Seeing like a State

Seeing like a State

How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

By:

James C. Scott

Book Club members' rating

Click any button below to buy or to see prices and Amazon reviews:

Book club members only: click here to join the discussion!


Log in to add to wishlist, library or to rate the book

Summary

Compulsory ujamaa villages in Tanzania, collectivization in Russia, Le Corbusier’s urban planning theory realized in Brasilia, the Great Leap Forward in China, agricultural "modernization" in the Tropics—the twentieth century has been racked by grand utopian schemes that have inadvertently brought death and disruption to millions. Why do well-intentioned plans for improving the human condition go tragically awry?

In this wide-ranging and original book, James C. Scott analyzes failed cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields. Centrally managed social plans misfire, Scott argues, when they impose schematic visions that do violence to complex interdependencies that are not—and cannot—be fully understood. Further, the success of designs for social organization depends upon the recognition that local, practical knowledge is as important as formal, epistemic knowledge. The author builds a persuasive case against "development theory" and imperialistic state planning that disregards the values, desires, and objections of its subjects. He identifies and discusses four conditions common to all planning disasters: administrative ordering of nature and society by the state; a "high-modernist ideology" that places confidence in the ability of science to improve every aspect of human life; a willingness to use authoritarian state power to effect large- scale interventions; and a prostrate civil society that cannot effectively resist such plans.

Great Deals!

Do you want to get this and many other paperback/hardcover books delivered fast and free? Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial or give the Gift of Amazon Prime to someone who'd love it!

The FREE Kindle Reading App lets you read your favorite eBooks on most devices (PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc.). Click here to get the FREE Kindle Reading App.
However, you could read this and countless other books on a brand new Kindle E-reader for less than the price of a cup of coffee per week. Click here to choose your favorite Kindle E-reader.
And the best thing is that most Books of Liberty eBooks are actually available through Kindle Unlimited. Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial to read from over 1 million ebooks and listen to thousands of audiobooks, all for one fixed, low price.

Tags

Similar Books

loading

Related Starting Points

Anti-individualism

Sadly, where there is light, there must be shadow and the topics you’d find in this category pertain to the darker parts of human existence. We’ve included some books that espouse such ideals, such as various communist treatises or books that advocate various forms of socialism or those that hail democracy as some crowning achievement of mankind. I, for one, feel that it is important to know the arguments of the opposing side to strengthen your understanding of your own position. But if you do buy these books and enrich the authors or their publishers, please buy through our links so that at least a liberty-loving outfit would gain a buck or two out of this deal…

Aside from a few books that support such views, the majority of the titles tagged with the above topics are there to shine light on, and provide a critique of these views. Other anti-individualist topics include: the seemingly benign bureaucracy that makes the State inefficient; the deceptive egalitarianism and the nanny state, a path paved with good intentions that we all know where it leads (hint: may include redistribution of wealth and slavery); the outright evil in ideologies such as Fascism and Marxism that lead to despotism, dictatorship, tyranny and totalitarianism; and crony capitalism (corporatism) and its predecessor mercantilism, which masquerades as capitalism in most people’s minds and leads to anti-capitalist views.


Critique of the State

Shedding more light where once was dark, this topic includes a wide array of critiques surrounding the function of the State, but mostly around policy critiques and warfare. As it relates to the State’s functioning, everything from central planning, coercion and government expansion through to propaganda, taxation and the act of voting are discussed.

The State apparatus and its institutions, the CIA, FBI, NSA, and other alphabet soup organizations – they are all brought to account together with their counterparts in the military-industrial complex and the deep state. The Supreme Court, criminal justice system and the prisons are not immune to critique. And the filth of politics and lobbying are described in great lengths.

Policy critiques cover everything from abortion to welfare. It all starts with state intervention in the affairs of private individuals and foreign intervention (which includes the seemingly benevolent foreign aid) in the affairs of other groups of people. More specifically, US foreign policy and US military intervention are popular policies to critique.

Some of the other more common topics include: drugs, eminent domain, environmentalism, poverty, protectionism, muh roads, slavery, and other forms of public policy. Needless to say, these and other policies lead to ridiculous levels of government spending, itself a valid topic to critique.

And of course, the most destructive activity perpetrated by the State is warfare. The wars abroad and at home are discussed at length. Of the ‘traditional’ wars, World War I and II and the so-called American ‘Civil War’ (always in quotation marks) feature in the most number of books, some of which include discussions on genocide and war crimes. But then there are also the wars on amorphous, undefined entities, such as: the war on drugs, which leads to domestic violence, militarization and a police state; and the war on terror, which brought us torture, more terror and the ever-increasing drone warfare.

A note from the curator: The State is thoroughly critiqued within Liberty Classroom and the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program. In full transparency, I have no direct experience in homeschooling but I have heavily researched Ron Paul’s program and found it to be an outstanding alternative to the public school system (a system where you would never hear a critique of the State).

I am a very satisfied Master Member of Liberty Classroom and have taken the Introduction to Government course that is available through the Ron Paul Curriculum. Between this course and others available through Liberty Classroom, you can’t get a better or more thought out exposition critiquing the State and all its failures or faulty premises (and in a way that is suitable for the younger ages too). I’ll disclose that Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our links.


Cultural Issues

Legal and political issues aside, it is often the cultural and social issues that are upstream from any legislative action. Especially in a democracy, politicians know that to get reelected they need to tread a fine line and take a stand on topics that are culturally in vogue. Books providing cultural analysis or ones that talk of the social order are numerous within our site.

These books include racism, sexism, feminism and other such social justice issues relating to discrimination, freedom of association, freedom of speech, human rights, or political correctness. The topics of popular culture, American culture and Western Civilization are also represented.

Observations from many writers on these issues are provided through commentary and opinion and often investigative journalism leads down an interesting path, shedding light on these and other topics.


History

One of the most popular topics on this site, history, is a fascinating subject to read. Given the nature of this site it didn’t quite make sense to create a category of ‘revisionist history’ since most of the history books featured are of that nature. Sure enough, we have uncontested historical accounts of various historical events, but when you search for history and drill further down into a specific topic (such as various wars, Pearl Harbor, The New Deal or the Great Depression), you are going to get intellectually honest ‘revisionist’ accounts of these events.

While you may expand your history search by historical event or by selecting US history or the history of some other area or nation, we have classified the history texts by period as well. You can indulge your curiosity if you are an avid reader of one of or more of the following periods: Antiquity, Biblical period, Classical period, Medieval period or the Middle ages, Early modern period, the Renaissance, or specifically within the last few hundred years, as grouped by: 16th Century, 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, or the 20th Century.

And speaking of indulging yourself, with several dozen books on conspiracy theories, you may brush up on such topics as 9/11, the New World Order, False Flag operations, or on the Kennedy deaths, or various institutions and secret societies like The Illuminati, The Freemasons, Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, Tavistock Institute, or even Skull & Bones.

A note from the curator: The variety of history courses within Liberty Classroom, including two US History courses, two Western Civilization courses, and many (many!) more will, no doubt, make you as big of a fan of Liberty Classroom as I am. The Western Civilization courses are also available to students of the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program along with many other courses you will not find in public schools (or most private schools either).

In full transparency, I have no direct experience in homeschooling but if you want your kids to learn the real history you were never taught, you can’t get much better than providing them Ron Paul’s program. Books of Liberty is happy to promote both these programs in exchange for a small advertising fee because I cannot reiterate enough what terrific history resources these programs are.