Miliband, Ralph

(born Adolphe)
(1924–1994)
   A notable Marxist academic, Miliband wrote the influential The State in Capitalist Society (1969), and was also noteworthy as the co-editor of perhaps the foremost English-language Marxist journal, The Socialist Register. Born in Brussels into a Polish–Jewish family, he fled with his father to Great Britain when the Nazis invaded Belgium. Here he became a politics student at the London School of Economics in 1941 before moving on to further study at Cambridge University. In 1949 he became a lecturer at the London School of Economics, where he stayed until 1972 when he was appointed professor of politics at Leeds University, taking up a final academic post at Brandeis University in the United States in 1978. Miliband’s political involvement in Britain began with membership of the Labour Party in 1951. However, critical of the moderate, cautious approach of the Labour Party and skeptical of its capacity to be a vehicle for socialism, but equally hostile to the authoritarianism of the Soviet Union, he aligned himself with the British “New Left,” along with such figures as E.P. Thompson, Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall. Miliband embraced Marxism, but would not join the British communist party, and concerned himself with a wide range of issues that included nuclear weapons, popular culture and imperialism as well as class struggle. In terms of Marxist theory he contributed particularly to the Marxist theory of the state, and was involved in a notable debate with Nicos Poulantzas on the issue. Miliband viewed the state as an instrument for realizing the interests of the ruling class, but he qualified this by an acknowledgement of the role of human agency, the complex relation between class power and state power, and the “relative autonomy” of the state from the ruling class.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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