I recently read the Communist Manifiesto and in the very fist chapter the authors claim that

The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.

Edit 1 Despite of I do not support the communist ideology (neither is my purpouse to discredit the modern states nor its achivements) I think there could be indirect evidence for this claim, such as the lobbies and their political pressure on goverment. That's suggested in the elitism theory briefly mentioned here and also mentioned here. However, what is said in those references is not conclusive evidence.

I know that the anti-trust laws in US exist because of the significative impact of those groups on society, so that could prove that bourgeoisie is not in charge (otherwise those laws wouldn't have ever existed), but it cannot be ignored that its power could be great enough to weak democracy and perhaps to dominate all society.

Edit 2 I have searched for direct evidence for proving or refutating this claim but I haven't found it, perhaps because as William Walker III says, I'm

asking for philosophical arguments based on circumstantial evidence

Edit 3 I think this question, rather than cause descredit, could improve the general perception of how govements and bourgeoisie(if the term remains valid nowadays) interact. So the questions is:

Is it possible to exhibit evidence (e.g. facts) in order to prove that claim either for today world or for the time Marx and Engels lived?

Note: Linking to a book or article that covers these topics is also a valid answer.

  • 3
    Sadly this appears to be asking multiple questions, as well as asking for lists, which is not allowed on this site. Also, since the answers too this question will be based on opinion, it is not a good fit for the Stack Exchange q&a format, so I’m afraid this question is likely unsalvageable. For asking better questions in the future, please read the tour and How to Ask. Also, sorry if this comes off as mean, that was not my intent :) Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 1:56
  • @EkadhSingh holy Christ, I didn't know my question was actually that bad. Thanks for the comments and suggestions; I will fix that. However, I didn't understand that about "since the answers too this question will be based on opinion": If I am requesting facts or other sort of evidence, that wouldn't be an opinion, would it be? Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 2:09
  • To me it seems impossible to factually prove any situation where “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” Granted, I could be wrong on that though. Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 2:11
  • 3
    has a strange resemblance to a homework essay question. Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 2:26
  • 1
    Seems too opinion-based Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 7:16

1 Answer 1


This question is a mouthful, but I guess I can say that it is easy to say the modern state was not simply the executive committee of the wealthy, but it was pretty close around the time of Marx and Engels. The 19th century was a time of robber barons and runaway capitalism. Historians and journalists like Matthew Josephson argued that robber barons had a complicated legacy of control in the modern state during the 19th century:

more or less knowingly played the leading rôles in an age of industrial revolution. Even their quarrels, intrigues and misadventures (too often treated as merely diverting or picturesque) are part of the mechanism of our history. Under their hands the renovation of our economic life proceeded relentlessly : large-scale production replaced the scattered, decentralized mode of production ; industrial enterprises became more concentrated, more “efficient” technically, and essentially “coöperative,” where they had been purely individualistic and lamentably wasteful. But all this revolutionizing effort is branded with the motive of private gain on the part of the new captains of industry. To organize and exploit the resources of a nation upon a gigantic scale, to regiment its farmers and workers into harmonious corps of producers, and to do this only in the name of an uncontrolled appetite for private profit—here surely is the great inherent contradiction whence so much disaster, outrage and misery has flowed. -Matthey Josephson, The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists 1861-1901

There was also the spoils system which is when "a political party, after winning an election, gives government civil service jobs to its supporters, friends (cronyism), and relatives (nepotism) as a reward for working toward victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party", which got its name based on the phrase from New York Senator William L. Marcy "to the victor belong the spoils". This system allows wealthy individuals to essentially take control of local governments by packing them with their supporters and constituents. This system only ended with the passing of the Pendleton Act in 1883, the same year Karl Marx died.

Eventually, modern governments created more established anti-trust laws, but many of these laws were established after the era of Marx and Engels like the Sherman Act of 1890 & Clayton Act of 1914 in the United States, both of which are considered to be the beginning of modern competition lawbecause older anti-trust laws were not designed to deal with large modern corporations that were able to use trusts to defend their business arrangements as not being 'true' monopolies. So, many could argue that this statement could be seen as true in the era of Marx and Engels.

Now, there are arguments for and against this view in relation to modern times. When it comes to arguments that the modern state only exists to help the bourgeoise, some point to the supposed return of the spoils system in modern politics. Many see redistricting in the United States as a modern return of the spoils system; the fact that according to a 2017 report from Boston Consulting Group, 70% of the nation's wealth was owned by millionaires and billionaires; and growing wealth inequality even during a pandemic as proof of modern states only being tools of the wealthy. However, others many argue against this view, reminding people of the existence of mixed economies with universal healthcare & free college funded with taxes from the bourgeoise; direct democracy in nations like Switzerland, Iceland, and in certain states of the United States which can be used & have been used to fight against corporate interest; & the growth of UBI programs in different parts of the globe to help poorer members of society as proof that modern governments aren't all committees for the bourgeoise. Otherwise, governments would not implement programs and forms of governance that take from their wealth or allow common people to have a say against rich corporate interest.

  • 2
    An excellent answer. Capitalism has had to adapt to address the challenges posed by Marxism in 1865. At the time, Dickens was, for good reasons, a rather popular read and the robber barons were worried. Out came unions, the welfare state, health care, employee savings plans. Is it everything perfect. No. Meanwhile, Communism's adaptation has been Gulags and the Great Firewall of China. As jamesqf commented, what seemed like it made superficial sense in 1865 does not, more than 150 years of repeated failures later. Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 15:56
  • Despite of it seems that with this question I'm supporting the communism ideology that's not true. I haven't ever read the Manifiesto (& I definitely do not support that ideology), so when I read that line, just like it is written without evidence or a better reasoning, I got the doubt. But now I see, by the contemporany counterexamples that the claim is just false at least in this era. To me this is the best answer but I hope my question would be reopen so other people can add evidence and reasonings as well. Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 0:43

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