against the state, against capitalism, and against all oppressions is one fight. It is a struggle for a society of freedom, individual self-development, the end of the state and of classes, self-determination and self-management in every area of living.

References
Bhattacharya, Tithi (2017) (ed.). Social Reproductive Theory; Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression. London: Pluto Press.

Draper, Hal (1977). Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Vol. 1; State and Bureaucracy. NY: Monthly Review Press.

Draper, Hal (1998) (ed.). The Adventures of the Communist Manifesto. Berkeley CA: Center for Socialist History.

Engels, Friedrich (1972). The Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State (Ed.: E. Leacock). NY: International Publishers.

Federici, Silvia (2017). “Capital and Gender.” In Reading Capital Today; Marx After 150 Years. (Eds.: I. Schmidt & C. Fanelli). London: Pluto Press. Pp. 79—96.

Kropotkin, Peter (2014). Direct Struggle Against Capital; A Peter Kropotkin Anthology (Ed.: Iain McKay). Oakland CA: AK Press.

Marx, Karl (1906). Capital; A Critique of Political Economy; Vol. 1 (Ed.: F. Engels). NY: Modern Library.

Marx, Karl (2002). “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” (Trans.: T. Carver). In Cowling, M., & Martin, J. (eds.). Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire; (Post)modern Interpretations. London: Pluto Press. Pp. 19—109.

Morris, Brian (1993). Bakunin; The Philosophy of Freedom. Montreal/NY: Black Rose Books.

Price, Wayne (2013). The Value of Radical Theory; An Anarchist Introduction to Marx’s Critique of Political Economy. Oakland CA: AK Press.

Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph (2011). Property is Theft; A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology (Ed.: Iain McKay). Oakland CA: AK Press.

Wetherly, Paul (2002). “Making Sense of the ‘Relative Autonomy’ of the State.” In Cowling, M., & Martin, J. (eds.). Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire; (Post)modern Interpretations. London: Pluto Press. Pp. 195—208.

Wetherly, Paul (2005). Marxism and the State; An Analytical Approach. NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Williams, Kristian (2018). Whither Anarchism? Chico CA: To The Point/AK Press.

*written for www.Anarchism.net

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Comments

States determine classes classes do not determine states. Class is but a function and not an intent. To understand the state acutely is to understand it as a power apparatus that grows out of reified work/education based organization. It's part of a greater reified integrated totality of power where capitalism and class are a secondary tertiary consequence. There's also capital as such which is distinct from capitalism as a pre-class phenomena.

I know you don't want to face these things due to the fact that an honest anarchy would take out these reified civilized chains of organization and apparatic hierarchy but these are the facts. The actual co-tower to the state is capital not capitalism and capital and state are both belief based phenomena driven by reification.

post your view of how a functioning global population could work, I would love to read it. Let's see how your world would feed people, clothe people, shelter people, resolve conflicts etc... you know all the stuff that generally needs to be done in order to exist and live along side each other and maintain a healthy planet.

A functioning global population does not exist outside of reified humanism and it's not a problem that any honest man of anarchy would take on. Even classical anarchism is basically about getting down to federated association based territories which is the most that I'll give you if you insist on something I'm preferable towards.

Why not let federated morpho-bioregions, free open individuals and contextual cultures determine how food, clothing, shelter and conflict is dealt with.

'Why not let federated morpho-bioregions, free open individuals and contextual cultures determine how food, clothing, shelter and conflict is dealt with.' talk to me, explain it to me. I've been working in a factory for years, we're now in civil war, the uprising is on but the state is fighting to keep its power...explain how or is that it your 'contribution:' 'Hey, we're all free, do whatever fills ya boots!' Or maybe you would be dodging crossfire handing out photocopies of The Ego and its Own to both sides?

Ziggy can't distinguish between holding a theoretical position and actually doing anything. When pressed, he insists that anyone talking about doing anything would just be "reifying power" in some way, therefore we should all stay home and agree not to believe in tyranny.

