Table of Contents
Q. 1. Discuss the Marxist theory of the functions of the State.
Ans. Marxist Theory of Functions of State –
The main tenet of the Marxian theory of the nature of the state is that it is not natural to man, it is a class organisation, it protects only class interests, not the common interests of society; and with the extinction of classes it will ‘wither away’. The state came into existence when society became divided into two opposite class camps-when society is cleft into irreconcilable antagonism which it is powerless to repel. The state is nothing more than an instrument of class oppression. In the 1891 cdilion of Marx’s Civil War in France, Engels says very clearly that “the state is noting more than a machine for the oppression of one class by another.” Further, the state is the representative of the interests of that class which is economically dominant in society. A society divided into two classes can never be democratic. Therefore, the states that call themselves democratic are not democratic in a true sense and a real democracy can only be established in a ‘classless society. Thus, the aim of the Marxists is to established in a classless society. And, this would be achieved, by means of a ‘class struggle,’ a revolution, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and ultimately the withering away of the state. What will replace the state ? On this point both Karl Marx and Frederic Engels are vague. However, Marx makes it clear that after the dissolution of the state and before the establishment of a communistic order (a stateless society), there will be a dictatorship of the proletariat. This dictatorship will retain the state, in all its repressive characteristics. But there will be a difference between the repression and exploitation of the older state and that of the proletarian state. Earlier, it was a minority exploiting the majority, and now it will be the majority exploiting the minority.
Nature and Functions of the State in a Socialist Society
According to the Marxist theory, a socialist state’ (or a socialist society) is ‘a transitory phase from capitalism to communism. And a socialisé society comes into existence when the organised working class captures the apparatus of the state by means of a violent revolution
and establishes the dictatorship of the proletariat. This principle of the GS Marxian theory of the state found a concrete expression in the Soviet
Revolution of 1917 and the Chinese Revolution of 1949, when in these two countries, socialist states were established. Before we explain nature and functions of contemporary socialist societies, it would useful to examine first the nature and functions of the transitory (socialist) state which the organised working class’ establish by me of a violent revolution and through the dictatorship of the proletariat In the Communist Manifesto, the purpose and objectives of the dictatorship of the proletariat have been stated thus : “The first stone the working class revolution is the raising of the poletariat to the position of the ruling class.” The dictatorship of the proletariat is possible on through a revolution. This revolution is organised against the bourgeoisé class and is called proletarian revolution. This revolution is directed in achieve two ends. They are to destroy the capitalistic structure of society. and, to replace all the social, political, legal, and other institutions. The proletariat will use iis political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie Centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e., the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible”.
Further in order to fulfil the above objectives, the following measures shall have to be adopted :
(i) Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
(ii) A progressive or graduated income-tax.
(iii) Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
(iv) Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
(v) Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank, with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
(vi) Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
(vii) Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands; and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
(viii)Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country; by more equitable distribution of population over the country.
(ix) Free education for all children in public schools, abolition children’s factory labour in its present form, combination of education with industrial production etc.
Once these tasks are fulfilled and its objectives achieved, a classless society would be established. The reafter, there is no necessity of the state. The state withers away. Marx says : “In order to breakdown the resistance of the bourgeoisie, the workers invest the state with a revolutionary and temporary form.” According to Engels Society, which will reorganise production on the basis of a free equal association of the producers will put the whole machinery of state where it will then belong; into museum of antiquities, by the side of the spinning-wheel and the bronze axe. Functions of the Contempoary Socialist States ,
The great October revolution in the Soviet Union and the Revolution of 1949 in the People’s Republic of China made by the workers and peasantry overthrew the capitalist and land-owner rule, broke the setters of oppsession, established the dictatorship of the proletariat, and created a new type of state – the socialist states – the basic instrument for defending the gains of the revolution and for building socialism and communism.
The supreme goal of these socialist societies is the building of a classless communist society in which there will be public, communist self government. The main aims of the socialist state are : to lay the material and technical foundation of communism, to perfect socialis social relations and transform them into communist relations, to mould a citizen of the communist society’s to raise the people’s living and cultural standard, to safeguard the country’s security, and to further the consolidation of peace and international co-operation.
The prominent functions which the socialist states perform are as under :
Political Functions +(i) The state maintains law and order and safeguards the interests of society and the rights and freedoms of citizens.
(ii) The trade unions, co-operatives and other public organisations are allowed to participate in managing state and public affairs and in deciding political, economic, social and cultural matters.
(ii) The state promotes socialist emulation, spreads progressive methods of work, strengthens production discipline, educates people in the spirit of communist morality, and strives to enhance their political : consciousness.
