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The State: Its History and Development Viewed Sociologically 2nd Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1560009658
ISBN-10: 1560009659
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

About the Author

Paul Gottfried is professor of political science at Elizabethown College in Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Search for Historical Meaning; Conservative Millenarians: The Romantic Experience in Bavaria; and Arthur Schopenhauer and the Heritage of European Pessimism. He is general editor of the Religion and Public Life Series.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers; 2nd edition (February 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560009659
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560009658
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 4.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,622,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Prior to reading this typographical reprint of this phenomenal 1908 work (translated into English in 1914), I held, overall, a very low opinion of the field of sociology. I perceived it as more-or-less a psuedo-science created to rationalize social engineering schemes of academics and the privileges of the ruling class.

And indeed, most sociologists, particularly now, in the 21st century, use their field precisely to propagate such agendas. But in _The State_, Oppenheimer leads us to the binding, resolute, and thoroughly convincing conclusion that it is not sociology that lacks utility for the betterment of society, but rather, it is the incompetence of most of the sociologists themselves. Oppenheimer shows that the analytic approach to sociology proper, and its relation to history, must transpire with the recognition that two forces, and the conflict between them, have shaped the progression of all of history heretofore: namely, the "economic means" of life, i.e., the peaceful means of improving one's standard of living through labor and exchange; and the "political means," i.e., the violent means of improving that standard through the parasitic exploitation of the labors of subordinates. It is, in brief, a history of the unceasing conflict between subjects and rulers.

Oppenheimer here demonstrates, first deductively and then empirically with supplementary historical evidence, the origins and essence of the State, its development, and his prognosis for its future. In particular, and by employing a comparatively simple mathematical deduction in the first chapter of the book, he demonstrates that all previous theories regarding the origins and essence of the State have failed to furnish adequate supporting evidence, whether deductive or empirical, to validate their claims.
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Format: Paperback
Franz Oppenheimer's book on the rise of the State is one of the classic works that influenced later libertarian thinkers like Murray Rothbard who saw that the State was an instrument of oppression which has been used in the past and is currently used by stronger segments of society. The 1914 edition from Bobbs-Merrill, stated in page 15 that "The State completely in its genesis, essentially and almost completely during the first stages of its existence, is a social institution, forced by victorious group of men on a defeated group, with the sole purpose of regulating the dominion of the victorious group over the vanquished, and securing itself revolt from within and aboard." From here, the author goes into the development of the state from its primitive feudal stage to the current constitutional form. The interesting things that stuck out to me was the theory of state development where in former times, plunderers would sack a city and take its belongings. Over time however, they came to understand that such plunder was counterproductive and that they subjected the vanquished to be "bee-keepers," taking most from the victim and leaving enough for him to survive. Another is the fact that the author summarizes that the state uses political power to maintain existence (mainly through force) while the free market uses economic power to maintain it system through voluntary exchanges of goods and services.

This early work was somewhat difficult for me to follow in certain places, especially when it came to the formation of various stages of the state. Nevertheless I found it to be interesting and that I recommend it to those who want to learn more about state formation. Four stars.
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Format: Paperback
This book was one of those rare finds for me which really helped convince me thoroughly that "The State" was never ever brought about nor conceived in any kind of social contract nor peaceful and voluntary agreement but rather it's history is full of only war, looting, force, murder, coercion, deception, manipulation, and above all a subjugation of one class or classes by another class or classes!

JCM
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