The State

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by Randolph Bourne

See Sharp Press

1998, booklet

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“War is the health of the State” — Randolph Bourne, "The State", 1918

"The State" was an unfinished, unpaginated draft left by Randolph Bourne when he died during the flu pandemic of 1918. This draft, also known as "War is the Health of the State", was published posthumously in a collection of essays Untimely Papers.

"The State" offers a powerful analysis of the link between state and war, and about the exploitation of war by the state in order to bring to the fore the herd instinct of the people. In times of peace, people pursue their own self-interest, identify with society, interact with government, and only occasionally encounter the state institutions. In times of war, the government and state become virtually identical, so that to oppose the government becomes an act of disloyalty to the state.

Bourne’s positions in "The State" are as thought-provoking and relevant as ever for students of history, political scientists and others interested in the role of war for the modern state.

About the Author:

Randolph Silliman Bourne was a progressive writer and intellectual born in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and a graduate of Columbia University. He is considered to be a spokesman for the young radicals living during World War I. His articles appeared in journals including The Seven Arts and The New Republic