How a Bunch of Gangsters Stole Our Entire Planet: a Brief History of the State

Early Man

“This sucks.”

Long ago, we were all just a bunch of people. We wandered around, gathered stuff to eat, hunted stuff to eat. Sometimes we fought each other, but mostly we fought nature, because the whole “surviving” thing was pretty tough.

Then one day we invented agriculture, so we had to stick around in one place to wait for our plants to grow. And we ate a lot of plants, and we also started keeping animals around

This agriculture stuff meant we could have a lot more food, and we sexed it up a lot, so suddenly there were a lot more people all spreading around to find new places to wait for plants to grow.

Some places were better places to wait for plants to grow, because there was lots of fresh water and the dirt was good for plants to grow in.

Sooner or later people got to fighting over the very best dirt. Some people were really good at fighting and killing other people and they ganged up together and took command of that wonderful plant-growin’ dirt.

So those were the first gangsters: tough dudes who took power and land because they were really good at being violent.

Hammurabi

“Working sucks. You will do all the work for me or I will beat the hell out of you.”

One gangster would usually end up on top as the toughest, meanest gangster of them all, and he would call himself a “king,” and he’d make sure his son became the next king-gangster, and that’s how we got our very first hereditary monarchies.

There kept being more and more people and they spread out all over the dang place until there were gangsters pretty much everywhere, and every gangster had their own patch of dirt, and they got to tell all the people who lived on that dirt what to do, and that’s what we call a “state.”

A state is a system where some people who are very strong get to tell everyone else what to do, and if they don’t do what they’re told, they’ll get beaten up or killed or imprisoned or otherwise suffer some kind of nasty punishment.

Now, one thing you should know about gangsters — they are super lazy. They really don’t want to do any work themselves. So as soon as a gangster became a king the first thing he’d want to do is set it up so he’d have an army to do all the fighting for him and capture a bunch of slaves to do all the work for him.

Eventually some of the gangsters decided it might be nice if they could vote on stuff. But of course not everyone could vote on stuff — that wouldn’t be very gangsterish! No, only the gangsters who had been the best at beating people up and stealing dirt and who owned the most slaves could vote on stuff. They called this democracy.

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, working sucks. I hereby propose that we continue just having slaves do all the work for us.”

Those democracy-gangsters did a pretty good job voting on stuff because they were able to build really huge gangs and stole a lot of dirt from a lot of those old-fashioned king-type gangsters and took the people who lived on that dirt as slaves. It was a pretty nice life to be a dirt-owning voter-gangster at that time.

So this went on for a long time but eventually the old-fashioned king gangs got it together and took all the dirt back from the democracy gangs.

Now, these king-gangsters needed help from some the other gangsters who helped them steal the dirt, so they created a system called “feudalism.” Under feudalism, a lesser-gangster called a “noble” would get a bunch of dirt and also the people who lived on that dirt in exchange for serving the king-gangster. It worked pretty well and the king-gangsters in Europe got particularly rich, especially after they found out about these cool Chinese things called guns that were really good for killing people.

Then this one European gangster sent out some gangsters on some boats to go out and find some more dirt to steal, and that gangster found some really sweet dirt. This was dirt nobody in Europe knew about. The gangsters went bananas over all that sweet dirt.

Hernan Cortes

“I have sailed across the great Ocean Sea to literally murder you so my king can continue sitting around on his ass not having to work.”

So the gangsters sent huge gangs over to take all the dirt. Incidentally, they named this dirt “America,” after a gangster who liked to make maps of the dirt they wanted to steal.

There were some gangsters already living in America, and also some other folks who never really got into the whole gangster thing — anyway there were a lot of people livingg in America already but the European gangsters didn’t care, since they were gangsters. They were like, “this is our dirt now,” and they killed off huge numbers of the native people in America with diseases and guns.

See, these European gangsters were more “civilized” than the folks who were native to America.

(“Civilized” is an adjective that means “better at killing people and stealing dirt.”)

