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Additional resources for An Essay on the Nature of the State
As pointed out in the introduction, ali societies, whatever their mode (s) of production, are confronted with the basic task of exploiting nature in order to extract from it their means of subsistence. In societies divided into antagonistic classes, this exploitation involves class struggles. Even if such a situation has been prevailing overwhelmingly in the recorded period of history, it stili holds true that class conflict is a particular case within the more general confrontation between nature and society.
The state's particular nature resulting from the contradictions embedded in political activity itself, however, inescapably drives ruling personnel into conflict, not only with the inferior classes, but also with the superior ones. State service cannot be provided without compulsion. It is out of this objective necessity that the strength, the power, and the authority of the state are derived. This particular position of the state, above the rest of society, provides its personnel with special rewards.
Besides, a human grouping split by the emergence of social classes loses its ability to act spontaneously, and in toto. The time-old necessity of direction is now coupled with that of compulsion. A society where basic contradictions have emerged is incapable of defining its common needs, let alone caring for them in a concerted manner. A special group has therefore to assume the task of defining the 'common good', and of directing-compelling society towards achieving it. This special group now permanently assigned to political activity has necessarily to be sustained by the non-productive consumption of a part of the surplus product.