Anarchism, the State Apparatus, and Andean Water Reforms

By Jason MacLeod on April 30, 2012 — 1 min read

The absolutism of state power, being the nexus of coercion and violence in Anarchist and Marxist theory, narrows our attention on the state as the central site of transformative politics and resistance.  Anarchists critique the belief that a modern society requires a state system to foster social order, equality, and justice.  Generally, Anarchists are antiauthoritarian and seek an alternative model of human interaction based in voluntarism and oriented towards communication and localized collective decision-making.  Social order is not imposed, as in the state-centric society, but collectivized through horizontal democratic processes.  In other words, Anarchists seek a social life supported by the minimum amount of coercion where social agreements are voluntary and authority is conceived as practical rather than absolute and perpetual (Bamyeh 2009, 27-8).   Anarchism, incorrectly critiqued as utopian, provides a set of theoretical tools and practical solutions for anti-capitalist movements.  Anarchists believe the state apparatus is inherently uncontrollably violent.  The elevation of a vanguard class to the helm of state power would not displace the state’s inherent violence, only change its form.  Gramsci noted, if a social movement came to power and seized the state, “sooner or later the progressive fraction of the ruling group will end up by controlling the new government, and by making it its instrument for turning the State apparatus to its own benefit” (Gramsci, 1972, 166).  Rather, anarchists seek to construct a different set of relations and politics situated outside the state (Newman 2010, 109).  This shift outside, allows each community to devise policies and ways of being best suited to their unique circumstances.  Read the rest of the article here!