Peter Gelderloos joins us to discuss his new book, Worshiping Power: An Anarchist View of Early State Formation.
According to Worshiping Power, we need to stop thinking of the State as a potential vehicle for emancipation. From its origins, the State has never been anything other than a tool to accumulate power. The book provides a history of state formation in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Europe, from Mesopotamia to the 20th century. Identifying different models or paths of state formation, it lays the groundwork for an anarchist theory of the origin of states, and in the process disputes common misconceptions stemming from liberal, Marxist, primitivist, and environmental determinist theories of state formation. Rather than treating state formation as a singular event, a Pandora’s Box, Worshipping Power analyses state formation as a constant process, with religious, militaristic, economic, and kinship-based motors. The book cuts through in¬adequate theories of early state formation to uncover social practices and institutions that have stifled egalitarian forms of self-organization throughout history. Just as importantly, it shows that the difficulties and consequences of state formation are not relegated to prehistory. Despite a ubiquity that renders them almost invisible today, states are constantly trying to augment their power, and all are closer to the brink of collapse than they would like to let on.
Worshiping Power is also a work in grassroots scholarship, taking the study of the State out of academic institutions and into the streets, showing how a historically grounded understanding of the nature of the State is relevant to today’s struggles against patriarchy, environmental devastation, racism, war, and capitalism.
Peter is an anarchist writer originally from Virginia. He is the author of ‘How Non-violence Protects the State’, ‘Consensus’, and ‘Anarchy Works’, among others.
Following our successful books and info stalls at Cambridge radical bookfair and Nottingham radical bookfair, we will be running a stall today in Scarecrow Corner at Strawberry Fair, come along and see us there.