State and economy

Tom Condit tomcondit at
Tue Jul 25 11:19:56 MDT 1995


A good book on the role of the state is Goran Therborn's _What
Does the Ruling Class Do When It Rules?_, originally published in
Swedish but available in English translation--from New Left
Books/Verso, if I recall correctly.

Therborn is concerned with explaining how capitalists indirectly
control the state through their domination of civil society and
the political parties.  He points out that they don't build cars,
design computers or operate railroads themselves--they hire
people to do it, and they hire politicians to run the state part.
He deals in detail with why the state not only is but *has to be*
autonomous in its decision-making, rather than just taking orders
from some mysterious cabal of international bankers or what have

There's a quite lame second part in which he tries to extend the
analogy to show that the workers really ran the old Soviet Union
even though you couldn't see them doing it, forgetting that with
a planned economy there was no autonomous "civil society" to use
as a vantage point for enforcing decisions on the state.  This
extension doesn't work at all, but the first half of the book is
a masterpiece of Marxist analysis.

(As an aside, Peter Camejo once accused me of "bourgeois
formalism" when I asked for an explanation of how the workers ran
the Cuban "workers' state."  The question still stands.)

Tom Condit

P.S.  One thing these spell-checkers are really good for is
helping you spell words like "bourgeois."

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