Society 1 : The need for the State

Can the individual live without the State?

The well run State can benefit the many.

The well run State can benefit the many.

I thought I would offer a short series of posts sharing ideas about questions around the concept of society.  People might agree or disagree with them, but it is useful to think about them since the current society we live in is unsustainable.

In essence I agree with a certain blogger I follow that the utopian individual ideal is to live with no State.  Realistically we need the State to survive as the human race.

The utopia of no State existed in the Ice Age, where the human race numbered few millions, roaming as hunter gatherers in small family groups in a time of abundance of food and water.  Climate change sent vast numbers of species into extinction; sea level rises of hundreds of metres flooded the world; the human race had multiplied in large numbers.  Loss of land, lack of food, and population growth forced humanity to adopt the trappings of civilisation or die.  When a group of people come together to form a collective contract of sharing resources for the common good, you have the trappings of State.

Today the planet hosts billions of people, with an ever diminishing pool of resources to sustain this growing population.  The utopian ideal suitable for a small population of hunter gatherers of no State raises serious challenges when you are dealing with a huge hungry growing global population which can only be addressed through the structure of a State.  An example I offer of a challenge is several dozen individuals fighting over the right of a location on a river;  conflict of interests is often settled through violence, the strongest win the right to locate at that river spot.  Multiply these sort of conflicts, you end in a relentless bloody global war. Human nature realistically reflects that of all animal species who will turn to aggressive means to achieve territorial rights. Only via the State can the needs of the many be met in harmony.


15 responses to “Society 1 : The need for the State

  1. This is definitely true, our need to survive and to have power disable us from peace, even in families there is state (grandparents, parents). No one could survive long enough without it. But the reason the State maintains power is thanks to fear, without it it could never function. In conclusion, we all live in fear and that is what actually control us.

  2. I really enjoyed this post and look forward to more. I am not a fan of the State, any State regardless of political stripes, but I know that anarchy is not the way to go either. Unfortunately what you discussed in your final paragraph is already begun on a global scale and is perpetrated by various States, this will escalate as global population grows. The competition for resources has already begun and it is only going to escalate. If you look at First World Countries they have all built more jails, mega jails, and have enacted laws that give the state unprecedented powers and this is preparation for a time of great political and social upheaval which is upon the horizon. It is also why countries are battling for resources in the Middle East and Africa. Society is moving toward a Police State. If you look at the French Revolution and the price of bread and compare that to present day, where I live and I assume in North America in General the price of a loaf of bread has doubled, grains and starches also, as well as meat…we are on the cusp of a global hunger revolution. States will respond with force, will they be toppled, not all of them and the States that survive this upheaval will be the global state…just my thoughts…as history has a tendency of repeating

    • You are correct Tjtherien, history repeats and we have the experience of past patterns to reliably predict future outcomes. Your conclusions are spot on. I have noticed the USA imprisons 1% of its population. I note Egypt and Ethiopia are close to conflict over a project that will impact the Nile. I fear a repeat of the turbulent period that happened in the Bronze Age where the principle rule was “Might is Right.”

  3. Utopia .. something the States attempt to achieve, does not manifest itself in the mind of one, but in the minds of all. Just a pity that so many States create the individual Utopia of the collective minds of a few that never nears the expectations of the masses… consequently the up rising of many throughout the world today attempting to install States that would be nearer to their own collective expectations, yet on achieving the overthrow of their dictatorial States they discover once again that individual translations of the masses needs are still ignored for those of the few. How can we correct this? We can’t, the whole world is now controlled, by individuals placed in positions by the majority, to create their own interpretations by which the masses must now abide…

    • Thanks for insightful comment Bulldog. The original good intent of a State for the benefit of all has become something that benefits the few at the expense of the many. Often as you suggest one revolution ends with the same sort of ruler it replaced.

  4. agree that when people are bundled together a state is necessary. When a state exists for a while, it becomes an entity who’s main purpose to to continue – losing the original purpose. Happens to companies all the time, luckily companies don’t have armies and the right to tax.

    As a farm owner, it seems to me that most of the hunger in the world is really logistics and politics now. The world could feed a lot more people, but eventually there is a limit.

    • Hi Billgncs, often as you suggest the State or corporate forgets the purpose why it exists, in hubris then it makes errors and suffers the strife the errors bring.

      The challenge of hunger is a logistics issue as you say, indeed with good logistics hunger can be stalled but not prevented for many years. A hidden problem is speculation on commodities, such as food, which is a driver of food prices in the modern world. In Egypt there is sufficient food, but the poor are unable to afford the food on sale, which then contributes to the strife in Egypt, hungry people often riot and rebel.

  5. But there was one aspect of early man that we have to return to, a ‘local’ way of life. Would still require the State in the respect of laws and structures but local society, say within a 50 mile radius, offers the only viable way forward, to my way of thinking.

  6. Since the end of the gold standard, dependent class population growth has exploded, since pieces of paper can now be printed and thrown at them to survive. There are a great many “artificial people” now with no understanding of economics or how to take care of themselves in the slightest sense. If they need food they buy it in the store, they do not know how to grow it themselves. Lacking the ability to care for themselves, their families, and even their own bodies, they are in every way only alive because of the state.

    • That is insightful James, and I agree. If civilisation collapses I am unsure how these types of people will survive for long. The money paper is only based on faith, an IOU that the State or bank is unable to honour.

  7. Have you read a philosopher called John Locke? He believed in the idea that the state should have less involvement in our lives.

  8. Pingback: Society 2: The Ideal State | The Liberated Way

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