CHAPTER I
THE MARX-ENGELS THEORY OF STATE AND LAW

Primacy of economics over politics in the Marxian theory of the bourgeois (capitalist) state.

T HE Marxian theory of law is inseparably connected with the theory of state.1 It is based on the assumption that the economic production and the social relationships constituted by it (the Produktionsverhaeltnisse) determine the coming into existence as well as the disappearance of state and law. Neither phenomenon is an essential element of human society; they exist only under definite economic conditions, namely when the means of production are at the exclusive disposition of a minority of individuals who use or misuse this privilege for the purpose of exploiting the overwhelming majority. This implies the division of society into two groups of antagonistic economic interests, two 'classes', the class of the exploiting owners of the means of production and the class of the exploited workers.

This is especially the situation of a society where the economic system of capitalism prevails and society is split into the two classes of the bourgeois (capitalists) and the proletariat. The state together with its law is the coercive machinery for the maintenance of exploitation of one class by the other, an instrument of the class of exploiters which, through the state and its law, becomes the politically dominant class. The state is the power established for the purpose of keeping the conflict between the dominant and the dominated class 'within the bounds of "order"'.2 This 'order' is the law, which -- according to this view -- although something different from the state, is in essential connection with the state. The state is 'normally the state of the most powerful economically ruling class, which by its means becomes also the politically ruling class, and thus acquires new

____________________
1
Cf. my Sozialismus und Staat, 2. Aufl., Leipzig, 1923, and my The Political Theory of Bolshevism, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1948.
2
Friedrich Engels, Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigentums und des Staates. Internationale Bibliothek, Stuttgart, 1920, p. 177et seq.

-1-

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