Society Despite the State

An Experiment in ‘Counterfactual Statism’

  • Gerónimo Barrera University of Texas, Austin
  • Anthony Ince Cardiff University
Keywords: Anarchism, statism, counterfactualism, literature, imagination

Abstract

Geography as a discipline has its foundations in colonialist, imperialist, capitalist and nation-building endeavours. The state has been central to its institutionalisation and has shaped in many ways the epistemic frameworks that continue to dictate how geographical knowledge is produced. This intervention is part of an ongoing project in which the authors seek to decentre the dominance of the state in geographical imaginations and reignite a critical self-examination of anarchist thinking on the state; a gaze the authors term post-statism. We contribute efforts to unpack and disrupt the prevalence of the state as an indisputable, intrinsic human institution that is essential to our contemporary and globalised world. This paper builds on radical and anti-authoritarian perspectives to interrogate how the state could be expounded from multiple purviews. In order to convey the latter, we examine a fundamental moment in the state’s understanding and representation through a counterfactual engagement with statism. We draw on non-academic sources (sci-fi literature) to question what may have happened if we had not invented the state. This point seeks to dislocate statist thought through critiques and imaginaries that question our reality – indeed, the separation of reality and fiction itself – and bring into focus other worlds.

References

Bell, D.M. 2016. Paying “Utopia” a Subversive Fidelity; or, An Affective Trip to Anarres. Utopian Studies, 27, 2, 129-151.

Burdette, H. 2011. Archaizing Futurism: Decolonization and Anarcofeminism in “De cuando en cuando Saturnina”. Bolivian Studies Journal, 18, 115-133.

Call, L. 2007. Postmodern Anarchism in the Novels of Ursula K. Le Guin. SubStance. 36, 2, 112, 87-105.

Day, M. 2020. Counterfactual reasoning and methos in historical geography. Journal of Historical Geography, 36, 3, 253-260.

Faure, S. 2018 [1924]. The Anarchist Encyclopedia. USA: AK Press.

Gilbert, D. and Lambert, D. 2010. Counterfactual geographies: worlds that might have been.  Journal of Historical Geography, 36, 245-252.

Ince, A. and Barrera de la Torre, G. 2016. For post-statist geographies. Political Geography, 55, 10-19.

Kneale, J. 2010. Counterfactualism, utopia, and historical geography: Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt. Journal of Historical Geography, 26, 297-304.

Lagalisse, E. 2019.  Occult features of anarchism. Oakland: PM Press

Landauer, G. 2010 [1910]. Weak statesmen, weaker people! In G. Kuhn (Ed.), Gustav Landauer: Revolution and other writings – a political reader (G. Kuhn, Trans.), Oakland and Pontypool: PM Press and Merlin Press, pp. 213–215.

Le Guin, U.K. 2004 [1974]. The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia. London: Gollancz.

Lundy, C. 2013. Why wasn’t Capitalism born in China? – Deleuze and the Philosophy of Non-Events. Theory & Event, 16, 3. (Retrieved March 8 2019, Project Muse.

Maxwell, B. and Craib, R. [eds.] 2015. No Gods, No Masters, No Peripheries: Global Anarchisms. Oakland: PM Press.

Rivera Cusicanqui, S. 2012. Ch'ixinakax utxiwa: A reflection on the practices and discourses of decolonization. South Atlantic Quarterly, 111, 1, 95-109.

Rivera Cusicanqui, S. 2016. Comunalidades anarquistas. Una aproximación testimonial. Muiraquitã - Revista de Letras e Humanidades, 4, 2

Simpson, L.B. 2017. As we Have Always Done. Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance. USA: University of Minnesota Press.

Sivaramakrishnan, K. 1999. Modern Forests. Statemaking and Environmental Change in Colonial Eastern India. UK: Standford.

Spedding, A. 2004. De cuando en cuando Saturnina (Saturnina from time to time). Una historia oral del futuro. La Paz: Editorial Mama Huaco.

Springer, S. 2016. The Anarchist Roots of Geography: Towards Spatial Emantipation. USA: University of Minnesota Press.

Volcano, A. and Rogue, J. 2018. ‘Insurrections at the intersections: feminism, intersectionality, and anarchism’ Black Rose Anarchist Federation [online]. Available from: https://blackrosefed.org/feminism-intersectionality-anarchism/ [Accessed 10 June 2020]

Woodworth, F. 1999. The Match! A Journal of Ethical Anarchism, 94 (summer).
Published
2021-03-13
How to Cite
Barrera, G., & Ince, A. (2021). Society Despite the State. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 20(2), 214-221. Retrieved from https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/1953