Saturday, December 2, 2017


The Poulantzas-Miliband Debate Applied to Venezuela. Recent developments in Venezuela related to the Attorney General’s office both under former Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz and the current one Tarek William Saab shed light on the nature of the state as analyzed and debated by Ralph Miliband and Nicos Poulantzas in the late 1960s and 1970s. The state is far from being monolithic or the “executive committee” of a given class, as envisioned by those who defend dogmatic versions of instrumentalism. 

In 2007 Ortega Díaz was appointed Attorney General and by 2017 she was plainly in the enemy camp, where some say she had been located over the years. The apparent Chavista sympathies of top members of the judicial system belied what was really happening on the ground. In mid-2017 Ortega Díaz was replaced by Tarek William Saab who has exposed the penetration of the nation’s most important company, the oil company PDVSA, by corrupt functionaries some of whom were also tied to the opposition and Washington (indeed several of the jailed managers of Venezuelan-owned CITGO actually had dual citizenship). The state in a country like Venezuelan under leftist leadership is muddy territory.  

One example (although admittedly not the best) of how the nation’s president does not control the state in all of its extension is the five large autonomous universities (from rectors to deans to department heads) which have been a bastion of opposition resistance to the Chavista government in spite of the fact that nearly all of their budgets come from the federal government. 

The following article of mine published by Historical Materialism a few months ago (in somewhat abridged form), which applies the Poulantzas-Miliband debate to Venezuela, is particularly relevant given recent developments in Venezuela.


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