As Marx and Engels championed materialism against idealism in philosophy, so also they consistently criticised the view that the state stood above classes, represented the common interest of all society (except negatively, as a safeguard against its collapse), or was neutral between classes. The state was a historical phenomenon of class society, but while it existed as a state it represented class rule — though not necessarily in the agitationally simplified form of an ‘executive committee of the ruling class’. This imposed limits both on the involvement of proletarian parties in the political life of the bourgeois state and on what it could be expected to concede to them. The proletarian movement thus operated both within the confines of bourgeois politics and outside them. Since power was defined as the main content of the state, it would be easy to assume (though Marx and Engels did not do so) that power was the only significant issue in politics and in the discussion of the state at all times.

—Eric Hobsbawm, How to Change the World, (London: Little, Brown, 2011), 84.

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