Is it possible, as Marx and Engels announced in the Communist Manifesto, for there to occur a withering away of the state? In this cool and lucid work of speculative philosophy, Andrew Levine traces the ideal of communism from Rousseau’s notion of the perfect state in which the general will would be spontaneously expressed, to Marx’s classless utopia. He argues that Rousseau’s legacy allows us to think of ways in which human beings can be transformed, morally and politically, from the condition in which the state is necessary. This is quite different, Levine shows, from the dangerous Stalinist dream of the “New Man.” The concept of a stateless society assumes that politics is about encouraging autonomy and a sense of the social whole; it breaks definitively with the pessimistic tradition in Western thought that views politics as a necessary evil.
Featuring elegant and concise discussions of Kant, Rousseau, Burke, de Tocqueville, Marx and more recent thinkers like Gerald Cohen, The End of the State will prove invaluable reading for students of the Enlightenment, of classical liberalism, and of socialism.