The State of the Spectacle: A Post-Anarchist Investigation Of The Problem Of State Reification

Publication Type  Thesis
Year of Publication  2004
Authors  Garen Karapetian
Academic Department  Department of International Politics
Number of Pages  334
University  University of Wales, Aberystwyth
City  Aberystwyth
Degree  PhD Thesis
Key Words  State; Reification; Post-anarchism; Poststructuralism; State theory; IR theory; Cultural theory
Abstract  

 The State is simultaneously a key concept in a
variety of social sciences, and an ultimately ambiguous and abstract
"entity".  In State-theories, Statist
discourses and representations the State already pre-exists the practices of
its theorising and representation, while there is quite a degree of ambivalence
and difficulty with regards to what the State itself is.  In effect, those very theories and
representations end up reifying that very "State", which they attempt to
understand and unmask.  In political and
international theory we still need to cut off the King's head.  The problem of reification of the State,
thus, becomes the nucleus of this investigation.  In a journey though classical anarchism, and
works of Max Stirner and Guy Debord, this thesis unpacks the problem of State
reification.  It demonstrates that apart
from expressing a theoretical and discursive difficulty, the problem of State
reification is complexly interwoven with cultural and psychological processes
involved in identity formation, alienating dynamics of theological politics and
conditions of existence within societies of the spectacle.  The recurrent aporias associated with the
existence of the State bring the investigation to the final analysis where it
becomes clear that spectacular configuration of sovereignty draws its
convincing power not so much from the discourses of social contract and the
divinity of the sovereign, but in reference to the established and untraceable
knowledge that "there is a State". 
Sovereignty is, therefore, a derivative of a more profound problem of
State reification.        

    

Notes  

This is my PhD thesis, which was submitted and defended in 2004. This work is not published as a book.  The attachment is a single PDF document.  Feel free to download and read it.  Needless to say, the ideas are mine, unless stated otherwise.  All right reserved.  And all quoting, paraphrasing or referring to my thesis should be accompanied by proper referencing and/or footnotes as appropriate in such cases.

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