Leo Panitch on Ralph Miliband

Ralph Miliband, Socialist Intellectual, 1924–1994

Ralph Miliband stood as a beacon on the international Left. He epitomized what it meant to be a creative and independent socialist intellectual, and he provided consistent leadership in defining the issues for critical engagement. He ranks among those most directly associated with the emergence of the British New Left after 1956, and for the flourishing Marxist scholarship it spawned in the following decades. As with Edward Thompson in the field of social history, or Raymond Williams in cultural studies, Ralph Miliband took the lead in political studies, clearing the ground and establishing the foundations for, as he once put it, ‘what has so long been lacking, namely a radically-oriented, critical and demystifying discipline of political studies’. For those of us nurtured in the fertile and open Marxism that Miliband, like Thompson and Williams, practised, the contemporary spate of charges that economism, determinism or totalitarianism are inherently inscribed in Marxist ideas and practice can only appear as but a reversion to the shabbiest of stereotypes, the crudest of caricatures.

—Leo Panitch, The Socialist Register (1995), 1