The State in Socialist Society
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The focus of all the essays in this collection is the problem of state power in Communist regimes. The problematic nature of the relationship between state and society has troubled the marxist tradition since its inception and continues to be an unresolved issue for its contemporary theorists. Western attempts to characterise the state formations of Communist regimes are equally notoriously debatable and fraught with methodological problems. Both indigenous and Western attempts to theorise these formations are thoroughly reviewed in the early chapters of this book. Later chapters, each written by an expert in the field, go on to explore particular issues (the problem of nationalism within a multi-national state, for instance) or the recent experience of selected Communist regimes in attempting to adapt their institutions to meet new problems. Special attention is paid to the USSR in view of the enormous significance of the Soviet State and the extent to which it has served as a model. Other case studies have been included on the basis that these state formations display unique features (Yugoslavia), that size and importance commends them (China), or that failure in the process of institutional adaptation is instructive for their pathology (Poland).
What this book sets out to do is to bring a variety of approaches and a varied expertise to bear upon a very large but relatively neglected issue in contemporary politics—the nature of the state formations of Communist regimes.
Neil Harding is Senior Lecturer in Politics and Russian Studies at University College, Swansea. He is the author of Lenin's Political Thought, which was awarded the Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize for 1981-2.