How will the State be replaced?

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about how one may replace something as powerful and gigantic as a State. Some people think this can be achieved by violence. Some people think this can be achieved solely by education. Others think this can be achieved solely by trading goods outside the State’s eye.

First, it must be understood that it is logically impossible to achieve Anarchy by violence. Why? Any Anarchist revolutionary who uses violence against the State most likely believes two things:

1. That his use of violence is legitimate.

2. That the State’s use of violence is illegitimate.

Well, you see, that is the exact definition of the State: an entity whose violence is made legitimate, and that makes every other form of violence illegitimate. If these revolutionaries win, they logically become the new State. In fact, this is what we observe in any revolution: the revolutionaries, having won, establish themselves as the new tyrants, with more force than ever. No Anarchy could possibly be achieved by those means.

You also can’t achieve Anarchy with the other two options. If you just educate people, but present no alternative, no space for people to join, then nothing can happen and the State will have all the leeway to repress those ideas once they become too dangerous. If you trade on black markets, take away State revenue, but do nothing else, then you will end up in a situation like that in the book Alongside Night: a perpetual war between the black market and the State, where the latter has all the guns and all the legitimacy. Taken in isolation, neither of these are the one solution.

But taken together, they form a solution. The two parts of this solution are:

1. Spread awareness of its true nature, get people to take a stance against it, create more and more resistance to the State’s ideology, drop out of the system, refuse to pay taxes, refuse to follow the law, refuse to rely on the State, and finally, simply ignore it.

2. At the same time, using counter-economics to create a “safe space” for the ideas to grow and the market to grow, without State suppression. This will create the basis of the new society when it is needed.

Now you can see how such a revolution would function: both sides have to work in synergy. You not only take away money from the State, but you also channel it towards constructive purposes. At the same time that you grow resistance, you also grow a space for that resistance to live in, an example for people to follow.

3 thoughts on “How will the State be replaced?

  1. Mike Gogulski August 1, 2008 at 20:58


    First, your new theme is nicer-looking but needs some tweaking unless FF3 is rendering it badly. Let me know if I can help bashing it into perfection for you.

    Second, I want to be on your blogroll :)


    Your critique here is generally right on, but because I’m a picky bastard and because I see an opportunity to expand a small chink in the armor, I will pursue a line of thought briefly.

    I suspect strongly that we both condemn the initiation of violence as an absolute moral wrong. We very likely strongly agree that the legitimation of the unjustifiable initiation of force is a/the defining quality which separates states from “mere” criminal gangs. Assuming these premises, dangerous though doing so in your comment box may be, we can proceed to articulate some goals based on our principles:

    That we should work to complete eliminate the initiation of violence from human interaction, and

    That because of what the state is, that we should work to eliminate it also.

    That said, I see something missing in your presentation of your modeled views of some “Anarchist revolutionaries”. Specifically, you use the word “use” rather than “initiation”.

    In my world, when the tax man sends out the armed goons to collect and the would-be victim kills those who would rob him, yes, he has committed a violent act. But it is one that is morally defensible.

    Question: If a disinterested observer sees the tax man’s armed goons attempting to extract the king’s share on pain of death from the victim, is that observer justified in killing the goons? I answer without reservation in the affirmative.

    Question: If a robber steals a prized possession from Bob, is any other person justified in killing the robber in the attempt to recover it, assuming that the robber will not relinquish it? Again I answer yes.

    Question: Does it matter how much time has passed between the crime and the retaliatory/compensatory violence? I answer no.

    Further question: Is it possible that principled anarchists who agree with us on all the fundamentals exist who would carry out acts of violence against the state while simultaneously not wishing to become the state?

    Final question: If the answer to the above is “yes”, what sort of acts of violence might they, morally, carry out?

    I do realize that it’s not this specific line of thought that you challenge here. I do object, though, to what I see as (perhaps incorrectly) a presumption of pacifism. It is desirable to eliminate all violence from society. On the way to doing that, I believe, we must recognize that there is some violence which is justifiable and some which is not. The statists would have us believe in a perversion of human nature and natural law. I don’t pretend to be an expert on either topic, but I will propose that the view I’ve put forward in my own responses to my question above is quite close to the reality which would emerge in the type of society you and I both would like to see emerge.

  2. Francois Tremblay August 2, 2008 at 04:26

    Yes, of course self-defense is acceptable, but you can’t attack an agent of the State without having the full weight of it on your back. It’s simply not possible to fight against such a force unless you have a sizeable group of people, are equipped, organized, know what you’re doing, and are ready to die at any time.

  3. humanegg November 6, 2008 at 01:24

    To Mike Gogulski:

    I have difficulty imagining a group of principled anarchists carrying out – initiating – acts of violence. The whole point of anarchism is to eliminate violence.

    The hallmark of a state is its use of violence. How would a disinterested observer differentiate between principled anarchists attacking (say) a U.S. military compound and principled statists attacking (say) an anarchist militia compound?
    I can’t see the difference myself. If an anarchist society is better, more free, safer, more prosperous etc. then no aggressive use of violence is necessary to maintain it. Defense is the name of the game. What unwelcome occupying force has ever held even a weak nation that didn’t desire its presence? If there were even a town of committed anarchists somewhere, it would be very difficult for a government to occupy it. The problem is that many people actually want to live under a state, or have been propagandized into thinking the state is the only solution to problems.

    The answer to that is education. I know there are people out there who are not convinced by rational argumentation. I don’t know the solution to that problem. But I can’t see the initiation of violence as a solution to any problem.

    Defense is more efficient anyway. Why waste energy attacking the state? Defend against it, and gradually it’ll bankrupt itself attacking and the free society can purchase it.

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