be: to argue that, despite his incisive criticism of the ideology of political economy, it was Marx's own uncritical appropriation of bourgeois-liberal 4 materialist history that introduced distortions into Marxist history; to demonstrate, however, that the method of historical social analysis which Marx actually created is not implicated in these distortions; and, finally, to consider both the nature and practice of this method itself -- historical materialism -- as the necessary foundation for a new interpretation of the French Revolution as an event in the historical development of class society. In order to justify this contentious line of argument, the responses which already have been made to the revisionist challenge by other Marxists will be examined to reveal the sources and extent of their weaknesses. Perhaps the central point of this work will be that the theory of bourgeois revolution did not originate with Marx, and in fact is not even consistent with the original social thought which Marx did develop.
While this book emerges from a recognition of the need to develop a new interpretation of the French Revolution, based on a fresh analysis of the ancien régime as a class society, that task must itself await a future work. The unfortunate extent to which the theory of bourgeois revolution, and the whole conception of 'historical' modes of production associated with it, have been understood to be the key to Marx's historical social theory has made an initial theoretical ground-clearing necessary. By way of a conclusion, however, a 'preface' to a historical materialist account of the origins and dynamic of the Revolution will be offered, indicating in broad strokes the sort of analysis which can be expected on the basis of current evidence.