State Formation in the Interest of Present Value

Regardless of the exact mechanism of modern state formation, be it differing modes of production (Hechter and Brustein, Regional Modes of Production and Patterns of State Formation, 1980), racketeering and war-making (Tilly, War Making and State Making as Organized Crime, 1985), or dynastic lordship (Sharma, Kinship, Property, and Authority, 2015), the impetus for ceding power to a trusted third party is always to serve as a hedge in the face of evolving power dynamics among competing elements of the bourgeoisie. In other words, when Marx said “the modern state is nothing but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” (The Communist Manifesto), the claim wasn’t reductionist, as Mann alludes (Mann, The autonomous power of the state, 1984). It was simply correct.

To begin, no one would willingly cede authority nor sovereignty over themselves to another party. This is only ever done for fear of violence, whether that be an act of aggression or societal reprisal. Such cession occurs solely when one perceives the present value of avoiding violence is greater than the opportunity cost of ceding sovereignty. Thus arises the theory of alliances of protection, which is the crux of most arguments regarding state formation.

But the protection of what? The answer is the means of production.

It must be understood that, initially, everyone owned some means of production. This is not to say that they owned merely their own labor, as most do today. It is to say that they owned some means of production over and above their labor. They owned the arable land or the hunting grounds. They owned their labor, as all do, but in addition, they enjoyed access to the material that production requires, and they owed no tribute for it.

Moving through the stages of enclosure and capital accumulation and the alliances of protection and tribute schemes that stemmed from them, we arrive, ultimately, at a point where all the means of production, every acre of land, is in the possession of someone. Another uneasy alliance arises, between those that own the means and those that know how to merchandise and finance. Neither wants to cede power to the other, but the present value of preserving the relationship is greater than the opportunity cost of destroying it. A tenuous peace, secured in law and maintained by a bureaucratic State, is thereby created.

That this might happen necessarily, as many might claim, is not empirically evidenced. The existence of functional societies in which no State arose, in which the cession of sovereignty was minimal, wherein all participants enjoyed relatively equal standing and there was little systemic incentive toward social mobility, such as those described by Hechter and Brustein, reminds us of this fact. State formation, then, is the direct result of capital accumulation and the willingness to leverage that capital against those with less toward the acquisition of more, to the exclusion of others.    

Nowhere does there exist today a State in which every member possesses the means of production. This, by definition, makes the State an instrument of the bourgeoisie, as it is the laws and bureaucracy of the State that enforce the property rights of those who own the means of production. For should some plucky proletariat attempt to avail themselves of those means, say by killing one of the king’s deer, they would suffer the wrath, not of society at large, but of the bourgeoisie at the hands of the State.

The Anarchist Charter

The fact is we must accept our anarchist state. There can, and should, be associations, individuals banded together in common cause, but anarchy is the default, so this is where we must begin. Not “you are a citizen of this country or that” or “you belong to this political system or that”, no. Our starting point is, you are a human being, and you are accountable to yourself.

Certainly, there is the family into which you are born, your tribe, your community. These hold and shape you until you achieve your majority. But they should not make any claim to your sovereignty. “Pledge allegiance to the flag.” Such demands are atrocities.

No individual or association can make a sovereign claim to the Earth or portion thereof. Any such claim is unsubstantiated, bordering on, not other nations, but the ridiculous. The oceans of air and water that encircle the globe affirm this truth. The inhalation of Asia is taken in conjunction with the exhalation of America. We are all inhabitants of the same world. The full extent of the Earth is held in common trust, for the good of all.

All nations, then, from this point forward, are rendered null and void. They remain, as voluntary associations, for as long as their constituents deem appropriate, but they hold no sway over the  emigration and immigration of peoples. Any person or group of persons retains the right to reside wherever they may desire, so long as there exists in that place the means to do so.

Abolished and rescinded is the privilege of any individual or association, national or corporate, to the private ownership and control of the natural resources of the Earth. Those who make use of these Commons must recompense their fellows for any said use. This holds as much for their instauration as their extraction. Payment for such use of the Commons will be entered into a global trust, and a share of these proceeds paid to every member of society on a regular basis.

All land will be relegated to its highest and best use, as indicated by the best available science. Soil, its conservation and regeneration, and the agricultural use thereof, will be the primary determinant in further land use decisions. Organic production, carbon sequestration, and the quality of air and water claim paramountcy, with all other concerns subservient to these considerations.

Of our current associations – social, politic, and economic – their sights must be set on realizing this state, and their agenda likewise. They shall not, for now, be disbanded, for over time self-determination will properly establish their reconstitution. They are, in fact, necessary to our cause, else they would not exist, a prerequisite of continued evolution. However, to them applies the above directive, and nothing less will be accepted.

The lives of the people are theirs, and their right to live freely shall not be impeded, in so far as the exercise of that right does not impinge upon the rights of others to do the same.

Let us set forth, clearly, the basic principles that guide us. That all are created equal, with equal right to assume responsibility for their own lives, to exercise that right to achieve their highest possibility, and, in doing so, contribute to the greater social welfare. That all have equal stake in the use of the Commons, which is the whole of the Earth, for their provision and subsistence. That our use of the Earth and the natural resources that comprise it be guided by their own organic articulation, which may be understood through observation, measurement, and deliberate reflection. That we minimize entropy while promoting diversity and regeneration in all our ways and practices. That we find joy and meaning while realizing our purpose as the stewards of life on Earth.

Let no individual or institution come between us and this intention.