Are you not paying attention. In regards to me and my capacity as service sector slave that's essentially irrelevant to the proscriptive point I'm making which is that one of the game changing things that can be done is to have gulch like federated territories made up of revolutionary and insurgent subjectivity. Key point here is multi-form subjectivity and not a monoform subject. I'm not trying to hear something that is comported towards proletarian identity and ideology. The point of these gulches is that they are made by human beings in the process of disassociating from state/capital and hierarchical power dynamics.

Also my stay at home point is usually acutely made to in regards to not wasting time in any kind of elective struggle which is a distraction from more to the point solutions involving small band affinity cultures or larger scaled federations. Think of the American Indigenous model of state disassociation. All the federators are doing is joining in in that kind of process.

There is close to 8 billion people on this planet and rising. Can bioregions support this amount of people AND without the global infrastructure AND with the climate getting hotter and drier?

Might be worth a shot at least. Can't really see how a reliance on the status quo, in any of its forms, is a serious option. Shit is broken, the old standards obsolete so might as well try something new?

What is this shit? someone ran from leftbook and decided to spill their venom here?
Pointing to a problem doesn't make you accountable for all the if's and who's and speculations on a speculative tomorrow.
Fuck off back to your little dingy hole of catch phrases and managerial wet dreams.
Why should ziggy have a program for your sorry ass should the shit hit the fan? Why don't you go ponder the implicit paternalism of your questioning?
And egoism does not mean might is right you dunces.

One thing which is shit about the concept of Revolution (and all its derivatives) is how it serves little use other than to derail all purposeful conversation.
How many angles dancing on the head of a pin is at least honest in its uselessness.
Go have a look at old nature (not the abstraction) and come back with a report on how it follows an orderly, rational fashion.
Once you have done so I'm all ready for as much libertarian socialism, left unity and proletarian whatever as you can throw at me.

(ps! sorry for the rant)

rapists, murderers, paedophiles? This the real world I am talking about, not some book? You spend your time in the clouds, while I live on planet earth. Did Stirner provide his response to such questions? Did he ask himself such questions?

Perhaps Stirner did not ask himself these questions. Not to worry though, we have busybodies like yourself to rely on in that matter. Hard nosed realists living in the real world concerned with real questions! Never mind that you've got your head stuck in a place where the sun don't shine. It is telling, perhaps it is some mental lapse, how scripted these type of responses are..Again, you are peddling paternalistic & prescriptive trash. Just because you situate your thinking within a supposed realism doesn't mean that it amounts to any thing more than spending time in the clouds. Your fretting and scheming on behalf of everyone else is as much a waste of time as anything. Pick your choice, yours happen to be one of smug moralism. There is no mass consensus, and if there is to be one then we all know how that will turn out. Order of the magnitude you are suggesting - I'm inferring here but feel rather confident in doing so - is a bloody imposition. Ziggy happened to answer more or less on point, but again, it is telling how little vagueness or ambiguity you are able to handle.

"what would egoists do with rapists, murderers, paedophiles?"

kill them, i hope.

How would enable their egoist? And how about people with 'poor' mental health, perhaps life long poor mental health? What about dysfunctional addicts, would they be shot or would you care for vulnerabilities?

13:01 I can't tell if this is serious, but if it is, you're recycling a strawman about primitivism. You should familiarize yourself with the ideas you're criticizing, even if it's only to better understand how to pick them apart.

in their (best) interests? This question then assumes of egoists that they don't make mistakes (about what's in their own interests). I make mistakes. I do stuff against my own best interest so I cannot be an egoist, right?

Such a basic naive question, no wonder this person hasn't replied to the obvious, the answer is that a moron who makes mistakes against their own interests cannot be an egoist.

that turned out to be a huge mistake!!! The arrogance of egoist morons like 05.34; who never make mistakes!

