Rafael Khachaturian: “On Thinking with and against the State”

‘Given the multi-faceted character of the state, attempts to either smash or to theorize it out of existence will both be quixotic; while piecemeal reforms are complicated by the relational character of state institutions and their being located at the intersection of subnational and international levels. In the present and near future, a revived Left that orients itself towards state institutions and makes demands on them for a multitude of racial, gender, ecological, political, and economic equalities would face an uphill road. It must direct its politics to the space between the proximity of specific policies to be challenged and institutions to be democratized, and the distance of that elusive entity called “the state.” It must negotiate between these two poles of a productive tension in a radically incremental (or incrementally radical) manner. Perhaps only then could it be possible to avoid both the short sightedness of neoliberalism with a social democratic face, and the monumental and self-defeating task of “capturing” the state that would be doomed to failure—or perhaps worse, to success.’