Anarchists make an important distinction between society and the state. Social spontaneity is highly valued by anarchists. They are frequently told that their antipathy to the state is outmoded, since the main function of the modern state is the provision of social welfare. But social welfare in Britain rose not from the state, but from a vast network of friendly societies and aid organizations. ‘States, societies, and the collapse of socialism’ examines anarchist theories on the division between the political and the social and how and why socialism was doomed to failure.