Running to the Hills

Avoiding the state was, until the past few centuries, a real option. A thousand years ago most people lived outside state structures, under loose-knit empires or in situations of fragmented sovereignty.11 Today it is an option that is fast vanishing …

The final two stages of this massive enclosure movement belong, in the case of Europe, to the nineteenth century and, in the case of Southeast Asia, largely to the late twentieth century. They mark such a radical shift in the relationship between states and their peripheries that they fall largely outside the story I tell here. In this last period, “enclosure” has meant not so much shifting people from stateless zones to areas of state control but rather colonizing the periphery itself and transforming it into a fully governed, fiscally fertile zone. Its immanent logic, unlikely ever to be fully realized, is the complete elimination of nonstate spaces. This truly imperial project, made possible only by distance-demolishing technologies (all-weather roads, bridges, railroads, airplanes, modern weapons, telegraph, telephone, and now modern information technologies including global positioning systems), is so novel and its dynamics so different that my analysis here makes no further sense in Southeast Asia for the period after, say, 1950. Modern conceptions of national sovereignty and the resource needs of mature capitalism have brought that final enclosure into view.

James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, p 9-11

–rss readers: the post begins w/ Michael Hardt’s scene from Examine Life found here:

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