Polity Notes – On – Theories Of The State – Marxist.
Marxist theory of state the most protruding theory. Marxist theoretical views challenges the basic concepts of liberal state as well as emphasises that it subjugates majority men of society to accomplish its objectives. It is to be abolished or smashed without which the emancipation of common men will never be possible. Though, a problem about academic analysis of Marxist theory of state is that nowhere Marx has systematically analysed the theory. Marx stated that every state is a tyranny. It is said that every state is forced by extra-moral, extra-legal force.Continue Reading Polity Notes – On – Theories Of The State – Marxist.
Marx (1818- 1883) and his colleague Engels (1820-1895) have distinct explanations and statements which established state theory. In the Communist Manifesto, the state is the “Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another”. In the same book we find them saying, “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”.
Hal Draper in his Karl Marx’s Theory of Upheaval explained that “The state is the institution or complex of institutions which bases itself on the availability of forcible coercion by special agencies of society in order to maintain the dominance of a ruling class, preserve the existing property relations from basic change and keep all other classes in subjection.”
Draper’s description of Marxist state is not basically different from the definitions given by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto. The state is basically an instrument of class domination. In other words, the state is used by the bourgeoisie to exploit the common people and in that sense it is a mechanism for mistreatment. This idea has been expounded by Lenin.
Origin of State:
Marx, Engels and their supporters (particularly Lenin) had no faith on the social contract theory as the origin of state. They have observed the origin from a materialistic’ viewpoint which emphasises that though the state is the formation of man, behind this there is no emotion, idea but the influence of material conditions which they termed as economic conditions.
They have divided the development of society into old communist social system, slave society, feudal society and industrial society. In the old communist society, there was no state because there was no existence of private property. The system of private property worked as a potential cause of the rise of state. The owners of private property felt insecurity as to its protection and they felt the requirement of a super power which could provide protection eventually.
- As soon as there was private property, two classes of men there appeared such as one was the owner of property and the other was without property.
- The conflict between them became prominent. Property owners wanted to subjugate the other class.
- Property owners formed a force within the society and this force ultimately assumed the status of state.
Marx and Engels have established that the state for all practical purposes, was set up in the slave society. Because in the slave society, there were mainly two classes, the owners of slaves and the slaves themselves. The owners of the slaves required an organisation to control and dominate slaves.
Engels in his The Origin of Family, Private Property and State has intricately analysed the origin and development of state. The state is not something originated from the society. It is the product of society. It is quoted that “The state is, by no means, a power forced on society from without Rather it is a product of society at a certain stage of development”.
People living in society laid the foundation of state for the realisation of their class interests. Engels in this book has firmly stated that the interests of the owners of property are at completely opposite to those who are not the owners; because of this there were rattles of interests between these two classes and the interests were irreconcilable.
Simultaneously, there developed a hostility between these two classes and again this antagonism could not be settled. All these led to a situation which necessitated a state structure. The owners of the property came to be regarded as a separate class whose only aims were to control the persons who were not the owners of property and to develop a mechanism to help the property owners. The state in this way was created as a public power.
The man-made state had two main functions that include to provide security to the owners of wealth or owners of means of production and to collect taxes from the members of society. Engels has observed that though the state is the product of society, gradually but steadily it became the owner of huge power and it stood above society.
But though the state stood above the society, it was always responsive with the owners of property. It is to conclude that the state is the outcome of human contrivance and was made with specific aims. According Marx and Engels, the origin of the state has nothing to do with the social contract or the divine right theory. They have analysed the origin from materialistic standpoint.
Models of the Marxist Theory of State:
The Marxists have revealed two models of the Marxist theory of state. One is instrumentalist model and the other model is relative autonomy model which is in opposition to the other model.
1. The Instrumentalist Model:
Marx and Engels stated that the state was created to defend the economic interests (other interests are also included but economic interests are primary) and ultimately the state (along with its police, military and bureaucracy) was converted into an instrument used by the owners of property.
From this vital function of the state, the Marxists have inferred a particular model of Marxist theory of state which is called the instrumentalist model. The central ideology of this model is that the state is used as an instrument for the fulfilment of interests of a particular class or section of society. The chief representatives of this model are Ralph Miliband, Sanderson, and Avineri. There are many others who have lent their support to this model. Even Lenin recognized this model in his highly praised famous work State and Revolution.
In Class Struggle in France, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of the State, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte Marx highlighted this aspect of state. On the eve of Bolshevik Revolution Lenin published State and Revolution and in this book, he has said that the state is the result of the irreconcilability of class resentment. The bourgeoisie used the state to eloquent the interests of the capitalists. From historical review, Marx has revealed that without using the state as an instrument, the bourgeoisie could not survive because its survival depended upon its ability to amass and guard wealth.
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