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Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  450 ratings  ·  25 reviews
The thesis is radical, writes Marshall Sahlins of this landmark text in anthropology and political science. We conventionally define the state as the regulation of violence; it may be the origin of it. Clastres's thesis is that economic expropriation and political coercion are inconsistent with the character of tribal society - which is to say, with the greater part of ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 4th 1989 by Zone Books (first published 1974)
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Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Is Clastres the red-headed step-child of anthropology? I've got two anthro degrees, and had to come to him via Tiqqun. While I've been forced to read a good chunk of the French anthro canon, nary a word of Clastres. I don't think it's quite a conspiracy, but I question this strange "hiding" of anthro texts that hint at anarchism (like Clastres, I also had to read Graeber on my own).

Clastres'anthropology is SO GOOD, but can still be critiqued. At times I felt like he was homogenizing, what he
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sosyoloji
Antropolojiye olan ilginizin yanında devlet haricinde alternatif var mı sorusu için mutlaka okunmalı.
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bu kitabın ezberbozan bir yanı vardı. En azından benim için. Toplum olarak kendimizi aradığımız [yanardöner gibi bir devir batılılaşıp bir devir doğululaşarak] bir dönemde, örnek aldığımız dayanaklarımızı sorgulatan bir kitap oldu. Batı benmerkezciliğine net bir eleştiri bu. Devlete dair daha çok soru sorduracak bir kitap.

aklıma gelen 3 alıcı grubuna kişisel notum:

- devleti, bir de devletsiz toplumlarla karşılaştırma yaparak anlayayım diyenlerin okuması gerekli. [Uzmanı değilim, nacizane
Aug 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: anth-sosh
Having read Clastres later Archeology of Violence (you can see my review here), I was prepared to be blown away by this one (after all, the production/jacket is much higher end stuff, which means it's better, right?).

But I was instead disappointed. He says essentially similar things, but in more theoretical ways than he does in the other book. This made it harder for me to stay interested. Additionally, there were a couple of spots where he seemed to romanticize the indigenous people, giving
Laszlo Szerdahelyi
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthro
The chief crazy enough to dream of the abuse of a power he does not possess, as of the use of power, the chief who tries to play chief, is abandoned. Primitive society itself, and not the chief, is the real locus of power

That European observations of and conclusions about 'other' people's social, political and economic organization, from the early writings of Jesuits to travelers and explorers and the early ethnographers and anthropologists, is marred with a strong Western ethnocentric prejudice
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
'Society against the State' is the name of the last essay, which I head read before, and the reason why I decided to read the whole book. The topic of each essay is different, but the line connecting them would be 'power' - what is power in South American autochtonous societies, what is it source, its place, its limites, who wields, etc. But more often than not, this addressed indirectly, by tackling seemingly unrelated topics like the myth of the jaguar, the singing of warriors, the ...more
Oct 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Clastres main thesis through this book is that stateless societies are not under-developed, but a result of conscious and active organization against statist structures.

Even though some of his ideas are a bit dated by now and come across as typical arrogancy of a western scholar, Clastres does deserve credit for being one the first western intellectuals to seriously point out that maybe people living in these societies actually choose their lives.
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I wouldn't have gotten as much out of it if I didn't have a professor and students helping to expand on the ideas in this book...but I did and so I enjoyed it. While I don't agree with most things written in this book, I like ideas that challenge my own because it allows me to look at them from all sides and I am better able to explain (to myself and others) why I feel the way I do about culture.
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Politik Antropolojiye yabancı olanlar için dahi anlaması kolay, kısa ancak derin bir kitap. Beşeri bilimlerle bir şekilde hasbihal olan herkesin okuması gerekli diye düşünüyorum.
Currently re-reading this book. Beautifully written and insightful ethnography. Translated by Paul Auster (!).
Yoann Negre
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La première partie de l'œuvre se concentre sur la critique de l'anthropologie, dont l'ethnocentrisme des chercheurs a conduit à de nombreux biais cognitifs à propos des civilisations dites "archaïques" et de leur organisation. En effet, elles sont définies comme étant en retard, du fait de leur économie de substance, donc qui se "contente" de répondre aux uniques besoin de la population en opposition à l'économie de marché où il faut produire un maximum pour faire mieux que le concurrent. Le ...more
Ahmed Ali
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
يرى بيار كلاستر في كتابه مجتمع اللادولة وعلى خلاف الماركسيّة أنّ الاغتراب البشريّ الأصليّ هو اغتراب سياسيّ وليس اقتصاديّ فالأوّل هو الذي يحدّد الثّاني. فمجتمع الهنود الحمر كان يعيش اقتصادا كفافيّا أي أنّه كان ينتج ما يحتاجه لاستهلاكه الحيويّ الطبيعيّ عبر الوسائل التقنيّة التي تتيح له السّيطرة على المجال الطبيعيّ المحيط بشكل متناسب مع احتياجاته إنّه غير ملزم بإنتاج الفوائض ولم ينتجها طالما أنّ السّلطة الجائرة المنفصلة المؤهّلة لمراكمتها وإقامة علاقات الاستغلال البشريّ على أساسها غير موجودة أصلا ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
À en croire Pierre Clastres, les sociétés primitives refusent le travail superflu. Elles sont fainéantes , dans le sens ou elles refusent de s'adonner à des activités productives au-delà de ce qui est nécessaire à leur survie. Elles passent ainsi le plus clair de leur temps dans l'oisiveté, où à s'adonner à leurs passions (notamment la guerre)... sans pour autant être sous la menace constante de famines ou pénuries.

