state As this is not a dictionary of word usage, the historical etymology or alleged essential meaning of the word ‘state’ need not constrain us. *Libertarians mean to refer to any dominant *political *organization in a *country, which we have no practical trouble indentifying and for which ‘state’ is merely a handy label.

A state is not a *nation or a *country. A state is an organization of people with the *authority to rule by *aggressive *coercion over some definite regions. Having the *power to *proactively impose with impunity, a state has ultimate control of all *persons and *property in its domain; though its *subjects are not thereby *slaves. States rely on general *public acceptance or acquiescence, which occurs if only because most people assume it necessary that some organization must *run the country. Such general support does not mean that states and their activities are, tacitly, *consensual or *contractual, even when *‘democratic’. A consensual or contractual state would be analytically absurd (as there would be no proactive imposition), like a ‘married bachelor’ (but not as obviously inconsistent). Even if a state-like organization were genuinely contracted into by all adults in some region, this would not bind children below the *age of majority or any *future generations.

The origins of a state are invariably by conquest, whether from within or without the regions *oppressed. “War is the health of the state” in that states tend to grow larger and stronger relative to their subject populations by going to *war; even a losing state. There are no services that are essential to a state; not even the provision of *law and *national defense. The state, qua state, rules rather than serves. In exercising its rule, there are four distinguishable broad aspects that are severally essential to, and all typical of, the state: *parasitism, *persecution, *privilege and *Procrusteanism. In practice, all these activities are described using *legitimizing *propaganda. Without at least one of these there would not be a state; or it would exist in a dormant way, at most. Any other aspects of the state are *economic and so would exist more efficiently without state interference; by the *market or *charity. Thus a state is a kind of dominant *criminal organization but with a popular legitimacy that completely obscures this *fact for most people.

Modern states usually include an executive, legislature, judiciary and courts, *local governments, a *bureaucracy, armed forces, state *police, state *schools and various *‘nationalized’ production and service industries, which also rule to varying degrees though power flows down from the top of the *hierarchy. What remains is *civil society.

Note that the above account is a non-normative theory, in outline, of what states are, and not a definition (whether stipulative or of usage). See also *Mafia; *politics; *sovereignty.

A Dictionary of Libertarianism