Saturday, October 01, 2005

The State functions as the instrument of the ruling class

It is there to preserve the status quo and render powerless the exploited and the oppressed. Lenin paraphrased Marx in his book State and Revolution by saying, “…the state is an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another; it is the creation of "order", which legalizes and perpetuates this oppression by moderating the conflict between classes.” (Lenin, 1917)

Moreover, Engels, in his Work on The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State expounded on the rise of the state in the midst of the conflict between classes by saying, “"Because the state arose from the need to hold class antagonisms in check, but because it arose, at the same time, in the midst of the conflict of these classes, it is, as a rule, the state of the most powerful, economically dominant class, which, through the medium of the state, becomes also the politically dominant class, and thus acquires new means of holding down and exploiting the oppressed class...." (Engels, 1884)

The state then becomes an instrument of repression to continue the existence of the ruling class and the relations of production. Engels continues by saying, “Society thus far, operating amid class antagonisms, needed the state, that is, an organization of the particular exploiting class, for the maintenance of its external conditions of production, and, therefore, especially, for the purpose of forcibly keeping the exploited class in the conditions of oppression determined by the given mode of production (slavery, serfdom or bondage, wage-labor).”

The notion then of the State by Hegel as the reality or the Truth of people’s collective consciousness is also shattered and instead, exposed as working in the service of the ruling class. Louis Althusser thus declares, “…the essence of the State…is no longer above human groups, but at the service of the ruling class; it is no longer religion and philosophy, but to set them to serve the interests of the ruling class, or rather to force them to base themselves on ideas and themes which it renders ruling; it therefore ceases to be the ‘truth of’ civil society, to become, not the ‘truth of’ something else, not even of the economy, but the means of action and domination of a social class. etc.” (Althusser 1962)

The State then was created by the ruling class to preserve itself in power, to tip the balance of power in its favor, using bourgeois law as its legal basis for existence and police powers to threaten all those who seek to question and overthrow especially the exploited and the oppressed.

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