The Operating System: An Anarchist Theory of the Modern State

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“By what cunning perversion of logic and history has the modern capitalist State persuaded us that it is the only possible form of polity? Why do we passively accept its claim to inevitability and its lame excuses for the increasingly invasive surveillance of our private lives? How do the already powerful hide short-cuts to even greater influence and wealth across a ruined environment and vast stretches of poverty? In thoughtful, provocative, and engaging reflections on the modern State, Eric Laursen seeks deliberate withdrawal from the self-fulfilling mechanism he so appropriately calls ‘the operating system.’” ―Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

“We hear from many quarters that social justice requires a strong and competent State to redress wrongs and advance the interests of oppressed minorities. We also hear it said that the State is dead or nearly so, that it is being drowned in the bathtub of neoliberal capitalism. Eric Laursen presents a sobering argument that the modern State has not said its last word, nor have we heard the final word about the oppressive character of the State and the urgent necessity of its abolition. The Operating System is a much-needed patch to the software of anti-authoritarian critique, particularly in its attention to the way that the State and identity-based forms of oppression work together.” ―Jesse Cohn, writer of Underground Passages

“Eric weaves together a rich history of the State, reminding us it is not inevitable and that it is not reformable. Learning to live together without the State is our best chance for the survival of humanity and the planet herself.” ―Lisa Fithian, writer of Shut It Down

“Anarchists have fought the State since its inception, however alongside the paths of liberation in the twenty-first century it’s been lacking from the dialog. Laursen’s participating exploration revisits concepts of the State, its equipment of controls, and why we must always brazenly oppose it.” ―scott crow, writer of Black Flags and Windmills

One of the most original elements of anarchism as a political philosophy is that it seeks to abolish the state. But what precisely is “the state”? The State is sort of a huge working system for ordering and controlling relations amongst human society, the financial system, and the pure world, analogous to a digital working system like Windows or MacOS. Like a state, an working system “governs” the packages and functions beneath it and networked with it, in addition to, to some extent, the people who avail themselves of these instruments and assets. No matter how completely different states appear on the floor they share core similarities, specifically:

  • The State is a comparatively new factor in world historical past
  • The State is European in origin and outlook
  • States are “individuals” in the eyes of the regulation
  • The State claims the proper to find out who’s an individual
  • The State is an instrument of violence and battle
  • The State is above the regulation
  • The State is in the beginning an financial endeavor

Anyone involved with entrenched energy, revenue inequality, lack of digital privateness, local weather change, the amateurish response to COVID-19, or military-style policing will discover eye-opening insights into how states function and construct extra energy for themselves―at our expense. The state gained’t resolve our most urgent issues, so why can we obey? It’s time to suppose outdoors the state.

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