Although we use the term “the state” freely in everyday discussion and assume that others know what we are talking about, a little consideration will show that such an explicit entity is, in fact, rather difficult to identify. Although many state institutions are easy to distinguish, it is difficult to generalize in visible terms what the state actually is.
Miliband started by raising the essential question of why it was that the state, even if it had a democratic body of laws and the majority of the population were working class, acted in the interest of the capitalist class? Why was it that democratic states were capitalist states? His answer was straightforward: The direction of the state is organized by the welfare concerns of the capitalist class. This is accomplished by a twofold mechanism, first the prominent positions within the state apparatus were held by members of the bourgeoisie, and second because the economic power behind capitalist lobbyists were unrivaled when compared to other interest groups. Therefore, although the state may have a pluralistic and open democracy, the economic power of capitalist interests in conjunction with bourgeois sympathies and perceptions of those running the state apparatus, ensure that the policies of the state are dominated by the minority interests of the bourgeoisie.
In reality, Ralph Miliband goes so far as to claim that the state, as such, does not exist. Rather, we can view the state as an assemblage of a number of different institutions that constitute it: the government, bureaucracy, military, police, judiciary, and parliamentary assemblies. Some of these institutions exercise power in an administrative manner (the bureaucracy), some with the threat of financial pressure (banks) or physical punishment (police), others may practice more subtle ideological power (schools and state broadcasting systems).
... billion dollars owed by the utilities to banks, power suppliers, and creditors. The state of California needs to intervene for the well ... want to do more business there. The states utilities have not built a new power generation plant in over a decade due ... will be attracted to new power generation. This will mean upsetting the environmentalists as the state would have to allow for some ...
The institutions of the state may not all act in concert and actually may be conflict on occasion. Therefore, to understand the state in proper context, one requires a divided approach to these institutions and their powers.
Miliband refers to the concept of hegemony, defined as the apparatuses of the state managing to set the agenda and pre-shape the views of the population through, for example, control of the educational system and media. This indoctrination process ensures what is in fact, class rule, will appear to be rule in the interests of all. Various hegemonic classifications exist.
Material hegemony centers on bourgeoisie efforts to control production for self-interested capital accumulation (profits), while leaving the impression that material conditions are fittingly abundant for other classes to thrive and share in material benefits.
The bourgeoisie also maintains hegemony of social processes, where groups and individuals interact in contradictory conditions of conflict and cooperation. Material and cultural struggles are enacted by social processes as conflicting values and their interpretations. Social processes include the government or political activity, with its multitude of administrative, legislative, judicial, and political party functions.
Culture includes the interrelationship of beliefs and language, which hinge on interpretations of social reality. Cultural hegemony centers on bourgeois efforts to control opinions, knowledge, and the language used to interpret them. Predominant values are crucial to setting up overall values. Values help bolster hegemony over material and social processes, while shaping the socio-cultural consciousness and unconsciousness of interacting individuals and groups.
Hegemonic processes are manipulative and often invisible efforts; the bourgeoisie casts the best light on its actions, hiding the exploitation of others in its predominant interpretation of values, such as social welfare, innovation, security, democracy, freedom, individualism, and development. Such values usually are proffered up in the language of economics, which justifies the usefulness of actions under the proposition that parallels efficiency and social well-being.
... (all organizational sizes included) have a corporate social media policy. The phenomena of Social Media and the speed of its development appear to ... that should not be a consideration in the hiring process, therefore the organization may be in breach of equal ... or volunteered during an interview making available for viewing protected class information of race, age, sex, and sexual orientation ...
Schools are central to hegemony. They are intended to indoctrinate in children bourgeois knowledge and values, understanding of social class position, and work habits and skills. In schools, cultural hegemony is intended to limit individuals: to have them think, perceive, and act in certain ways. Culture, then, becomes a way of seeing.
Miliband’s analysis maintains that hegemonic processes are central to class struggle as the bourgeoisie seek to “banish all sense of radical alternatives from the mind of the subordinated classes” (Miliband 1991).
