Nonviolent statism is a contradiction in terms. Please ditch one or the other.I disagree with you.
Understand what I am saying: I am very familiar with your objections, of course. I understand where you are coming from. I am very aware that it is commonplace to define the state as that institution that has a monopoly on the "legitimate" use of force and that this is often taken to justify the identification of state with violence (even when it is quite obvious that enormous amounts of what happens through government has nothing at all to do with violence on any plausible description).
I am aware that my viewpoint is a minority viewpoint, in fact I will go so far as to say that I know of no political theorist who characterizes this issue in quite the way I do. Nonetheless, I believe what I do and for reasons I think are good ones.
Violence precedes the emergence of the state and violence exceeds the existence of the state. This matters.
But I am far denying the obvious fact that many (even most) states historically do indeed engage in systematic exploitation and offensive war-making. The radical left critique of states that function as nothing but the institutional legitimation of violence for elite-incumbent classes -- or critique states to the extent that they are functioning this way -- is a powerful one with which I strongly agree as it applies to many historical states or historical episodes or particular tendencies.
But I simply do not agree that states are exhaustively or even essentially characterized by violence or that their abolition would eliminate violence from human affairs.
I think these are profoundly mistaken views, widespread though they are. I think that democratization is the historical struggle through which states are rendered ever less violent.
Democratization rendering states less violent happens when elections make possible peaceful transitions among leaders. Democratization rendering states less violent happens when civil rights and juries and court appointed defense attorneys provide ever wider more equitable recourse to courts for the nonviolent adjudication of disputes. Democratization rendering states less violent happens when taxation is yoked to representation making government directly accountable to the consent of the governed. Democratization rendering states less violent happens when checks and balances make branches and layers of government compete for positional advantage not through corruption but through the policing of corruption within governance. Democratization rendering states less violent happens when social democratic states provide the security of general welfare, basic income, healthcare, education, access to reliable information all to better ensure that everybody can engage in everyday commerce on legibly informed non-duressed consensual terms. Democratization rendering states less violent happens when public goods and common goods are accountably administered by democratic governance in the name of the common good to circumvent the violence of their exploitation or mismanagement for the parochial benefit of minorities. The examples can be multiplied, but I am illustrating what some fellow radical democrats would seem to regard as an initially or apparently counter-intuitive principle I am advocating.
The truth is that no state, even totalitarian ones, has sufficient means of violence to subdue entire populations in every aspect of their lives to the will of their rulers. Violence CANNOT be the essential characteristic of even the most tyrannical states, and countervailing strains of civitas, consensual accountable equitable participatory governance, are always discernible.
Again, my point is not to deny but to decry the violence of undemocratic states. But in my view the democratization of the state is indispensable to nonviolent revolution. Fantasies of smashing the state rely on a mistaken identification of the state form with violence, and always amount to the facilitation of violence on the part of merciless muscled moneyed minorities who will go ahead and legitimize their abuses as the cost of whatever measure of order they maintain. In democratic states order and consent are one and the same (and exceptions threaten the legitimacy of that order) and the permanent vulnerability of the state form to corruption, abuse, violence confronts the vigilence of an empowered population to which that state is beholden for its funding and maintenance at every layer.
I appreciate the politeness with which you to entreat me to renounce either my commitment to the democratic state form or my commitment to nonviolent stakeholder politics and change, but I fear I must decline. I am indeed committed to both, I believe that the commitment to each bolsters the commitment to the other, and I believe that it is those who find these commitments incompatible who are wrongheaded and confused.