Leo Panitch


Ralph Miliband,
Socialist Intellectual,


From The Socialist Register 1995, pp.1-21.
Downloaded with thanks from the Socialist Register Website.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Ralph Miliband stood as a beacon on the international Left. He epitomized what it meant to be a creative and independent socialist intellectual, and he provided consistent leadership in defining the issues for critical engagement. He ranks among those most directly associated with the emergence of the British New Left after 1956, and for the flourishing Marxist scholarship it spawned in the following decades. As with Edward Thompson in the field of social history, or Raymond Williams in cultural studies, Ralph Miliband took the lead in political studies, clearing the ground and establishing the foundations for, as he once put it, ‘what has so long been lacking, namely a radically-oriented, critical and demystifying discipline of political studies’. [1] For those of us nurtured in the fertile and open Marxism that Miliband, like Thompson and Williams, practised, the contemporary spate of charges that economism, determinism or totalitarianism are inherently inscribed in Marxist ideas and practice can only appear as but a reversion to the shabbiest of stereotypes, the crudest of caricatures.

At the same time, perhaps more than any other intellectual of our time, Ralph Miliband consistently devoted himself to demonstrating the necessity for retaining and articulating a vision of an authentically democratic socialist order; and to addressing the possibility for advances towards it through building new socialist movements alternative to both Communism and Social Democracy, with a repertoire of socialist practice encumbered neither by Leninism nor Labourism. He steadfastly maintained this perspective amidst the political defeats and intellectual recriminations and retreats on the Left in recent years.

I knew Ralph Miliband for 27 years. He was my teacher and supervisor, later briefly my academic colleague, and for the past ten years I had the great privilege of sharing the editorship of The Socialist Register with him. We were very close friends. I know now how Ralph himself must have felt when he wrote an appreciation of C. Wright Mills while still mourning ‘personally and bitterly’ the death of his close friend in 1962. I am not minded to write a detached appraisal of his work. But I think I can write about the man he was, and what he was about.’ [2] This is what I shall attempt to do here, calling where appropriate on his own words, including from some of the less easily accessible of his writings, and also calling on the insights of a few others who understoodand appreciated the person he was.

From Brussels to Highgate: A Youth’s Private Pilgrimage

Among his papers, Ralph bequeathed to us a poignant glimpse of the early years of his life and of his parents’ enduring influence, in the form of eight pages of hand-written notes he set down in 1983 for a political autobiography he had contemplated writing. [3] He was born in 1924 in Brussels to Polish Jewish immigrants, and, except for a brief visit to relatives in Paris in 1937, it was in Brussels that Ralph spent the first fifteen years of his life. His family’s circle in Brussels was that of Jewish immigrants who were ‘authentic products of the ghetto’: Yiddish was their common tongue (such elementary education as they barely had having been in that language), and most had only learned to speak some broken French. The rise of German fascism, closely observed by these immigrants, merged with their own experience of Polish and Russian anti-semitism to reinforce a culture of isolation, reflecting a sense that ‘the world outside the Jews was more or less hostile, suspect at least, not to be trusted or even penetrated.’

Yet Ralph’s parents, while very much part of this culture of inter-war Jewish immigrants, refused to be too narrowly constrained by it. His mother’s ability to speak excellent Polish was already ‘extremely rare in her circle.’ And it was again ‘most unusual in her circle’ that, once she arrived in Belgium as a young unmarried woman after World War I, she taught herself to speak and write French quite well, and that she broke through the barriers that separated Jewish immigrants from the gentile world around them. ‘She was a naturally gregarious and outgoing person. ... It may be that it was she who first implanted in my mind the notion that I was destined to be an educated man, some kind of professional, in fact a lawyer.’

But it was his father, a leather worker much more typically ‘an authentic product of the ghetto’, who awakened Ralph’s interest in politics. Ralph’s youthful self-image of himself as a lawyer in fact stemmed from his father’s fascination with a Parisian (and Jewish) lawyer, Maître Henri Torres, whose appearance in various great trials the young Miliband followed through newspaper accounts. Indeed, by the age of twelve, Ralph had joined his father in paying ‘close attention’ to French politics in general, so much so that ‘he and I regularly discussed daily events in Paris, changes of ministry, the respective merits of this or that leader.’ The fact that it was French rather than Belgian politics that was the object of their attention, had, of course, much to do with Leon Blum’s leadership of the French Socialist Party, and his becoming Premier in the Popular Front Government in 1936.

My father had no strong political convictions but was definitely left of centre, in a loose sort of way, and had for a short time been an active member of the Polish Socialist Party in Warsaw immediately after World War I. The political climate in our house was generally and loosely left: it was unthinkable that a Jew, our sort of Jew, the artisan Jewish worker, self-employed, poor, Yiddish speaking, unassimilated, non-religious, could be anything but socialistic, undoctrinally. The right was taken to be anti-semitic, the left less so or not at all – after all Blum was Prime Minister of France.

Despite recalling his mother’s pride in how much he knew about politics and his father’s approval of his ideas, Ralph did not, at least in looking back on his youth in recent years, regard himself as having been particularly politically conscious. He could not remember reading a single political work before he was fifteen, although he had consumed much classical French literature by then. It was only as result of wanting to spend more time with his closest friend (later executed at Auschwitz for making Trotskyist propaganda) that he reluctantly joined in 1939, at the age of fifteen, his first political group, the left-zionist youth organisation, Hashomer Hatzair. it was in this context that he ‘discovered the Communist Manifesto, though not in any blindingly strong way’, and took part in group discussions ‘about world affairs, in which the City (of London) and Chamberlain were designated as the chief villains.’

On May 16, 1940, Ralph and his father left Brussels on foot just ahead of the invading Nazis; they walked to Ostend where they had hoped to escape to unoccupied France, but instead boarded the last boat out to Dover, England. Ralph’s mother and sister managed to hide from the Nazis with a family of Belgian farmers they had known before the war. Under the protective wing of this family and their neighbours, they were sheltered for the duration of the war, along with 18 other Jews, in a village only a few kilometres from a German military base.

