It's clear that there is some confusion about what Marxists mean by "the state", especially "smashing the state", in light of the research finding over half of Irish youth "would join an uprising against the state". This does not mean they, or we, want to do away with hospitals, traffic regulations, the rule of law - this means, and we mean, that we would like to overthrow those in charge of "the state" - the rich and their allies - and put pro-people forces in charge instead.
For Marxists this is a matter of social class - with the result traditionally being referred to as "a workers' state", or, more accurately, a socialist state. This represents a fundamental change in the nature of the state, meaning a complete turning upside down of the legal system. No longer are laws about protecting the property of the rich from the masses, they are now about enabling the masses to build their own society, on a truly equal basis.
Typically, in the past, this has meant the creation of a new constitution, with the enshrining of "social rights" for each citizen, e.g. the right to a job, the right to sustenance, the right to be able to sleep with a roof over your head etc. It also generally leads to the breaking up of the coercive structures of the old state, and their refoundation in new coercive structures. In other words, a state that frees shoplifters, and incarcerates tax dodgers.
In this sense, having replaced all the structures of Parliament, the Civil Service, the Courts, Police and Armed Forces, with equivalent new structures - we consider the bourgeois state, the state that was run by and for the rich, to have been "smashed". It is understandable that many people are confused by the phrase "smash the state" as for the last 30 years, anarchists and ultraleftists have been promoting an image of literally smashing everything, all concepts of rights and laws, overnight - and living in the ruins.
We say "image", as most anarchists don't really mean this at all, and want to actually replace the state with an informal network of communes which actually *would* have laws and rights - but is neither 1) feasible nor 2) desirable for a modern space-age society! As the experience of Catalonia and Ukraine in the first half of the 20th century show, there is actually no difference between the anarchist "non-state"-state and a socialist state in its necessarily coercive essence. Police, prisons, laws. Much like today in the region beloved of so many anarchists, that "not a state" region of Northern Syria called Rojava. Anarchists simply flirt with this image to claim every uncast vote as a vote for them, and every latent desire to go in to work on Monday with a flame-thrower – every desire for ‘anarchy’ [chaos] as desire for ‘anarchism’ [hippy-commune-socialism].
Unfortunately, many socialists don't point this out, and argue that anarchists and other ultraleftists simply follow a naïve yet purer strategy that goes too far too fast. They do this rather than point out that unless you are an anarcho-primitivist (anarchist who wants to return to a Stone Age hunter-gatherer society) then anarchism is a contradiction in terms, an overblown liberal critique of the state that, if ever faced with power - will either collapse, or recreate the functions of the state.
This is unfortunate as it allows a kind of nonsense to infect our debates, where something is treated as 'desirable but too hard to achieve' when it is actually impossible, completely and utterly, even in theory. This is one of many such elephants of nonsense in the room, but probably the biggest. If we allow the elephant to stay, all our other tactical debates are perverted. So fuck off, Nonsense Elephant, grown-ups are talking.
Sure, the state may "wither away" eventually, but only when the last tax dodger has been hanged with the guts of the last corrupt bureaucrat. In other words, probably not this millennium. As many have pointed out, rather than the anarchist vision that is Mad Max (where the rule of tribal warlords has replaced rule of the state - inevitably) think of Star Trek: this is our communism. Instead of thinking obsessively about getting rid of prisons and police forces, think, again, about Star Trek - getting rid of money, and getting rid of any sense of class dictating what property you use. Keep thinking about Star Trek: there are still rules. There are still orders. That is how you can abolish money and class, and gain free access to any property you have use for.
If you think 'well we don't have that technology yet' remember that human society actually reached the point of production to satisfy all human needs in the mid 1960s. Even now with rapid population growth the world already produces more than 1 ½ times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. Socialism, if not communism, has been economically viable for half a century! To dish out these resources though, we will need a greater level of organisation and intervention than we have now, not some liberal concept of 'more autonomy'. That is why we must ‘smash the state’ – to replace it with our own state.