John Schwarzmantel on Ralph Miliband

Following on from the talk John kindly gave to the Taking Soundings event in January 2014, here is an extract from the text he’s given us:

I would like to open up our discussion tonight by concentrating on three themes which were central to Ralph’s work. Those themes are first, the nature and role of the state in capitalist society; second, the significance of Marxism, in particular the Marxist analysis of politics and the way in which Miliband developed a Marxist theory of politics; and finally the problem of agency, by which I mean the broad question of how could what Ralph called ‘capitalist democracy’ or ‘bourgeois democracy’ (and these terms themselves need further explanation) be transformed into a genuine ‘socialist democracy’, free from the distortions which have deformed what he also frequently called ‘the socialist project’ in the past. I think this was his fundamental concern, academically and intellectually, as well as practically, throughout his life. I certainly think that Ralph was a relatively rare example of an academic and intellectual who sought to realise his ideas in a practical political sense, not so much in the sphere of party or parliamentary politics, but through active engagement with movements that sought to spread socialist ideas and develop awareness of the problems of socialist democracy and of the socialist project more generally.

The full talk is available here

John S – Ralph Miliband and the Left Today

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