Ralph and his father, having arrived in England on May 19, 1940 were taken to London, where they were at first briefly put up in the home of a Jewish businessman in Chiswick. Then, with the status of refugees, they were lodged with a landlady, the rent for the single room Ralph and his father shared, and a few shillings for food, being paid by the Town Hall out of public funds until they were put to work removing furniture from bombed-out houses. Just how intense a period of political incubation the dreadful years of 1939-40 were for Ralph personally can be gleaned from the description that he set down 43 years later of how in the summer of 1940, only a few months after arriving in England, the sixteen year-old Miliband undertook yet another fateful journey:

I made my way, alone, to Highgate Cemetery on a private pilgrimage to the grave of Marx, which was then still the simple grave in which he had been buried, with the modest stone, instead of the monstrous monument, so clearly Stalinist, which now disfigures the spot. It was a very hot afternoon, the cemetery was utterly deserted, the sun very high in a very blue sky; and I remember standing in front of the grave, fist clenched, and swearing my own private oath that 1 would be faithful to the workers’ cause. I do not recall the exact formulation, but I have no doubt of the gist of it; and I thought of myself as a revolutionary socialist or communist – the exact label was of no consequence. I don’t know how faithful I have been to that oath in terms of action: I am sure I should have done more, immeasurably more. But I have not, from that day to this, departed from the view that this was the right cause and that I belonged to it.

It was with distinctive lack of self-delusion that Ralph put this youthful pledge in humorous and honest perspective so many years later. He was on the side of the workers, but:

On the other hand, and it is a very large other hand, I had no intention of being a worker. Here, my mother’s ambitions, which I must have assimilated, and her belief that I was destined for higher things, were supplemented by my experience of physical work ... When London began being bombed in the autumn, we [i.e., Ralph and his father – L.P.] took up work, namely removing furniture from bombed houses, an arduous business which was made a lot easier by the fact that the man who led the team of five or six removers and who drove the lorry (all English except us) believed in doing the very minimum possible and would park the lorry off Chiswick High Street as often after lunch as he could, and would lead us all to the cinema, the Hammersmith Gaumont/Commodore for the afternoon, or otherwise pass the time, for instance in expeditions to Kew Gardens. However, the work, when we worked, was hard; and we found out about middle class meanness and snobbery, and kindness; and I found out about the curious combination of kindness, cunning, ignorance, feigned servility and subordination, actual contempt which this particular part of the unskilled working class had for their masters.

But I remember very clearly the distance I felt existed between them and me, not only on the grounds of Jewishness or being ‘Belgian’, or refugees, but a budding ‘intellectual’, to which I had absolutely no title. Why I should have felt that I was superior to them I do not know, and superior in intellectual and political terms. My English was poor though I was learning fast, and my ‘status’ entirely ‘non-intellectual’. But I must have felt the distance in terms of ideology. It never occurred to me to discuss politics with any of them, perhaps because I knew that my views were out of the way and I was very unsure about them.

It was not long before his status as a budding intellectual was to become more securely grounded. Spending as much time as possible in the Chiswick Public Library, where he read the Daily Worker as well as other morning papers, and Labour Monthly as well as Keesing’s Archives, he came across the writings of Harold Laski. Seeing that he was connected with the London School of Economics and Political Science (of which Ralph had heretofore never heard), he applied to study with him there and was, astonishingly enough, admitted. Laski’s impact was immediate and enduring: ‘I was quite dazzled, as a 17-year old student, by his scholarship, his wit, his extraordinary generosity to students, and his familiarity with the great and the mighty.’ [4] After three years in the Royal Navy, Ralph returned to his studies at the LSE and became quite close to Laski in the years before his untimely death in 1950 at the age of 56. While still working on a Ph.D thesis on Popular Thought in the French Revolution (he was one of those graduate students who suffered through many long years of struggling to complete a dissertation), he was given a junior teaching position at the LSE. This is where (except for a short stint at Chicago’s Roosevelt College where Harold Washington, the future Black mayor of Chicago, was one of his students), he remained until the early 1970s.

The Teacher of Politics

Ralph Miliband was a great teacher, but his long relationship with the LSE was never a very happy one. The LSE was always a far less radical place than its reputation suggested; and faculty positions were often filled in the post-war years with the consideration of changing that reputation somewhere at play. It was Miliband’s view that Laski’s early death had been ‘a grievous blow to the Politics Department at the LSE, from which it never recovered, or I should perhaps say more accurately, from which it has never been allowed to recover.’ [5] With characteristic humour, Ralph was wont to compare the conventionally narrow range of views of most teachers of politics in the post-war period to Dorothy Parker’s depiction of a play she reviewed as ‘having run the whole spectrum of human emotions all the way from A to B.’ It was a climate of thought which excluded radical questions ‘from serious consideration by serious people, serious being defined, almost, as people who did not ask such questions ... [A] fellow teacher in politics, confronted with the idea that there was a ruling class in Britain, could retort instantly that there wasn’t, and that moreover it was a good one ...’ [6]

Nor was Miliband the sort of person inclined to bridge his differences with his colleagues under the rubric of a ‘community of scholars’. This was a notion of which he was ‘extremely suspicious’, as he openly put it in his Inaugural Lecture for the Chair of Politics he took up at Leeds in 1972. [7] The reaction of his colleagues to the famous students’ revolt at the LSE in 1968 had led him to this view. The principled, yet cool-headed support he offered the students while the School was closed for much of the academic year was matched by the disgust he felt at so many of his colleagues’

... impatience, indignation, anger, fear, contempt, but most notably, what appeared to be a remarkable measure of sheer incomprehension, not least on the part of people whose avocation was supposed to be the study and understanding of social phenomena. Many administrators and teachers, nurtured in a different tradition and climate, simply did not understand what their revolting students were about, and didn’t really want to find out. They were content with stereotypes at least as crude as many which students sometimes-manufactured. [8]

Notably, the one criticism of C. Wright Mills that Miliband was prepared to make, in the appreciation he wrote just after Mills’ death, had to do with what he regarded as Mills’ misplaced faith in the progressive role of the intellectual as ‘a free man, in duty bound to help make others free. Such a romantic, naive view is inconvenient; it poses a threat. No wonder he made enemies in the academic fraternity.’ [9] Actually, in terms of the enmity they sometimes aroused in the academic fraternity, there was perhaps little to choose between Miliband and Mills. The difference was that whereas Mills was, as Ralph put it, ‘on the Left, but not of the Left, a deliberately lone guerilla’, Miliband very much saw himself as belonging to an intellectual community. He may have been ‘the leading Marxist political scientist in the English-speaking world’, as one tribute to him recently averred [10], but the professional associations of political scientists certainly did not constitute his community; the community he felt part of was a community of socialist intellectuals, broadly defined enough to include many people, not least in the labour movement, who had never been inside a university.

