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Why we need a state

2013-12-16

Revised 2017

I'm not an anarchist, and it's not just because I have a pro-state gland ;-). It's because we need a state to do many important things.

We need a state for:

(This list is not meant to be complete or exclusive.)

Doing these jobs costs money, so we need the state to collect taxes to pay for these jobs. The state should make the rich (and big businesses) pay a much higher tax rate because they can afford it. Taxes are bad only when the state spends much of them on war and corruption.

We need a state to stop businesses from conspiring eliminate competition, or becoming so big and powerful that the state doesn't dare regulate or tax them as is necessary.

Above all, we need a state in order to have democracy, which is the system by which the many non-rich join together to overcome the power of the rich and thus deny them control over society.

It's not that I implicitly "trust" the state; rather, that question is a side issue. We can't do without it. Keeping the state on the right path requires paying constant attention, so that is what we must do.

Businesses are terribly dangerous and corporations are psychopaths. Businesses will work people into the ground, while cheating and occasionally killing their customers, if we don't stop them. Each business's CEO will argue that it must regretfully do so because its competitors do. I am skeptical about the regrets, but even if they are sincere, they are no substitute for ending the wrongs.

The only systemic way we can be powerful enough to overcome those businesses' power is to join together through a democratic state.

The US government does many of these jobs badly, and some not at all. This is mainly because businesses and the rich have too much control over the government. In practical terms, it is no longer a democracy: it has fallen under the power of the plutocrats, so it no longer serves to keep them in check. The plutocrats also control the mainstream media, and use them to spread lies and distract people from real issues.

The plutocrats don't want us to reclaim control of our government and make it do its many jobs. Therefore, their basic lie is the claim that government can't help people and people shouldn't try to use democracy for their aims. If we believe that, we won't see any solution for our main problem: curbing the plutocrats — and we will give up.

Americans, don't give up on reestablishing and then using democracy!


Although I do not endorse anarchism in the strict sense, I have a sympathy for an anarchistic approach to activities, where the people doing them are free to organize them. This is part of the spirit of the free software movement.

I think the ideal society would be one in which we don't need a state any more, because people have learned how to cooperate and treat each other decently without one. I don't see any way for this to happen for life in general, but it is possible in specific activities.


Noam Chomsky explained how the "tea party" idea that "We want the government off our backs" is used to distract working-class Americans from organizing for the Liberal (social-democratic) policies that they favor when asked.


Copyright (c) 2013, 2015, 2017 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved.