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New Left Review I/95, January-February 1976

Nicos Poulantzas

The Capitalist State: A Reply to Miliband and Laclau

Six years ago, the publication of Ralph Miliband’s The State in Capitalist Society gave rise to a debate between the author and myself in the columns of New Left Review. [1] Nicos Poulantzas, ‘The Problem of the Capitalist State’, nlr 58, November/December 1969; Ralph Miliband, ‘The Capitalist State—reply to Nicos Poulantzas’, nlr 59, January/February 1970. This exchange of articles has been republished in Robin Blackburn (ed.), Ideology in Social Science, London 1972, and in J. Urry and J. Wakeford, Power in Britain: Sociological Readings, London 1973. I reviewed the book and Miliband responded, presenting in the process a critique of my own Pouvoir politique et classes sociales. [2] Pouvoir Politique et Classes Sociales, Paris 1968, English edition Political Power and Social Classes published by nlb, London 1973. I did not reply to this critique at the time; nor did I do so when Miliband subsequently published a full-length review of my book, on the occasion of its appearance in English. [3] Ralph Miliband, ‘Poulantzas and the Capitalist State’, nlr 82, November/December 1973. However, now that English-speaking readers are in a position to refer to both my second book, Fascism and Dictatorship, and my more recent Classes in Contemporary Capitalism, I feel that the moment has come to continue the debate. [4] Nicos Poulantzas, Fascism and Dictatorship, nlb, London 1974; Classes in Contemporary Capitalism, nlb, London 1975. For if discussion is to be useful and not run in circles, it should draw its strength from new evidence; this new evidence in my case being the writings I have published since Political Power.

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