Despite their very different assumptions and principles of explanation, monetarists, Keynesians and Marxists share a concern with the nature and impact of state intervention in capitalist economies. Yet, in contrast to the study of market forces, the state itself is strangely neglected as a field of analysis. This is as true of theories that presuppose an active role for the state as of those that entail a more limited role. Indeed, even though Marxists have long claimed special knowledge of the strategic significance of the state in class struggle, it is only in the last ten years that they have rediscovered the state as a problem in political economy. The resulting discussion has ranged from the most abstract methodological issues to quite specific historical problems and has generated a variety of hypotheses and insights. It is unfortunately true that much of the Marxist debate is esoteric and often inaccessible and/or irrelevant to those working in other traditions. But, in the absence of any comparable reappraisal of the state, this debate merits wider consideration . Moreover, since Marxism has long been concerned with the state as well as with production and exchange, it is surely worth assessing to what extent an integrated approach can illuminate economic analysis. Such an enquiry is particularly germane in the current period of continuing world economic crisis and increasing state intervention to restructure the industrial and financial system.
Recommended CitationJessop, Bob, Recent Theories of the Capitalist State, Australian Left Review, 1(68), 1979, 19-36.