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“An insightful, sweeping analysis of how and why states have arisen (or haven’t), delivered in sparklingly clear prose. It is everything that an anarchist history should be: heretical, tentative, and provocative, as well as deeply researched, persuasive, and above all, relevant.” —Kenyon Zimmer, author of Immigrants Against the State
“A work of ethnographic theory that suggests stimulating new avenues of empirical research and theoretical inquiry. The book is also an excellent read!” —Andrej Grubačić, author of Living at the Edges of Capitalism
“Gelderloos dares to do what most contemporary thinkers blindly refuse. For far too long we’ve been gripped by an unshakable faith in statist politics.… Worshiping Power is not just a reclamation of our history, it offers a glimpse into the reconvening of our humanity.” —Simon Springer, author of The Anarchist Roots of Geography
“Contemporary radical state theory owes much to an anarchistic ethos. Gelderloos’s important little book surveys and reinterprets this literature, and then gives it a coherent anarchist politics.” —Alex Prichard, University of Exeter
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. This innovative and partisan study of human social complexity cuts through inadequate 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.
Peter Gelderloos is an anarchist writer originally from Virginia. He is the author of How Nonviolence Protects the State, Consensus, and Anarchy Works.
Table of Contents
I. Take Me to Your Leader:: The Politics of Alien Invasion
II. Ze Germans: A State-Making Technology
III. Save Me from Yourself: The Statist Spread of Salvation Religions
IV. Sleeper States and Imperial Imaginaries: Authority’s Afterlife and Reincarnation
V. The Modern State: A Revolutionary Hybrid
VI. Zomia: A Topography of Positionality
VII. Chiefdoms and Megacommunities: On the Stability of Non-State Hierarchies
VIII. They Ain’t Got No Class: Surpluses and the State
IX. All in the Family: Kinship and Statehood
X. Building the Walls Higher: From Raiding to Warfare
XI. Staff and Sun: A New Symbolic Order
XII. A Forager’s Mecca: Dreams of Power
XIII. From Clastres to Cairo to Kobane: Learning from States
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