The purpose of this essay is briefly to analyse the way in which the concept of the state outlined by Marx and Engels was developed and used by other Marxists, in particular by Kautsky and Lenin. This is not a simple task since the ‘founding fathers’ themselves never provided a comprehensive and systematic theory of the state. References to the state are scattered over many works, with the emphasis shifting not only with the passage of time and the maturing of judgement, but with the nature and purpose of the work concerned. Ralph Miliband has suggested that Marx developed two views of the state. 1 The primary view is that expressed in the Communist Manifesto — ‘The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.’ 2 The secondary view, exhibited most strikingly in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, is, in Miliband’s words, ‘that of the state as independent from and superior to all social classes, as being the dominant force in society rather than the instrument of a dominant class.’ 3 In Miliband’s opinion the impact of the secondary position is to introduce, not simply an element of flexibility, but a strong anti-authoritarian and anti-beaurocratic bias into Marx’s critique of the state. In contrast Miliband notes fewer signs of these characteristics in Engels’ writings. A few years earlier John Plamenatz had suggested that Marx had produced two quite separate theories of the state, as an instrument of class rule and as a parasite on society; 4 while a few years later Shlomo Avineri put forward the thesis that Marx and Engels had held different views of the state. 5 But as I argued in Modern Political Theory it is difficult to believe wither that Marx and Engels could have collaborated so closely together for so many years without realising that they differed from each other on such a fundamental question as the nature of the state, or that they produced two quite different theories without noticing it.