The gangsters who went to America from Europe started to notice that their skin was a different color than all the people who they stole the dirt from. They convinced themselves that the reason they were able to steal all this dirt was because their skin was whiter and they had a better God, and not because they were just a bunch of incredibly violent thugs who were really good at murdering people and stealing dirt.

“Civilization”

In addition to being bloodthirsty and violent and “civilized” they were also super lazy, and it turns out getting plants and shiny rocks and stuff out of the dirt is really hard work, and they didn’t want to do it themselves, so they sent gangsters to go buy human beings from some other gangsters in Africa. They convinced themselves that this was okay to do, because the human beings they were stealing had darker skin.

So here we have a bunch of murderous gangsters who stole a bunch of dirt from people they wiped out then imported a bunch of human slaves to work on the stolen dirt. But they got mad because the gangsters back in Europe still wanted their cut in the form of taxes.

The gangsters in America were like, “we ain’t payin’ you any more, we don’t need a king-gangster over here, go to hell.”

So the most “civilized” white male gangsters who had stolen the most dirt decided to try that democracy stuff again. But of course only white male gangsters who owned stolen dirt could vote. So they fought a gang war with the king gangsters from back in Europe and won, then they all patted each other on the back about how ethical they were. They thought they were especially ethical because they weren’t using the feudal system of gangsterism any more.

“Damn, I love watching all these ladies work almost as much as I love not doing any work, myself.”

See, something interesting was happening right around this time. All the trading that was going on between America and Europe was making the American non-king gangsters incredibly wealthy, especially because they had all these slaves who were working on their plantations for free. So they had all this high-quality dirt and all this free labor and they got super rich. At the same time some other non-king gangsters were having something called the “industrial revolution.” basically, a few gangsters realized that they could build a factory and pay folks a very small amount of money to work in the factories and then become even more rich and powerful.

So the lazy gangsters in the South were building plantations where slaves would work for them for free, and the lazy gangsters in the North were building factories where they were paying workers very small amounts of money so they could in turn bring in a LOT of money. This was called “capitalism” and it was a revolutionary system for gangsters.

They had a few setbacks along the way, like how eventually they had to stop owning slaves, but they realized it wasn’t even that big of a deal because they didn’t have to pay workers very much anyway. Just the bare minimum to survive was usually enough of a wage to fill a factory with workers. After all, there were plenty of desperate folks who didn’t own their own dirt and were too poor to open their own factories, and they needed to work for the capitalists to survive.

“We want fair working conditions!”
“For that you must die!”

Sometimes the workers would get angry and realize that they weren’t getting a fair deal. They saw the rich capitalist-gangsters running around with fancy clothes and lots of wealth while they were living in poverty. They realized that they were working long, hard hours and the capitalists were being lazy. They developed what was called “class consciousness,” which means they wanted to get a fair deal and work in safe conditions and get paid a fair share of the profits for their labor. They started to form unions to try to demand a fair share from the gangster-capitalists, but the gangster-capitalists had designed the government and were firmly in control of the violent state so it was easy for them to force the workers to accept whatever terms they were offered.

The smartest capitalist-gangsters also realized they didn’t even really have to go out and conquer dirt any more if they wanted to expand their private empires.

Sometimes just to let off a little steam they’d agree to little concessions like maximum number of working hours and a minimum wage but they never stopped stealing the vast majority of the value of the workers’ labor in the form of profits.

The smartest capitalist-gangsters also realized they didn’t even really have to go out and conquer dirt any more if they wanted to expand their private empires. They could just go out and build factories and plantations in countries that were more poor and pay those workers even less money than they were paying the workers back at home, which increased their profits dramatically. If those workers had a problem with it they could always just conquer the dirt the old-fashioned way and force them to do as they were told at gunpoint. This system is called “capitalist-imperialism” and it’s a really efficient way for gangsters in rich countries to suck all the money and resources out of poorer countries and into their own pockets.

Several centuries of violently plundering the rest of the world sure makes for some pretty towns.