Ralph saw his role as developing that community in many ways outside the university, but he was also strongly committed to nurturing socialist intellectual life within the university. When in his interview for the Chair at Leeds, he was asked by the Vice-Chancellor, Lord Boyle (a former Tory cabinet minister), what his ambitions would be for the Politics Department, he answered immediately that he wanted to make it the best socialist politics department in Europe. If Boyle did not recoil in horror at the notion, it was because, being the kind of civilized and broad-minded Tory ‘wet’ that Thatcher most despised, he could discern the obvious integrity of Ralph’s insistence that ‘... teaching politics, if one is on the left, requires an intransigent probing of all matters which form part of the socialist agenda, an intransigent probing of every formulation, every text and every historical and contemporary figure. After all, it was Marx who said that his favourite motto was “Doubt all things”.’ [11]

Ralph was, in fact, always exceedingly proud of his ‘Beruf’, his vocation, as teacher. Having himself been nurtured by Laski, whom he regarded, above all, as ‘a great teacher of politics’, his performance as a teacher mattered enormously to Ralph. The first thing that impressed him about C. Wright Mills was that ‘he had succeeded in proving to a new generation of students what most of their teachers had managed to conceal from them: that social analysis could be probing, tough-minded, critical, relevant, and scholarly; that ideas need not be handled as undertakers handle bodies, with care but without passion; that commitment need not be dogmatic; and that radicalism need not be a substitute for hard thinking.’ [12] The kind of socialist intellectual community into which Ralph wanted to induct his students stood in sharp contrast to the ‘too cosily cloying’ notion of the university community which evoked for him ‘the sussuration of soft voices saying yeah; of the beery toothiness of the students’ bar; or the smarmy solicitude of soulmates. The community he sought with his students was ‘first and foremost, or ought to be, about serious intellectual work; and the first thing that students ought to be told about such work is that it is not only hard and demanding but that much of it is also lonely work. First there must be soliloque, then dialogue.’ His expectations of students were high: they needed to ‘go away, and read, and wrestle with a problem, and then come back and talk about it.’ But he was equally demanding in terms of what was required of the teacher:

... [E]veryone pays lip service to discussion and dialogue. But genuine discussion and dialogue and questioning, with no holds barred, and with no pulling of rank, is not easy; it goes against the authoritarian grain which threatens or afflicts every person in authority ... and in teaching, there are particularly attractive excuses... Of course, it is generally true we know more in our subjects than our students. But whether we always know better is very much open to question. If ‘better’ means we have more insight into the dynamics, say, of a political system, or into police behaviour, then I can imagine many teachers not knowing better than many of their students, and even knowing a lot worse. [13]

In Miliband’s famous seminar on Problems of Contemporary Socialism at the LSE, he encouraged such a cacophony of student voices that I, at least sometimes, would have preferred a bit more soliloque on his part. But he more than made up for this in his lecture courses. Ralph was an absolutely brilliant orator, and more than one person has commented since his death on what a shame it was that his great powers as an orator were not utilized by the political parties on the Left. But Ralph had no regrets about this whatsoever; and he knew that his talent as a public speaker was hardly wasted on the great many students who crowded together to hear the lectures he planned and crafted so meticulously and delivered with such energy, wit and passion.

My own example is illustrative. I had arrived at the LSE in 1967 as a 22-year-old, enrolled in an utterly conventional public administration programme. (I had made the mistake of saying I wanted to study economic planning on my Commonwealth Scholarship application form.) There I sat, bored and sullen, a student who was nothing but fodder for the upcoming revolt, when a fellow Canadian who had already been around a while took pity on me and told me to come up to the fifth floor to listen to the lectures that became The State in Capitalist Society. The main topic that day was not Marx or Mills, but De Gaulle’s memoirs and what they unwittingly revealed about the relationship between the state and the capitalist economy and class structure. As he often did, Ralph looked about the packed lecture hall, while embellishing a point with three or four or five metaphors, and he would catch someone’s eye and hold it to see if the light had gone on. He caught mine. The light had indeed gone on. I rushed off to the graduate secretary to switch into the political sociology masters programme and was refused: it was too late and in any case too full. Trembling with anxiety, I lay in wait for Dr Miliband at the end of his next lecture to see if he could help. And I immediately discovered how far this hugely generous teacher would go in support of a student who seemed motivated and committed.

It was, I think, his determination to inspire students with a sense that their work really mattered politically that made him so effective a teacher. He convinced us that it was not enough to know how to criticise conventional political science and sociology, but that it was a matter of some political urgency to go beyond vanguardist postures and slogans and engage ourselves in constructing a vibrant, unobstructed and accessible Marxist political science. Those of us who went on to do Ph.D. work with him were never just writing a thesis to get a degree and a teaching position; we were writing a book, which, he constantly impressed upon us, had its part to play in furthering the possibility of progressive social change. He was egalitarian with us in the best sense of the term. Arriving for a tutorial with him in his dark office at the LSE, I would be greeted with a genuine welcome and as often as not a proposal that we head down to the Strand to hold our discussion over a coffee and a smoke. ‘I can’t write your bloody thesis for you, Leo!’, he struck out as I whined one day about some impasse I had reached; and I understood immediately that what he meant by this was not just the obvious, but that I had to start to see myself, not him, as having the greater expertise on the subject and the approach. Even if I did not feel that I knew as much as he did, he was telling me that I knew, or could know, ‘better’.

My own personal experience was hardly unique. Indeed, mine was one of no less than twenty-five or thirty doctoral dissertations he was supervising at any given time in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a number I have never known equalled in academic life. The reason he was so popular was only partly due to the fact that the LSE attracted so many radical students that the very few radical faculty on staff inevitably carried a heavy burden. It was also due to Ralph’s great warmth and humour, his openness and generosity. Nor was it just, or even mainly, the most radical students who studied with him. Because he had no time for dogmatism, he in fact turned many of the militants off, while attracting into the socialist intellectual community many students who had come from quite other directions.

