Miliband, R. (1973) 'Poulantzas and the Capitalist State' ,in New Left Review, 82

Poulantzas offers not a concrete analysis but an Althusserian  'reading' -- how would this relate to the works of Marx and Engels? Poulantzas is right to point to the issues of relative autonomy versus economic determinism, and the flaws of historicism and humanism, but how relevant are these issues to an understanding of the modern state? No precise answers are given because the whole analysis is very abstract. For example, Poulantzas describes ensembles at different levels in his model of  the state, but what does this look like concretely? As an example, how exactly is class in itself to develop into a class for itself  [Hegelian junk says Poulantzas]. When does a specific presence manifest itself at other levels, and where are the pertinent effects of social class to be found? For Poulantzas only some pertinent effects appear anyway, meaning that economism is unsound.

Nevertheless, at least this is an attempt to bring back social classes into the analysis without invoking reductionism to class. Poulantzas needs to make a distinction between class power and state power -- the latter is not the only route for the former. In particular, political parties are specific and able to organise. Classes are as well, and Marx shows how this can happen in his 18th Brumaire.

The main danger with such an abstract analysis is that it tends to repeat an old political error, and see fascism and parliamentary democracy as the same.

on to final stage