(iv) The state endeavours to enhance socialist democracy, namely, an ever broader participation of citizens in managing the affairs of
society and the state, a continuous improvement of the machine state, heightening of the activity of public organisations strengthening the system of peoples’ control, the consolidation of the legal foundation of the functioning of the state and of public life, a grater openness publicity, and a constant responsiveness to public opinion.
Economic Functions : In the economic field, the state establishes a socialist economy, which is free from exploitation and is based the social ownership of the means of productions. The state also controls distribution and exchange. Its endeavour is to combine freedom individual initiative with the regulation by the state. The specific economic functions a socialist stale performs are :
(i) The abolition of private property and its replacement by social ownership of the means of production. It would include the socialization of industries, mineral resources, forests, lands and other marine and land resources, the railway system as a whole and state machine building and other industrial units.
(ii) The pursuit of a planned economy in order to avoid wasteful production and the evils of cut-throat competition of the capitalist society.
(iii) The introduction of a socialist mode of production with a view to increasing social welfare and fulfilling the material needs of society.
(iv) The bringing about of land reforms and establishing co – operative and collective farms to increase production and enrich the material life of the people.
(v) The application of scientific and technological innovations in agriculture and industry to maximise production.
(vi) Providing an equitable system of distribution of consumer goods.
(vii) Promoting welfare services of the working classes and thus regulate their working hours, wages, the right to rest and leisure au the right to material assistance in old age and in case of illness disability.
Social and Cultural Functions : In this field, the socialist stale guarantees to the citizens the right to education and the freedom engage in scientific research, artistic creation and other cultural ac It promotes and cucuiages the creative endeavour of citizens engaged in science, education, art, journalism and other cultural work. the socialist state provides :
(i) free education to all,
(ii) establishes social equality and provides equal opportunity to all, and
(iii) promotes socialist cultural and morality by imbibing among the people the spirit of selfless service.
Q. 2. What do you know about the Marx’s theory of State.
Ans. The doctrine of class-war may be said to be a natural corollary of Marxian theory of materialistic interpretation of history. If the latter may be said to contain his theory of social change, the former describes the mechanism, the manner in which society progress from one stage to another in the course of historical development. Hegel viewed the history as a record of wars between nations and kings or generals. Marx envisaged it a succession of struggles between the opposed classes for economic and political power. He finds in class-struggle the key to the understanding of human society.
To quote Marx
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and salve, patrician and plebian, lord and serf. guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppresser and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, ‘now open fight, a light that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. In the earlier epochs of history west-find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society in various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serss; in almost all of these classes, again subordinate gradations. The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antaganisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.”
Thus, according to Karl Marx, society in every age has divided itself into two main hostile classes differentiated by economic conditions – one is the small privileged class owning the means of production and the other the larger class of toilers who work up the raw material. These two classes whom Marx calls economic classes have been at warfare with each other. In other words, there is a constant
struggle between them for economic and political power and the movements of history are the consequence of this struggle. These classes always stood in constant opposition to one another constantly carrying
exists in on a fight, now hidden, now open. This class antagonism present society also but with the difference that it now exists in simplified from. To quoto Marx, “The modern bourgeois society thar has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonism. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones. Our epoch the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive feature : it has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other – bourgeoisie and proletariate?.
Marxian thesis is that in every system of production the society becomes divided into two hostile groups with consflicting interests. We may understand now this division takes place. According to Karl Marx, there are three main stages in human history, i.e., the feudalism, capitalism and socialism. Even before the rise of feudal society there were classes based upon economic forces. On the one hand there were slave-owners who possessed the means of production; on the other hand, there were slaves who possessed nothing. Both these classes were opposed to each other had there were occasional conflicts between them. This class-struggle continued upto the time to feudalism. in this period also the society was divided into classes feudal lords and the vassals. The struggle between these two classes continued till the feudal form of production collapsed giving birth to capitalism. Capitalism is the most important stage in the economic growth of society, Marx points out that at no stage has the division between the two classes been
clear as in the capitalist society. Now, there is, on the one hand, ” bourgeoisie class which owns the means of production, and on the other is the proletariate class which does not own the means of product The interests of these two classes are directly opposed to each The clash between the two is inevitable. In this clash according to the proletariate class will come out as victorious. That is why, dialectic materialism of Karl Marx has been called deterministic.
Marx also asserts that the owners of the means of productionnot only the economic life of the society but also the political life. According to Marx, the powerful economic class will become the
ruling class. In this arguments of his Marx is simply pointing out to the relation between the economic and political power. Those who possess economic power also possess political power.
But no class structure is stable. In part the reason for change is improvement of technology. When men learnt the art of systematic cultivation, they found that agriculture was more productive than hunting. Others found that commerce was more gainful than agriculture. Further changes showed that industry is more productive than any previous system of production. Since the previous system allows only a few people to live well, the new system makes an appeal to the masses. Those who promote the new system sind that the people support them and they themselves grow rich. This combination of self-interest of the masters of the new system of production combined with the general support proves irresistible. After a sight, the old ruling class surrenders and indeed many of its members join the new ruling class. Marx pointed out that the class-struggle is an objective process is is a result of the economic and social forces and can not be stopped simply by convincing people that it is bad.
