In practice, however, the two movements have pursued very different strategies with respect to the state. Marxists, in general, have tried to take control of the state and use it to implement one or another form of socialism, whereas anarchists attempt to operate outside of and in opposition to state authority at all times.
We can understand this difference in terms of all sorts of factors – values, opportunities, personal biography, and so on. As a historical materialist, I do not think people’s actions are so much driven by their ideas; our ideas usually are driven by our actions. But I find it interesting to understand this difference between Marxists and anarchists as a theoretical difference – indeed, as an epistemological difference.
Marx theorizes the state as an expression of class domination. As part of the superstructure of society, it has at best a limited autonomy from its base in class relations.
In other words, the state has no or not much “life of its own”. It expresses the interests of the class that controls it. Therefore if the working class can seize control of it, the state can be made to express the interests of workers and to dominate the capitalists — until capital and class difference can be abolished entirely, leaving the state with no further social function. This domination of capital by labour, prior to the achievement of communism properly so called, is what Marx means by the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.
I am not well read in anarchist theory, but my understanding is it disagrees with Marx on precisely this point. According to anarchists, the state is a force unto itself. It does have a life of its own. As much as the state collaborates with class domination it does not reduce to class domination, even in the last instance.
This implies that a dictatorship of the proletariat is impossible. Any group that seizes control of the state will find itself constrained by the logic of state power, in the same way that a capitalist who decides to run his business benevolently is still constrained by the logic of profit and loss.
For social anarchists, this means (a) that one must abolish the state at the same time, with the same revolutionary gesture, that one abolishes capital, and (b) the revolutionary movement must develop a new mode of politics that does not depend on or reproduce within itself the authority of the state.
One can understand the intense, often bitter feuds between Marxists and anarchists as a conflict over revolutionary strategy defined by this elementary theoretical difference.
 In case it needs to be said, this is far from being the only means by which Marxists have pursued revolutionary change.
 Marx expresses this view directly in The German Ideology and The Manifesto of the Communist Party, and it animates his analysis throughout The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.
 Such a ‘dictatorship’ would be more democratic than the status quo. Marx observed that “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”. He wrote that in 1848, long before the enfranchisement of working people, when those words were literally true even by liberal standards. Still, at best today the liberal-democratic state is a battleground where labour and capital fight for control, and on which capital has the more advantageous position.