The differences which have characterized various marxist analyses of the state are to a large extent due to an inability to envisage simultaneously the four major levels of reality of the state, that is: 1 The state defined as a ‘developed form of the socialization of the process of production’. 2 The state as instrument of domination and hegemony at the service of the dominant class. 3 The state as the place of confrontation and unstable balance between antagonistic social classes. 4 Finally, the state as a place of rupture or transition between a declining dominant class and a rising dominated class—to take up Gramsci’s formulation. Applied to the analysis of urban capitalist policies, such a dialectical method should enable one to grasp, in all its contradictory aspects, the intervention of the capitalist state in the process of production‐consumption. Instead of opposing or isolating these four levels of analysis, it should on the contrary lead to demonstrating how the state apparatus can be understood at the same time as: 1 Process of financing and spatial organization of the means of collective consumption. 2 Process of social segregation at the profit of the dominant class. 3 The place of confrontation between classes with antagonistic interests, confrontation being the result of political concessions to the dominated classes, the nature of these concessions—their real impact—varying according to the historical period considered, and consequently according to the margin of economic manœuvre available to the capitalist class. 4 The place of formation of a counter‐hegemony which will produce a revolutionary social movement made up of a new rising class, which will bring with it a new urbanistic model as well as a new project of society.