"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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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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. 

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
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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