Jasper Bernes

is lecturer in the English Department at UC Berkeley. He is the author of Starsdown (2007). Recent poems and essays can be found in Modern Language Quarterly, The Lana Turner, Los Angeles Review of Books, The American Reader, and Endnotes. His book-length poem, We Are Nothing and So Can You, will be published by Commune Editions in spring 2015.

The Ends of the State

The Ends of the State

It is in no way self-appar­ent that think­ing more about the state, even if one promis­es to do it dif­fer­ent­ly, is the sen­si­ble rem­e­dy for the prob­lem of social move­ments that hurl them­selves repeat­ed­ly against the colon­nades of the Nation­al Assem­bly. If we are to con­front prac­ti­cal prob­lems in the strug­gle to remake the world, we should like to see the sit­u­a­tion right side up. For us, the prob­lem is not how to seize state pow­er but how not to be seized by it – how we might elude being hailed by the ques­tion of pow­er rather than that of social repro­duc­tion, and in turn, elude being forced to fight on ter­rain that is unfa­vor­able.