Almost as soon as The State in Capitalist Society was published in 1969, it was recognized as one of the most important books in political science and sociology to have appeared since the Second World War.
Four decades later, and in the wake of a neoliberal era almost universally characterized in terms of the re-treat of the state, “the massive scale of state intervention today makes the re-publication of Ralph Miliband’s classic study extremely timely. Its famous opening sentences on how we live in the shadow of the state and more than ever depend on its sanction and support could scarcely be more evocative of the current conjunc-ture. As always, what is happening in America draws most global attention.” –From the Foreword by Leo Panitch
A Study in the Politics of Labour
Of political parties claiming socialism to be their aim, the Labour Party has always been one of the most dogmatic–not about socialism, but about the parliamentary system. This is not simply to say that the Labour Party has never been a party of revolution: such parties have normally been quite willing to use the opportu-nities the parliamentary system offered as one means of furthering their aims. It is rather that the leaders of the Labour Party have always rejected any kind of political action which fell, or which appeared to them to fall, outside the framework and conventions of the parliamentary system. The Labour Party has been a party deeply imbued by parliamentarism. And in this respect, there is no distinction to be made between Labour’s political and its industrial leaders. Both have been equally determined that the Labour Party should not stray from the narrow path of parliamentary politics.
The Labour Party remains, in practice, what it has always been–a party of modest social reform in a capital-ist system within whose confines it is ever more firmly and by now irrevocably rooted.
“One of the seminal texts of the British New Left.” –Leo Panitch