Sunday, February 26, 2012

The State as Abstraction

The State is not an objective thing in the world, rather, "the State" is the symbolic signifier of a conceptual abstraction. Like all abstractions, it is an ordering of the phenomenon of experience in such a way as to make it understandable. Just as a family is an abstraction that has no objective existence of its own but rather it is an abstraction useful for understanding the conceptual properties of the collection of particular instances of the of its members; in the same way the State is an abstraction that has no objective existence outside of the collection of individual members.

As an abstraction, the State is materially equivalent to the collection of particular individuals that participate in the concept. Therefore, the State is materially equivalent to those individuals that initiate threats of force against others ('threat-makers'= politicians, legislators, executives, judges, bureaucrats, administrators), those that compel obedience to those threats through use of force ('enforcers'= soldiers, police officers, bailiffs), those supporting the enforcers and threat-makers ("law-makers") because they are directly benefited by the enforcement of those threats ('cronies' = 'corporations', all who support State-action in order to ensure that the direct benefits they receive from acts of force, coercion and theft, will continue), and those that support the State out of fear (either the fear of having threats of force initiated against them, or else fear in absence of State-action, some outcome worse than the State's aggressive actions will made manifest).

If this analysis is an accurate representation of the 'State' as an abstraction, then I open the floor for ideas on how best to achieve a condition of liberty for all persons. I might suggest that there are two general approaches that might be most efficacious; the first, to ignore the threat-makers, to shame the enforcers, to demonstrate with reason and evidence that the support of State-action by the cronies is support of unethical behavior for their own particular benefit and the determent of everyone else, and then to give courage (encouragement) to the frightened; the second approach might be to empathize with all of advocates-of-State-action, to connect with what basic human needs they are trying to satisfy, and then to help them find alternate, healthy ways to satisfy those needs.


  1. Sorry to be a "Johnny-come-lately" on this. I just googled and came up with your nice essay.

    My solution -- "how best to achieve a condition of liberty..." starts with encouraging everyone to Abstain From Beans.


  2. @Samuel Spade Thank you for your contribution. :-) I wrote this over a year ago as I was exploring strategies for increasing personal autonomy.

    From your perspective, how does the abstention from voting ("beans") increase your personal autonomy?

    If a hypothetical character "Mary" were to participate in voting, how would this decrease her personal autonomy?

    I certainly appreciate the perspective that participation in an institution of domination, is not likely to increase our personal autonomy, especially when we see that participation as our primary/only efficacious strategy.

    If you think you might be interested... I recall producing a video on the subject of voting a while back and while I would not express those ideas quite in that fashion (logical/analytical) these days, (it was one of my earlier political perspectives videos) I think it generally expresses my current perspective.