Identifying the Problems
In 1972, while discussing issues in politics and aesthetics with Herbert Marcuse, I asked him whether he believed rock music should have a place in any future socialist society. Grimacing, he responded bitingly: ‘I hope it withers away, preferably before the State’. Perhaps, Marcuse would have preferred even ‘rock music’ (circa 1972) to punk and new wave ten years later. But it is doubtful that he would have ever lost his strong desire to see ‘the State’ ‘wither away’. Like many radicals, Marcuse used the term ‘the State’ to mean the repressive apparatuses of the army, police, courts, and the bureaucratic apparatuses of administration and representation. But contemporary state institutions comprise far more than these repressive and bureaucratic institutions which Marx and Lenin wished to see ‘wither away’. As I will show later on, the very concept of ‘the State’ is a highly loaded and ideological concept — when used by either the Left or the Right. The aim of this book is to go beyond the concept of ‘the State’ and to examine what can or should ‘wither away’, if socialists are committed to a social order which maximises freedom and equality.
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Notes and References
- 1.B. Brecht, ‘The Other Germany’ (1943), Gesammelte Werke, vol. XX (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1967) pp. 283–9.Google Scholar
- 2.P. Valery, History and Politics, trans. D. Folliot and J. Mathews (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962) pp. 219–20.Google Scholar
- 3.A. Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, ed. and trans. Q. Hoare and G. N. Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971) p. 276.Google Scholar
- 4.H. Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation (Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1969).Google Scholar
- 5.C. Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (New York: Warner Books, 1979).Google Scholar
- 6.M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. A. Sheridan (London: Allen Lane, 1977).Google Scholar
- 7.R. Miliband, The State in Capitalist Society (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969);Google Scholar
- and N. Poulantzas, Political Power and Social Class (London: New Left Books, 1973), first published in France in 1968.Google Scholar
- 11.See, for example, G. Therborn, What Does The Ruling Class Do When It Rules? (London: New Left Books, 1978).Google Scholar
- 14.See J. Holloway and S. Picciotto (eds), State and Capital (London: Edward Arnold, 1978).Google Scholar
- 15.See Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism; M. Foucault, ‘On Governmentality’, Ideology and Consciousness, no. 6, 1979, pp. 5–21; and J. Donzelot, The Policing of Families, trans. R. Hurley (New York: Pantheon Books, 1979).Google Scholar