State as Power: Britain’s War on the Poor


By Jason Michael

The British state, like every other state, exists for one single reason – to protect its own power. Departments of state, as tools of power, have one purpose and function; to defend the state – even when that requires violence against the powerless.

Power – the assumed right to control over people’s lives – in the British state is anything but transparent. We know who has power in society; the police, officials, and such like, but we never know who has power over society. Our assumption that in a democracy the government has power is an illusion, and this illusory nature of government power is becoming increasingly more obvious. Our particular constitution, unwritten as it is, determines that there is a separation of powers between the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary, but at best this multifarious fragmentation of power serves only to further camouflage the loci – or seats – of real power.

Questions of power are not merely concerned with who or what is “in charge.” Power is more than this. Those in charge have a measure of power, but they – as visible and known agents – may only be thought of as the functionaries or technicians of power; those recognised by society as official power holders. Real power is in the ability to do – to affect change, and no functionary of the visible state – not the Queen, not the Prime Minister, not the ministers of state, and not anyone all the way down the hierarchy to the Post Office clerk – has the ability to change “the system.” Yet this does not mean that real power does not exist. It does, and we feel it the moment we attempt to resist the system.


Nowhere is this power felt more than at the very trough of the social pecking order; by the poor, the unemployed, and by all other categories of persons who are deemed a burden on the state. The primary function of the bureaucracy of the state is the protection and maintenance of the state; that is the defence and good ordering of the state as power. Considered thus, the bureaucratic state is the natural consequence of real power – and every instrument of state; from the throne, to the law, to the army, to the police, to the desk of each and every employee of government, is directed to the ends of the safeguarding and upkeep of the state as power.

Such an uncategorical imperative cannot and will not suffer any threat to or burden upon the security and proper functioning of the state. It is clearer to see, in this construct of state power, how the state does not exist for the good of the people. The state exists for the sole purpose of protecting power.

People who are subject to state power yet whose conditions of life dictate that they are not actively functioning in a manner that serves the imperative of state power – earning and paying taxes – are, by default, the enemies of the modern bureaucratic state. Everyone, without exception, who meets this criterion, is the target of state hostility – the poor, the disabled, the un- and underemployed, the sick, and the elderly. It is at once a conscious and unconscious priority of the state to rid itself of these threats. We cannot be surprised then to hear of or experience the vindictiveness of state bodies against the persons, rights, and dignity of the powerless.


DWP JobCentre advisor keeps asking questions that are impossible to answer!


Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)

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