The State and its Abolition (Introduction)

The establishment of world socialism will involve the abolition of the state, but this must be achieved by first gaining control of the entire powers and machinery of governments, including the armed forces. The practical question involved in this is that the socialist majority must be in a position to implement its object. It must be in a position to control events, which means being in a position to enact the common ownership of the means of production, and to ensure that society is completely transformed on this basis. At the centre of capitalist class power is their control of the forces of the state, therefore this must be taken out of their hands.

The operation of the entire capitalist system arises from the antagonistic relations between capital and labour, and this determines not only commodity production for profit but also the function of the state in enforcing these class relations. It therefore follows that with the establishment of a classless, socialist society, the state will be redundant, and the machinery of government will be converted for the purposes of useful, democratic administration. This position will be established with the socialist capture of political control.

The capture of political control by the World Socialist Movement will establish the position whereby socialist delegates will be in control of the machinery of governments at local and national level throughout the world. Their first action will be to implement the common ownership of the means of production. Classes will thus be abolished and a classless community come into being.

Since state machines operate on the basis of class-dominated society, it follows that they can have no place in a classless society which will be democratically organised solely for the needs of the whole community. The present system of centralised government decision-making which is enforced by the state apparatus will be abolished and replaced, with the establishment of socialism, by a democratic system of decision-making in which decisions would flow from the broadest possible social base as representing the democratic views of the whole community. The particular functions which now comprise the machinery of governments will become redundant or will be retained according to their usefulness to the needs of the community. As well as this of course, new functions would be necessary.

The operation of states consisting of centralised political executives imposing their decisions on society through a coercive state apparatus, according to class interests, would therefore be automatically swept away. Concerning particular functions, it is obvious that such a government ministry as a Ministry of Defence, together with all armaments production, would also be immediately redundant. The government bureaucracies concerned with tax gathering, allocation of funds, payments of pensions and other monetary allowances, accounting, rates, etc, are also obvious examples which would be redundant. On the other hand, existing government departments at national and local level concerned with housing, education, transport, health, roads, energy supply, communications, or any body which could be usefully concerned with social safety, would need to be retained, adapted or expanded as part of the democratic system concerned solely with administration for needs.