Purpose: “to re-establish what Marx really taught on the subject of the state.”
Related Sources: The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. Engels; The State And Revolution. Lenin.

1. What is the State?

According to Hegel, the state

  • is a product of society at a certain stage of development.
  • is the admission that this society has become entangled in an insoluble contradiction with itself (that it has split into irreconcilable antagonisms which it is powerless to dispel)

According to Marx, the state

  • could neither have arisen nor maintained itself had it been possible to reconcile classes
  • is an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another;
  • is the creation of “order”, which legalizes and perpetuates this oppression by moderating the conflict between classes

According to Lenin, the state

  • is an organ of the rule of a definite class which cannot be reconciled with its antipode (the class opposite to it)

To petty-bourgeois politicians “order” means

  • the reconciliation of classes, and not the oppression of one class by another
  • reconciling classes and not depriving the oppressed classes of definite means and methods of struggle to overthrow the oppressors

Belief: The state reconciles class antagonisms.
False.  The state moderates class antagonisms using the pretense of “order”.

2. What Are The Features Of The State?

According to Engels

  • the state divides its subjects according to territory
  • the state establishes a public power which consists not merely of armed men but also of material adjuncts, prisons, and institutions of coercion of all kind
    1. this public power grows stronger in proportion as class antagonisms within the state become more acute, and as adjacent states become larger and more populous
    2. maintenance of the special public power requires taxes and state loans
    3. special laws are enacted proclaiming the sanctity and immunity of the officials of public power

According to Lenin

  • a standing army and police are the chief instruments of state power


“our Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks are not socialists at all (a point that we Bolsheviks have always maintained), but petty-bourgeois democrats using near-socialist phraseology”.  Is Lenin referencing the DSA? *wink*

imperialism defined: “the complete domination of the trusts, the omnipotence of the big banks, a grand-scale colonial policy”

The question of the privileged position of the officials as organs of state power is raised here. The main point indicated is: what is it that places them above society?  This theoretical question was answered in practice by the Paris Commune in 1871 and it was obscured from a reactionary standpoint by Kautsky in 1912.