Ralph Kingston on the Bourgeoisie and Bureaucracy in France, 1789–1848

A Review Essay

in Historical Materialism
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Ralph Kingston, in Bureaucrats and Bourgeois Society, argues that government employees constituted the core of the French bourgeoisie in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The book lends support to the Marxist interpretation of the Revolution, not as a breakthrough of a capitalist bourgeoisie, but as a conflict originating in a social structure whose economic surplus was appropriated politically. This review posits that the peasants’ subsistence strategies constrained the economic evolution of the country and led well-to-do families to invest in shares of governmental authority and careers in the civil service rather than in private enterprises. The slow economic growth and pursuit of state offices represent underlying continuities between the Old Regime and the nineteenth century. The notable changes resulted from the popular uprisings of 1789–93 and the rationalisation of the state apparatus during the revolutionary decade.

Ralph Kingston on the Bourgeoisie and Bureaucracy in France, 1789–1848

A Review Essay

in Historical Materialism

References

ArmengaudAndré BraudelLabrousse ‘Le rôle de la démographie’ 1976 1976

BairochPaul ‘Europe’s Gross National Product: 1800–1975’ Journal of European Economic History 1976 5 2 273 340

BerensonEdward ‘The Economic Roots of Politicization’ Populist Religion and Left-Wing Politics in France 1830–1852 1984 Princeton Princeton University Press

BerensonEdward ‘Politics and the French Peasantry: The Debate Continues’ Social History 1987 12 2 213 29

BergeronLouis PalmerR.R. France under Napoleon 1981 Princeton Princeton University Press

BraudelFernandLabrousseErnest Histoire économique et sociale de la France L’avènement de l’ère industrielle (1789–années 1880) 1976 Volume 3 Paris Presses Universitaires de France

BrennerRobert Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change Political Conflict and London’s Overseas Traders 1550–1653 2003 London Verso

CheneyPaul Revolutionary Commerce: Globalization and the French Monarchy 2010 Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press

ComninelGeorge C. Rethinking the French Revolution: Marxism and the Revisionist Challenge 1987 London Verso

HabermasJürgen BurgerThomas The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society 1993 Cambridge, MA. The MIT Press

HellerHenry The Bourgeois Revolution in France 1789–1815 2006 New York Berghahn Books

HobsbawmEric The Age of Revolution: 1789–1848 1996 [1962] New York Vintage Books

LéonPierre BraudelLabrousse ‘L’Affermissement du phénomène d’industrialisation’ 1976 1976

LequinYves Histoire des Français XIXe-XXe siècles La société 1983–4 Volume 2 Paris Armand Colin

MarxKarl The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte 1994 [1852] New York International Publishers

McPheePeter The Politics of Rural Life: Political Mobilization in the French Countryside 1846–1852 1992 Oxford Clarendon Press

Meiksins WoodEllen The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View 2002 London Verso

MendrasHenriFresneyLaurence Duboys La Seconde Révolution française: 1965–1984 1988 Paris Éditions Gallimard

MillerStephen State and Society in Eighteenth-Century France: A Study of Political Power and Social Revolution in Languedoc 2008 Washington, DC. Catholic University of America Press

MillerStephen ‘French Absolutism and Agricultural Capitalism: A Comment on Henry Heller’s Essays’ Historical Materialism 2012 20 4 141 61

PriceRoger A Concise History of France 2009 [1993] Cambridge Cambridge University Press

SewellWilliam H. Work and Revolution in France: The Language of Labor from the Old Regime to 1848 1980 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

SewellWilliam H. A Rhetoric of Bourgeois Revolution: The Abbé Sieyes and What is the Third Estate? 1994 Durham, NC. Duke University Press

WolochIsser The New Regime: Transformations of the French Civic Order 1789–1820s 1994 New York W.W. Norton

ZeldinTheodore France, 1848–1945 Ambition Love and Politics 1973–7 Volume 1 Oxford Clarendon Press

1

Armengaud 1976p. 230; McPhee 1992 p. 11; Bairoch 1976 pp. 281 295; Hobsbawm 1996 pp. 106 178. For widespread subsistence farming as late as 1950 see Mendras and Fresney 1988 p. 31.

2

Heller 2006pp. 4–5 45–7 50–1.

4

Comninel 1987p. 200; Meiksins Wood 2002 pp. 63 185 187; Cheney 2010 pp. 4–5 30–1 54 136–7; Sewell 1994 pp. 13–15 56 64 79 106 134–43; Hobsbawm 1996 p. 21.

5

Miller 2008pp. 193–4.

6

Wolloch 1994pp. 64 145 147 149 151 166; Miller 2008 pp. 200–2.

7

Hobsbawm 1996p. 154; Miller 2012 pp. 141–61.

8

Bergeron 1981pp. 135 138.

9

Berenson 1984pp. 10 20 23; Bergeron 1981 pp. 126 139 154; Zeldin 1973–7 p. 60.

10

Léon 1976p. 520; Lequin 1983–4 pp. 157 187 196; Hobsbawm 1996 p. 178.

11

Marx 1994p. 121.

12

Habermas 1993pp. 18–19 22 24 126–7.

13

Marx 1994p. 124.

14

Marx 1994p. 125.

15

Berenson 1987.

16

Hobsbawm 1996pp. 182–3 307.

18

Marx 1994pp. 21–3; Price 2009 p. 204.

19

Marx 1994p. 106.

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