I saw that Aeon piece too. In addition to the Barber book you mention, those of James C. Scott (I’m thinking especially of his most recent, Against the Grain) helpfully tell stories about the emergence, character, and hegemony of state forms. Also good are Alasdair MacIntyre’s essays on “revolutionary Aristotelianism,” which make the case for city-states as well.

Practical Philosopher, Ph.D. | Rinzai Zen Buddhist (https://andrewjtaggart.com) | Examining What Technologists Are Taking For Granted