Neither an Instrument nor a Fortress

Poulantzas’s Theory of the State and his Dialogue with Gramsci

In: Historical Materialism
Panagiotis Sotiris Department of Sociology, University of the Aegean Mytilene

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Peter Thomas has written an important book that brings forward the full importance of Gramsci’s strategic concepts and the pertinence they have for current theoretical and political debates. Based upon this interpretation of Gramsci, this text attempts a critical reading of the contradictory stance of the Althusserian School towards his work. Using Althusser’s own ambivalence towards Gramsci as a starting-point, the main aim of this article is to reconstruct Poulantzas’s direct and indirect dialogue with Gramsci. Despite Poulantzas’s reservations and criticisms regarding aspects of Gramsci’s work, his theoretical endeavour not only is indebted to Gramsci, but also represents, despite its shortcomings and limits, one of the more original and profound theoretical attempts to come to terms with the theoretical challenges posed by Gramsci’s elaboration on hegemony, hegemonic apparatuses and the ‘integral state’.

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