Miliband accepts that hegemony can never be taken for granted, but cites the U.S.A. as an example, where any organized, radical powerful opposition to dominant class values and ideas is noticeably lacking. He sees this situation as a clear illustration of successful hegemony, and significantly claims that the same trend is now visible in British politics. For Miliband the underclass are those most economically damaged by the power struggle operating throughout all levels of present-day capitalist society. They constitute the most deprived members of the working class: the permanently unemployed or disabled. The class analysis undertaken by Miliband, however, is essentially an analysis of power and domination, the power elite and the underclass representing the respective winners and losers of class struggle and hegemonic manipulation.
An important machines available to capitalists for indoctrination (hegemonic manipulation) of the underclass and proletariat is the mass media.
The media acts in capitalist interests. Information is distilled by a set of rules that act to screen the news and other material disseminated by the media. These are:
? the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms
... consistent use of government propaganda, jingoism, unjustifiable means and tainting the facts. Australians have been subjected to biased media coverage on the ... treasures. This editorial is nothing other than a vessel of government propaganda. This is proven be the consistency of repeated ... why does America not have to destroy their weapons of mass destruction? This is the rights, the rights of the ...
? advertising as the primary income source of the mass media
? the reliance of the media on information provided by government business, and “experts” funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power
? stricture as a means of disciplining the media
? anticommunist dogma (or “pro-capitalist fodder”) as a nationalistic control mechanism. (invoke “nationalism”)
However, even in spite of the process of hegemony, from time to time, reform gains popularity. However, when socialist governments are elected to power on a particular platform, they are regularly able to detach from commitments made earlier in the face of widespread social unrest. Miliband explains that it is not sufficient for socialists to capture office rather, it is necessary for any socialist Government to be backed up by a mass extra-parliamentary movement. This movement could counter the political and economic pressures that would be brought to bear against socialist policies, both internal and external to the state apparatus. These points indicate why existing power structures cannot effectively be challenged through democratic elections (as discussed later in this review).
The government strategy for countering and controlling socialist policies is based on an implicit restriction of the policy. A policy can turn to protest and it must be protest, “to the state”, for “the state” to take action. When protesters take direct action, which in itself furthers their aims, (rather than relying on the government to do it for them) that this action is commonly seen as intolerable. The proletariat may lobby and demonstrate for industrial (workplace) democracy; this can be tolerated. It is when they unilaterally implement it themselves at the base level (the worker’s shop floor) that police are brought in. Concerned citizens can appeal to the government to end abuses by government operated security agencies; this can be tolerated. However; when they (the citizens) investigate the agencies themselves and publish the identity of secret service operatives or details of their operations, the government creates legislation and invokes harassment to stop them.
Miliband contends that even when leftist parties are elected, the capitalist class maintains preservation. Considering that elections are the defining hallmark of a democratic state, we need to look closer at why they fail to subdue the capitalist class. In principle, elections should work for moderately small electorates and political systems, where accountability can be maintained through regular contact. Elections often work better in municipal systems than in national parliaments where decisions affecting millions of people are made. In large systems, a whole new set of reinforcing mechanisms has developed: political party machines, mass media advertising, government manipulation of the news, make work projects (government spending in local areas), and bipartisan politics.
... politics or religion. 95) Monarchy is a state or government in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of a monarch ... trade.90) Middle class is the socioeconomic class between the working class and the upper class. 91) Militarism is a military state or condition; reliance ...
The party machines choose the candidates, canvass voters and impose platforms. Mass advertising treats candidates like commodities, emphasizing personality over policies. Government manipulation of the news includes a variety of techniques by which the mass media become dependent on government suppliers and shapers of information. Government grants in selected regions is a standard technique to attract (or threaten) voters. Finally, bipartisan politics, namely the adoption of identical or near-identical policies by allegedly competing parties, reduces the range of issues that are subject to political debate. Voters are given the choice between Candidate “A” and Candidate “B”, then besieged with a medley of techniques to sway them towards one or the other. Some maintain the faith that a mainstream party may be reformed or radicalized. Others look towards new parties. Nevertheless, all the historical evidence suggests that parties are more of an impediment than a driving force to radical change. One obvious problem is that parties can, and are, voted out. All the policy changes they brought in may simply be reversed later.
More important, though, is the placating influence of the radical party itself. As a result of popular upsurges, radical parties have been elected to power. Time and again, the radical parties have become manacles to hold back the process of real change.
