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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant critique of liberal theories on the state
This is Ralph Miliband's masterpiece. His purpose is to demystify the capitalist state - showing that is not a neutral set of institutions, reflecting some 'general interest' by way of democratic practices, but that instead it is the state of the dominant interests (i.e. capitalist class) in a divided society.

The book is plainly written, allowing ease of...
Published on 16 Nov 2008 by S P Mead

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Insights
Startlingly interesting insights, many of which chime with this civil servant reader.

It is not dated. Hope his sons are informed by their father's insights.
Published on 5 April 2010 by Alec Dauncey


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant critique of liberal theories on the state, 16 Nov 2008
This is Ralph Miliband's masterpiece. His purpose is to demystify the capitalist state - showing that is not a neutral set of institutions, reflecting some 'general interest' by way of democratic practices, but that instead it is the state of the dominant interests (i.e. capitalist class) in a divided society.

The book is plainly written, allowing ease of readership, and sets out to explain complex social relations in a manner that may be understood by any student of social science. The capitalist state is examined in a very wide context - with examples provided from throughout the 'western-type' world (Britain, France, USA, Japan, Germany, etc). This provides for a sense of comprehensiveness on the part of the author.

Written in the mid-1960's, and first published in 1969, this book became a standard text in political science, sociology and the study of social policy for the next decade. Read today, the examples are - of course - dated; but the arguments are still sharp and insightful.

Miliband set out to provide a Marxist critique of liberal theories on the contemporary capitalist state, especially the leading theory of the time: pluralism. He succeeds in this. He exposes pluralism, and liberal theories generally, as ideological constructs serving to legitimise a state system that maintains an inherently divided society, thereby reproducing relations of domination and subordination.

What he does not do, however, is adequately engage with the nature of the state itself; rather, he demonstrates what the state is not (i.e. it is not as liberal-pluralists and democratic theorists have supposed). Miliband nowhere provides an in-depth examination of the state from a Marxist perspective; in fact, the theory of Marxist politics is absent from the book. This limitation - highlighted by Poulantzas, in his seminal 'debate' with Miliband - does not detract from the importance of the book, since its aim was merely to provide a critique of liberal conceptions.

This book remains useful: it provides students with a clearly posed critique of bourgeois ideology on the state; and it provides a series of historical examples of mid-20th century state activity in capitalist societies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Insights, 5 April 2010
This review is from: The State in Capitalist Society (Paperback)
Startlingly interesting insights, many of which chime with this civil servant reader.

It is not dated. Hope his sons are informed by their father's insights.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Prophet Scorned and Misremembered, 3 Nov 2013
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The astonishing thing about this book is not that he was accurate about the history he references and right about the times he analysed, he was also astoundingly prescient about how we live now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 18 Sep 2014
This review is from: The State in Capitalist Society (Paperback)
excellent product, excellent service
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The State in Capitalist Society
The State in Capitalist Society by Ralph Miliband (Paperback - 12 April 2009)
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