In If Men Were Angels Robert Higgs analyzes James Madison’s famous passage from The Federalist No. 51 containing the quotable line “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” This is an excellent article with several useful analytical approaches to thinking about the state. Of particular value is a section on the “dynamic considerations” left out by the Hobbesian or Lockean account of moving from the “state of nature” to a state:
Suppose, if only for purposes of discussion, we conceded that the initial establishment of the state reduces the degree of social disorder. The obvious question, however seldom philosophers may have asked it, then becomes, What happens next? Does the degree of social disorder remain constant… ?
All in all, the article is a wonderfully hard-headed critique of the rather naive approach often taken by political philosophers and political scientists: Giving the state the benefit of the doubt.