How Revolutionary were the Bourgeois Revolutions
Published by Haymarket Books
2012, 812pp, ISBN 9781608460670, paperback
Once of central importance to left historians and activists alike, recently the concept of the “bourgeois revolution” has come in for sustained criticism from both marxists and conservatives. In this comprehensive rejoinder, Neil Davidson seeks to answer the question “how revolutionary were the bourgeois revolutions” by systematically examining the approach taken by a wide range of thinkers to explaining the causes, outcomes, and content of the French, English, Dutch, and other revolutions. Through far reaching research and comprehensive analysis, Davidson demonstrates that what's at stake is far from a stale issue for the history books – understanding these struggles of the past offer far reaching lessons for today's radicals.
About the author
Neil Davidson teaches at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow where he is the Vice-President of the local University and College Union branch. He is the author of The Origins of Scottish Nationhood (2000), Discovering the Scottish Revolution (2003), for which he was awarded the Deutscher Memorial Prize, and How Revolutionary Were the Bourgeois Revolutions? . He has also co-edited Alasdair MacIntyre’s Engagement With Marxism (2008) and Neoliberal Scotland (2010). Davidson is on the Editorial Board of International Socialism.
"I was frankly pole-axed by this magnificent book. Davidson resets the entire debate on the character of revolutions: bourgeois, democratic and socialist. He's sending me, at least, back to the library." —Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums
“What should our conception of a bourgeois revolution be, if it is to enlighten rather than to mislead ? Neil Davidson’s instructive and provocative answer is given through a history both of a set of concepts and of those social settings in which they found application.His book is an impressive contribution both to the history of ideas and to political philosophy.” —Alasdair MacIntyre, author, After Virtue
“Neil Davidson wends his way through the jagged terrain of a wide range of Marxist writings and debates to distil their lessons in what is unquestionably the most thorough discussion of the subject to date. If the paradox at the heart of the bourgeois revolutions was that the emergence of the modern bourgeois state had little to do with the agency of the bourgeoisie, then Davidson’s study is by far the most nuanced and illuminating discussion of this complex fact. A brilliant and fascinating book, wide-ranging and lucidly written.” —Jairus Banaji, author, Theory as History
"[This] is a monumental work. Neil Davidson has given us what is easily the most comprehensive account yet of the ‘life and times’ of the concept of ‘bourgeois revolution’ … This would have been enough. However, Davidson has also provided us with a refined set of theoretical tools for understanding the often complex interactions between political revolutions which overturn state institutions and social revolutions which involve a more thorough-going transformation of social relations.” —Colin Moores, author The Making of Bourgeois Europe
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