What is a "state?"
When the United States of America formed from the original 13
colonies, each colony became a sovereign entity. That is, a nation unto itself.
This is where the concept of "state sovereignty" comes from, when you hear it in
reference to USA politics and public policy.
These states originally formed a
loose alliance somewhat like today's European Union. But it wasn't very
workable. States just didn't cooperate very well and saw each other more as
competitors than as allies. The solution was a second try, which got snuck into
play when delegates met presumably to tighten up the rules a bit. Instead, they
drafted the Constitution of an entirely new system that would function more as a
nation than as an alliance of nations.
That Constitution endured several crises, yet stayed as de facto law of the
land until its biggest crisis. That crisis resulted in the War Between the
States, which propagandists brazenly and errantly call "the Civil War." A civil
war is one in which the insurgents try to wrest the control of government from
the existing powers. In this war, a group of states seceded--that is, they left
the government instead of trying to take it over. So it was a war of secession.
This is no minor point of distinction.
After that war, a series of power grabs culminating in Wilson's 1913 signing
of the Federal Reserve Act, rendered the Constitution merely symbolic. It also
rendered the individual states into being mere provinces. Another grievous blow
to the former democratic republic was the abolition of its bicameral system by
having senators popularly elected. This left states with no representation, and
thus removed a balance of power against the evil side of democracy (something
Jefferson and Washington had warned against).
With unelected bankers controlling the currency and states no longer having
any representation, lawful government no longer existed. Those who controlled
the banks and those who controlled ballot access became lords over a
disenfranchised peasant class. No longer was it a government by the people, of
the people, and for the people. It was a system of plundering by and for the
banks and a handful of corporations.
It was with this freedom from lawful government that FDR created a giant
theft mechanism that directly violated the 10th Amendment but made some
corporate types fabulously wealthy and greatly diminished the individual while
greatly empowering the state.
And that brings us to another definition of "state." When you say "a" state,
you are referring to a formal entity. When you say "the" state, you are
referring to one side of the vertical political axis (the horizontal scale
actually has no relevance to anything real). It is on this axis that opposing
powers have battled since before the nation's founding. At the top of this axis,
you have individual freedom. At the bottom, you have government control. That
government control is "the" state. Generally, as you shift power toward the
state, you diminish the individual.
This is not to say that anarchy means freedom. Quite the opposite. Freedom
cannot exist without rule by law. When the state is accountable to the people,
then rule of law prevails. When the state is not accountable to the people, then
predators prevail by controlling the state.