State - Marxist State Theory, Hay.docx

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Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Bruce Morrison

MARXIST STATE THEORY – HAY  Purpose of the Marxist theory of the state is not just to understand the capitalist state but to aid in its destruction  Marxist theories of the state offer a series of powerful and probing insights into the complex and dynamic relationship between state, economy and society in capitalist democracies, from which other theorists of the state can learn much  There is no more arduous task in the theory of the state than defining this notoriously elusive and rapidly moving target  The state...comes into existence insofar as the institutions needed to carry out the common functions of society require, for their continued maintenance, the separation of the power of forcible coercion from the general body of society  It implies that the state is an instrument in the hands of the ruling class for enforcing and guaranteeing the stability of the class structure itself  Advocates of this conception of the state point to the fact that capital is neither self reproducing nor capable on its own of securing the conditions of its own reproduction  Classes with conflicting economic interests, shall not consume themselves and society in fruitless struggle, it became necessary to have a power seemingly standing above society that would moderate to conflict and keep it within the bounds of order and this power arisen out of society but placing itself above it and alienating itself more and more from it, is the state  The state is understood in terms of its effects and is defined in terms of its role in maintaining the unity and cohesion of a social formation by concentrating and sanctioning class domination  Marxists have rarely been called upon to offer any such justification for their theoretical endeavours and choices  For our purposes we are not concerned to demonstrate as were they that the state must be some inexorable inner logic necessarily satisfy such functional requirements, but merely that it is indeed implicated in processes crucial to the reproduction of capitalist relations  That capital is garmented into a large number of competitive units, yet crucially relies on certain generic conditions being satisfied if surplus value is to be extracted from labour and profit secured  A capitalist economy without regulation despite the now pervasive rhetoric of the free marketers is inherently unstable  For the state is revealed as playing a crucial role in safeguarding the circuit of capital  Habermas’ argument suggests that if we wish to develop a theory of capitalist crisis then it is to the state that we must turn initially  In Hegel’s almost mystical idealism the separation between the state and civil society –between the universal and the particular – finds its resolution in the state. The latter is understood not as an ideal collective capitalist but as an ideal collective citizen capable of expressing the general and communal interest of all its subjects. Marx regards this as pure mystification  Marx denies that the state can indeed act in the universal self interest, the solution lies in what Marx terms true democracy the first true unity of the particular and the universal  Marx envisages in 1843 a society based on the abolition of private property and on the disappearance of the state  Marx eventually identifies the proletariat as the agents of this transformation, laying the basis for a class theory of the state in his later writings  Assert famously that the state is nothing more than the form of organization which the bourgeoisie necessarily adopt both for internal and external purposes for the mutual guarantee of their property and int
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