The state and local government

The state and local government

Beneath the rhetoric of devolution and empowerment real power is evacuated to the central state and displaced to corporate capital. Proceeding from the famous dictum of Marx; ‘All science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided’ Latham demonstrates the foundation – in the particular neo-liberal forms assumed by ‘state monopoly capitalism’ – of the local governance in Britain and other countries.

Theoretically, the study is located firmly in a rigorous address of Marxist theories of the state and argues that “superstructural” readings, which exclude political economy, misrepresent Antonio Gramsci.

The author’s conclusions are rooted in a long intellectual and political engagement with the theory and practice of local governance and assert the continuing relevance of Gramsci’s theory of the historic bloc in devising strategies to contest the convergence of Britain’s three main parties around the surrender of local democracy to big business control.

The book includes a comparative analysis of the local governance in Britain and South Africa, a survey of ‘socialist decentralization’ models in China, Kerala, Cuba, Venezuela and Porto Alegre and a detailed analysis of local election results. It concludes with policy proposals for a new basis for ‘local democracy’ and the defeat of big business control embodied in the measures proposed by the Conservative-led coalition government.

Published by Manifesto Press supported by Croydon Trades Union Council, SERTUC, Croydon NUT, Unite 1/1148, Croydon and South London CWU, PCS, Labour Land Campaign and Brendan Bird.


By Peter Latham with a foreword by Kelvin Hopkins MP