Marx critique of the Modern State

Marxcritique of the Modern State

MarxCritique of the Modern State

KarlMarx comes up as one of the most fundamental theorists in thecontemporary human society. Indeed, his ideas and theories havetraversed almost every aspect of the human society and providedpretty controversial techniques of examining a large number of thingsthat are done mostly in government. Marx came up with a wide array ofcriticisms of the modern state. Indeed, it is comprehensible thatMarxism was primarily advocating for the transformation ormodification of the state before promoting its dissolutionaltogether. Of particular note is the fact that in capitalistsocieties, states are viewed as political manifestations of capitaldemands, protecting their interests from the working class (Berardi,2007). In essence, Marxists viewed the state as an entity that mustundergo transformation before being eliminated. There were variedissues or reasons on which the Marxist critique was based.

First,the state in capitalist societies was perceived as inherentlybourgeois both in principle and practice. In principle, the state wasseen as enforcing and embodying bourgeois laws particularly thosethat aimed at protecting private property. This meant that itessentially secured unequal production under abstract equality law.Karl Marx came up with a critical peculiarity between politicalemancipation that involves universal suffrage and real emancipationthat is beyond mere political representation to incorporate anaccount of commodification and exploitation (Lukacs, 1971). Marxiststates that that the unique achievement of capitalist states lies inthe mystification of equality, which has resulted in the creation ofillusory community of equals. In the case of being bourgeois inpractice, state power center does not lie in the electedrepresentatives but the police, judicial system and civil servants,as well as other permanent state servants (Fanon 2004). Thepermanency pertaining to the centralized power only serves thepolitical class (or bourgeois) interests and not those of the workingclass that it apparently represents. This is seen particularly in thecase of taxation, which, in spite of its being a tool for socialjustice through economic redistribution, has evolved into a tool ofpolitical repression. As much as taxation is taxpayers’representation, the working class is often forced to remit taxes evenin instances where they are being immiserated and exploited by thebourgeoisie given that the later pays higher taxes than the former.

Oneof the most crucial aspects of the Marxists view of the modern stateis that it results from irreconcilable class conflict in the socialstructure that it aims at regulating on the ruling class’ behalf.Instead of the state determining the class conflict nature and thatof the social structure through the support and protection of itssources, it is the material production conditions that produce thenature of the state (Marx and Engels, 2010). Further, it is worthnoting that the key issue in the determination of the nature of thestate revolves around the type of productive and property relationsthat are protected and promoted by the prime beneficiaries and itsinstitutions rather than the prevailing type of rule, which canchange immensely from time to time. The crucial nature of this liesin the fact that it implies that the modern capitalist state may beviewed as fallible and impermanent, in which case if the propertyrelations can be modified, then so would be the nature of the modernstate (Marx and Engels, 2010). In instances where, on the other hand,the state comes as theoretically autonomous from the prevailingproperty relations to any extent, Marxists have to concentrate theirattention on the mechanisms of the state as a goal just as theproperty relations.

Ofcourse, the main question has always been whether the ideas that KarlMarx propagates are workable or have any basis. Indeed, there havebeen questions on whether the modern state, in all its wrongs, shouldbe destroyed and entirely transformed. While there may be differingopinions, it is evident that Karl Marx comes up with prettyconvincing arguments for this.

First,it is noted that the modern state has originated from the immenseirreconcilability of antagonism of varied classes. Engel noted thatthat the state does not was not a power that was imposed on thesociety from outside, rather it comes off as a product of society ata particular developmental stage. This is an admission that thesociety has essentially been entangled in completely insolublecontradiction with its own self and that it has been divided intoirreconcilable antagonisms that it is incapable of dispelling (Marxand Engels, 2010). Power became necessary in an effort to prevent theantagonisms of these classes that had conflicting economic intereststo consume themselves. This power was supposed to alleviate theconflict and keep it within some boundaries. This implies that thestate comes up in instances where class antagonism cannot beobjectively reconciled, which means that the existence of the modernstate is proof that class antagonisms can never be reconciled.Indeed, the state would never have been necessary if it was possiblefor the classes to reconcile (Marx and Engels, 2010). This means thatthe state does not reconcile classes rather it simply comes up as aninstrument of class rule, where a particular class is oppressed byanother. This creation of order perpetuates and legalizes theoppression through moderating class conflicts.

Inaddition, one needs to examine the concept of power in the modernstate. Power emanated from the society but has placed itself abovethe same, while also increasingly alienating itself. This power isprimarily composed of special entities of armed men that commandparticular entities (Marx and Engels, 2010). As much as public powerbecomes increasingly powerful, it is worth noting that the classrivalry and struggle in conquest have, essentially, tuned up publicpower to a level that threatens to emancipate the entire society, aswell as the state. Indeed, Engels pointed out rivalry in conquest asone of the most crucial differentiating aspects pertaining to theGreat Powers’ foreign policy (Marx and Engels, 2010).

Further,Karl Marx outlined the fact that the modern state was simply aninstrument that was used for exploiting the oppressed class. Sincethe state originated from the desire to regulate class antagonism andarose in the midst of antagonism between these classes, itessentially became the state pertaining to the most economicallydominant and powerful class. In essence, this became the politicallydominant class via the state medium, in which case it gained new waysof exploiting and holding down the oppressed class (Lukacs, 1971).Just as the feudal and ancient states amounted to instruments ofexploiting the serfs and slaves, the modern state are instruments forexploiting wage labor by capital. At a particular economicdevelopment stage, classes become unnecessary and hindrances toproduction. In essence, they become impractical as will the states.This gives the society an opportunity to re-organize its productionbased on equal and free association of producers.

Inconclusion, there were varied issues that attracted the criticism ofKarl Marx on the modern state. First, the state in capitalistsocieties was perceived as inherently bourgeois both in principle andpractice. In principle, the state was seen as enforcing and embodyingbourgeois laws particularly those that aimed at protecting privateproperty. In practice, state power center does not lie in the electedrepresentatives but the police, judicial system and civil servants,as well as other permanent state servants (El Kholti, 2007). Thepermanency pertaining to the centralized power only serves thepolitical class (or bourgeois) interests and not those of the workingclass that it apparently represents. While there may be differingopinions, it is evident that there are pretty convincing argumentsfor the destruction of the modern state. First, it is noted that themodern state has originated from the immense irreconcilability ofantagonism of varied classes (El Kholti, 2007). Unfortunately, thestate never came up as a way of reconciling the classes but ratherprovided a legitimized way of having one class dominate the other. Inaddition, Karl Marx outlined the fact that the modern state wassimply an instrument that was used for exploiting the oppressedclass. Further, Power emanated from the society but has placed itselfabove the same, while also increasingly alienating itself. This poweris primarily composed of special entities of armed men that commandparticular entities. Unfortunately, it still remains in the hands ofthe bourgeois without eliminating the basis of the conflicts.


ElKholti, Hedi. Autonomia Post Political Politics. The MIT Press,Cambridge, 2007

Marx,Karl and Engels, Frederick. Das Kapital, Collected Works, Volume 35.New York: Lawrence &amp Wishart Electric Book. 2010

Lukacs,George. History and Class Consciousness Studies in Marxist Dialects.Massachusetts: The Mitt Press. 1971

Berardi,Franco. The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy. The MIT Press,Cambridge, 2007

Fanon,Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press, 2004