Modern Capitalism and the State: How Capitalism Rules; Ruling-Class Elite Theory vs. Marxist Class Analysis


  • Alan Stone
  • Isaac Balbus



Marxism, Political Economy


While Marxist attempts to describe the economy of the modern capitalist system have grown increasingly sophisticated, until the publication of Ralph Miliband's The State in Capitalist Society conceptions of the political system in capitalist society have not advanced since the early and incomplete formulations of Marx and Lenin. Yet, no one can possibly accept as an adequate explanation of the state's role under capitalism Lenin's assertion in State and Revolution that the capitalist state is simply the "organ of oppression of one class by another." The capitalist state, indeed, engages in an enormous number of activities, from granting shipping subsidies to banning cigarette commercials on television and radio, most of which have no readily perceivable connection with the "oppression of one class by another." Nor can the classical Marxist formulation even explain what has become a central preoccupation of political decision-makers in capitalist society—the use of fiscal and monetary policies to manage the economy.

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