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Forum Post: A Primer on thinking about the State and Government

Posted 7 months ago on Sept. 20, 2013, 2 p.m. EST by sabokitty (6)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Sometimes, people who fight for social change feel dirty about particular work on reforms. Other times, so-called activists gloss over the need to have an understanding of the work that they do, and the institutions they are fighting for or within.

First, let’s come up with quick and simple definitions, since words should never be taken for granted:

The state is the organized monopoly of violence for the domination of a class over society.

Government is the system by which a state is governed for given periods of time.

So, for instance, the French state (laid over a nation, making a nation-state), can have successive governments that are empires, monarchies, and republics, but they each govern the same state. More particularly, successive administrations in power in the French Fifth Republic (the current one) may have different theories of governance, and therefore each successive administration may be understood as a different government.

In this way, the French state has always been an instrument of domination by either the feudal or capitalist upper classes against the exploited classes, including both those domestic and those in colonies or neo-colonial states. Therefore, the cause of the workers, women, and oppressed races and nationalities has always been to smash the state. But, different governments have existed that have had very distinct theories of governance, such that some have built institutions that serve the people and/or have been far more susceptible to pressure from the social unrest and organization of oppressed people. That leads us, I think, to suggest that the French Republic is preferable to monarchism or a Bonapartist empire for radicals, socialists, feminists, and anti-imperialists. The same could be said, for example, of the Spanish, Portuguese or German states, and their successive governments. We would be better to live and fight in a state governed by a liberal republican government than a fascist or monarchist government.

In this way, we can oppose the bourgeois state (a monopoly on violence for the domination of the bourgeois class), while fighting in our short-term work for more progressive governance and fighting in our long-term work for the abolition of the bourgeois state.

Two contemporary examples should best help us to express this on a practical level, social programs moderately, and Venezuela more radically...

Full essay at: http://tmblr.co/Z0TBiwi_za56

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