Discuss the following quote from The Communist Manifesto: "The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie." Is this generally true?  

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As others have pointed out, Marx is arguing that the state apparatus exists merely to satisfy the bourgeoisie, Marx's word for the ruling and materialistic middle class. I do not think that this is a question that can be simply answered as true or not true, but certainly the answer...

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As others have pointed out, Marx is arguing that the state apparatus exists merely to satisfy the bourgeoisie, Marx's word for the ruling and materialistic middle class. I do not think that this is a question that can be simply answered as true or not true, but certainly the answer changes depending on what country one is talking about.

Certainly it is true in the United States that many laws and regulations benefit the upper middle class, and, increasingly, the lower middle and the "middle" middle classes have been neglected by the state. However, there are also government programs put in place to help the lower and working classes—what Marx would call the proletariat—such as welfare and unemployment funds.

I would argue that no state apparatus—at least in the developed world—exists only to satisfy the bourgeoisie, although there is certainly a case to be made that the bourgeoisie benefit from most of the state's policies in some countries. Many would argue (correctly in my opinion) that a state that utilizes for-profit medical care is doing so to help the bourgeoisie at the expense of the proletariat, particularly if the medical coverage is costly.

That being said, there are some who would argue that a for-profit system reallocates those profits back into the community to benefit everyone. Ultimately, there are no easy answers to this question, and I think you should be suspicious of anyone who simply thinks that the statement is "true" or "not true." Socio-economic systems are far more complicated than that.

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The answer varies depending on the state in question, but Marx was referring  to the nineteenth-century European governments with which he was familiar. They were largely run to service the needs of the bourgeoisie or owners of the means of production. Today, I would agree that most states continue to run for the convenience of the bourgeoisie and "to arrange" their "affairs." I think the more interesting question is whether or not this is a good thing or bad thing. Marx would answer unequivocally that this is a terrible state of affairs and that the only way for the working person to get a fair chance in life is through armed, violent revolution. I believe that armed, violent revolution simply replaces the old boss with a new boss who will soon enough become just like the old boss. I do think that a wise wealthy class understands it needs a strong government to limit its power and wealth so that it (the wealthy class) can continue to prosper and does not need to shake in its collective bed at night worrying that the masses are going to attack. 

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In this quote, Marx essentially argues that the state, as a political entity, does not consider the needs of everybody in society. In contrast, the state is only interested in the needs of the ruling class and, as such, it is a tool through which the bourgeoisie maintains its power.

On the one hand, the state does function for the needs of everybody in society. Consider the welfare state, for example, and there is clear evidence that the provision of welfare ensures that the needs of everybody in society are protected. By giving people a basic standard of living and free health care, the welfare state ensures that nobody is left in a state of need.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the welfare state is deliberately designed to protect bourgeois interests since it keeps people at a basic level of income. It also makes people dependent on the state for their basic needs. In addition, welfare is designed as a safety net for when people are not in full-time employment. As such, the ideological focus of the welfare state is to encourage people back to work and, therefore, to ensure that the bourgeois continues to make a profit.

So, to answer this question, it is important to look at both sides of the argument. Consider the various components of the state, like welfare and education, and look to see if there is clear evidence of bourgeois self-interest.

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I cetainly hope not, but there have been some cases where this is true. First of all, we have had presidents that catered only to the wealthy, and it is quite common in other cultures. There are a lot of corrupt governments where the wealthy can pay off the head of state and make sure he does whatever they want. Fortunately, we are not thar far gone.
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I can but echo some of the excellent comments made in #2. Certainly, I would disagree that the existence of government is for the sole purpose of looking after the interests of the middle classes. I would, however, agree that this is a legitimate view that could be argued, and that certainly history has shown that governments care a lot more about the interests of the middle class than they do about the working class. However, I hope that we are moving away from this and towards a form of government that is more representative for every class in society.

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