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what is a state?

+1 vote
Is it a level of coercion? is it a set of expectations backed up by force (or force, backed up by a set of expectations)? different answers to this question are probably the foundation of why the different anarchist tendencies disagree with each other, even if the definitions are not explicit, but merely implied.

so what do folks here think?

(also, how did we get this far without this question? or can i just not find it?
although this one is very related: http://anarchy101.org/17512/does-anarchism-have-entail-transhistorical-account-state?show=17512#q17512 )
asked May 26 by anonymous
when i use it i generally just mean the generally recognized politico historical entities, but if i were to generalise i might say something like;

a relatively singular entity with the Power to coerce within a given region.
companies fall under that definition. so do schools. and families. not disputing. just wondering about ramifications.
precisely.  the state is reflected in all of those things, and in turn those things reflect the state -of affairs-.

certainly throughout history the lines between all of those things is very blurred.  families can be very authoritarian in their control and impact, schools are training camps for the state's workforce, sometimes companies act like governments (the honourable east india company, the voc, that fruit company that owned guatemala etc.), and sometimes governments act like companies (bailouts, austerity). 

sure. not hard to find examples of the overlaps in the venn diagram. i guess i wonder how it mitigates (dilutes) the definition to have it be as broad as that. definitions are framing exercises. having broad ones is good, having more specific ones is good too. and it's good to see how the broad ones and the specific ones interact with each other and give us different perspectives.

i'm too distracted at this exact moment to focus on this (or be more specific myself) but i hope people weigh in more.

1 Answer

+2 votes
my quick response:

i guess i think of a state as a political institution that claims control over a given geographic area, dictating - or at least attempting to - what economic and social (and other?) activities are "legal" within that area.

perhaps that is too literal of an answer?

with its claim to a monopoly on violence, and the force with which it is typically capable of executing that violence, the state essentially defines - in both abstract and concrete ways - what i think of as "authority". sometimes that authority might seem to be used in benevolent ways, but the underlying principle is to maintain - and/or increase - power and control over the population within its domain. and often, to expand the geographic boundaries of its sphere of control.
answered May 28 by anonymous
definitely not too literal. i certainly like your definition better than the one i gave.

could also flesh out my question by mentioning the difference between state-in=waiting, as perlman and post-leftists in general are so wary of, and actual state...

could also flesh out your answer F@ by breaking it down a bit. what do you mean by "political," or "claims" in your first sentence, for example...

i have no answers today! just more questions!