[Marxism] Form-Analytical Critique of the State

Angelus Novus fuerdenkommunismus at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 11 05:23:34 MDT 2008

Dogan Gocmen:

> What is the whole argument of  German Ideology about
> or going back to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy 
> of Rights.

M&E never saw fit to publish the German Ideology in
their lifetimes.  Marx never described it as the
premiere of a new method or philosophy, but rather as
a "settling of accounts with his former philosophical
conscience".  Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right
was written in 1843, far before Marx enters the
terrain of the Critique of Political Economy.

If you inflate the significance of the latter text,
and tear it entirely out of its historical context,
you commit the same basic error as the Anti-Germans,
who use all the polemical formulations against Germany
in that text as if they are applicable to the Germany
of Ackermann, Schäuble, and Merkel. 

You quote Heinrich:
> The critique of the state refers then in particular 
> to the each use of the state, but not to the state 
> and politics as social forms." 

This is in fact a *radical* critique of the state,
since it does not reify the state into an eternal
instance of human society that merely expresses
different class interests depending on the historical

Rather, Heinrich, like Agnoli and Hirsch, critiques
the state as a *social form*, as a category *specific*
to capitalist society, expressing the separation
between the economic and political which is immanent
to capitalism.  This is incidentally not very far
removed from Ellen Meiksins Wood on the state.

You also don't quote a more relevant passage:

"Precisely by means of this neutrality does the state
secure the foundations of capitalist relations of
domination and exploitation.  The defense of property
implies that those who possess no (relevant) property
beyond their own labor power are *forced* to sell
their labor power.  In order to secure their
existence, they must submit to capital.  This makes
the capitalist production process possible, the
process of capitalist production then reproduces the
class relations that serve as its pre-condition."

That is a fundamentally radical critique of the state.
   Agnoli's considerations on the state (which
Heinrich is partially indebted to) were formulated
precisely to critique the ideas of "state monopoly
capitalism" of the post-war Communist parties and
specifically the DKP, who argued that one could simply
wrest control of the state from the "monopolies" and
steer it under the direction of the "people".  

You are right that this critique is a rejection of the
base/superstructure schema, insofar as Agnoli and
Heinrich regard the state-form as just as constitutive
for bourgeois society as the value-form.  That is
precisely why they are *not* social democrats.  The
state is not a neutral instance for governing the
affairs of society, but a social relationship
*specific* to capitalism.


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