[Marxism] State and capital

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jan 12 07:55:45 MST 2014

The welfare state is therefore frequently understood as an “achievement” 
of the labor movement, a concession to the working class (in order to 
pacify it). It is in fact the case that the lives of wage-laborers are 
considerably easier and more secure with state social welfare measures 
than without them. However, it is not the case that such measures are 
one-sided benefits for the forces of labor that—as is occasionally 
asserted—already constitute the first step in transcending capitalism. 
Rather, they safeguard the existence of workers in a manner consistent 
with capitalism, namely as wage-laborers. On the one hand, it is in the 
interest of capital that those workers whose labor cannot be profitably 
used for a temporary period of time—as the result of illness, accident, 
or the lack of demand—are still maintained in an “orderly” condition 
amenable to capital. On the other hand, state social welfare measures 
are usually contingent upon the sale of labor-power (or the willingness 
to sell one’s labor-power): benefits such as unemployment insurance or 
old-age pensions depend upon the previous wage, a correlation that 
already functions as a means of disciplining workers.

Michael Heinrich (http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=11830)


According to the official USA.gov website, there are 510 federal 
departments and agencies, 50 of which were created over the past 15 
years. Among those with the largest number of civilian employees: 
718,000 at the Department of Defense; 302,000 at the Department of 
Veteran Affairs; 240,000 at the Department of Homeland Security; 114,000 
at the Department of Justice; 100,000 at the Department of Treasury; and 
98,000 Internal Revenue Service agents.

Another aspect of the capitalists’ administrative state is the 
increasing numbers of federal regulations and bigger staffs to enforce 
them. From 1949 to 2005 the listings of federal regulations grew by 600 
percent to 134,000 pages, six years later it was nearly 170,000. While 
expanding under the George W. Bush administration, they’ve shot up 
further under the Obama administration. The 144 new major regulations 
pending in the second half of 2011 is double the figure from the same 
period in 2006.

The propertied ruling families in the U.S. and other imperialist 
countries exercise their state power — the dictatorship of capital — not 
only through a centralized military and police apparatus but also a 
large and growing state bureaucracy, with a myriad of agencies, 
institutions, departments, regulatory boards and enforcement corps, 
propped up by a second tier of so-called Non-Governmental Organizations 
and non-profit foundations.

The seeds of what is often termed the modern “administrative state” were 
planted in Europe and America with the rise of imperialism in the early 
1900s and grew at an accelerated pace following the end of World War II.

Contrary to popular misconception, the revolutionary communist movement 
is not for “big government,” whether it’s a government representing the 
state power of the capitalist exploiters or a revolutionary government 
of workers and farmers.

Brian Williams (http://www.themilitant.com/2014/7802/780250.html)


With the current challenge of reducing the runaway government spending 
and an entitlement mentality by citizens, it is quite possible to trim 
$4 trillion by reining in just our federal bureaucracy. Thomas Sowell 
suggested that to do so, we must further examine and challenge the giant 
economic leviathan of our government bureaucracy. The Office of 
Management and Budget revealed that the executive branch of our federal 
government grew by 23 percent since President Obama took office. The 
Wall Street Journal (2012) opined that the president has "presided over 
the largest expansion of government since LBJ — health care, financial 
regulation," and in so doing has spent 24 percent of our nation's GDP.

Ludwig von Mises Institute 

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