the democratic state and capital

3:45-5:15pm on Saturday 19th June, part of the Beyond Resistance day school

The session will be introduced by Jo Taylor and Leo S., whose blurb appears below:

Against The Rule of the Abstract: The Democratic State, Capital and Class Struggle

As crisis of the financial markets has transformed itself into a crisis of the state, there is a strong possibility of resistance from sections of the working class against the consequences. I argue that a proper theoretical understanding of the present evolution of the form of state, its relation to the functions of state and to the class struggle, can be the major contribution of communists to the potential movement. The situation is not so different from the 1970s when the Western democratic state went through the crisis of its Keynesian stage. Here I will draw attention to the “State Debate” from the 70s when a dissident Marxist minority in the UK creatively theorised the state in crisis and built ongoing class struggle into their analysis.

In order to better understand the legacy of these discussions, I will first take a long jump back into the post-Enlightenment decades before the bourgeois revolutions of 1848. The early constitutional state at that time (with the exceptions of France and the USA) recognised as “the people” only property owners, and crime against property was identified with crime against the state. Then suddenly out of a periphery two arrogant Germans turned up, Hegel and Marx, and in an early version of the “State Debate” completely blew up the prevailing totalitarian conceptions of “natural law”. Since then, it seems that Marx’s critique of the politics and abstraction of equal rights have been forgotten by many Marxists who carry on churning out more and more new political projects. At the beginning of a major crisis of the state, we should get ready, revisit Marx’s method of immanent critique and clarify our understanding of the both the form and functions of the state.

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