It was perhaps not surprising, given his impatience with the notion of a ‘community of scholars’, that soon after he took up the Chair at Leeds, he felt unhappy – and just not very good at – administering a department. Starting in the late 1970s he, like a fair number of other European Marxists were also to do, took up a series of one-term teaching posts in North America (Brandeis in Boston, York in Toronto, and the City University of New York Graduate Centre were his main stops). Among the many tributes paid to him as a teacher by his North American students, a letter I received this summer from Mark Neufeld, who took a course with him at Carleton’s political economy summer school in Ottawa in the mid-1980s (and now teaches international relations at Trent University), captures especially well what Ralph Miliband was about as a teacher:

I was finishing up an M.A. at the time, and though I had come to Carleton as a liberal, by that point I was pretty much looking for an alternative. Still, I didn’t want to give up my liberal-reformist politics without a fight – and I took that fight into Ralph Miliband’s class ... Anyway, I remember at one point challenging the marxist thesis about the centrality of capital in orienting politics by raising the Galbraithian counter that in advanced capitalist societies, ownership of capital is separated from control, etc. I remember that a number of people in the class jumped on me (and I’m sure I had it coming), urging Miliband to ignore me and get on with more important things. But he was very quick to quiet them, and responded that the Galbraithian view was an important one, and had to be met with reasoned arguments. He then proceeded to do that in considerable detail ... I was very struck by the degree of respect he showed me. And that was the moment, I think, when I realized (and you have to understand, I was raised in an environment even more hostile to all things marxist than is normally the case in North America) that one didn’t have to sacrifice intellectual rigour or moral integrity to work within the marxist tradition.

Political Writings for a New Left

’Intellectual rigour and moral integrity within the marxist tradition.’ This defined his politics as much as his teaching. Indeed, of Ralph Miliband it may be said, perhaps even more than of any other of his remarkable contemporaries on the British New Left, that his teaching and writing were but particular facets of an overarching and all-consuming political project: the renaissance of a socialist politics in the wake of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy that both the Communist and Social Democratic parties, in their very different ways, had come to represent by the middle of the twentieth century.

The distinctiveness of the British New Left [14] was not only that it pre-dated in its origins the general upsurge of youth radicalism in the advanced capitalist world in the 1960s that reached its peak in the anti-Vietnam War protests, student rebellions and shop-floor worker militancy of ‘1968’, but that it was in its intellectual formation far more consciously, and creatively, Marxist, and much more directly concerned with working class culture and politics. A key moment was the mimeographed publication in June 1956 (equivalent to what would later and elsewhere be called ‘samizdat’) within the British Communist Party of The Reasoner by Edward Thompson and John Saville, followed, a year later (after their suspension and subsequent resignation from the Party) by their founding of the independent ‘socialist humanist’ journal, The New Reasoner. (The masthead quoted Marx: ‘To leave error unrefuted is to encourage intellectual immorality’.) Among a remarkable editorial committee (including, among others, Doris Lessing, Ronald Meek, Michael Barratt Brown, and Peter Worsley) the only one who had never been a member of the Communist Party was Ralph Miliband. Miliband had been a rather uncomfortable and peripatetic supporter of the Bevanite Left inside the Labour Party in the early and mid-1950s. With the ‘democratic communists’ who aligned with Thompson and Saville around The New Reasoner, Miliband felt he had finally found a group of true political allies.

One of Ralph’s most remarkable qualities was his invariably sound judgement. This was seen in the rather unique appreciation he had at this time of the need to allow for ample space within which a New Left could express its diversity. When in 1959 The New Reasoner merged with Universities and Left Review (which had emerged in 1957 under the leadership of a group of highly precocious Oxford graduate students, including Stuart Hall from Jamaica and Charles Taylor from Canada) to form New Left Review, Miliband had a clearer sense of the troubles that lay ahead, and stood virtually alone among both editorial boards in strongly opposing the merger. Despite (or more likely because of) his ability to get along well with both groups, Miliband understood that ‘the two journals represented two very different currents of thought and experience’, a distinction he drew in terms of The New Reasoner group being intellectuals of the labour movement, while the young Oxbridge radicals were intellectuals for it. [15] His concerns proved prescient in the crisis-plagued early years of the NLR and the sharp breach that occurred between Thompson and NLR when Perry Anderson took over as editor in 1963.

It was in this context that Miliband proposed in April 1963 that he, Saville and Thompson launch an annual survey of socialist theory and practice which would ‘embody the spirit which had informed The New Reasoner.’ Although Thompson begged off the co-editorship after his harrowing experience at the NLR, it was in the pages of The Socialist Register that he conducted his intellectual counterattack on the young turks at the NLR, with Miliband playing an active role as editor in trying to tone down the invective. Miliband, too, could be unforgiving and harsh towards those he felt had abandoned, or were undermining, the socialist project; but this was certainly not the case with the brilliant young comrades at the NLR (Anderson was 24 in 1963, Miliband and Thompson almost 40), and he was very concerned that debates and relations be conducted in a way that prevented (what Thompson, far too pessimistically, believed had already happened) the complete dispersal of the New Left to the point where its enormous potential to establish collective new ground would be lost. Miliband maintained good relations with the group around the NLR, and in these early years Ralph especially helped facilitate the link they made with his friend, Isaac Deutscher.

The intellectual space that was just then beginning to be created by the British New Left did prove to be immense, with a broad and indelible impact on contemporary scholarship, and with considerable effects, especially in Britain, on the cultural and political consciousness of many intellectuals and activists outside of academe. But the idea had been to give rise to a new praxis, to found a new socialist politics. It was to this challenge that Miliband dedicated himself, more insistently and more coherently, than any one else. [16] Indeed, his own considerable contribution to Marxist scholarship was explicitly directed to clarifying what was entailed in realizing that challenge in the advanced capitalist countries.

The first order of business was to address, in the British context, the dominant practice on the Left, above all, as he put it in the third volume of The Socialist Register, the fact

... that the Labour Party remains the ‘party of the working class’, and that there is, in this sense, no serious alternative to it at present. This, of course, has always been the central dilemma of British Socialism, and it is not a dilemma which is likely to be soon resolved. But the necessary first step in that direction is to take a realistic view of the Labour Party, of what it can and of what it cannot be expected to do. For it is only on the basis of such a view that socialists can begin to discuss their most important task of all, which is the creation of an authentic socialist movement in Britain. [17]

