For a start, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statism . My blog looks at different things.
Competing visions of the authoritarian state
- It is the executive committee of the bourgeoisie, and is dependent upon finance capital (Lenin). It should be overthrown in the interest of the working class (workers and peasants) and led by politically conscious communist intellectuals/planners, who represent and give voice to the exploited masses.
- It is, or should be, the embodiment of popular will and the voice of the people (progressives, left-leaning social democrats, sociologist Maurice Zeitlin for instance). The Obama administration is more and more a blend of numbers one through four.
- Owing to rationalization and the development of “experts,” the modern state is not dependent on any one class, but is an autonomous entity with its own power drive to persist (Michael Mann, Max Weber?)
- The state and the nation are indivisible (fascism). There are no dissenting individuals; all citizens are merged in the state, which may be organized through syndicati (Italian Fascism, i.e., the corporative state). Multiculturalism or identity politics create little “fascisms” in which blood and soil inheritance or rootedness supplant the roving, evolving, reconfiguring mind of the Enlightenment.
Versus the minimalist state, advanced by Founding Fathers. Unlike the authoritarian states, there are no mystical bonds to provide “cohesion.” The Constitution, assuming that human nature was imperfect, was designed for a representative republic, not a “democracy” that signified democratic rule by, for instance, debtors seeking to evade creditors, not to speak of post-New Deal layabouts (e.g. the newly “entitled”).
By contrast, in the progressive dispensation, the mediator has become a central figure. The notion that all conflicts can be reconciled with the perfectly rational mediator, who, with artfulness and certain techniques, can bring the warring parties to their senses, restoring “community” or “common ground,” originated in management-labor conflicts in the 1920s. In this case, the State is held to be neutral, above the fray of quarreling classes, genders, or nation-states. The United Nations was designed to serve this antiwar purpose. The notion that all conflict can be settled through mediation by the neutral state or the United Nations would be funny were it not so dangerous. For those who have succumbed to the neutral/neutered State, there can be no creative vision, no conversation that goes beyond trivia, no fertile innovations, no fruitful conflict leading to a new consensus.
(For a related blog see http://clarespark.com/2010/04/04/what-is-truth/, but also http://clarespark.com/2012/06/16/the-social-history-racket/. The political tactic of displaying rescued victims diverts attention away from the growth of state power and its increasing opacity.)