Nicos Poulantzas was a Greek Marxist whose intellectual and political career was spent in Paris. He qualified to practise law in Greece but chose an academic career. His legal background was central to his critique of political economy and the state and played a key role in his analyses of the rule of law, liberal democracy, exceptional regimes, and the rise of authoritarian statism. His work went through three phases: (1) an early existentialist-Marxist phase; (2) the discovery of Antonio Gramsci and Althusserian structuralism; and (3) the relational turn. These phases are marked by the constant influence of juridico-political theory and analysis, as well as interest in the historical specificity of bourgeois legal and political forms. Growing interest in exceptional regimes shaped Poulantzas’ commitment to developing a democratic socialism that would combine direct with representative democracy to ensure popular pressure on the sovereign state. This reflects the changing intellectual climate and political conjuncture in Europe.
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