Miliband’s Parliamentary Socialism was published in 1961 – and quickly became widely recognised as one of the seminal texts of the British New Left. Amidst the Labour Party’s internal crisis over the leadership’s ‘revisionist’ concern to reduce the Party’s commitments to socialist policies, the book proved enormously influential among both students and activists. Miliband’s detailed historical account of the politics of Labourism since 1900 afforded a clear perspective on how commonplace, on the one hand, such controversies as the revisionist one were throughout the party’s history; while, on the other hand, revealing in the current context the inherent instability of ‘that grand reconciliation between the Labour movement and contemporary capitalism which is the essence of revisionism.’ Labourism, including most of the Labour left and the trade unions, Miliband demonstrated, had always been dogmatic, not about socialism, but about a conventional interpretation of parliamentary representation. This had insulated the leadership from the mass party and rendered them both unwilling and unable to educate and mobilise for radical purposes their own class and activist base. Moreover, with the aid of his insight that the Labour Party remained a class party even while its leaders ‘always sought to escape from the implication of its class character by pursuing what they deemed to be national policies’, Miliband presaged the confrontations what were to erupt later in the decade between an ‘affluent’ working class and the Labour Government. And his study pointed as well towards the intra-party constitutional crisis which would come to characterize – and consume – the Labour Party as an organisation into the 1980s. Indeed, in a critique in 1958 of Robert McKenzie’s famous application of the elitist theory of democracy to Britain (Schumpeter, leavened with a lot of Burke and a little Roberto Michels), Miliband had already not only foreseen ‘the overwhelming sense of futility and frustration’ among party activists that would lead to that constitutional revolt, but he had rehearsed all the key arguments that would be made in favour of intra-party democracy two decades later. [18] But even as he foretold the growing intra-party revolt, his rigorous analyses of the limits of change in the party, articulated with ever greater clarity through the course of the 1960s and 70s, led him to one inescapable conclusion. As he put it in 1966: ‘... it is not reasonable or realistic for socialists inside the Labour Party to believe ... that they have any serious prospect of shifting the Labour leaders to the left in any substantial or comprehensive sense.’ What was now on the agenda therefore was that it was finally necessary for socialists to build towards a mass political alternative to Labourism. Miliband had always argued that the Communist Party was too burdened by its past, too bureaucratic and too ideologically uncreative to be up to the task. And as for the various Trotskyist and other small parties, their sectarianism and isolation were products of their clinging to an insurrectionary model derived from the Bolshevik Revolution, which was entirely incapable of generating mass support from the working classes of liberal democratic, advanced capitalist regimes. But neither was it a matter of simply proclaiming some New Left party when the whole point was that the basis for such a scheme did not yet exist in terms of genuine popular demand for it. This brought him back to the kind of teaching that would broaden the community of socialists. As he put it in 1966:

The question is not at present one of parties and political combinations, but of a broad and sustained effort of socialist education, cutting across existing boundaries, free from formula-mongering, and carried out with patience and intelligence by socialists wherever in the Labour movement or outside it they may be situated. Such an effort is not an alternative to an immediate involvement in concrete struggle but an essential element of it. [19]

The importance Miliband attached to developing an adequate Marxist understanding of the capitalist state, beginning with his essay on Marx and the State in the second volume of The Socialist Register in 1965, was directly related to this. Miliband understood all too well that the failures of the Left on all sides – and including the difficulty of such a new project as he was advancing – had to be understood in relation to the inherent difficulty of the task, the greatest obstacle being nothing less than the immense power, material and ideological, of the dominant classes, and the tenacity with which they used that power in defence of their own strategic advantages. His most important texts, The State in Capitalist Society (1968) and Marxism and Politics (1977), were not only directed at advancing political science beyond where pluralist, elitist and Marxist analyses had previously taken it. They were his contributions to the process of delegitimisation of the capitalist system of power; and they were, above all, about challenging people who claimed they wanted to change the system to address the fundamental strategic issues that were entailed in trying to do so.

Without going into a detailed account, it is nevertheless especially appropriate now that a few salient points be stressed concerning this most-discussed body of Miliband’s work. The first relates to the accessibility of his writing, the sheer clarity of the prose, the judicious style of argumentation, the marshalling of empirical evidence, the eclectic use of sources and concepts. All of this characterized a text that was indeed unusually ‘free from formula-mongering’, as was vitally necessary for socialist education to be broad and sustained. The charges that were levelled against The State in Capitalist Society for being ‘pre-theoretical’, trapped within the elite-pluralist framework that was ostensibly the book’s object of critique, reflected an impatience not only with this style of writing, but with this stage in the evolution of theory. Yet it was an absolutely necessary step if more people than those who were already cloistered within a Marxist framework were to be addressed by the new theory of the state. In any case, the criticism that Miliband was trapped by elite-pluralist concepts was certainly much overdrawn. It was only with The State in Capitalist Society that a student reared in British and North American political science had the sense that one finally could go beyond just criticising the dominant paradigm and move to an alternative theorization. Miliband left us in no doubt that this theorization had to be a Marxist one; but he also demonstrated that it could be the kind of independent Marxism that did not cut itself off from the non-Marxist intellectual world, indeed that it would be best if one actively tried to incorporate the best insights of other approaches into the Marxist theorization.

A second point that needs to be made is that the theoretical and political significance of the famous debates between Miliband and Poulantzas should not be misunderstood as reflecting incompatible positions. In particular, the parcellization of the theorists into instrumentalist and structuralist, while useful in constructing a snappy-looking course outline, proved especially misleading. This is not to say that the differences of method, focus and interpretation were not substantive. Yet they should not obscure what was common to the project, which was to provide a nuanced counterpoint to the notion that the modem state in the West had freed itself from the determining power of capital, rather than, to the contrary, having become an ever more integral element in modern capitalism’s development and reproduction. Both theorists acknowledged the state’s autonomy from immediate pressures from capitalists, but understood such autonomy as one of the key conditions for efficient and stable defence of the system, in the context of the contradictions generated by class conflict and the competitive nature of the economy and of the capitalist class itself. Since they were both motivated by the hope that a realistic view of the capitalist state would help in clarifying socialist strategy, their work was above all an invitation for further analysis of the variations of ‘relative autonomy’ as a means of assessing in different states and conjunctures the limits beyond which reform could not go without creating a crisis of capitalist confidence and a crisis of accumulation.

If they had stopped here, the new theory of the state might have had defeatist implications, but by the late 1970s, with Miliband’s Marxism and Politics and Poulantzas’s State, Power, Socialism, they also had turned their attention to moving beyond classical Marxism’s contradictory and brittle conceptualisation of the institutional framework of a democratic socialist state. In Miliband’s critique of the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of Lenin’s democratic centralism, as well as in his creative extension of the notion of structural reform (a concept first formulated by Gorz in The Socialist Register in 1968), a crucial step was taken in the new Marxist theory of the state. Miliband was trying to formulate a vision of what kind of state a new socialist politics should aim for, and how it might be realized through a strategy of administrative pluralism (‘dual power’) which would be anchored in civil society as well as the state. When Poulantzas followed with his own trenchant critique of the utopian notions of direct democracy within the Marxist tradition and his insistence on thinking through the place and meaning of representative institutions in socialist democracy, this was very much consistent with, and complementary to, the position Miliband had advanced. That this development in the new Marxist theory of the state hardly went far enough, Miliband knew very well. Right up to his death, Miliband was bothered that he had not done enough to ‘address the question of socialist construction with anything like the rigorous and detailed concern which it requires.’ [20] For without developing ‘a clear indication of what was being struggled for’, the promise of the New Left to found a new politics would not be realized, however great its impact as an intellectual current.

