In capitalist societies, the economic and political spheres cannot be separated. The appropriating class gains enormous control over the productive process, while the state is assigned the social or public activities formerly carried out directly by the owning class (Naiman 1999).
I do not agree with this principle argument advanced by Naiman, and discussed below is the supporting evidence. As we shall see later in this discussion, the separation of economic and political spheres is only at the face value. However, when one delves deeper, one gets to realize that the two are somewhat intertwined and because of their very nature, they may not exist completely independent of each other.
Whenever we think of power, more often we tend to associate it with political class. While this may be true, we cannot ignore the fact that even those who have control over production of resources have an equally great deal of power. However, there exists a separation between these two spheres, but the main question is, to what extent are the two separated?
The concept of having a state has not always been in existence. While there was need to ensure that society remains orderly and organized, this was done in an informal way where leaders would use their influence to get people to do what they wanted. However, as surplus in resources increased and there was continued inequality in allocation of the resources, there was an increased need to formalize leadership (Valp 23).
A line must be drawn between a capitalist society and one that is agrarian. In the agrarian society, those who owned and controlled the production of resources are the same people who had direct control of the state. This position was maintained even during the feudal period when both power at the political and economic level were highly related and intertwined.
This position however changed during the capitalism era when these two aspects of society were separated. The economic aspect became privatized meaning that the class that has the power of appropriating had full and direct control (Miliband 46). By having a great deal of power on resources, they control production of resources for their own personal gains. This class of people would organize and intensify the level of production with an aim meeting their interests (Quinney 234).
On the other hand, duties that were previously carried out by the class that owns resources such as military and administrative work was transferred to the state. In so doing, a line was drawn on the duties of the economic and political spheres. The situation was slightly different in societies that could best be described as pre-capitalist.
In this case, the class that was in charge of appropriation of resources would always require surplus of resources which they would get by coercing or threatening members of the society to give in to their demands. However, in capitalist societies, it is the state that would look for means to get the rest of the society to contribute to the surplus resources required and not the appropriating class.
The separation of economical and political spheres in capitalist societies has yielded certain effects (Sears and James 240). To begin with, the arrangement of capital-labour which has always been frowned upon is now seen as legitimate, fair and not coercive in nature.
It also makes the state appear to be a neutral institution whose decisions and efforts are not influenced by the on goings of relations of various societal classes. The separation has also played an important role in ensuring that democracy prevails in the political sphere without necessarily interfering with economic sphere. This separation also ensures that the class of people in society who domineer do not have any obligations to the society and especially social obligations.
When we talk of separation between political and economic spheres in capitalist societies, we must see it from a mechanical point of view because in real the sense, these two are intertwined (Noonan 125). For example, in capitalist societies it is only the benefits as well as the surplus that are controlled by the economic sphere while the negative effects are the concern of the state.
One can therefore argue that the separation of the political and economic spheres in capitalist societies is one that is seen from one side only because though the state is not expected to be involved in matters of economy, it sometimes intervenes and this intervention is very important (James 87).
This is because, it is the state that comes up with laws and regulations that govern the manner in which the economic sphere is to operate and accumulate capital. One can therefore say that it is the state that controls capitalism and as such the separation between the two spheres is eliminated.
Looking on the face of it, there seems to be a separation between political and economic spheres and indeed it does exist with each sphere having been assigned specific duties. However, when we consider the nature of the two institutions, it becomes apparent that the two cannot exactly operate independent of each other and due to the intertwining that exists between them, there is a level to which the two interact.
James, Camron. Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Identity in Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Culture. Toronto: Thompson, 1999.Print
Miliband, Ralph. The State in Capitalist Society. London: Merlin Press, 2009
Naiman, Joanne. How Societies Work: Class, power and change in the Canadian context. New York: Irwin Pub., 2000. Print
Noonan, Jeff. Democratic Society and Human Needs. New York: Mc-Gill Queen’s Press, 2005. Print
Quinney, Richard. Capitalist Society: Readings for a Critical Sociology. Michigan: Dorsey Press, 1979. Print
Sears, Alan and James, Cairns. A Good Book, in Theory: Making Sense Through
Inquiry. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999. Print
Valp, Moses. The New Radicals. Elm Street: Multivision Publishing Inc, 2000. Print