Marx and the Bureaucratic State

Marx and the Bureaucratic State

According to Marxism, the state is a tool of the ruling class. The state, writes Engels in his Origin of the Family, is usually an agency of the strongest class, which controls the economy and therefore wins political hegemony. In this view, political relations originate in the economic relations of production and exploitation; hence, political power is a “superstructure” of economic power.

There exist, however, other passages of Marx, and especially of Engels, which postulate a clear distinction between the two modes of power. In this other, more problematic version of Marxist sociology, the state is no longer a simple excrescence of the ruling class and the explanation of its origin calls for a wider dialectic than the one which accounts for the development of classes.

The state arises independent of the classes; indeed, before society divides into classes. In primitive (“classless”) societies, there arise “certain matters of common interest which must be entrusted to individuals: settlement and suppression of disputes, control of water rights, religious functions,” writes Engels in his Anti-DUhring. Thus, the “premises of state power” are placed outside the techni...

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