Toward a Critical Theory of States
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121 pages

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We have recently lived through the turmoil of a global financial crisis that originated in the United States and, despite the platitudes of neo-liberal ideology, nation-states were deeply involved in managing this crisis. If "the state" is again a preeminent actor in the global economy, then state theory and the problem of the state should also return to the forefront of political theory. Toward a Critical Theory of States is an intensive analysis of the 1970s debate between state theorists Ralph Miliband and Nicos Poulantzas, including its wider impact on Marxist theories of the state in subsequent decades. Clyde W. Barrow makes unique arguments and contributions to this continuing discussion in state theory and lays the foundation for more theoretically informed empirical and historical research on the state in the age of globalization. He argues that by merely moving past the Poulantzas-Miliband debate, as some have recommended, scholars have abandoned much that is valuable in understanding the state, particularly the need to comprehend the contemporary transformation of the state form and the state apparatuses as part of the new conditions of globalization and transnational capital accumulation. Building upon themes of state restructuring found in Poulantzas and Miliband, Barrow establishes the outlines of an approach that integrates the thought of both to propose a synthetic understanding of the new imperialism.

1. Marxism and the Critique of Bourgeois Social Science

2. The Poulantzas-Miliband Debate

3. Plain Marxists and Sophisticated Marxists

4. The Analytic (Mis)Construction of Instrumentalism

5. The Poulantzas-Althusser Debate

6. The Return of the State

7. The Return to State Theory




Publié par
Date de parution 12 mai 2016
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781438461816
Langue English

