English Questions

English Questions

English Questions

English Questions

Synopsis

"A set of reflections on British society and culture, this volume falls into two principal parts. The first consists of a pair of essays published in New Left Review in the sixties: 'Origins of the Present Crisis', which suggested a general schema for the analysis of class and power in modern Britain and their relation to its decline; and 'Components of the National Culture', which looked at the pattern of intellectual disciplines associated with the post-war political consensus. One premise of these accounts was a conception of bourgeois revolution, whose critique is sketched in a short intermezzo from the mid seventies. The second part contains two essays published in the late eighties which review the conjectures of the original texts in the light of the developments--political and intellectual--of the subsequent decades. 'The Figures of Descent' reconsiders the problem of national decline; 'A Culture in Contraflow' traces some of the intellectual reversals of the recent period. The book concludes with a survey of the political conjuncture after the fall of Thatcher, which considers the prospects of the Labour Party within the context of the wider changes that have reshaped European social democracy in these years." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Among the concepts traditionally associated with historical materialism, few have been so problematic and contested as that of bourgeois revolution. There are good reasons why its position within the Marxist legacy should be at once so central and so controverted. the starting- point for a reflection on them today is to note an initial paradox. Marx, to whom the paternity of the idea of 'bourgeois revolution' is conventionally attributed, was himself the contemporary of -- that is, lived through and observed -- what subsequent generations of Marxist historians have often seen as a crucial cluster of bourgeois revolutions, on a world scale. He was a participant and critic, after all, of the Spring- Time of the Peoples, the wave of popular insurrections which broke out across continental Europe in 1848. These uniformly failed to replace the old royal or absolutist orders against which they rose -- whether in Germany or France, Italy or Hungary, Austria or Romania -- with any civic republican regime. Marx and Engels wrote extensively on this experience, in some of their most famous writings -- The Class Struggles in France, The Eighteenth Brumaire, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany. So much is familiar enough. What has been less noticed, however, is that from the late 1850s to the turn of the 1870s, Marx and Engels were witnesses to a broad wave of successful overthrows, by armed violence, of pre-capitalist or absolutist political structures, not only in Europe but also in North America and even the Far East. This was the period that saw the triumph of the Risorgimento in Italy; the Unification of Germany under Bismarck; the victory of the industrial North over the slave-holding South in the American Civil War; and the destruction of the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan, which has gone down in history as the Meiji Restoration. All these momentous upheavals of the second half of the nineteenth century have retrospectively come to be regarded, by particular Marxist historians of the countries concerned -- Italy, Germany, the usa and Japan -- as the decisive . . .

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