#166 | How Nonviolence Protects The State: An Analysis Of Early State Formation w/ Peter Gelderloos

In this episode, I speak with anarchist, activist, and writer Peter Gelderloos. Peter is the author of numerous books, two of which we examine in this interview — ‘How Nonviolence Protects The State’ and ’Worshiping Power: An Anarchist View of Early State Formation.’

In this discussion, I ask Peter to examine the most lauded nonviolent movements in recent history: the anti-colonial movement in India in the early 20th century (in which Mahatma Gandhi became well known for his use of nonviolent resistance against British rule) and the civil rights and anti-war movements in the United States in the 1950s through the 1970s. As Peter elaborates in his book ‘How Nonviolence Protects The State,’ nonviolence and pacifism in general severely limit resistance movements in adequately and seriously upending and defending against entrenched systems of oppression and violence — the State being the ultimate manifestation of this in the world today (and through out much of human history, as we explore later). We get at the root of his critique of nonviolence, and attempt to clarify his position on this subject.

In the later half of this episode, we move onto his most recent book ‘Worshiping Power,’ in which Peter examines early state formation in societies through out human history. What stands out from this discussion is: 1) there are numerous examples of societies throughout human history that have fluidly and successfully moved through pre-state, state, and post-state in their organizing structure; 2) the formation of the State in any given society is not the culmination of human “progress” — this narrative is ultimately the product of chauvinistic and patriarchal forms of thought, an attempt to justify the genocidal current that runs through any defense of the State as the ultimate form of human organization. As Peter demonstrates in this work, the now common view of the State, and our resistance (or lack of) to State power, is tied to these widespread assumptions. The sooner we recognize the faults in that line of thinking, the better off we will be in organizing and adequately expanding our use of tactics in dismantling the State, as well the logic of Capital the State defends and imposes upon us.

Peter Gelderloos is an anarchist, activist, and the author of numerous books and essays relating to the subjects of anarchism and resistance movements, as well as historical analysis of early state formation in human societies. Some of his works include ‘What is Democracy?,’ ‘How Nonviolence Protects the State,’ ‘Anarchy Works,’ ‘The Failure of Nonviolence: From the Arab Spring to Occupy,’ and ‘Worshipping Power: An Anarchist View of Early State Formation.’ Peter currently resides in Spain.

Episode Notes:

- Purchase an affordable and well-designed copy of ‘How Nonviolence Protects The State’ from Detritus Books: http://bit.ly/HowNonviolence

- Purchase ‘Worshipping Power: An Anarchist View of Early State Formation’ from AK Press: http://bit.ly/WorshippingPower

- Much of much Peter’s work can be found here: http://bit.ly/PeterGelderloos

- The songs featured in this episode are “Tomorrow” and “Army of Fear” by Lorn from the album Nothing Else.