Authority = State = an Absolute Evil! (was Re: what to do)

Gordon Fitch gcf at
Tue Mar 28 19:09:13 PST 2000

> >From Gordon to Carrol:
> >I use the term State to denote all the institutions of power
> >in a community (so it includes private formations like
> >corporations or The Family where these are confirmed by other
> >State organs). Usually, the government would be an organ of
> >the State, the publicly legitimated organ of overt and final
> >force. I can conceive of _governance_ without State institutions,
> >for example, a violent mob which temporarily gets control of
> >a place or thing, but it seems to me that any type of permanent
> >government, even if it began in a Stateless society, would be
> >certain to create and gather State institutions around it,
> >since the operations of the government would almost inevitably
> >tend to favor the interests of some members of the community
> >over the others, especially those participating directly and
> >actively in the government -- everyone might be equal, but
> >some would be more equal than others. Thus, a class system
> >would be created. So, for me, being politically Left, that
> >is, being of the party of freedom and equality, means opposing
> >and seeking the abolition of both the State and the government.

Yoshie Furuhashi:
> Engels wrote in a letter of January 24, 1872, to Theodor Cuno:
> ***** In this society [of the Bakuninist ideal] there will above all be
> no _authority_, for authority = state = an absolute evil. (Indeed, how
> these people propose to run a factory, operate a railway or steer a ship
> without having in the last resort one deciding will, without single
> management, they of course do not tell us.) The authority of the majority
> over the minority also ceases. Every individual and every community is
> autonomous; but as to how a society, even of only two people, is possible
> unless each gives up some of his autonomy, Bakunin again maintains silence.
> *****
> "The authority of the majority over the minority also ceases" = the
> practical end of democracy and beginning of atomism (unless you imagine
> that there will be no dissenting voice, no disagreement, no conflict of
> desires in an ideal anarchist society). There may be freedom, but there
> can't be equality (except of the Hobbesian kind in the state of nature) in
> an atomistic universe. Interestingly, Plato agrees with Gordon: democracy
> = the rule of a violent mob.
> Do-it-yourself entrepreneurism (Ted's Plan B) may be fun for some
> (worker-ownership -- even of producer cooperatives -- under capitalism is
> basically self-exploitation in niche markets, though; well, no matter,
> anarchism is a wet dream of the petty producers anyhow); meanwhile, capital
> is happy to take advantage of anarchist abstention and continues to rule
> undemocratically on behalf of the minority.

No doubt anarchy presents a number of interesting problems. Nevertheless, while somebody's version of goodness, virtue, or happiness may be defined for, or imposed upon, the powerless, freedom cannot be. As long as one has power over another, that is, as long as there is a State, then both are enslaved; the latter to the former, the former to the institution of slavery. "The authority of the majority over the minority" is not something to hope for, as many a member of minorities could tell you. I think it was probably obvious to Bakunin, as it was to Kropotkin, that human beings were capable of arranging their own society. Well, I am not surprised to find the bourgeois Engels disparaging Bakunin in favor of enlightened management, but then history came along and disparaged something Engels seems to have been working on. The problem is not that authority is evil; the problem is that it doesn't work. --

It is not of much importance, but I did not equate democracy with mob violence. I was trying to imagine the interesting concept of a Stateless government, that is, a government which existed in the absence of institutions and permanent relations of force. A mob is what I came up with. I have no idea how Plato got in the door. --


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