Let’s begin by clarifying that “the state” in my blog context is not the state in terms of geographical boundaries (I had to clarify that with Dr. Adelman), so remove that ideology from your mind as you read on.
To fully understand the definition of the state in terms of a political entity, one must comprehend what it is not in conjunction with what it is: “A state is a form of political association or polity that is distinguished by the fact that it is not itself incorporated into any other political associations, though it may incorporate other such associations. The state is thus a supreme corporate entity because it is not incorporated into any other entity, even though it might be subordinate to other powers (such as another state or an empire). One state is distinguished from another by its having its own independent structure of political authority, and an attachment to separate physical territories. The state is itself a political community, though not all political communities are states. A state is not a nation, or a people, though it may contain a single nation, parts of different nations, or a number of entire nations. A state arises out of society, but it does not contain or subsume society. A state will have a government, but the state is not simply a government, for there exist many more governments than there are states. The state is a modern political construction that emerged in early modern Europe, but has been replicated in all other parts of the world. The most important aspect of the state that makes it a distinctive and new form of political association is its most abstract quality: it is a corporate entity.”
In the image at the top right of this page, entitled Pyramid of the Capitalist System, we can see a money bag representative of capitalism on the top tier and the state, represented by monarchy and other ruling lords positioned right underneath. Economics writer, Jeffrey Tucker, gave an excellent example of how the state is a separate, corporate entity during a lecture at the 2013 Australian Mises Seminar (How’s that for research?!). He paraphrased the misconceptions about what the state is and what it does by using German sociologist, Franz Oppenheimer’s book The State: Its History and Development Viewed Sociologically. Tucker stated that: “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a monarchy or a democracy or a republican form of government or any other state…the state uses different means to control society…any state of any sort always lives a parasitical existence off the rest of the social order. It has no money of its own, everything it has it must get from society itself. It has only one real tool that distinguishes itself form the rest of society, and that is the use of force. Coercion is the key mark of the state.” According to Tucker, the state can commit atrocities like murder and kidnapping, which would land the average citizen in jail. However, the state operates with immunity when it deems these acts necessary.
Oppenheimer stated in his book there are essentially two ways an individual can become wealthy in society: by economic means or political means. Oppenheimer wrote: “There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others. Robbery! Forcible appropriation!” Oppenheimer clearly distinguished between the two when he wrote: “I propose in the following discussion to call one’s own labor and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others, the “economic means” for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the “political means.” The political means are what Tucker alluded to in his lecture and situated under the military are the parasites he spoke of, in the Pyramid of Capitalist System image: the bourgeoisie class the state uses to siphon off of society. Underneath, at the base of the pyramid, are the myriad laborers who form the proletariat—or working class—who produce the goods and services that spark the capitalist engine.
To put it all together, Oppenheimer referred to this leaching of wealth as the “political means,” and thus the state is simply “an organization of the political means.” He added: “No state, therefore, can come into being until the economic means has created a definite number of objects for the satisfaction of needs, which objects may be taken away or appropriated by warlike robbery.”  However, while the proletariat produces these objects, the state, not the proletariat, controls the means of production, and therefore can take—by force if necessary—what it needs or wants.
 Franz Oppenheimer, The State: Its History and Development Viewed Sociologically (London: FB & C Ltd, 2015), 24.
 Ibid., 25.
 Ibid., 27.