Rise of the busybody state

Anatomy of the new breed of state regulation colonising everyday life.


In Anglo-Saxon countries there is a new and distinctive form of state: the busybody state. This state is defined by an attachment to bureaucratic procedures for their own sake: the rule for the sake of a rule; the form for the sake of a form. Its insignias are the badge, the policy, the code and the procedure. The logic of the regulation is neither to represent an elite class interest, nor to serve the public, nor even to organise social relations with the greatest efficiency as with classic bureaucracy, but rather to represent regulation itself.

This book analyses the logic of the busybody state, explains its origins, and calls for a popular alliance defending the free realm of civil society.


An intellectually gripping analysis of what its author Josie Appleton characterises as a new kind of state power, one that is arbitrary and encroaching on what is left of our unregulated lives. Overall this is a subtle and intelligently argued essay. Its reconstruction of the essential trajectory of the officious state will be a valuable weapon for those keen to argue for greater freedom in everyday life. ( ~ James Heartfield, spiked

This is a must read for anyone thinking about the workings and nature of the modern State. It combines sensitive insights from the author based on her experience of working as hard as possible to uphold freedoms, and a genuinely thought provoking argument about the State and its purposes, drawing on serious intellectual work. I would recommend that anyone teaching in the areas of Social Policy, Sociology or Politics and Government reads this book and uses it for teaching. ~ Dr Ellie Lee, Director of Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, Reader in Social Policy, University of Kent

The antics of meddlesome bureaucrats are frequently so ridiculous that it is tempting to laugh them off. Officialdom is no joke, however, as Josie Appleton’s insightful book makes clear. Our freedoms will be lost unless we confront these incremental steps towards an authoritarian state. ~ Nick Cater, Executive Director, Menzies Research Centre; author, 'The Lucky Culture (and the rise of an Australian ruling class)'

"The state once left us alone unless we committed a crime or fought in a war. Now its tendrils creep everywhere. Josie Appleton, a doughty champion of the free citizen, brilliantly exposes the meddlesome bossiness of the modern state". ~ Philip Johnston, author, 'Bad Laws'

Josie Appleton
Josie Appleton Josie Appleton is director of the Manifesto Club (, which campaigns for freedom in everyday life, and is the author of...

Blowing the Lid

Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens

Stuart Feather

Agency of Their Own, An

Sex Worker Union Organizing

Gregor Gall

Millennials and the Moments That Made Us

A Cultural History of the U.S. from 1982-Present

Shaun Scott

Psy-Complex in Question

Critical Review in Psychology, Psychoanalysis and Social Theory

Ian Parker

Capitalism vs. Freedom

The Toll Road to Serfdom

Rob Larson

Other Paradises

Poetic approaches to thinking in a technological age

Jessica Sequeira