Organicism in the Early Marx: Marx and Hegel on the State as an Organism

24 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2015

See all articles by Andy Denis

Andy Denis

City, University of London

Date Written: December 11, 2011


Drawing on Marx’s Critique of Hegel’s Doctrine of the State, the paper suggests that Marx’s methodological critique of Hegel’s idealist procedure, of hypostatising abstractions and then reinterpreting the world as the realisation of those hypostases, is re-directed onto the state itself. According to Marx, the state is an abstraction – an aspect of the community which separates itself from the community, becomes an end, and reduces the individual humans of which it is composed to mere means. In Marx’s later writings the same argument is applied to capital, presenting labour under capitalism as hypostatised, alienated human activity. Finally, the paper suggests some parallels and points of contact of this view with modern Darwinian thought.

Keywords: Marx, Hegel, organicism, hypostatisation, idealism, state, capital, alienation, Darwin

JEL Classification: B14, B41

Suggested Citation

Denis, Andy, Organicism in the Early Marx: Marx and Hegel on the State as an Organism (December 11, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

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