Miliband gives several examples where labour or socialist parties, elected in periods of social turbulence, acted to reassure the controlling capitalist class and subdue the popular movement. The Popular Front, elected in France in 1936, made its first responsibility the ending of strikes and occupations and dampening popular militancy, which was the Front’s strongest ally in bringing about change. The Labour government elected in Britain in 1945 made as few reforms as possible, leaving basic social structures untouched. In contrast, the US New Deal Democratic administration that took office in 1933 did undertake structural changes to restore and strengthen capitalism. Miliband in these examples writes from the Marxist perspective in which the state is the servant of capitalism. His insights about the reluctance of reforming political leadership of the state to challenge the economic foundation of society applies even more strongly to the unwillingness of this leadership to challenge state power itself.
... ideal that the power of the state is the most important issue. It is through state power and security ... His goal is to strengthen the state rather than bring the classes together. The second antiglobalist I ... interest, rather than the individual interests of the classes they govern or hope to govern, both ... seek to procure "relative gains for the classes" as is prescribed by the neomarxist view point ...
Miliband, throughout his book, systematically maps the political terrain of capitalism and charts a course for socialist struggle within it. He also offers an account the anatomy of class and state power in capitalist society. Miliband emphasizes the barriers that the capitalists erect against a more humane and democratic social order, as well as the resources and agencies available to overcome them.
Miliband argues convincingly for the left to reform the socialist alternative by way of a crucial commitment to electoral democracy and class politics. The strength of Miliband’s work is indeed the strength of classical Marxist theory itself, in that it facilitates a fundamental critical perspective on class and power structures related to the disposition of capital.
In Marxist tradition, Milliband claims the state represents a form of class power and does not operate in the interests of society as a whole. While it may be true that the top ranks of various institutions of the state often comprise of the same social stratum, this does not mean that the different institutions have the same interests or that they represent the interests of one particular class. Indeed, if the state is to survive under liberal democracy, then it will need some autonomy from pure class interests in order to secure a standard of broad-based legitimacy for the successful deployment of its powers. This does not appear to be the case and capitalist democracies are in a permanent crisis. Here it is worth mentioning that Miliband does defend Marx’s “position 1”, allowing independence of the state during crisis and war. Some readers may find this perplexing since, if the state is an instrument, its capacity for autonomy is fairly restricted, still, Miliband allows some relative autonomy.
... industrial capitalist." It is of course more complicated than that. But basically, what we can say is that the dominant class power ... a peculiar sanctity and inviolability."The state is therefore by no means a power imposed on society from without...Rather, it is ... institution of a state. A modern society is a society that is subject to the power of a state. So called primitive societies were not. ...
I felt Miliband was unable to offer conceptual evidence regarding the limits of state exercised power on behalf of capital, except to say that such exercise of power could be met with popular resistance. This, according to Miliband, reduces the state to an instrument of the capitalist class. This has led to characterization of Miliband as “an instrumentalist”. Defined by: the bourgeoisie class, which owns the means of production; has links to powerful institutions and has unbalanced representation in all levels of the state apparatus. Thus, the state is ultimately an instrument for the domination of society, under certain socioeconomic constraints determined by the capitalist nature of society.
I agree with Miliband in that socialism will not come into existence by making incremental changes to capitalism until it one day becomes socialism. Miliband clearly believed, and even more so in recent years, that socialism is an objective that cannot be achieved in a single life-time. It is very difficult to read Miliband’s works and reject the socialist perspective. Miliband is unambiguously committed to true democratic socialism. Without restraint, he conceded the inadequacies of traditional socialism in confronting the questions of gender, race and nation and accepted the lessons of new social movements; but he never lost sight of capitalism as an all-spanning totality or of class as its constitutive principle.
I felt this one quote from his book summarizes everything:
“The bourgeoisie has tended to be much more successful at
developing class identity than the proletariat”
(Ralph Miliband 1969)
Miliband, Ralph, 1991, Divided Societies: Class Struggle in Contemporary Capitalism, Oxford University Press
Miliband, Ralph, 1969, The State in Capitalist Society, New York: Basic Books.