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THE STATE AND OTHER ESSAYS

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RANDOLPH SILLIMAN BOURNE, born 1886 Bloomfield, New Jersey, died aged 32 during an influenza epidemic on 23 December 1918. A radical social critic who sympathised with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), his literary career lasted less than ten years yet the integrity and commitment which shines through in his articles and essays in the dramatic period before and during World War One sets him apart from other intellectuals of his time.
Bourne’s editor, Olaf Hansen, sums up Bourne’s legacy in his introduction to The Radical Will: Randolph Bourne Selected Writings 1911-1918 (Urizen Books, 1977): ‘Bourne’s quest for a rational community had this significance. He wanted to be a citizen of the world without giving up his vision of how much better a place it might be. His contribution to the attainment of such hopes was a radical analysis of the world’s shortcomings.’
A century later Bourne’s final essay, ‘The State’, among those included here, retains the resonance it had in 1918 — a lucid analysis of how states and governments manipulate and induce the patriotic hysteria that precedes declarations of war and ‘states of emergency’ to suit their own political and corporate ends.

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RANDOLPH SILLIMAN BOURNE, born 1886 Bloomfield, New Jersey, died aged 32 during an influenza epidemic on 23 December 1918. A radical social critic who sympathised with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), his literary career lasted less than ten years yet the integrity and commitment which shines through in his articles and essays in the dramatic period before and during World War One sets him apart from other intellectuals of his time. Bourne’s editor, Olaf Hansen, sums up Bourne’s legacy in his introduction to The Radical Will: Randolph Bourne Selected Writings 1911-1918 (Urizen Books, 1977): ‘Bourne’s quest for a rational community had this significance. He wanted to be a citizen of the world without giving up his vision of how much better a place it might be. His contribution to the attainment of such hopes was a radical analysis of the world’s shortcomings.’ A century later Bourne’s final essay, ‘The State’, among those included here, retains the resonance it had in 1918 — a lucid analysis of how states and governments manipulate and induce the patriotic hysteria that precedes declarations of war and ‘states of emergency’ to suit their own political and corporate ends.