What kind of political order would there be in the absence of the state? Jens Bartelson argues that we are currently unable to imagine what might lurk 'beyond', because our basic concepts of political order are conditioned by our experience of statehood. In this study, he investigates the concept of the state historically as well as philosophically, considering a range of thinkers and theories. He also considers the vexed issue of authority: modern political discourse questions the form and content of authority, but makes it all but impossible to talk about the foundations of authority. Largely due to the existing practices of political and scientific criticism, authority appears to be unquestionable. Bartelson's wide-ranging and readable discussion of the suppositions and presuppositions of statehood will be of interest to scholars and upper-level students of political theory and social theory, and philosophy of social science.