In his 1977 book Cannibals and Kings, anthropologist Marvin Harris explores human culture and society and their evolution. In it, he devotes a chapter on the origins of the state. One paragraph in the opening discussion on page 102 struck me as a profound and honest statement on the perniciousness of the state:
With the rise of the state all of this [economic and political freedom] was swept away. For the past five or six millennia, nine-tenths of all people who ever lived did so as peasants or as members of some other servile caste or class. With the rise of the state, ordinary men seeking to use nature’s bounty had to get someone else’s permission and had to pay for it with taxes, tribute, or extra labor. The weapons and techniques of war and organized aggression were taken away from them and turned over to specialist-soldiers and policemen controlled by military, religious, and civil bureaucrats. For the first time there appeared on earth kings, dictators, high priests, emperors, prime ministers, presidents, governors, mayors, generals, admirals, police chiefs, judges, lawyers, and jailers, along with dungeons, jails, penitentiaries, and concentration camps. Under the tutelage of the state, human beings learned for the first time how to bow, grovel, kneel, and kowtow. In many ways the rise of the state was the descent of the world from freedom to slavery.