The Modern State: An Anarchist Analysis


227 pages
ISBN 0-919619-19-3





Reviewed by Robert Bedeski

Robert Bedeski was Professor of Political Science at Carleton University, Ottawa.


The author of this provocative book is Professor of Political Science at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Now that the concept of the state is again becoming a focus of attention in political theory, Professor Harrison’s work is a refreshing discussion of the moral and economic contradictions between the individual and state from the anarchist perspective. He examines the modern state in both capitalism and communist regimes, and he decries nationalist tendencies, which logically end in fascism (p.27). Revolutions do not alter the basic tendencies of the state, since those which capture state power generally end by “perpetrating hierarchy in a new form” (p.55). The study examines the thought of anarchists including Godwin, Stirner, and Bakunin. In examining the Bolshevik revolution, the author tries to demonstrate that resurrection of the bureaucratic state was not inevitable, but the statism of Lenin and his followers made imposition of rule from the center and top their main goal. Thus, the Bolshevik revolution became counter-revolution. The book is a useful and insightful critique of the modern state from the anarchist perspective. The contradictions in socialist ideology and practice are well described. There is the occasional lapse into pamphlet-style prose. It is a book that belongs on any reading list dealing with the state or anarchism or revolution.



Harrison, J. Frank, “The Modern State: An Anarchist Analysis,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,