All egoists know that monogamy is for morons because it supports a morality condoning the ownership of another subjectivity.

monogamy == ownership? you are a pathetic ideologue. i have known many anarchists in monogamous relationships, it is nothing like ownership. your point is absolutely stupid.

721 was my comment. I completely understand that monogamy is a structured arrangement/contract founded on rules stipulating particular moral conduct and belief mostly organised by religious/ideological hierarchies obeying traditional customs. On the contrary free unlicenced expression of friendship and the sharing of intimate emotional life with more than one person is more anarchic.

The price of having my articles republished on anarchistnews (which I greatly appreciate for its increased circulation) is that it gets comments from Sir Einzige and other individualist-egotist-Stirnerites. Since these are usually sincere and honest, they deserve some response. However, I object to Ziggy's tying my views (in his heading) to those of Marx, when I made such an effort to show the connection between the class theory of the state and the earliest anarchists--not only to Marx. Zig's argument is not only with me but with Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin, and the mainstream of the historical anarchist movement. "These are the facts."

Zig, as usual, does not bother to actually discuss what I wrote but instead just presents a set of contrary assertions. I have to admit that I do not really understand this statement. "States determine classes classes do not determine states." But this is actually a reciprocal (dialectical if you will) process, as Kropotkin understood very well, as the state and capital cause each other. "Class is but a function and not an intent." Class is indeed a function of capitalist society, something which is actively done by the society, as opposed to anyone's conscious intention. This does not make it less real. It "grows out of reified work/education." Right. Class and the state and all functions of capital grow out of reified (alienated) labor. There is a "reified integrated totality of power where capitalism and class are a secondary tertiary consequence." The power organization is primary? But unless the workers produce the wealth of society, including a surplus which is accumulated by the capitalist class, there can be no state, no power organization, no nothing. "These are the facts."

As for me, Zig writes, "I know you don't want to face these things due to....[whatever]" My motives are often obscure to myself but apparently they are clear to Sir Einzige who know that I reject his confusing views not because I think they are wrong but because I "don't want to face these things." And what is Zig afraid to face?

C'mon, Wayne. Liberate your desires. You know you want to. You're not fooling anyone with this self-sacrificing "Dutiful Soldier of The Workers' Revoluton" schtick. If you welcome Saint Max into your heart as your personal Lord and Saviour, I promise he'll love you forever.

Wayne, I'm not saying that class isn't real, it's just a secondary tertiary development down the road compared to more primary forms of power. You do know that there are naked formative states that are not class based right? In other words the problem lies in power apparatuses and reified belief forms first.

What you're saying on workers is the same that Stirner says in regards to labour being free. The problem unfortunately is workers themselves in terms of corresponding with the construction of worker and work. Work must be dissolved and disassociated from but that lies beyond any type of class war dynamic. It's disassociation and reassociation with those who do not believe in a society of forced labour along with impersonal learning.

Z writes, "there are naked formative states that are not class based." These nascent states then create classes which in turn strengthen the state, and so on. This was the point of my section about Primitive Accumulation. Did Z read it?

" The problem unfortunately is workers themselves." And I thought it was the exploitation of the workers by the capitalists, backed up by the state. Z prefers to blame the victims.

" Work must be dissolved and disassociated from but that lies beyond any type of class war dynamic." How can we "disassociate" from work without a fight against those who try to keep us working, by force and by economic dependence? What is "work" in our society but the capital/labor relationship? That is what needs to be dissolved, which is only possible through class war.

"It's disassociation and reassociation with those who do not believe in a society of forced labour." Well, there are many things which I "do not believe in," but which are imposed on me anyway through the raw nature of reality. This includes the need for people to work in order to maintain their biological existence. As for getting rid of a socially-imposed, exploitative, labor, this requires stopping a minority (the capitalists and their state agents) from "forcing" their will on us. Instead, Z seems to imagine that if some people did not "believe" in forced labor and authoritarian education and just decided to disassociate from this system and reassociate themselves, this would change everything. But if this were even partially true, be assured that the rulers would use all their force and power to prevent such "reassociation." It would be necessary to oppose them, to fight a class war, and make a revolution.

