Monday, November 20, 2017

Marx on the state - summary

To Karl Marx, the “state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”.  Marxists usually refer to the capitalists as the “ruling class”.  Even in a democracy, those with access to the financial support of the rich capitalists and corporations will have the only chance of being elected.  The newspapers are television networks are owned by large corporations.  Therefore, the “news” will reflect their corporate perspectives.  Those placed in appointive positions in government will have gone to the “best schools” (such as Harvard and Yale).  These best schools are expensive and out of the reach of ordinary people who have neither the funds nor the connections to gain entrance to them. 

     In the 1930s, it became apparent that the government of the United States (and also of all Western European countries) acted in the interest of the workers.  Unions were legitimated and even helped.  Many social welfare programs were enacted.  At that time, the Marxist interpretation changed slightly.  The government was now seen as acting in the long-run interests of the capitalist class, but not necessarily in its short-run interest. The long-run interest of the capitalist class involved preserving the system of capitalism and the dominant role of the capitalists in that system.  By allowing workers more income (through their unions) and more economic security, the workers became part of the capitalist system.  Today, most American workers support the institutions of capitalism very strongly.  Unions have been allowed to push for better wages and benefits but were not allowed to threaten the authority of management over corporate decisions.

    Marx saw the state as hostile to the proletariat.  As he stated, “workingmen have no country”!  Workers have common interests only with other workers, not with their country.  Therefore, the approach of Marxists has always been international --- to unite workers of many countries according to their common class interest.  (One still sees this in the names of many unions, which start with the word “International”.) Marx and Engels conclude their Communist Manifesto with the cry "Workers of the world, unite!".