“Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich — that is the democracy of capitalist society.”
The question of the state is not something that normally occupies the attention of most workers. This is no accident. The state would be of no use for the ruling class if people did not believe that it was something harmless, impartial and above the interests of classes or individuals. However, Marxism teaches us that the state is an instrument for the oppression of the exploited classes by the ruling class. The state cannot be neutral.
Written in the summer of 1917, in the heat of the Russian Revolution, Lenin’s State and Revolution is a key work of Marxism. Here, Lenin explains that, stripped of all non-essentials, the state is in the final analysis “groups of armed men”: the army and the police, in defence of the ruling class.
Today, after years of attacks, we see the working class and youth attempting to shake off capitalist oppression in all corners of the world, thus inevitably colliding with the state. However, as Lenin said, “without revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement.” To establish socialism, the only solution to the problems faced by the world today, it will not be possible for the working class to use the state as it currently exists, but it needs to overthrow it.
An understanding of the nature of the state is a necessary weapon in the hands of the working class. Lenin’s State and Revolution, one of the most important works of the twentieth century, surveys the analysis of the state by Marx and Engels in the light of the experience of the Russian Revolution, to provide the definitive Marxist explanation on the question. All class-conscious workers should therefore read this book.