Where do states come from, what causes them to arise, and how do they
develop? The old dogmas that the State protects and uplifts humanity, or
even that it is a necessary evil, have been thoroughly discredited. But
many newer theories, that explain state formation within a single optic,
or that suggest a single cause, or a linear, progressive evolution, also
This new book traces multiple pathways of state formation, describing patterns that arise within many different societies with different
models of the family, religion, warfare, commerce, and economic production. Rather than being ancient history, state formation is a continuous process, given that perhaps the only feature universal to state formation is the resistance it provokes. As a result, states are continually falling apart, being overthrown, or struggling to maintain their power.
People who fight today against the problems of capitalism, patriarchy,
and white supremacy, and anyone who seeks to regain control over their
lives, becomes wrapped up in this process as they run up against state
Articulating the ongoing history of state formation—from divine states
centered around new sites of spiritual production to democratic states
arising from corrupted revolutions—allows us to better understand the
ways states today attempt to govern, limit, or repress our movements.
Peter Gelderloos is an anarchist from Virginia who currently lives in
Catalunya. He is the author of How Nonviolence Protects the State,
Anarchy Works, The Failure of Nonviolence, “An Anarchist Solution to
Climate Change,” “A World Without Police,” and other works.
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