A year before Marxism and Politics was published in 1977, Miliband already had expressed his frustration, in his important essay Moving On, that ‘twenty years after 1956, the main problem for the socialist left in Britain is still that of its own organisation into an effective political formation, able to attract a substantial measure of support and hold out a genuine promise of further growth.’ [21] The great tragedy was that rather than moving on in the direction of socialist advance that Miliband had in mind, the British intellectual left, like much of intellectual left elsewhere, increasingly lost its bearings amidst the resurgent capitalist reaction of the 1980s.

A considerable intellectual reaction had emerged as well against the new Marxist state theory, not least on the part of those who sought to deflect capitalist reaction by reverting to a defence of the social democratic welfare state. This involved a challenge to the notion of relative autonomy, stressing once again the state’s independence from determination by the capitalist economy and class structure. The great irony of all the variants of the state autonomy approach (Skocpol, Nordlinger, Korpi, etc.) was that they emerged just as limits of even the relative autonomy of the state were severely tested. The instability of Keynesian policies and corporatist structures became more and more manifest in a new era of capitalist crisis from the mid-1970s on. By the early 1980s, with the rise of the Thatcher-Reagan type of regime, governments and bureaucrats proudly enveloped themselves in an ideology that proclaimed the necessity of the state’s subordination to the requirements of global capital markets and even to the norms and opinions of capitalists themselves. Through the course of the decade, moreover, as social democratic regimes (including even Sweden’s) found their freedom of manoeuvre restrained by the new limits to capitalist growth, growing capital mobility and a renewed ideological militancy on the part of capitalists, they soon abandoned all pretext that the mixed economy had not all along been a capitalist one and that the welfare state had not always been dependent on and necessarily contained within the limits of capital accumulation. The old ‘post-capitalist’ ‘mixed-economy’ revisionism by now had no purchase on reality, yet even it had some plausibility in the 1950s. By contrast, rarely has an academic theory been less apposite to its times that the one that tried to make the case for state autonomy in the 1980s.

Miliband was relatively nonplussed by this development and even went some way (too far in my view) towards accommodating critics like Skocpol. [22] But whereas he was quite tolerant of the academic drift (he had never had any illusions about the ‘community of scholars’), he was angered by a similar drift in the socialist intellectual community, especially on the British Left. This was seen in his famous critique of The New Revisionism in Britain in the 25th anniversary issue of New Left Review in 1985. He did not deny that there were ‘many important insights, many very necessary corrections and critiques of traditional and complacent socialist notions ... which must be taken with the utmost seriousness by anyone concerned with socialist advance’ in the arguments made by Hobsbawm, Hall, Laclau and Mouffe and others around working class conservatism, recomposition and decline, the importance of the new social movements as agents of social change, or the attention that needed to be paid to civil society, as opposed to ‘statism’. But what was insupportable was that these points were often made in a way that glided over – amidst an obsession with, and false polarization of, new versus old agencies, or civil society versus the state – many of the central issues that any serious socialist strategy still had to address.

The argument he advanced in this regard is so important, and so indicative of Miliband’s passion and insight as a socialist intellectual, that it deserves to be quoted at some length. [23] First, on where any socialist agencies, whether social movements or working classes, or whatever, were starting from:

The new revisionism consistently underestimates or even ignores the fact that the kind of change implied by the notion of socialism is a very arduous enterprise, not only because the working class may not support it, but because the dominant class is against it, and would be even if the working class were to be fervently for it. The ‘dominant class’ is not a figure of speech: it denotes a very real and formidable concentration of power, a close partnership of capital and the capitalist state, a combined force of class power and state power, armed with vast resources, and determined to use them to the full, in conjunction with its allies abroad, to prevent an effective challenge to its power. The new revisionism does not seem to me to take this power seriously enough: most of the relevant literature is remarkably short on the factual acknowledgement and analysis of its nature and meaning, and its implications for a realistic socialist strategy.

Second, on the question of agencies of change:

... the primacy of organized labour in struggle arises from the fact that no other group, movement or force in capitalist society is remotely capable of mounting as effective and formidable a challenge to the existing structures of power and privilege ... [I]n no way is this to say that movements of women, blacks, peace activists, ecologists, gays, and others are not important, or cannot have effect, or that they ought to surrender their separate identity. Not at all. It is only to say that ... if, as one is constantly told is the case, the organized working class will refuse to do the job, then the job will not be done; and capitalist society will continue, generation after generation, as a conflict-ridden, growingly authoritarian and brutalized social system, poisoned by its inability to make humane and rational use of the immense resources capitalism has itself brought into being.

Third, on the question of the state in socialist construction:

The power of the dominant class and its allies can be overcome: but overcoming it requires an effective state. To say this is not statist, elitist, undemocratic, male chauvinist (‘the state is male’), or to be unaware of the dangers the labels point to. But the way to obviate these dangers is not to devalue and deny the role of the state, but to seek to combine state power with class power from below, in a system of ‘dual power’ which brings into play an array of popular forces, parties, trade unions, workers’ councils, local government, women’s groups, black caucuses, activists of every sort, in a democratic exercise of power and maximum self-government in the productive process and every sphere of life. But the state must have an important role in the whole process ... not only to contain and subdue reactionary resistance to socialist advance, but to fulfil many different functions, including arbitration between the diverse and possibly conflictual forces subsumed under the rubric ‘popular power’ ... It is upon that state and its diverse local and regional organs that will fall the task of providing the ultimate protection of political, civic and social rights; and it is the state that will be the ultimate recourse against manifestations of sexism, racism, discrimination, and abuses of power which will hardly be unknown even after capitalism has been transcended.

