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The State in Capitalist Society

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 09:09 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 27.7 
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Although we use the term \"the state\" freely in everyday discussion and assume that others know what we are talking about, a little consideration will show that such an explicit entity is, in fact, rather difficult to identify. Although many state institutions are easy to distinguish, it is difficult to generalize in visible terms what the state actually is.

Miliband started by raising the essential question of why it was that the state, even if it had a democratic body of laws and the majority of the population were working class, acted in the interest of the capitalist class? Why was it that democratic states were capitalist states? His answer was straightforward: The direction of the state is organized by the welfare concerns of the capitalist class. This is accomplished by a twofold mechanism, first the prominent positions within the state apparatus were held by members of the bourgeoisie, and second because the economic power behind capitalist lobbyists were unrivaled when compared to other interest groups. Therefore, although the state may have a pluralistic and open democracy, the economic power of capitalist interests in conjunction with bourgeois sympathies and perceptions of those running the state apparatus, ensure that the policies of the state are dominated by the minority interests of the bourgeoisie.

In reality, Ralph Miliband goes so far as to claim that the state, as such, does not exist. Rather, we can view the state as an assemblage of a number of different institutions that constitute it: the government, bureaucracy, military, police, judiciary, and parliamentary assemblies. Some of these institutions exercise power in an administrative manner (the bureaucracy), some with the threat of financial pressure (banks) or physical punishment (police), others may practice more subtle ideological power (schools and state broadcasting systems). The institutions of the state may not all act in concert and actually may...


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