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Against the State: An Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0791474488
ISBN-10: 0791474488
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Sartwell s work stands in the Thoreauvian tradition he admires simultaneously lyrical and plainspoken, intensely personal yet theoretically compelling. Transcending the hackneyed opposition between individualist and communitarian approaches to politics, Sartwell s spirited, engaging, and insightful critique of the state reminds us of the essentially barbarous nature of that institution, forcefully engages the classic arguments on its behalf, and makes a vigorous and inspiring case for a humane anarchist alternative. Roderick T. Long, Auburn University
Sartwell is unabashed and unrelenting in pointing out the unquestioned absurdities at the foundation of the state s legitimacy. His refusal to accept any assumption on faith or to turn away from logical conclusions is the book s greatest strength. Dana Ward, coauthor of Political Reasoning and Cognition: A Piagetian View"

From the Back Cover

In Against the State, Crispin Sartwell unleashes a quick and brutal rejection of the traditional arguments for state legitimacy. Sartwell considers the classics of Western political philosophy--Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, Hume, Bentham, Rawls, and Habermas, among others--and argues that their positions are not only wrong but also embarrassingly bad. He separates the traditional pro-state arguments into three classes: social contract theories, utilitarian justifications, and justicial views, all while attacking both general strategies and particular formulations. Sartwell argues that the state rests on nothing but deadly force and its accompanying coercion, and that no one is under any obligation to obey the law merely because it is the law. He concludes by articulating a positive vision of an anarchist future, based on the "individualism" of such figures as Emerson and Thoreau. Against the State provides a rigorous and provocative foil to the classic texts, and also serves as a concise statement of the anarchist challenge.

"Sartwell's work stands in the Thoreauvian tradition he admires--simultaneously lyrical and plainspoken, intensely personal yet theoretically compelling. Transcending the hackneyed opposition between individualist and communitarian approaches to politics, Sartwell's spirited, engaging, and insightful critique of the state reminds us of the essentially barbarous nature of that institution, forcefully engages the classic arguments on its behalf, and makes a vigorous and inspiring case for a humane anarchist alternative." -- Roderick T. Long, Auburn University

"Sartwell is unabashed and unrelenting in pointing out the unquestioned absurdities at the foundation of the state's legitimacy. His refusal to accept any assumption on faith or to turn away from logical conclusions is the book's greatest strength." -- Dana Ward, coauthor of Political Reasoning and Cognition: A Piagetian View --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 138 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (May 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791474488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791474488
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Best single volume introduction to anarchism around. Sartwell makes compelling and convincing arguments.
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There's a lot of nonsense used to support social-systems of slavery, Crispin Sartwell does an excellent job of pointing it out. (And the nonsense just keeps on coming, like the 1 star comment on this book that makes the irrational conclusion that anarchy can't work because we can't have universal consensus.) For those not so deluded, give this book a read with an open mind.
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Crispin Sartwell gives a excellent overview why government is contigent on force and coercion. However he does not give reason why force and coercion are not necessary for an orderly society. Like most anarchists, he does not give the ways an anarchist society could come about and be maintained.
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If you have any interest in Anarchist theory, or for that matter any political theories justifying the existence of States this is close to perfect.
Bottom line, I recommend this to friends.
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