What particularly angered Ralph about the new revisionism in Britain was the way it sought to make its case through interventions of a denigrative kind vis à vis the Bennite Left in the Labour Party, especially for their persistence in advancing-unpopular socialist positions. Miliband was hardly one to harbour a naive view of the capacity or prospects of the Labour Left. As he put it in 1976: ‘My own view, often reiterated, is that the belief in the effective transformation of the Labour Party is the most crippling of all illusions to which socialists in Britain have been prone.’ [24] He did not change that view, but he recognised that the new activists in the Labour Party, many of them influenced by the intellectual currents of the New Left, had issued the most serious challenge to traditional Labourism in the party’s history. He especially was irked by caricatures that ignored the importance Benn and many of the new activists placed on turning the Party’s focus towards popular mobilization and socialist education, and that misunderstood or misrepresented the whole point of trying to make parliamentary leaders accountable to socialist- policies adopted at party conferences – which was precisely to be able finally to get on with such education and mobilization as would create support for such policies. Yet such caricatures and misrepresentations became as commonplace in Marxism Today as they were in The Guardian (indeed, the two fed on each other’s misrepresentations). When confronted with the kind of jaded comment by one of the founders of Universities and Left Review that derided Benn for taking up ‘the cause of socialism at the very moment when ... it was ceasing to be a working class faith,’ Miliband’s response was harsh: ‘... no one in the Labour Party who has ever held Cabinet office has been as explicit, specific and thorough as Benn (Nye Bevan not excluded) in the denunciation of the economic, social and political power structure in Britain. This hardly places him above criticism. But denigration is something else, and is best left to the enemies of socialism.’ [25]

Miliband was not spared the denigration himself. A few months after his critique of the new revisionism appeared, a letter to the editor appeared in The Guardian by John Keane, in response to an op-ed piece Miliband had written calling for a new socialist party in the wake of the defeat and marginalisation of the Labour Left. ‘Readers of [Miliband’s] theoretical works will know that he is an old-fashioned class reductionist and no friend of democratic pluralism. In practice, his class and party-centred perspective would reproduce the worst features of vanguardist politics: especially its authoritarianism, machismo, implicit racism, and pro-Soviet prejudices.’ [26] It was a sad commentary on how far the level of intellectual debate in Britain (and not only in Britain) had sunk in certain circles that Miliband, who famously stood in the state debate against the reduction of state power to class power, and who had undertaken (beginning with his to well-known essay on The State and Revolution in The Socialist Register 1970) the most consistent criticism on the British Left of the undemocratic facets of Lenin’s writings and practice, should have been so traduced in this fashion by one of the new ‘civil society’ theorists.

Even leaving aside the venality of the attempt to tar Miliband with racism, etc., it was no less scurrilous to taint him with pro-Soviet prejudices: here was a Marxist who had never joined a Communist Party, or any vanguard party, who had opposed the invasion of Hungary as a young man, and who in his maturity had not only opposed the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan but had used it as an occasion (in his Military Intervention and Socialist Internationalism, the lead essay in The Socialist Register 1980) not just to deplore all such military interventions by Communist regimes (including the Vietnamese in Cambodia) but to undertake what has been called the ‘first notable attempt’ to theorize the international relations between unevenly developed socialist countries. [27] Miliband’s long-standing personal litmus test for whether the reform of Soviet-style regimes was genuine was whether he would be allowed to start an association for the abolition of capital punishment in such regimes. (’Do you know why they have no cafés there?’ he asked me on his return from a visit to Russia. ‘Central Planning, of course,’ I replied. ‘Don’t be silly’, he said. ‘Cafés are where revolutions are hatched.’)

To appreciate just how unfair Keane’s attack was it is worth recalling that Ralph chose the following sentences to conclude his most important book, Marxism and Politics:

Regimes which do, either by necessity or choice, depend on the suppression of all opposition and the stifling of all civic freedoms must be taken to represent a disastrous regression, in political terms, from bourgeois democracy, whatever the economic and social achievements of which they may be capable ... [T]he civic freedoms which, however inadequately, form part of bourgeois democracy are the product of centuries of unremitting popular struggles. The task of Marxist politics is to defend these freedoms and to make possible their enlargement by the removal of their class boundaries. [28]

It was Ralph’s commitment to this kind of socialism that sustained him to the end of his life. In 1981 Ralph helped found the Socialist Society as an organisation devoted to socialist education and research. Unlike some of the other intellectuals involved, Ralph helped build the organization, and was a regular and punctual attender of steering committee meetings, no matter how frustrating they sometimes were. He also brought together a small socialist brains-trust which met regularly with Tony Benn, and was active with Benn and Hilary Wainwright in setting up the Chesterfield Socialist Conferences and the Socialist Movement that developed out of them. Yet this was only a continuation of the kind of work Ralph was always involved in, from the Centres for Socialist Education in the mid-1960s to the Marxist study centres he founded when he moved to Yorkshire in the 1970s. His commitment to developing the socialist intellectual community outside the cloisters of academe had never weakened.

Meanwhile, he continued to produce a body of work through the 1980s (especially Capitalist Democracy in Britain in 1982 and Divided Societies in 1989) which patiently, even-handedly and cogently addressed those central themes of class and state which the new revisionists glided over. And even in ill health, his unremitting dedication to advancing the socialist case was evident in the energy he summoned up to work on his last book, which he explicitly undertook, as its title, Socialism for a Sceptical Age, makes clear, to counter the view that the socialist cause was irretrievably dead and gone at the end of the twentieth century. He was particularly concerned to sketch out the political and economic institutional framework which would distinguish socialist from capitalist democracy, and to try to outline the kinds of structural reforms that would be required to advance towards such a socialist democracy. This is not to say he was anything but sober about current prospects. Indeed, even before he delivered his last book to the publisher he began to plan a new book which would seriously address ‘the fundamental challenge’ that the growth of ethnic, nationalist and religious racism, not least in the ex-Communist countries, ‘poses to anyone on the progressive side of politics, and particularly to the socialist Left.’ These words are from a lecture delivered in Amsterdam in February 1993:

Marx and later Marxists [were] far too optimistic in relying on the class location of wage-earners to produce a ‘class consciousness’ that would obliterate all divisions among them. This quite clearly greatly underestimated the strength of these divisions; and it also failed to take account of what might be called an epistemic dimension, meaning that it is a great deal easier to attribute social ills to Jews, black people, immigrants, other ethnic or religious groups than to a social system and to the men who run it and who are of the same nationality, ethnicity, or religion. To acquire this class consciousness requires a mental leap which many people in the working class (and beyond) have performed, but which many other people, subject to intense obfuscation, have not ... [C]lass location produces a consciousness which is much more complex and wayward than Marxism assumed; for it leads to reactionary positions as well as progressive ones ...