As you can see, all of the wealth and prosperity of the Western world was built up through gangsterism and incredible violence. Paris has some really pretty buildings, right? Well that’s because they gangstered up on places like Vietnam and Senegal and stole all kinds of stuff from those countries for hundreds of years.

England has a pretty nice healthcare system, right? And that London Underground is pretty swanky! Well, it’s easy to have nice stuff like that when you spend a few centuries running around the world robbing people at gunpoint for gold and silver and oil! The jolly ol’ English empire was gangster as heck!

And the USA? Daaaamn! Gun-boat diplomacy? CIA-backed coups? Wars for oil? We are the gangsta-est-ass-gangstas in human history!

So remember, if you own a house, or run a business, or have any kind of wealth at all in your life, you owe that luxury and comfort to our culture’s long and violent history of gangsterism. Every sports car. Every iPhone. Every home. It can all be traced back to a violent source. No matter what you’re buying and selling, it’s ultimately the fruit of violent gangsterism.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all white male landowners should get to keep ALL the stuff we stole.”

The United States of America’s entire society was designed by a bunch of white male slave-owning gangster dirt-thieves who violently seized that very dirt from violent European gangster-monarchs, who had originally stolen that same land from the native Americans.

As Albert Einstein wrote in his seminal piece Why Socialism:

…most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

As anarchists, we call for an end to the state.

See, that’s what a state is. It’s a system of non-consensual government based entirely on an aggressive monopoly of violence. We never consented to being United States citizens, and yet we are forced to pay taxes every year that go to fund wars in foreign countries. These taxes pay salaries and legal defense funds for police officers who murder people of color in cold blood, they pay for a fascist gangster to take golf trips every weekend, and they pay to fund wars in foreign countries that make military-industrial capitalists absurdly wealthy. It’s a nasty and reprehensible system and we are forced to take part in it. If we refuse, it’s off to prison for  us.

“Give me the power, and I both can and will free you from the miseries which press so heavily upon you.”

A state is a system that preserves power structures through violence and forces people to be complicit with oppressive acts and to finance terroristic acts of war and plunder or else face dire consequences.

Pyotr Kropotkin wrote extensively of the overwhelming power of the state in our lives and even in our minds:

We have all been brought up from our childhood to regard the State as a sort of Providence; all our education, the Roman history we learned at school, the Byzantine code which we studied later under the name of Roman law, and the various sciences taught at the universities, accustom us to believe in Government and in the virtues of the State providential.

Of course, these gangster states only take care of the ruling gangster classes as they pile more misery and suffering onto the bulk of humanity.

As anarchists, we call for an end to the state. We aim to establish a new system of consensual self-government, free of exploitation, where we, as individuals, come together as equals. The violence and exploitation inherent in state coercion lifted from our backs, we will be able to support one another and build a new society based on mutual aid and support.

If it sounds like an impossible dream, it’s only because you’ve spent an entire lifetime being brainwashed by the state. As Kropotkin explained:

To maintain this superstition whole systems of philosophy have been elaborated and taught; all politics are based on this principle; and each politician, whatever his colours, comes forward and says to the people, ‘Give me the power, and I both can and will free you from the miseries which press so heavily upon you.’

Let’s be finished with the superstition that the state is beneficial or necessary in any way. Let’s put to rest the lie that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and all the other framers of the constitution delivered anything more than an illusion of freedom to the people of the world, and let’s demand real freedom from state gangsterism which defines the United States of America and all the liberal democracies that followed in its footsteps.

Abolish the State, the personification of injustice, oppression, and monopoly!

One Response to “How a Bunch of Gangsters Stole Our Entire Planet: a Brief History of the State

  • One thing on the way you describe the end of slavery. Capitalists in the Americas and likely Europe as well weren’t so quick to give up a class of free labourers. Systems were put in place to allow capitalists to not pay their black workers including the prison industrial complex which we still see used today. Some folx were never told about abolition and were treated as slaves, cut off from the outside world, into the sixties. Plus later substituting the work with black workers who still had even less of a choice as to where to work.
    I really like the part near the end where you point out why exactly France, the US, and the UK are such prosperous nations.

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