Lenin's State and Revolution

Socialism 2017

August 15, 2017

In hiding after the abortive July Days in 1917, and just months before the Bolshevik victory in October, Lenin told Lev Kamenev, “Entre nous, if they do me in, please publish my notebook ‘Marxism and the State.’” In was soon published after October. Its purpose was to exhume everything Marx and Engels had said on the state that had been buried or distorted by the Second International after Marx. It was a theoretical work with a simple point: the state, a product of irreconcilable class contradictions, “a power which arose from society but places itself above it and alienates itself more and more from it,” is “special coercive force” at its core that serves the needs of the dominant class. The task of the working class is to do away with the capitalist state and replace it with democratic armed workers’ power—a power that, once classes have disappeared—will itself become unnecessary and “wither away.”

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