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What is a state?

Rob1_Billion
Posts: 1,300
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5/23/2011 10:57:35 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
With all the anarchists on DDO, the term "state" is thrown around quite a bit. What are the qualifications?

In The Republic, Plato builds a state from the ground up. Three primary goals of the state are production of food, housing, and clothing. Tertiary concerns branch out from here, and after a small but workable society (including merchants, tool-makers, and retailers), they proclaim they have created a prototypical state.

Notice that there is no mention of a public sector, authority, government, power, or anything else that we might expect to hear in such a definition. If anything, Plato has created an anarcho-capitalist state. It would seem that ancap is the purest form of societal structure, which ought to make our friends Sieben et al. very happy, but I thought it was interesting that anarchy would be considered a state in its own right. Perhaps Alfonzo is correct in asserting that anarchy is not a real concept, but only a state of mind; for we are simply mis-defining what the state is at every point and linking it to some idea of authority when in fact authority is simply an aspect of the state (the state simply referring to any society in general) at certain phases in its development. IOWs, our distinctions are a failure of our discourse; authority was never anything to be simply added or deleted based on our preference, it is a fundamental property of our population size. People, at this stage in their socioeconomic evolution, are not capable of existing without the authority we currently live under because they need it like an infant needs its teat. Without authority we would be confused and unable to function.

The similarity between minarchism and ancap may be non-existent; both ideologies seek to beef up the private sector to work alone as the main agent of our societal structure. In this sense, DDO is unified in exclaiming that it wishes for the public sector to be amputated. My arguments, going forward, will be to the effect that the public sector is necessary and the authority granted to it is a necessary check on the power of the private sector. There exists no reasoning which convinces me that eliminating public authority will diminish authority on the whole, since authority is a fundamental property of the state, which is in turn a fundamental property of society (not a political variable).

The following section is personal, which I would like to keep separate from the discourse if possible:

[ I was very saddened to hear Plato build his state. He asserts that a money-coin is one of the fundamental properties of a simple state; I cannot defend against such basic logic when the state is being constructed piece by piece. I've meditated on this for awhile and have come to the conclusion that I have been defending communism out of my own laziness. In my personal life, I am the type to complain about things instead of do the best with the hand I'm dealt. My ideology is more of an offshoot of this than any higher truth, unfortunately. Communism may be in the cards sometime in the distant future, but our society will probably not resemble anything like what we have now at that point (indeed, our imminent environmental crash may be necessary and natural, bringing us by force into our next phase of development). I need to be discussing how we can improve our society now, in practical terms, instead of insisting that everything is screwed and refusing to work with what we have. Capitalism is the hand we are dealt; I am not happy about this but it is not a choice of mine to make. ]
kfc
Danielle
Posts: 21,330
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5/25/2011 12:26:34 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/23/2011 10:57:35 AM, Rob1_Billion wrote:
In The Republic, Plato builds a state from the ground up. Three primary goals of the state are production of food, housing, and clothing.

How can the State have a goal? If the State refers to a society of people living within a specific territory, then those individuals can have goals; however, you (or Plato) will be hard pressed to describe how the State with no mind of its own can have a goal. Members of a community are likely to not share the same goals anyhow, which bring up other questions about whose goals should be valued and why. Then we'd have to get into the logistics about how to implement those goals and the practicality, feasibility and/or moral basis for doing so but I digress.

Notice that there is no mention of a public sector, authority, government, power, or anything else that we might expect to hear in such a definition. If anything, Plato has created an anarcho-capitalist state. It would seem that ancap is the purest form of societal structure, which ought to make our friends Sieben et al. very happy, but I thought it was interesting that anarchy would be considered a state in its own right.

No description of anarchy that I have seen would consider anarchism to be compatible within the framework of a State. A lot of leftists don't even think an-caps should call themselves anarchists. Historically, anarchists concerned themselves with opposing oppressive authority. An-caps describe anarchy as simply being opposed to the State. Some suggest that the "anarcho" capitalist defense of private property is remarkably close to a description of the State and produces similar effects, therefore is not anarchy at all. Needless to say, it's a highly disputed term but I don't think what Plato advocated for could be considered anarchy in any sense of how we conceive it. Hmm.

Perhaps Alfonzo is correct in asserting that anarchy is not a real concept, but only a state of mind; for we are simply mis-defining what the state is at every point and linking it to some idea of authority when in fact authority is simply an aspect of the state (the state simply referring to any society in general) at certain phases in its development.

You contradicted yourself several times here. If anarchy is a state of mind, then it is indeed a real concept. Also, you're suggesting that the State is being misdefined without giving us the proper definition. You seem to be describing the State as "society." Well whether or not authoritative relationships are (or should be) a necessary facet of society is exactly the debate in question. How can authority in be a natural aspect of society? Does anyone naturally have authority over another? Authority (jurisdiction; the right to control) exists in the sense that we fabricate institutions to grant such power, such as property rights, the government, laws, etc.

IOWs, our distinctions are a failure of our discourse; authority was never anything to be simply added or deleted based on our preference, it is a fundamental property of our population size.

How or why?

People, at this stage in their socioeconomic evolution, are not capable of existing without the authority we currently live under because they need it like an infant needs its teat. Without authority we would be confused and unable to function.

What stage are you referring to? I'm not sure I understand this because people advocate all kinds of economic systems, so speaking about what "we" are ready for as a whole seems problematic at best.

My arguments, going forward, will be to the effect that the public sector is necessary and the authority granted to it is a necessary check on the power of the private sector.

That'll be easier to defend then whatever it was you were arguing for before :P

I need to be discussing how we can improve our society now, in practical terms, instead of insisting that everything is screwed and refusing to work with what we have. Capitalism is the hand we are dealt; I am not happy about this but it is not a choice of mine to make.

If that's your reasoning, then as a former Commie why go Democrat over Socialist?

Anyway I understand your concern. I've felt similarly hopeless, so what I do is usually start thinking about some other philosophical topic that makes these questions about how we should run our economy seem small. For instance if we're living in a virtual reality than none of this even matter, does it? :P But yeah, what we debate about here is frivolous because it'll never happen, and that goes for laissez faire advocates as well. I like political philosophy but I hate the nature of politics.
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Fabian_CH
Posts: 232
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5/25/2011 12:32:26 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/23/2011 10:57:35 AM, Rob1_Billion wrote:
In The Republic, Plato builds a state from the ground up. Three primary goals of the state are production of food, housing, and clothing. Tertiary concerns branch out from here, and after a small but workable society (including merchants, tool-makers, and retailers), they proclaim they have created a prototypical state.

Assuming you've described it accurately, that's a society, not a state.
"What are we doing? Do we want to feed a starved humanity in order to let it live? Or do we want to strangle its life in order to feed it?"
- Andrei Taganov, We The Living (Ayn Rand)