Marx and the Logic of Social Theory: The Capitalist State

Science and Society 64 (1):55 - 86 (2000)
This paper examines the logic of explanation in the political theory of Karl Marx, and specifically in his theory of the capitalist state. Major controversies have centered around the status of the instrumentalist and state autonomy conceptions in Marx's work, and also around the value of the functionalist logic of explanation that Marx allegedly employs. Major interpretations and criticisms of Marx's conception and logic are evaluated on the basis of a reading of the explicitly political texts written by Marx after the 1848 revolutions. I argue that only a version of state autonomy associated with Marx's general concept of alienation appears in these writings as a descriptive conception of characteristic capitalist states. I particularly argue that functionalist interpretations that posit conscious collective actors are incompatible with Marx's own analyses.
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