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Ebook Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology by Pierre Clastres read! Book Title: Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology
The size of the: 698 KB
Edition: Zone Books
Date of issue: October 4th 1989
ISBN: 0942299019
ISBN 13: 9780942299014
The author of the book: Pierre Clastres
Language: English
Format files: PDF

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Can there be a society that is not divided into oppressors and oppressed, or that refuses coercive state apparatuses? In this landmark text in anthropology and political science, Pierre Clastres offers examples of South American Indian groups that, though without hierarchical leadership, were both affluent and complex. In so doing, he refutes the usual negative definition of tribal society and poses its order as a radical critique of our own Western state of power.Born in 1934, Pierre Clastres was educated at the Sorbonne. Through out the 1960s he lived with Indian groups in Paraguay and Venezuela. From 1971 to his death in 1979 he was a Director of Studies at the A0/00cole Pratique des Hautes A0/00tudes in Paris, where he held the chair of Religion and Societies of the South American Indians.

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Ebook Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology read Online! Pierre Clastres, (1934-1977), was a French anthropologist and ethnographer. He is best known for his fieldwork among the Guayaki in Paraguay and his theory on stateless societies. Some people regard him as giving scientific validity to certain anarchist perspectives.[1]

In his most famous work, Society Against the State (1974), Clastres indeed criticizes both the evolutionist notion that the state would be the ultimate destiny of all societies, and the Rousseauian notion of man's natural state of innocence (the myth of the noble savage). Knowledge of power is innate in any society, thus the natural state for humans wanting to preserve autonomy is a society structured by a complex set of customs which actively avert the rise of despotic power. The state is seen as but a specific constellation of hierarchical power peculiar only to societies who have failed to maintain these mechanisms which prevent separation from happening. Thus, in the Guayaki tribes, the leader has only a representational role, being his people's spokesperson towards other tribes ("international relations"). If he abuses his authority, he may be violently removed by his people, and the institution of "spokesperson" is never allowed to transform itself into a separate institution of authority. Pierre Clastres' theory thus was an explicit criticism of vulgar Marxist theories of economic determinism, in that he considered an autonomous sphere of politics, which existed in stateless societies as the active conjuration of authority. The essential question which Clastres sought to answer was: why would an individual in an egalitarian (eg foraging) society chose to subordinate himself to an authority? He considered the consequent rise of the state to be due to the power disparaties that arise when religion credits a prophet or other medium with a direct knowledge of divine power which is unattainable by the bulk of society. It is this upsetting of the balance of power that engendered the inequality to be found in more highly structured societies, and not an initial economic disparity as argued by the Marxist school of thought.


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