Class is basically the identity politic that started it all. If you're acknowledging class a further state stengthening development(which I agree with) then it makes all the sense in the world to deemphasize class as part of abolishing it and work.

It would be nice of course if you did want to abolish work but I highly doubt that's your position considering the way that you sneak work into biology and survival which is of course idiotic. You don't actually have to maintain biological existence and subsistence, survival and mere labour is not akin to work.

For the problem bit I should have added partially in regards to workers themselves however beyond that there is a belief, an ethic, a will towards work that trumps that violent pathological minority that you like to place primary blame on. I very much think your schemes would lead to a continuation of another civilized work ethic.

Disassociation happens all the time everyday on marginal levels, in terms of something more coordinated of course there will be meta level conflicts but you find that those conflicts stem from belief based forces. You like others don't understand what Stirnerian types like myself mean by belief. It's not a matter of wishing something away as much as acknowledging that power and domination to a primary degree flow from reified belief and the need to enforce that belief.

My goal is to get rid of forced labour and compulsory production Wayne(I don't need that morally loaded term exploitation). The primary reason why this persists is because of believers and normalizers of work which includes would be leftist organizers of work who cannot imagine a world without it. It would not just be rulers who fought or did not encourage a world of productive play as well as neotenous knowledge.

A Green Stirnerite, if you will?

Blue I see as more a go between in regards to material excess and simplicity. As a default I like the unelective agnostic colour of grey. I do like archaic upper paleo complexity beyond just a primitive existence. I'd go with archaicist over primtivist. Think Mad Max without the spectre and structure of war and with permaculture and ecotechnology. Hell the video game Horizon Zero Dawn has some things that I like.

No, you blowhard. It was the White supremacism of Malthus, Gobineau and later on Spencer, who pushed these brutal conceptual categorizations upon human beings as ideological support for economic inequity/regressive policies and colonialism; in an industrial era where God stopped being the main justification in the equation of conquest and enslavement. The scientist modern era required a scientist explanation of hierarchies and domination, as least for the increasingly civil establishment of the Euro -and later American- empires. We could see the Protestant movement and the conflicts it generated as a embryonic form of identity politics, tho it had lost its moral influence in the 19th century, where science and industry started becoming the main vectors of power.

Once again, you're way off due to your anti-marxist obsession. There are aspects of socio-economic analysis that Marx's theory was spot-on about, such as the process of creation of value and profits upon labor... the problem with contempo marxists is to be seeing it as the bible that should explain everything in society, and make it into this aggressive ideology that presets for its own form of domination, and gives moral support for its own elite class among an imaginary "movement".

(Which is not an official ism btw) take away from the fact that class is an identity structure that many people take as given and real which ends up being a hindrance to the individuated disassociation necessary for an individual to live identify and think beyond this reified world.

Z asks about my attitude toward work. In the tradition of the great utopian socialists and anarchists, I look forward to a world where the difference between necessary work and voluntary play/crafts vanishes. Something like William Morris' News from Nowhere and other writings.

Z blames" workers themselves however [because] there is a belief, an ethic, a will towards work that trumps that violent pathological minority that you like to place primary blame on." If only those foolish workers did not have this pathological desire to work there would be no industrial-capitalist oppression! Of course, if the workers did not work (in a system where the minority owns the means of production and where the state enforces this division of property), they would starve or at least be driven to wretched poverty. But what is this reality to Z and his Stirnerites!? It is easier to blame the working people (just about everyone except the capitalists and their agents) and to deny that "exploitation" exists.

I probably agree with Anonymous-Class who says that "there are aspects of socio-economic analysis that Marx's theory was spot on about" but there were other aspects of Marx's perspective which was authoritarian and lent itself to statist oppression.

CLASS IS AN IDENTITY CATEGORY YOU FREAKIN PHILISTINE!!

