Wayne Price, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives
Authorhouse 2007, Bloomington Indiana, 196pp
Wayne Price's The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives explores one of the main features of anarchist political theory, namely, the role and nature of the state, as well as questions surrounding the strategies and social forms required for its dissolution. The state, as defined by Price, being the 'dominant power of a territory [...] a bureaucratic-military machine standing above, and alienated from, the rest of class-divided society, serving the interests of the upper class' (p.9). The secondary topic of the book is a comparative analysis of various anarchist and Marxist approaches to these questions. While the question of the state has served as the basis of one of the major historical disagreements between these two revolutionary traditions, non-Leninist marxisms have periodically converged with socialist anarchisms. Price, as a 'Marxist-informed anarchist' (p.8), feels that both traditions have a great deal to learn from each other. Both topics have contemporary relevance, as indicated by the resurgence of anarchist thought in the post-Soviet era and the continuing efforts of anarchists and Marxists to engage in meaningful dialogue. In this sense, Price's varied political background and experience--from pacifism and Trotskyism to his current 'Platformist' anarcho-communism--is an asset in this undertaking.
The book is divided into three parts. Forming the bulk of the work at eight chapters, Price first summarizes the theoretical bases of anti-statism, the chief obstacles which might hinder this objective, and how a libertarian socialist society might function. In the next section Price looks at three historical examples where antistatist ideas were further tested, developed and/or found a limited field of practical application. The book concludes with a short outline of Price's conception of anarchism as 'nothing but the most extreme, consistent, and thoroughgoing democracy' (p.164).
In terms of Price's primary objective, a theoretical and historical treatment of anti-statism, it is essentially a restatement of the basic libertarian socialist positions. Its chief merits are twofold. First, it is written clearly and is free of much of the jargon that often obscures these arguments. Second, theoretical perspectives are often reinforced by fairly mainstream contemporary examples, showing both their...