Essay on the Marxian Theory of State



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Defined as an instrument of exploitation and coercion, the State is regarded as the product and manifestation of the irreconcilable class antagonism.

At every stage of its development, a single class is dominant and this dominant class controls the State and uses its machinery to further its exploitation of the exploited class, which is the non-possessing class. Under capitalism, the State is in essence a committee of the bourgeoisie for the oppression and exploitation of the working class, the proletariat.

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The Marxian theory rejects the very basis of the State, namely, that it is a natural and necessary institution. The State is an artificial vehicle of coercion; and is a product of society at a certain stage of its economic development.

The State, Frederick Engels wrote, “has not existed from all eternity. There have been societies that did without it, that had no conception of the state and state power. At a certain stage of economic development, which was necessarily bound up with the cleavage of society into classes, the state became a necessity owing to cleavage.”

The State has, therefore, no moral stature and useful purpose to serve. It is an organ of class rule, “an organ for the oppression of one class by another, it creates ‘order’ which legalises and perpetuates this oppression by moderating the collision between the classes.”

The ancient and the feudal States were organs for the exploitation of the slaves and the serfs and “the contemporary representative state is an instrument of exploitation of wage-labour by capital.”

The revolution of the past was that of the slaves and serfs against feudalism and it found its expression in the French Revolution. The one in the future, Marx predicted, will be the revolution of the wage-earners against the bourgeoisie in their bid to establish the Socialist Commonwealth.

When the revolution comes, the capitalist class will disappear and a classless society headed by the Dictatorship of the Proletariat takes its place. “In order to break down the resistance of the bourgeois,” says Marx, “the workers invest the State with a revolutionary spirit.” A few remaining elements of capitalism must be swept away and the minds of men purged of the remnants of capitalist mentality with which they were infected.

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat will continue with the State, but it will be a revolutionary State invested with oppressive and autocratic powers. The proletarian dictatorship takes up the work of both construction and destruction; construction of Socialism and complete destruction of Capitalism.

Once the bourgeoisie has been completely suppressed and the remnants of the Capitalist system are removed, the necessity of the State will cease to exist. The State will “wither away” and the emerging society will be classless and Stateless.

The Marxian Theory of the State ignores human nature altogether and the development of historical events and processes. The entire historical-economic thesis of Marx is untenable.

The influence of non-economic interests, such as religious and historical, cannot be brushed aside with contempt. Both these influences, inter alia, have played a significant role in the historical growth of society and the State. Then, the State is not the result of exploitation pure and simple, as the Marxist theory claims.

Exploitation may have played a vital role in the formation of the State, but it cannot be the only cause of the origin of the State. Maclver has rightly said, “Significant as that motive was, it did not work alone.

The authority of the elders over the younger kin was not exploitation, but it played a part in the making of the State. The tribal sense of justice evoked agencies of jurisdiction, and they too were conditions of the emerging State. And many factors contributed to create the kind of political loyalty without which the State would have never grown to maturity.”

Marx’s entire emphasis on the origin and development of the State is on force. He considers the State as a vehicle of oppression and maintains that the capitalist class has arisen to power, has consolidated its position and authority and retains its pre-eminence through the use of force. He concludes that power can be wrested from this class only through the use of force, no matter how ruthless it may have to be.

The Communists will, therefore, capture the capitalist State by force and consolidate the Dictatorship of the Proletariat by force. Force is the essence of the Proletarian State. Two questions mark the discussion here. Will the use of force come to an end when the State ‘withers away”?

Secondly, will the State at all ‘wither away’? There was no trace of it under the former Soviet Russia. Nor are there any in China and other Communist countries that exist. Both these vital instruments of Communist ideology constitute the whole of development of a Communist Society.

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