This is the first post by Polar Bear, a new contributor to Auspundits.
Marxist Historicism envisaged the “withering away” of the state, following the triumph of the proletariat. Yet Communist totalitarianism and its fascist counterpart saw the apparent apotheosis of state power.
And we may have seen the enthronement of a paradox. As quoted by Richard Pipes in Russia under The Bolshevik Regime 1919 – 1924, on page 269, Hans Buchheim argues that:
In view of the different natures of state and totalitarian rule, it is a contradiction in terms to speak of a “totalitarian state,” as is quite generally done…It is a dangerous error to see totalitarian rule as an excess of state power; in reality, the state as well as political life, properly understood, are among the most important prerequisites to protect us against totalitarian rule.
To quote Richard Pipes on page 266:
Like Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler used their organizations to take over the state. In all three countries, the ruling party functioned as a private organization.
And now, to return to today’s tyrannies, whether we are talking of Iran, Burma, North Korea and China, we see the “state” subsumed to a religious clique as in Iran, or the party ruling caste as in China, or effectively negated in the case of Burma and North Korea.
The old Marxists are beyond redemption, but the libertarians might begin to contemplate what awful consequences await any withering of the state. True lovers of freedom should campaign for the state as the essential anchorage of a decent civil society.
Over to you.