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Compare and contrast the liberal and Marxist perspectives on the nature of state in capitalist society.

 Sifting through the academic literature, we observe three fundamental differences in the way state and class have been conceptualised in both Liberal and Marxist traditions.

First, Liberal theorists highlight the fundamental harmony in society, whereas Marxist analysts emphasise the inherent conflict that cannot be reconciled within the given frame of state and society. In Marxist theory, the state is viewed as repressive, with its apparatuses representing ideological and coercive domination of propertied classes over the working classes, whether feudal or capitalist.

Second, class in Liberal political theory is conceptualised as a descriptive category based on occupation, income and status. Marxist political theory, however, views class as a conceptual tool to analyse how individuals are placed unequally in the process of economic production.

Third, despite the insistence that the state is neutral and beneficial for all in society, Liberal political theorists are deeply aware of the formidable power of the modern state. They believe that state power needs to be controlled through constitutional mechanisms and political activities of the citizens. Civil society is critical for restraining the uncontrolled power of the state. On the other hand,

Marxist theorists argue that the state Post-Colonial State in a capitalist society is by nature repressive as it represents the interests of the dominant propertied classes. They hold that dignity and autonomy of the individual cannot be achieved under the existing structure of capitalist society and state. Therefore, they call for the overthrow of the existing state and establishment of a socialist state whose basis of power and authority would rest with the working classes.

Marxist theory grounds the state in class conflict. As a result, the state which emerges as an abstract entity in Liberal theory is given substance and a concrete shape in Marxist theory. Marxists insist that the study of society and social classes is a prerequisite to the study of the state.

Classes have two dimensions: objective and subjective. They are defined by the possession of the means of production or/and lack of such possession. Marxist theory is not blind to the existence of the other classes but focuses on two classes – the capitalist class and the working class – that form the two fundamental classes in society.

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