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SUNY series in New Political Science
Bradley J. Macdonald, editor
The Poulantzas-Miliband Debate after Globalization
Cover art from iStockphoto by Getty Images
Published by State University of New York Press, Albany
© 2016 State University of New York
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
For information, contact State University of New York Press, Albany, NY
Production, Diane Ganeles
Marketing, Kate R. Seburyamo
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Barrow, Clyde W., author.
Title: Toward a critical theory of states : the Poulantzas-Miliband debate after globalization / Clyde W. Barrow.
Description: Albany : State University of New York Press, 2016. | Series: SUNY series in new political science | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2015042432 | ISBN 9781438461793 (hardcover : alk. paper) | e-IBSN 978-1-4384-6181-6
Subjects: LCSH: State, The—Philosophy. | Nation-state and globalization. | Marxian school of sociology. | Poulantzas, Nicos Ar. | Miliband, Ralph.
Classification: LCC JC11 .B375 2016 | DDC 320.101—dc23 LC record available at
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
1 Marxism and the Critique of Bourgeois Social Science
2 The Poulantzas-Miliband Debate
3 Plain Marxists and Sophisticated Marxists
4 The Analytic (Mis)Construction of Instrumentalism
5 The Poulantzas-Althusser Debate
6 The Return of the State
7 The Return to State Theory
I owe special thanks to the many individuals who encouraged me to keep writing on state theory even after I thought I had nothing left to say on the topic. In this pursuit, I have often been encouraged by Stanley Aronowitz, Peter Bratsis, Paul Wetherly, Manfred Steger, and Leo Panitch, and by the many students who have taken my seminars in Marxian Political Theory and Critical Theories of the State. I also benefited from many informal discussions and seminar sessions while spending time as a visiting scholar at the Centro de Estudios de Educación Superior, Universidad de Puerto Rico (2010); the Faculty of Social Science, Kassel Universität (2005); and the Institute for Political Science, Philipps-Universität Marburg (2003).
I also gratefully acknowledge the following publishers, who have generously allowed me to reclaim my work without a fee:
Chapter 2 : “The Miliband-Poulantzas Debate: An Intellectual History.” Pp. 3–52 in Stanley Aronowitz and Peter Bratsis, eds., Paradigm Lost: Revising State Theory . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.
Chapter 3 : “Plain Marxists, Sophisticated Marxists, and C. Wright Mills’ The Power Elite .” Science Society , Vol. 71, No. 4 (October 2007): 400–431. Copyright Guilford Press and reprinted with permission of Guilford Press.
Chapter 4 : “Ralph Miliband and the Instrumentalist Theory of the State: The (Mis)Construction of an Analytic Concept.” Pp. 84–108 in Paul Wetherly, Clyde W. Barrow, and Peter Burnham, eds., Class, Power, and the State in Capitalist Society: Essays on Ralph Miliband . London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007.
Chapter 5 : A much abridged version of Chapter 5 appeared in German as “State Theory and the Epistemologies of Structuralism (in German).” Pp. 32–47 in Lars Bretthauer, Alexander Gallas, John Kannankulam, und Ingo Stutzle, eds., Poulantzas Lesen: Zur Aktualitat Marxistischer Staatstheorie . Hamburg, Germany: Verlag-Springer, 2006 and in English in Lars Bretthauer, Alexander Gallas, John Kannankulam, und Ingo Stutzle, eds., Reading Poulantzas (Pontypool, Wales: Merlin Press, 2011).
Chapter 6 : “The Return of the State: Globalization, State Theory, and the New Imperialism,” New Political Science , Vol. 27, No. 2 (June 2005): 400–430.
ABBREVIATIONS AIG American International Group CMP Capitalist Mode of Production CUFTA Canadian-U.S. Free Trade Agreement CUNY City University of New York EU European Union FDI Foreign Direct Investment FDIC Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade GDP Gross Domestic Product IMF International Monetary Fund ISA Ideological State Apparatus LSE London School of Economics MFN Most Favored Nation MOFA Majority-Owned Foreign Affiliate NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization NFIC National Foreign Investment Commission NTBs Non-Tariff Barriers OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development TNE Transnational Enterprise UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development WTO World Trade Organization
I occasionally think back to my first year of graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles, when in 1977 the Marxist theory of the state was all the rage among radical scholars. The Poulantzas-Miliband debate had just reached its dénouement with Nicos Poulantzas’ (1976) final dismissive reply to Ralph Miliband in the New Left Review . At the same time, Kapitalistate collectives were springing up on campuses all over the United States and everyone was required to take sides in the debate between Poulantzas and Miliband.
I had entered graduate school under the influence of G. William Domhoff’s, Who Rules America? (1967) and Charles A. Beard’s, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913). Consequently, I was immediately drawn to Ralph Miliband’s The State in Capitalist Society (1969), once I had the opportunity to actually read it, but fellow graduate students immediately dismissed my “naive instrumentalism.” I decided not to join the recently formed (and short-lived) UCLA Kapitalistate collective. Nevertheless, I eventually succumbed to the elegant temptations of Poulantzasian structuralism, while not realizing at the time that my reading of Poulantzas was not quite the same as that of my colleagues, because I came to him backward by reading his last books first and this gave me a distinctively non-Althusserian perspective on structuralist state theory.
Structuralism and instrumentalism sat comfortably side by side in my mind as I first ventured into the topic with my dissertation, which was later published as Universities and the Capitalist State (1990). In that book, I employed both a structural and an instrumental analysis, and even combined those theoretical approaches with the new institutional approach to analyze the historical origins of what we now call the corporatization of the modern university. I did not pursue this research strategy because of a preconceived philosophical commitment to theoretical synthesis, but because I found that as a practical matter none of these approaches alone was sufficient to provide an adequate understanding of a state policy that consciously linked together thousands of individual colleges and universities into an integrated “higher education system” that would be responsive to the economic demands of leading corporations and to the political and ideological goals of the state.
In fact, after taking two graduate seminars on structural Marxism, I initially made a vigorous effort to write a history without agents and to develop a structural account of the capitalist university as an ideological state apparatus (ISA). However, I found that once the structural (i.e., political economy) context of the university had been defined (empirically by the way), it was not possible to move the analysis forward except by venturing into the actual historical and institutional development of the modern university and its relationship to actually existing corporations and the U.S. imperial state. This required an account of actually existing universities, professional associations, foundations, government bureaucracies, and judicial decisions and while I used structural concepts to theorize these developments, the actual development of the modern university required that I examine elite decision-making, resource allocations, and even real class struggles (such as intellectuals were able to muster it).
The book was reviewed extensively in education, political science, sociology, and history journals. Structuralists thought I was a structuralist, because I used the term “ideological state apparatus” to conceptualize the corporatization of universities in the United States. Instrumentalists embraced me as one of the last of their kind, especially when I used the term “corporate liberalism” in the subtitle of the book, but I had also ventured into the new institutionalism and even delved into a bit of systems analysis with the caveat that the “university system” and its “systematization” were conceived as a historical project of the U.S. capitalist class and not as an abstract analytical method.
I was actually embarrassed by this apparent jumble of structural, instrumental, new institutional, and systems theory, so I set out to clarify the various approaches to state theory in Critical Theories of the State (1993), which appeared just as sc

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