The socialists in my town are working along Red fascists who got Hitler's attitude (and maybe posters in their basements), and that's because they rely on a bunch of externalized antagonism and always keep a blind spot upon what they are fucking doing IRL to bring about the equalitarian collectivist utopia they believe to be after. But hey guess what... there ain't just the alt-right fascists to fight, and they aren't the toughest people to fight. Like there's this bunch of douchebag oogles driving extremely fast with their tuned cars on my street just to feel like übermensh, directly threatening non-human and also human life almost every night. And guess what...

The cops don't give a fuck!

The Leftists in the area give even less of a fuck!

But these petty gangster bois are more violent, brutal, dumbed-down, self-proud and dangerous than most fascists in town. Where is your narrative on people like this!? What if I get really pissed off one night and decide to set all their fucking cars on fire, and maybe the house too? How will that fit within your symmetrical, cleancut, cartoonish class war thing?

Like, I agree with the idea of class struggle, yea... But what about all the non-over-externalized enemies, all the sub-capitalists who really aim and becoming Kanye, and are being total, nefarious and toxic assholes in the process?

Oh Wayne, you can't bring yourself to be against work as such can you. Why 'look forward'? What historical facilitation must come about beyond raw corporeal refusal, relaxation and disassociation? You can't even see that the quantified affects of so-called 'necessary' work are what cause class to emerge, the weight of ages as Dupont(Friere) would say. Willam was much further along then you and Black and others are at the 'just get there yesterday' stage.

I'm not blaming workers Wayne. You wrongly infer that based on the fact that I say they play a role in the continuing of work via their belief and other factors. Why would I blame them in any specific sense? Like many before them they have had their minds kneecapped by education which destroys the personal drive of learning. Many workers go through what I call the 12 years a slave phase via modern Prussian modeled schools. You really think I don't factor that in. I suspect though that not only are you not against education(and admittedly acutely radical position that I am part of a tiny few that hold) you probably think there's away that schools could somehow exist ATR. I won't hold out hope that you got any of that right either.

You keep homing in the the haves and have nots in terms of majority and minority while not considering that perhaps this is simply how a complex system works itself out. Anyone who's familiar with systems theory can tell you why there is wealth concentration. It is not entirely due to nefarious class drives but due to the problems of a complex complicated resource allocation scheme such as what you and I live under. If you were to wipe out these asymmetries(which I certainly want to do) you will have to look at a more simplified set of systems which probably will involve a contraction of complexity. It's part of the problems of a machineological society and system which you seem to think is only a political economic problem.

Marx on the whole was mostly wrong about numerous things not the least that he was an economic reductionist and materialist who had no psychic conception of history and reality. Those epistemic errors played a role in his authoritarianism.

Wayne 18:06 There is plenty of blame to go around. We can blame the capitalists who exploit the workers, we can blame the state for enforcing this class relation, but we can also blame the workers for simply accepting this arrangement. I don't know where you live, but here on planet earth most workers have accepted employment as a virtue. They see their identities as workers wrapped up in their own sense of self worth. If you don't have a job, you're a 'loser', and probably lazy, and morally suspect. No girl will go out with you.

Most workers take masochistic pride in 'working hard' for their bosses, to the point of putting in lots of unpaid overtime. Many workers informally compete against each other to claw their way to a promotion. Most workers don't want to be seen as 'greedy' or selfish, or not a 'team player', so they don't make demands around pay or working conditions. And God forbid you start talking about unions. That's for pussies who don't want to work hard. I worked at a hotel restaurant once where the other cooks told me with great pride how they stopped a union drive and kicked out union-sympathetic employees. Being a 'workaholic' is not viewed as a vice necessarily, but a somewhat noble imperfection.

Face it, most workers are on the side of their bosses, they want businesses to profit and do well financially because they hope to get a piece of the action. So any criticism of business is viewed with suspicion. You become the commie who wants to 'take away jobs'. To most workers, corporations are like Daddy figures, who provide jobs. Without Daddy providing jobs, how would we prosper?

