Capitalism and the State
DSA Night School
How do capitalism and the state interact? What support does the state lend to capitalism, and how does capitalism rely on this support to reproduce itself? These readings help lay out the terrain of struggle for socialists and how to confront our class enemies inside and outside of the state.
Capitalism and the State
- The State and Society, Hal Draper, Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution: Volume I
- State Power and Class Interests, Ralph Miliband, New Left Review
- Isn't America Already Kind of Socialist?, Chris Maisano, Jacobin
- Lenin's The State and Revolution, Ralph Milliband, Socialist Register
- The Ruling Class Does Not Rule, Fred Block, Socialist Revolution
- The State System and the State Elite, Ralph Miliband, "The State in a Capitalist Society": In this brief excerpt, Miliband provides a definition of the state system of liberal capitalist regimes.
- The Market as Prison, Charles Lindblom, The Journal of Politics: Despite the fact that capitalists often do not directly control the government, their structural position in the economy allows them to effectively veto policies that run contrary to their interests, as Lindblom argues in this essay.
- Social Democracy is Good. But Not Good Enough, Joseph M. Schwartz and Bhaskar Sunkara, Jacobin: Socialists want maximal democracy and freedom, and for that reason are not content with a kinder, gentler capitalism. But, as Schwartz and Sunkara argue, even if we were happy with a reformed capitalism, reforms which significantly set back capitalist interests are impossible to maintain.
- The Many Lives of François Mitterrand, Jonah Birch, Jacobin: In 1981, French Socialist Party candidate François Mitterrand came to power with a left-wing majority in parliament and a promise to inaugurate a "French road to socialism." But within two years, Mitterand's radical ambitions were shattered and the Socialist Party was implementing a program of austerity. Birch recounts this saga in detail and blames the socialist failure on an unwillingness to mobilize popular support and fight for more radical social change.
- Capitalism and the State (video), Vivek Chibber: Chibber describes three ways in which states in capitalist society are fundamentally biased in favor of capitalists: in the class composition of occupants of political office, in the financial influence capitalists exert on the political process, and—most importantly—in the structural power capitalists hold over the economy.
- The Paradox of Social Democracy: The American Case, Robert Brenner, Verso Books: In this three-part essay, Brenner identifies the pitfalls of social democracy by detailing the failures of socialist attempts to achieve significant reform through the Democratic Party.