Base/superstructure and the State

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Thu Apr 19 17:49:54 MDT 2001

I don't recall reading Lenin on "base/superstructure" or similar things
about the state. Could you detail just how you came to the conclusion that
Lenin's view are similar to those of the others you write about?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Amanda Tattersall" <amandatatts at>
To: <marxism at>
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2001 4:56 AM
Subject: Base/superstructure and the State

Before reading the email - I just seek a little clarification.  I seems to
only ever write questions seeking information to this list.  I apoligise for
this, and thank people for their generous responses.  However I am wanting
to ask if such a thing is appropriate - do people mind having to tease
through questions that are probably fairly straight forward and simplistic?

I am happy not to send such questions to the list - it is simply that they
have been a fantastic resource in my studies thus far.

And now for a question ....

I am doing some work on Marxist theories of the state, and I am planning to
launch a critique on Marxian visions of the state (ie. Gramsci, Lenin,
Poulantsaz, Hirsch, et al) on the basis that many of these persepctives are
infected by an overemphasis on the base/superstructure metaphor, and as such
their vision of the state tends to separate a vision of the state from civil
society, separate the political from the economic, and have an overarchingly
hegemonic (ie. ideological) appreciation of the state, rather than a
materialist (and class conflict perspective.

I was wondering if people knew of writers, materials that argued that the
base/superstructure metaphor had destorted marxian views of the state?
I have read some critiques, particularly Meskins Woods, but was wondering if
this was a far broader area of discussion considering the large number of
references in materials to the 'rejection' of the base superstructure


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