Ralph Miliband

On this date in 1924, Adolphe Miliband, later known as Ralph Miliband, was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. His parents were Polish Jews who migrated in the 1920s to Brussels, where they met and married. The Miliband family relocated to London in 1940, fleeing the Nazi invasion. In London he changed his first name to Ralph to avoid any connotation to Adolf Hitler. At age 16 he visited the grave of Karl Marx in London to swear allegiance to “the workers’ cause.”

Miliband studied at the London School of Economics under the historian and theorist Harold Laski, who greatly influenced Miliband’s politics. Miliband broke from his studies to serve in the Royal Navy and returned to the LSE to graduate in 1947. Miliband then earned a scholarship for Ph.D. research there, at which time Laski arranged for him to teach at Roosevelt College (now Roosevelt University) in Chicago. In 1949 he became a lecturer in political science at the LSE.

Miliband co-founded the New Reasoner and New Left Review, radical journals that represented the British New Left during the 1950s. Miliband began teaching at the University of Leeds in 1972 and spent time teaching at other universities in the U.S. and Canada. He argued after the mid-1960s that a better, more revolutionary alternative to the British Labour Party needed to be established. His promotion of a Marxist style of revolutionary socialism influenced generations of socialist scholars and leaders, including Tariq Ali.

Miliband married one of his former students, Marion Kozak, in 1961. They raised their two sons in a secular lifestyle. Ironically, Miliband, who critiqued the Labour Party in his book Parliamentary Socialism (1961), had sons who rose to great power in the Labour Party. Miliband was the author of The State in Capitalist Society (1969), Marxism and Politics (1977), Capitalist Democracy in Britain (1982), Class Power and State Power (1983), Divided Societies: Class Struggle in Contemporary Capitalism (1989) and Socialism for a Skeptical Age (1994). He is buried near Marx in Highgate Cemetery in north London. D. 1994.

Freedom From Religion Foundation