Lorsque Pierre Clastres établit cette différence entre la société sans État de
Lee Foust
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly Ardens
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quest'opera di Pierre Clastres getta degli spunti molto interessanti, in particolare quando conduce una critica all'antropologia etnocentrica. Essendo degli anni 60-70 è comunque un'opera con un linguaggio desueto, ma comunque è stato interessante studiarla. Consiglio a chi vuole uno sguardo più critico sull'antropologia amerindiana del periodo.
Boris Farías Hunt
Un ensayo lúcido, que deja de lado el antropocentrismo, analiza de forma certera las sociedades amazónicas generando vínculos con nuestros actuales modelos. No se encierra en el academicismo.
Bryn Hammond
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-history
I came to this through Christopher Boehm, Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. For early human politics, I'd say, go there, which builds on Clastres, and had told me Clastres' main message, about how early-style societies defend themselves against that perceived evil power - how they prevent power. Boehm dives into primate behaviour too to link up with our species (he's a primatologist turned anthropologist).

Still, I'm glad I read this. It's a set of essays. Once his
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Não obstante o prefácio dos antropólogos negar desde o início ideologias, embasados numa definição crítica sucinta e coerente de Clastres quanto a ela, fica patente até o final a tentativa deles de, simultaneamente à recusa de uma fácil identidade radical, justificar a obra como mera teoria pragmática de empoderamento indígena e da polarização dos antropólogos quanto a construção de 'uma antropologia política específica' (ou seja, a esperança de uma ideologia analógica a dos sociólogos e afins ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthropology

I have read Society against the State and it is quite good; I really need to read more books by this author! In this book Clastres argues that the first States were not products of tribal 'bigmen' or 'chiefs' but, rather, a product of the tribal Shamans. Why? The reasoning is that only the Shaman had, in these 'primitive' societies, a monoply on fear - and thus power. In these pre-civilized societies the chiefs had no army or police to enforce their whims, but the shaman had superstition
Abdou Oubachir
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pierre Clastres, dans ses textes anthropologique a balayé pas mal d'idées reçues (fausses dans la plus part), les clichés, dont on nous parle durant des années, sont décortiqués dans une étude approfondie, et ça nous apprend beaucoup sur les sociétés dAmérique du sud, les tribus indiennes, leur mode de vie, leur vie au quotidien et le plus impressionnant, vivre en harmonie au sein de la société (la tribu) sans pouvoir, sans roi, sans classes.
sa façon d'élaborer les choses est différente des
Jérémi Doyon
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthropologie
Malgré le fait que certaine théories puissent paraître naïves ou même totalement invalidées par nos anthropologues modernes, ou parfois une certaine idéalisation irritante, le livre n'en est pas moins remarquable et brillant. Il est d'autant plus d'actualité pour penser un contre-pouvoir révolutionnaire en acte.

Il demande toutefois un prolongement et des rectifications(Pour une anthropologie anarchiste de David Graeber en serait l'exemple idéal).
Mirza  Sultan-Galiev
Nov 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: anarchism
Some very interesting examination of non-state societies conscious
maintenance of a diffuse distribution of power, ( inscription of law on the body etc).
However patriarchal relations are hardly interrogated at all, and the sketchy speculative vagueness of the whole thing is a bit tiresome.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politique, societe, essai
Plus complet qu'Archéologie de la Violence, cet ouvrage anthropologique de Pierre Clastres est en tout point de vue intéressant et instructif pour quiconque s'intéresse aux sociétés dites primitives du continent américain.
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
كتاب يعتبر من أمهات كتب الأنثروبولوجيا السياسية وفيه وضع كلاستر تصوراته حول السياسة كما تمارسها المجتمعات البدائية
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
exceptionally good read.
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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

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