Ideology, Absolutism and the English Revolution: Debates of the British Communist Historians, 1940-1956

Ideology, Absolutism and the English Revolution: Debates of the British Communist Historians, 1940-1956

Ideology, Absolutism and the English Revolution: Debates of the British Communist Historians, 1940-1956

Ideology, Absolutism and the English Revolution: Debates of the British Communist Historians, 1940-1956

Synopsis

This book offers a fascinating insight into ideas in the making - a glimpse into some of the early debates inside the History Group of the Communist Party of Great Britain, whose members included Christopher Hill, Rodney Hilton and Eric Hobsbawm. The outstanding contribution to historical studies of these and other members of the group is now almost universally recognised. The debates they initiated formed the ground for academic research that is still continuing, in particular their work on the nature of English civil war and revolution in the seventeenth century, and on the development of capitalism in Britain. This book focuses on the debates of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century section of the group and their work on ideology and absolutism. It reproduces original documentary material - single contributions, reports and minutes - from the debates, and also includes an informative introductory essay as well as useful notes and appendices.

Excerpt

The immense contribution to historical studies made by the members of the History Group of the Communist Party of Great Britain is now almost universally recognised. For a decade, after the end of the second world war, until its membership and – perhaps more importantly – its cohesion was sapped by the crises which shook the Communist movement in 1956, the Group provided an extraordinary forum for intense debate, opening up lines of thought and enquiry which laid the basis for a number of exceptionally productive and distinguished careers. None was more so than that of Christopher Hill, who, thirty-five years after resigning his party membership, went out of his way to acknowledge his debt to the ‘most stimulating intellectual experience I have ever had’, from which ‘anything I have written since derives…’.

Until 1957 the Group sheltered a number of period sections, of which the 16th/17th century section was the most dynamic and productive. Its members produced over forty discussion papers, varying from a few hundred words to nine and half thousand; the extant papers, minutes of discussions and other relevant statements total over 110,000 words. Originally it was intended to publish them all in this book, and thus enable readers to draw on them and make judgments, assured that all available material had been included. As more and more came into view, however, this idea had to be abandoned; but rather than engage in the risky procedure of selecting passages across the complete range of . . .

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