Problem StatedMarxist theory of state was formulated in "State and Revolution", 1917, by Lenin. The theory says that a state is:
1. a product of class contradictions within society;
2. Hence, the ruling class creates a group of armed men to impose its will on the other classes.
3. Along the armed bands are courts, jails, and various other "hard" and "soft" means of coercion, two of these being "religion" and "morality". "Education" is in essence indoctrination in the values of the ruling class.
4. The task of a revolutionary organization is to break down, destroy the capitalist state apparatus and its place create new institutions, in the interests of workers.
However, since 1917 we have had 100 years of experience, and revolutions turned into counter-revolutions. An attempt is under way to restore capitalist social relations in countries which used to call themselves "socialist".
Perhaps the most curious case of Restoration has been East Germany, the GDR (German Democratic Republic), seemingly disappearing into West Germany, the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany), around 1989-1990. It seems like a whole state, with its non-trivial army, and the security police, the Stasi, one of the most thorough in the world, just “disappeared”, evaporated overnight, without a shot being fired. What light does it throw on the Marxist theory of state? This entails that we look closer at the former East Germany and try to understand its state and society.
However, before we jump into details, let’s look around and notice a similar case of China absorbing Hong Kong, in 1997, and two years later, Macau. Here, we have a case where a state ruled by a Communist party, with a mixed economy, however, dominated by state institutions, absorbs a capitalist colony, under the slogan of “one country, two systems”.
Looking at these two cases will help us understand better what happens to “state”, i.e. armed bands of men, and “society”, in the case where a larger entity, with a very different, even antagonistic system, absorbs a smaller entity.