Ellen Wood: Political and Economic struggles

In any case, the strategic lesson to be learned from the transfer of ‘political’ issues to the ‘economy’ is not that class struggles ought to be primarily concentrated in the economic sphere or ‘at the point of production’. Nor does the division of ‘political’ functions between class and state mean that power in capitalism is so diffused throughout civil society that the state ceases to have any specific and privileged role as a locus of power and a target of political action, nor, alternatively, that everything is the ‘state’. Indeed, the opposite is true. The division of labour between class and state means not so much that power is diffuse, but, on the contrary, that the state, which represents the coercive ‘moment’ of capitalist class domination, embodied in the most highly specialized, exclusive, and centralized monopoly of social force, is ultimately the decisive point of concentration for all power in society.

Struggles at the point of production, then, even in their economic aspects as struggles over the terms of sale of labour power or over the conditions of work, remain incomplete as long as they do not extend to the locus of power on which capitalist property, with its control of production and appropriation, ultimately rests. At the same time, purely ‘political’ battles, over the power to govern and rule, remain unfinished until they implicate not only the institutions of the state but the political powers that have been privatized and transferred to the economic sphere. In this sense, the very differentiation of the economic and the political in capitalism – the symbiotic division of labour between class and state – is precisely what makes the unity of economic and political struggles essential

Ellen Wood – Democracy against Capitalism Renewing Historical Materialism


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