Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels famously predicted that the state would wither away after the working class seized power, although we saw in real life that the “dictatorship of the proletariat” created a stronger and stronger state. That’s because Marx and Engels saw the state existing simply to regulate class conflict. Since class conflict was going to be gone — with the “working class” clearly in charge — there would be no state. That was a fantasy at the time.
I keep talking lately about a post-statist world, and it’s time to be a little more specific about what that means. Am I predicting that all governments are suddenly going to cease existing? No, that’s not it. To make my point clear, I’m going to compare it to another controversial assertion that’s been made lately.
Nearly three months ago — following up on something he’d been talking about for nearly a year — Apple CEO Steve Jobs asserted that the computer industry has entered what he called the “post-PC era.” Outraged commentators screamed that he was crazy — because the PC was still the dominant computing device in the market. A few others got it. Eventually, I think everybody will understand what he was talking about.