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New Left Review I/58, November-December 1969

Nicos Poulantzas

The Problem of the Capitalist State

Ralph Miliband’s recently published work, The State in Capitalist Society, [1] Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London 1969, 292 pp., 45/-. is in many respects of capital importance. The book is extremely substantial, and cannot decently be summarized in a few pages: I cannot recommend its reading too highly. I will limit myself here to a few critical comments, in the belief that only criticism can advance Marxist theory. For the specificity of this theory compared with other theoretical problematics lies in the extent to which Marxist theory provides itself, in the very act of its foundation, with the means of its own internal criticism. I should state at the outset that my critique will not be ‘innocent’: having myself written on the question of the State in my book Pouvoir Politique et Classes Sociales, [2] Maspero, Paris, 1968 these comments will derive from epistemological positions presented there which differ from those of Miliband.

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