The theory of the state is the reef on which the revolutions of our century have been shipwrecked.1 During the revolutions of the Arab Spring, the people brought about the fall of the regime, but the institutions of the state remained intact. Elsewhere the revolutions were drained in protracted civil wars. Everywhere that the old regime has seemed to be thrown down, it has found new sources of strength and risen again. What would it look like to finally break with this cycle?
In the past, insurrections have managed to defeat the state, rather than just a particular government. Insurrection is something more than a wave of riots, militant protests, blockades, occupations, and so on. It is the opening of a rupture, the search for that point after which no turning back is possible. If the revolutions of our time haven't defeated the state, we argue this is because there haven't been insurrections: there have been nonviolent uprisings, riots, armed struggles, and civil wars, but not yet insurrection.