Theorizing State Power

Arup Kumar Sen

In his seminal article “State Power and Class Interests”, published in New Left Review (March-April 1983), eminent political thinker, Ralph Miliband, raised a seminal question: “How great a degree of autonomy does the state have in capitalist society?” He found that “the issue has remained poorly explored and ‘theorized’ in the Marxist perspective”.

While stating his own position in the debate on the character of the State, Miliband argued: “Perhaps the first thing to note in this discussion is how very large is the sphere of action which the state in capitalist societies does have in all areas of life. It is deeply and pervasively involved in every aspect of economic life. It is a permanent and active presence in class conflict and in every other kind of conflict. It plays a great and growing role in the manipulation of opinion and in the ‘engineering of consent”.

In exploring the relationship between State Power and ‘national interest’, Miliband observed:

“The people in charge of the state have generally been strongly imbued with the belief that the ‘national interest’ was bound up with the well-being of capitalist enterprise…and they have therefore been particularly attentive to the interests of capitalist enterprise…”

Ralph Miliband’s seminal article published more than three and a half decades ago provides us valuable insights for understanding State Power in neoliberal times, particularly in contemporary India.

Back to Home Page

Jul 19, 2020

Arup Kumar Sen

Your Comment if any