chapter  3
61 Pages

The State as the Instrument of the Capitalist Class

WithAxel van dan Berg

The obvious place to begin an account of the past two decades of (neo-)Marxist theorizing about state is the so-called instrumentalist approach. It is closest to the traditional Marxist views that held sway until recently. Routinely invoked and taken for granted by both orthodox Marxists and such left-wing critics as the British "Neo-Ricardians", underlying theory was not explicitly formulated until Ralph Miliband's The State in Capitalist Society, which became the "take-off point for most recent debates". Miliband does not dispute the importance of political competition in most advanced capitalist societies, nor of the reforms that result from it. However, the pluralist inference that various interests compete on more or less equal terms he considers to be "in all essentials wrong". A more subtle and detailed version of "instrumentalism" is offered by G. William Domhoff. He points out the vast advantages enjoyed by the major corporate interests and their representatives over some population in the struggle to influence public policy.