Marx says that capitalism carries within itself the seeds of its own decay. He analyses the growth of capitalism and says that the “modern bourgeois society with is relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the soreerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.” To quote him father the weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself. But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons – the modern working class – the proletarians. In proportion as the bourgeoisie is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariate, the modern working class, developed a class of labourers, who live only so long as they final work, and who find work only no long as their labour increases capital.
But with the development of industry the prolétariate not only increases in number;it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows and it feels that strength more at feels that strength more … The increasing
improvement of machinery, ever more
rapidly developing makes their livelihood more and more precarious: the collisions between individual
workmen and individual bourgeoisie take more and more the chara of collisions between two classes. There upon the workers begin to form combinations (trade unions) against the bourgeoisie, they club together in order to kcep up the rate of wages; they found permanent association in order to make provisions before hand for these occasional revolts
Coker has beautifully summed up the conditions which will bring about the death of capitalism in these words :
“Thus the capitalism system enlarges the number of workers brings them together into compact groups, makes them class conscious. supplies them with means of inter communication and corporation on a world wide scale, reducing their purchasing power and by increasingly exploiting them arouses them to organise resistance. Capitalists acting persistently in pursuit of their own natural needs and in vindiction of a system dependent upon the maintenance of profits are all the time creating conditions which stimulate and strengthen the natural efforts of workers in preparing for a system that will fit the needs of a working man’s society.”
In this way, Marx tries to show that class war is the direct result of his dialectic and a fact traceable to history. Capitalism sows the seeds of its own destruction. “Its fall and the victory of the proletariate are equally inevitable.” Karl Marx did not regard himself to be the author of the theory of class-war. He merely took over and extended the theory of class antagonism which already existed. He himself recognised Augustine Theory as “the father of class struggle in French historical writings.” However, Karl Marx was responsible for making the idea of class-war a major factor in world politics. Criticism of Marx’ Theory
The theory of class-war has been severely criticized on the following grounds :
(i) Firstly, the law that sustains the universe and makes for progress is not the law of struggle and competition but the law of love, co-operation and sacrifice. Plato’s analysis of society as based on the need of mutual co-operation for the satisfaction of common necds 1 more true than of Marx.
(ii) Secondly, the belief in the final triumph of the proletarial Quer thc bourgeoisie is nothing more then an unproved assumption.
(iii) Thirdly, no one can deny the existence of social classes away in society but it is doubtful in classes can be called economic classes in the true of the world.
(iv) Fourthly, Marx’s’ prophecy that as a result of increasing wealth the society will become divided into two clear-cut classes – bourgeoisie and proletariate and as a result thereof other classes would disappear has not come out true. Still more, the society does not show any sign of proletarianism.
(v) Fifthly, there seems no signs of the gradual downfall of capitalism. Capitalism instead of showing signs of decline is rather growing. More and more countries are coming under its away. Capitalism has shown great fixibility in adjusting and adopting itself to the needs of the changing society.
(vi) Sixthly, as Prof. Laski says, “The breakdown of capitalism might result not in communism but in anarchy from which there might emerge some dictatorship unrelated in principle to communist ideals.”
(vii) Lastly, it is wrong to say that worker’s victory would lead to a classless society. Alter the removal of the bourgeoisie, the solidarity of the proletariate may disappear and divisions and various groups may develop
Concluding with the words of Lancaster, “If Marx and Engels mean by this no more than that every society consists of conflicting groups, each striving for ends which it cannot realize except at the expense of others with whom it must compromise or whom it must destroy, they said no more than the obvious. For every society exhibits such clashes, with the defects, victories, and compromises implicit in them. But they are really saying very much more for they are asserting that at last the lines are rigidly drawn between two classes-bourgeoisie and proletariate-between whom it is now war to the death with victory assured to the workers. Moreover, belief in the dialectic requires them to hold that the bourgeoisie, by an iron law of development, should provide its own nemesis. It can win its wholly temporary victories only by creating and training a class that will inexorably drive it from the field.” “As propaganda this is excellent, if for no other reason than that it puts the worker on the side that it informs himn is sure to win, As science it is considerably less satisfactory, since there grave difficulties about the term ‘class,’ and therefore about the reality of the
Class-struggle, In view of the fundamental importance of the conception of ‘class’ it is curious to see how little attention the Marxists give to
defining it. It seems almost to be taken for granted that every one knows what proletariate’ and ‘bourgeoisic’ mean.”