Discussions of the recent communist conference have me thinking about the relationship between theory and practice, again. Conveniently, I was reading Poulantzas today on the role of theories of the state in revolutionary action:
They can never be anything other than applied theoretical-strategic notions, serving, to be sure, as guide to action, but at the very most in the manner of road signs. A “model” of the State of transition to socialism cannot be drawn up: not as a universal model capable of being concretized in given cases, nor even as an infallible, theoretically guaranteed recipe for one or several countries…. One cannot ask any theory, however scientific it may be, to give more than it possesses—not even Marxism, which remains a genuine theory of action. There is always a structural difference between theory and practice, between theory and the real (State, Power, Socialism, 22).