Pierre Clastres: Society Against the State

Greek Left Review

published at http://www.respublica.gr/2015/01/column/who-we-are/
Primitive societies are societies without a State. This factual judgement, accurate in itself, actually hides an opinion, a value judgement that immediately throws doubt on the possibility of constituting political anthropology as a strict science. What the statement says, in fact, is that primitive societies are missing something – the State – that is essential to them, as it is to any other society: our own, for instance. Consequently, those societies are incomplete; they are not quite true societies–they are not civilized–their existence continues to suffer the painful experience of a lack–the lack of a State–which, try as they may, they will never make up. Whether clearly stated or not, that is what comes through in the explorers’ chronicles and the work of researchers alike: society is inconceivable without the State; the State is the destiny of every society.

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