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The Theory of the State: The Position of Marx and Engels


  • John Henry



Marx and Engels developed their position on the state in the context of their attempt to understand and analyze society in general, in particular, capitalist society. Over the course of five decades of examination, their argument was refined, partly due to their historic investigations, partly due to the work of others, specifically by Lewis Henry Morgan, and partly due to political developments, in particular the Paris Commune of 1871. Essentially, their concluding statement on the substance of the state was that this socially determined arrangement was constituted by the instruments of coercion, both physical and ideological, with which the dominant economic class coerced other social classes. In developing their ideas, Marx and Engels distinguished between the state and government, though they clearly saw a symbiotic relationship between these structures in class societies. In the course of their investigations, they differentiated their position from those of liberal, anarchist, and other socialist commentators.
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Suggested Citation

  • John Henry, 2008. "The Theory of the State: The Position of Marx and Engels," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 37(1), pages 13-25, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:fosoec:v:37:y:2008:i:1:p:13-25
    DOI: 10.1007/s12143-007-9011-4

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    Cited by:

    1. Hassan Bougrine, 2012. "Fiscal austerity, the Great Recession and the rise of new dictatorships," Review of Keynesian Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 1(0), pages 109-125.

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    Marx; State; Government; Class; Democracy;


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