It was a Saturday night in the Poachers Arms and the local screamo revival trio Meaningless Fucking Meaning were dominating the ambience of the pub from the occasional stage in the corner alcove beside the fireplace.
Regulars and visitors filled every square inch of breathable space and the bar staff moved around constantly and quickly, making eye contact only with the customer of the moment.
I took my pint of Colonel Despard and squeezed and bounced myself to the garden door. The garden, which is a different shape each time you go there, was yard-like today and filled with people. The noise of human speech, loud as a flock of gulls was, at least somewhat quieter than the rendition of Aristocratic Corpse Longings from behind me.
“I hear the neighbours have called in a complaint,” said the Blairite man standing next to me.
“It’s only for one night,” I said. “I don’t think people should never be inconvenienced by other people.”
“Maybe they’ve got kids,” said the Blairite.
“And maybe they can’t resist using the apparatus of local government to their advantage even though they bitch about the council tax 364 days of the year.”
“A bit late for political talk isn’t it?” said the Blairite (who I had not yet discovered was a Blairite).
“Nonsense,” said a woman in front of us, spinning around. “If you can’t support your political views with four pints inside you then you don’t believe them. Take me. I’m an anarchist and I’ve had six pints and I can still explain that anarchy doesn’t mean chaos but organisation of society without structural violence.”
“I’m a Blairite,” said the Blairite. “But I’ve had three pints and I can’t explain it.”
“That’s fine,” I said. “No one could. This is my first and I have no clue how you could begin to explain it.”
“But I will say,” said the Blairite, “That I don’t think it would be possible to do without the state. If only because some violent minority would get in charge.”
“Very different from now,” said the woman, her eyebrows raised.
“Touche,” said the Blairite.
“But I know what you mean,” I said to him. “I think the existence of the weapons we have now means that you need large scale organisation, if only to ensure the nutters don’t end up in charge. And you need organisation to move resources around the planet in a useful way too.”
“See, a state,” said the Blairite.
“That’s a failure of imagination,” I said, taking a sip of Despard. “Why does large scale organisation have to look like a state? It could be completely different in form, in mandate, in principles…”
“And would your hypothetical organisation mediate disputes between neighbours on noise levels?” asked the Blairite.
“Who knows?” I said. “Who cares? I can sure as hell imagine one that wouldn’t randomly start wars in Middle Eastern countries.”
“I’ll drink to that,” said the woman.
The Blairite hesitantly raised his glass, almost looking over his shoulder as though to check that his friends weren’t watching. “Me too.”