Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 14, 1988/1989

Steven Jay Gold
Pages 1-22

Towards a Marxist Theory of the State

Though Karl Marx never developed a systematic theory of the state, he did have much to say about state action. In recent times philosophers have made attempts to capture essential elements of Marx’s political theory in order to reconstruct a general understanding of his ideas about state action that is consistent with his theory of history. It has been my purpose in this paper to layout and synthesize recent developments in this area with ideas developed in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of what Marx meant. The debate of nearly two decades past, between instrumentalists and structuralists, is developed here in the context of more recent theories of “abdication” and “class balance” to generate four basic principles of state action consistent with Marx’s statements about the state.