So yes, we can blame workers too. Just spend five minutes with a typical worker, you'll see for yourself the kind of deeply ingrained indoctrination we are up against.

This Anonymous-Class gets to the heart of the matter when claiming "Class is an identity category." Actually class is first a relationship, a set of objective behaviors, things people do, the capital/labor relationship between groups of people in the process of production. Whether it gets to the point of an "identity" of class consciousness is an empirical question. See E.P. Thompson on The Making of the English Working Class. Whether the U.S. working class will ever reach this stage is an experiential question, to be answered by history. But--and this is our argument here--the lack of consciousness by the workers (that is, almost everyone under industrialized capitalism) does not determine whether the system works by forcing them to produce surplus wealth (exploitation).

What Fauvenoir is talking about is beyond me. I know that I am against what he calls "Red fascists," if by that he means Marxist-Leninists. Beyond that, F. has lost me.

For Z's sake, I wrote, " I look forward to a world where the difference between necessary work and voluntary play/crafts vanishes." In return, Z writes, " you can't bring yourself to be against work as such can you [?]" What can I say?

What is this look forward that you speak of? What's the mediating wait time that you speak of besides work itself. What is 'necessary' work? I really want to know this as a way of air clearing the discussion.

I believe that a certain amount of human effort, by muscle and brain,interacting with the non-human environment, is necessary to provide people with basic necessities of life plus other things we want. As less and less of this is required, due to improved productivity, people will be increasingly able to integrate this necessary labor with play, with "craftsmanship," with art. What is the time required for a transition to such a society of leisure and art? I have no idea. In the abstract we have the technical knowledge to begin immediately changing over to such a society. Practically, it depends on how far capitalism will have destroyed the world by the time the people have overturned it and begun the change (if they ever do, of course).

I hope this clears the air of the discussion for you.

Though when you talk about the basic necessities you are really talking about subsistence and survival skills which I don't quite view as work. When you talk about the more complex productive stuff you are talking about things that should be playful right off the bat as Bob Black and other work abolitionists would argue. I don't see why there need be any 'transition'.

Productive play starts yesterday.

Z informs us that he (or she) "doesn't quite view" "survival skills" "as work." Well, Z is free to "view" anything anyway he or she wants. It's a semi-free country. Similarly Z can inform us that "some complex productive stuff...should be playful right off the bat," citing Bob Black as an authority. What "should be" for Z and Bob Black has little to do with what must be in the real world.

Folks should check out Hannah Arendt's writings on the differences between labor and work, which Einzige has already made clear above.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Condition_(book)

Any forager knows it's fun, like an Easter egg hunt without the Jesus.

Huh? There's nothing in that link about Hannah Arendt or the difference between labor and work.

In the link https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Condition_(book)

It's interesting and I don't strongly disagree as much as make some addendums here and there. The point is labor is a pure means either to survival or to surrogate activities(part of other arguably) and is simply a consequence of living in physical reality.

Work on the other hand is a mediated end that is never done for its own sake.

Thanks. Weird. It seems the url is the same for different pages. Let's try this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Condition_(book)

Hi Wayne, I'm beginning work as a human statue tomorrow, I'll be bringing home a paycheck every week for producing humor, discussion and fascination.

so many of your mind numbing posts!

To Le Way: Oh good for you! You found a job you enjoy. So did I, a lot of the time anyway. This puts us in the tiny upper percent of global humanity. Most people do not and cannot find jobs (paying work) which they like. They are lucky to find jobs which they find endurable and decent. That's capitalism for you. Can it be different for most people? Not under capitalism, whatever delusions some dumpster diving types think.

Anyway, the question is whether it can be different under libertarian socialism. I think it can, although it would take deliberate effort to reorganize technology and social production in order to achieve this. Just imagining that we could immediately "abolish work" is absurd.

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