The Capitalist State, Hegemony, and the Democratic Transformation Toward Socialism
The contribution highlights Poulantzas’s argument that the capitalist state is neither an expression of powerful interests of the ruling class nor its instrument. The state as such has no power, it doesn’t represent a coherent general will. In an articulated ensemble of social relations, the state is in itself a particular form of social relations and constituted as a condensation of the relations of power between classes and their factions. The state therefore is in itself an articulated ensemble of heterogeneous practices. For that reason the concept of hegemony plays a key role to understand how in struggles specific features of state coherence are elaborated and representing particular factions as those representing the general interest of the society as a whole. The paper argues that Poulantzas’s concept of hegemony in the power block, that refers strongly on the concept of condensation, should not mix up with Gramsci’s concept of hegemony. When Poulantzas conceive of the state as a condensation of power relations he resumes the experiences of the left of the seventies. This leads him to a new and still relevant strategic concept of transformation as a way to articulate practices of actors on the level of the state and on the level of social movements.