Topic 4 – The Marxist Theory of the State

Social grants & police brutality

The 2012 Marikana massacre, when 34 striking workers were murdered by state forces in defence of the bosses’ profits

“The state is … a product of society at a certain stage of development; it is the admission that this society has become entangled in an insoluble contradiction with itself, that it has split into irreconcilable antagonisms which it is powerless to dispel. But in order that these antagonisms, these classes with conflicting economic interests, might not consume themselves and society in fruitless struggle, it became necessary to have a power, seemingly standing above society, that would alleviate the conflict and keep it within the bounds of ‘order’; and this power, arisen out of society but placing itself above it, and alienating itself more and more from it, is the state.”

Frederich Engels, Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, 1884


Reading 1: The State (Lenin)


Reading 2: The State and Revolution, excerpts (Lenin)


Reading 3: Should We Participate in Bourgeois Parliaments? (Lenin)


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