chapter
7 Pages

Conclusion: Against Anti-Statism

ByJane Anna Gordon

If the relationship of nations to states is illuminated by the broad and deep challenge of the stateless, the conclusion claims, the consistent ubiquity of enslavement, as Rosa Luxemburg diagnosed, magnifies the dangers that follow from normalizing the division of laboring from the power and authority to make political decisions. If the stateless magnify territorial questions of organized belonging, the enslaved demand consideration of contributions of labor as a basis for political standing. Gordon then argues that a central obstacle to making use of such political reflection is mistaking one particular historical instantiation of each phenomenon for the phenomena themselves. When we are not caught in this trap, we can observe that there is considerable overlap between those rendered stateless and those who are or will be enslaved. But, even then, distinctions are necessary since for some enslaved people who find freedom, they can move out of both enslavement and statelessness while for others, to move out of literal enslavement is to continue on as stateless. One question raised by the growth of literal (as opposed to wage) slavery is why the use of physical compulsion is being reintroduced on unprecedented scales at the same time that the need for human labor overall is being reduced. The conclusion ends by considering the continued value of work as a social good by revisiting, through the work of Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff, the distinction between work and labor as understood in the Tswana language and by challenging the view that this distinction must map neatly onto the difference between political institutions, on the one hand, and states, on the other.