Marx and Engels on the State

Handy overview of Marx and Engels’ theories of the state:

Bob Jessop

This on-line version is the pre-copyedited, preprint version. The published version can be found here:

‘Marx and Engels on the state’, in S. Hibbin, ed., Politics, Ideology, andthe State, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 40-68, 1978.


It is a commonplace that Marx did not produce an account of the state to match the analytical power of his critique of the capitalist mode of production in Das Kapital. Indeed, although this great work was to have included an extended treatment of the state, Marx did not succeed in committing it to paper. Instead his legacy in this respect comprises an uneven and unsystematic collection of philosophical reflections, journalism, contemporary history, political forecasts, and incidental remarks. It was left to Engels to develop a more systematic account of the origins and nature of the state and to discuss the general relations between state power and economic development. However, while it…

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