Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity; he is like the "Tribeless, lawless, hearthless one."
Aristotle was confused. "The State" is not "natural." The Mafia is not "natural." Society is natural.
Human beings can be loyal to "tribe" (family), law, and "hearth" (religion) without being a part of "the State" or "the mafia."
Aristotle failed to draw the distinction between "society" and "the state."
Thomas Paine did not make that mistake. Society Is a Blessing, but Government Is Evil.
Franz Oppenheimer also made the distinction. Murray Rothbard sums up his thinking:
In essence, he said, there are only two ways for men to acquire wealth. The first method is by producing a good or a service and voluntarily exchanging that good for the product of somebody else. This is the method of exchange, the method of the free market; it’s creative and expands production; it is not a zero-sum game because production expands and both parties to the exchange benefit. Oppenheimer called this method the "economic means" for the acquisition of wealth.
The second method is seizing another person’s property without his consent, i.e., by robbery, exploitation, looting. When you seize someone’s property without his consent, then you are benefiting at his expense, at the expense of the producer; here is truly a zero-sum "game"--not much of a "game," by the way, from the point of view of the victim. Instead of expanding production, this method of robbery clearly hobbles and restricts production. So in addition to being immoral while peaceful exchange is moral, the method of robbery hobbles production because it is parasitic upon the effort of the producers.
With brilliant astuteness, Oppenheimer called this method of obtaining wealth "the political means." And then he went on to define the state, or government, as "the organization of the political means," i.e., the regularization, legitimation, and permanent establishment of the political means for the acquisition of wealth.
In other words, the state is organized theft, organized robbery, organized exploitation. And this essential nature of the state is highlighted by the fact that the state ever rests upon the crucial instrument of taxation.
Wendy McElroy has also done helpful work Defining State and Society.
Here are some more definitions of "the State."
"The State" is the Greatest Criminal in the world.
An orderly and harmonious society is our goal. Not a strong "State."
In 1776 America declared her independence from the British State, but not from the entire concept of "the State." The British government was replaced with a new government created by "The Articles of Confederation." That government was subsequently abolished and replaced by a new one created by the Constitution of 1787. The Founders could not imagine living without any State at all, just a prosperous, orderly, and harmonious society. America's Founders believed that the State was ordained by God to hold society together.
Today they would see that "the State" is at war with society.
The basis of our Declaration of Independence from Britain was said to be certain "self-evident" truths regarding the rights which were endowed to us by our Creator, the Supreme Judge of the world. Rights are not arbitrary customs or conventions, nor are they the creation of "the State"; they are the product of "Intelligent Design," the social blessings that result when human beings conform their behavior to "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."
"The State" -- our State -- the "United States" -- the federal government -- makes it illegal -- "unconstitutional" -- for teachers in government-owned schools to teach children the self-evident truths that create an orderly and harmonious society. The federal government is thus a threat to a humane society. Every single person who signed the Declaration of Independence would agree that such an atheistic government is a tyranny which must be abolished. Not only would they agree that this atheistic tyranny is worse than the one Americans fought in 1776, but they could now see that the entire concept of "the State" is a threat to liberty, true religion, and the existence of mankind. They would abolish "the United States" and not replace it.
We should join them.
And hopefully we would all agree that muskets and cannons are not the weapons of choice in the battle against atheistic tyranny.