The Greatest Danger: The State

“Spontaneous social action will be broken up over and over again by State intervention; no new seed will be able to fructify. Society will have to live for the State, man for the governmental machine. And as, after all, it is only a machine whose existence and maintenance depend on the vital supports around it, the State, after sucking out the very marrow of society, will be left bloodless, a skeleton, dead with that rusty death of machinery, more gruesome than the death of a living organism.

Such was the lamentable fate of ancient civilisation.

Already in the times of the Antonines (IInd Century), the State overbears society with its anti-vital supremacy. Society begins to be enslaved, to be unable to live except in the service of the State. The whole of life is bureaucratised. What results? The bureaucratisation of life brings about its absolute decay in all orders.”

José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses (1929), Chapter XIII: The Greatest Danger, The State

4 Comments on The Greatest Danger: The State

  1. The same could be said about civilisation itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gwendolyn, I agree. . But, looking deeper, I see the State as entirely a creation of human beings, and with good intentions, in an attempt to manage the complexity of living in large communities (nations).

    So, if the state is a creation of human beings, then it is human beings that are the danger. . Or some human beings: those who acquire power. . It tends to happen to every institution. . When power is available, it is exercised.

    I would therefore contend that the danger is in human beings who gain power. . But all human beings want influence, want to see the world in accord with what they believe is most important.

    So if we human beings are like that, there must be something about us that is common, even general. . There is. . We are internally divided by our minds/bodies/emotions. . And much of that division and its effects is unconscious: beneath our awareness. . This is known as shadow, or wetiko. . The devil is within us, as well as the god/good.

    This is supported by a deep understanding of human psychology. . I can supply some references.

    What do you think now?


    • I agree that it is some humans who are the danger – the ones who seek power are usually the least qualified to hold it. And, in the vast majority of cases, personal interest (as opposed to the interest of the wider community) is at the root of those who control the state. Therefore, the actions of the ‘state’ as a collective of bad individuals combining self-interests is almost always thoroughly self-serving. So when one encounters a ‘person with a particularly bad political/philosophical idea’ it’s best to prune their project before it gets a chance to even blossom.


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