Which among the following is true about marxist view of the state? A. State is an organism B. State is a machine C. State is a class institutions D. None of this
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The Marxist Theory of the State
By Ron Tabor
Although Marx and Engels never put forward a unified presentation of the theory of the state, their conception of the state is a fundamental aspect of their outlook, and of what has since come to be called Marxism. In fact, theories of the state consti tute critical facets of all totalitarian credos, not just the Marxian. After all, a given ideology may be overwhelmingly totalitarian in underlying logic, but if it lacks a focus on using the state as the means of transforming society梩hat is, of imposing its ideas梚ts totalitarianism will remain implicit. It is the same with Marxism. While Marxism contains many propositions that imply totalitarianism, it is Marx and Engels' view of the state that renders their theory totalitarian in practice. This is mos t evident in their argument that the state, in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, is the chief weapon in the struggle to establish communism.
Unfortunately, the totalitarian nature of the Marxist view of the state is not so easily discerned. A glance at Marxist theory, and the practice of Marxist organizations, will reveal what appears to be a paradox. On the one hand, Marx and Engels and th eir followers claim to be vigorous opponents of the state, and insist that one of their most fundamental goals is the abolition of that institution. On the other hand, the vast majority of Marxist organizations have been, and continue to be, militant advo cates of the drastic extension of the role of the state in society. When they've come to power through revolutions or military conquest, Marxists have created societies that have been almost totally dominated by states. Indeed, these states' power has bee n among the greatest in history. Even the wing of the Marxist movement that no longer aims at revolution, the social-democratic, promotes the systemic expansion of the role of the state in capitalist society.
The key to this apparent paradox is the conception of the dictatorship of the proletariat: a state that is supposed to be the vehicle of abolishing the state. We intend to discuss the dictatorship of the proletariat in the next article, but to understa nd this idea, it is necessary to be aware of the broader Marxist theory of the state of which it forms a part.
Although Marx and Engels did not leave us with a single, elaborated presentation of their analysis of the state, they did have a coherent theory of it, and it is worth outlining. At the risk of omission and simplification, I would list its major points as follows:
1. The "material basis" of the state is "relative scarcity." Relative scarcity is a condition in which the productivity of labor enables a group of people to produce a surplus, that is, an amount of goods梖ood, clothes, tools梩hat is more than enough t o enable them to survive, yet not enough to allow everyone to live in true abundance. When productivity reaches such a point, society divides into classes: (a) the vast majority, who spend most of their time working, while receiving an amount of goods (or monetary equivalent) that barely enables them to live; and (b) a tiny minority who exploit the majority梩hat is, appropriate surplus and live in luxury without performing productive labor. The division of society into classes in turn gives rise to the st ate.
"(The state) is a product of society at a certain stage of development; it is the admission that this society has become entangled in an insoluble contradiction with itself, that it is cleft into irreconcilable antagonisms which it is powerless to disp el. But in order that these antagonisms, classes with conflicting economic interests, might not consume themselves and society in sterile struggle, a power seemingly standing above society became necessary for the purpose of moderating the conflict, of ke eping it within the bounds of "order"; and this power, arisen out of society but placing itself above it, and increasingly alienating itself from it, is the state." (Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Foreign Languages Publi