These were sober reflections. But they did not induce despair, as his last words in closing this lecture reveal:

In the long term, the hope that ethnic and national racism might be effectively subdued and turned into no more than a minor nuisance, must rest on the coming into being of societies in which men and women would be assured of a secure material existence, with the guarantee of essential civic and political freedoms, where cooperation and friendship would be genuine rather than rhetorical principles of social organisation. Communist regimes failed to create these conditions; and so, in different ways is capitalism unable to create them ... A radically different social order seems nowadays remote: but the notion that such an alternative belongs to the realm of fantasy, and that there is no point in striving for it, is a gratuitous surrender to the many voices which preach the conservative message that there is no alternative to the here and now ... For the Left the struggle against racism in all its forms is not only an absolute obligation in itself; it is also an intrinsic part of the struggle for a radically different social order. [29]

Many have marvelled over, or grumbled about, Ralph Miliband’s refusal to join the retreat of the intellectuals over the past decade. Those of us who knew him well were not surprised. So much of the despondency and sheer confusion of our time has had to do with the tendency – long present on the Left – to mix up our own mortality with a timetable for the achievement of socialist goals. Ralph was too modest to have ever shared in such ‘chutzpah’. He put it clearly in the opening chapter of Socialism for a Sceptical Age:

For my part, I think of socialism as a new social order, whose realization is a process stretching over many generations, and which may never be fully ‘achieved’. Socialism, that is to say, involves a process of striving to advance the goals that define it. [30]

Ralph Miliband’s respect for and confidence in future generations was captured, very personally and very poignantly, in the eulogy his son Edward delivered at his funeral on May 27, 1994:

There is sometimes a general presumption that intellectuals and academics, occupied with thinking, writing and teaching, do not have time for such mundane things as their children and that when they do, it is only to forcefeed them with their latest ideas. In Ralph’s case, nothing could be further from the truth ... I never heard the words ‘Not now, I’m too busy’ pass from his lips ... He might be up against a deadline, but our needs trumped all others ... When we were young children, he was an absolutely amazing storyteller. We sometimes joked that he was passing up the chance of undreamt sales – undreamt of, at least, by a socialist academic – by not going into print with the stories he used to tell us about the adventures of Boo-Boo and Hee-Hee, two sheep on the Yorkshire Moors ... Ralph relished our political views and encouraged them. Indeed, I remember on more than one occasion, him leaping to the defence of the 12-year-old in the corner, who was arguing with a rather surprised friend or academic who happened to come round to dinner ... Ralph’s respect for our point of view was unflinching.

This is the kind of person Ralph Miliband was. It is one of the problems of socialist advance that intellectuals of his like are so hard to come by.


This essay considerably expands on a lecture delivered to the plenary session in honour of Ralph Miliband organized by the Caucus for a New Political Science at the 1994 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, New York City, September 3, 1994, an abbreviated version of which was published in Studies in Political Economy: A Socialist Review, No.45, Fall 1994.

1. Teaching Politics in an Age of Crisis, Inaugural Lecture to the Chair of Politics, Leeds University, October 7, 1974, in The University of Leeds Review, Volume 18, 1975, p.145.

2. Ralph Miliband, C. Wright Mills, in G. William Domhoff and Hyt B. Ballard, eds., C. Wright Mills and the Power Elite (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968), p.3. Miliband’s essay on Mills first appeared, both in New Left Review and Monthly Review, in 1962.

3. The following quotations in this section are drawn from these notes, entitled Political Autobiography: 1st draft and dated April 7 and May 22, 1983.

4. Harold Laski: An Exemplary Public Intellectual, New Left Review 200, (July/August 1993), p.175.

5. Teaching Politics, op. cit., pp.129-30.

6. Ibid., pp.136-7.

7. Ibid., pp.139-40.

8. Ibid., p.145. Ralph especially liked to tell the story, in this context, of how the famous LSE economist, Lord Robbins, at the time Chairman of the LSE Governors, retorted to a group of students who were heckling him that they would not ‘fare any better in Russia’. For Ralph this remark demonstrated ‘an extraordinary failure to realize that, for the militants, Russia was not a model, but an anti-model, a prime example of what socialism is not.’

9. C. Wright Mills, op. cit., p.7.

10. Robin Blackburn, Ralph Miliband, 1924-1994, New Left Review 206, July/August 1994, p.15.

11. Teaching Polities, op. cit., p.145.

12. C. Wright Mills, op. cit., p.3.

13. Ibid., pp.140-141.

14. See the excellent recent study by Lin Chun, The British New Left (Edinburgh University Press, 1993).

15. See Miliband’s Thirty Years of The Socialist Register, and John Saville’s Edward Thompson, the Communist Party and 1956, both in The Socialist Register, 1994; cf. Lun’s The British New Left, esp. pp.10-16 and 60-64.

16. Lin Chun’s study of the British New Left stresses ‘its leadership role in advancing a Marxist scholarship and radicalising the national culture’, but she is in no doubt that ‘in comparison with the old left, a major failing of the New Left was its lack of any organisational strength ... New Left people, with only one or two outstanding exceptions, at no point showed any intention of creating an alternative organisation to the stagnant left-wing bodies’. In this context, she goes so far as to contend that ‘Miliband was almost alone in arguing that giving up the old left parties ought to have posed the whole question of ‘in what other existing or soon to-be-created organisation would it be possible for Marxists to further the socialist cause’. But there was no adequate perception that such a new organisation was needed, and where there was such a perception of it, ‘there was no clear view as to what it should specifically stand for, in programmatic and organisational as well as theoretical terms’. The British New Left, op. cit., pp.xvi-xvii and fn.8.

17. The Labour Government and Beyond, The Socialist Register, 1966, p.24.

18. See Parliamentary Socialism (Merlin, London 1965), esp. pp.344-49; and Party Democracy and Parliamentary Government, Political Studies, Vol.VI (1958), esp. pp.170-4.

19. The Labour Government and Beyond, op. cit., p.25.

20. Thirty Years of The Socialist Register, op. cit., p.6.

21. Moving On, The Socialist Register 1976, p.128.

22. See State Power and Class Interests, in R. Miliband, Class Power & State Power: Political Essays, London: Verso, 1983; and State Power and Capitalist Democracy, in S. Resnick and R. Wolff, eds., Rethinking Marxism: Essays for Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy (New York, Automedia, 1985).

23. The quotations in this paragraph and in what follows are from The New Revisionism in Britain, New Left Review 150 (March/April 1985), pp.8, 13, 15-16.

24. Moving On, op. cit., p.128.

25. The New Revisionism in Britain, op. cit., p.16.

26. The Guardian, August 8, 1985.

27. The British New Left, op. cit., p.179, fn.78.

28. Marxism and Politics (Oxford University Press, 1977), pp.189-90.

29. This lecture was posthumously published as Ethnicity and Nationalism: A View from the Left, in Socialist Alternatives, Vol.3, No.1, 1994, pp.1-15.

30. Socialism for a Sceptical Age (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994), p.3.

Last updated on 10 July 2010