Introduction to ‘Britain versus France: How Many Sonderwegs?’

in Historical Materialism
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In memoriam of the late Ellen Meiksins Wood, this piece firstly remembers the main achievements of her forty years of work. Secondly, it introduces one of her contributions, ‘Britain versus France: How Many Sonderwegs?’, until now unavailable in an anglophone publication and reprinted in the present issue. This contribution is a useful reformulation of her arguments concerning radical historicity, the concept of ‘bourgeois revolution’, and the specificity of French and British state formation and their political revolutions – in contrast to arguments for a German Sonderweg as an explanation for the rise of fascism. Wood also provides a fruitful illustration of how to apply a social-property relations approach to the development of the rule of law in each of these states, and thus furthers opportunities for debates on the potential of Political Marxism for understanding contemporary class struggles over rights.

Introduction to ‘Britain versus France: How Many Sonderwegs?’

in Historical Materialism

References

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CallinicosAlexRoyleCamilla ‘This Quarter’s Selection’ International Socialism 2014 142 available at: <http://isj.org.uk/this-quarters-selection-spring-2014/>

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EagletonTerry Why Marx Was Right 2011 New Haven Yale University Press

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PatriquinLarry PatriquinLarry ‘Introduction: The “Method” of Ellen Meiksins Wood’ The Ellen Meiksins Wood Reader 2012 Historical Materialism Book Series Leiden Brill

SchulzeDetlef GeorgiaBerghahnSabineWolfFrieder Otto Rechtsstaat statt Revolution Verrechtlichung statt Demokratie? – Transdisziplinäre Analysen zum deutschen und spanischen Weg in die Moderne (Teilband 1) 2010 Münster Westfälisches Dampfboot

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WoodEllen Meiksins ‘The Separation of the Economic and the Political in Capitalism’ New Left Review 1981 I 127 66 95

WoodEllen Meiksins The Pristine Culture of Capitalism: A Historical Essay on Old Regimes and Modern States 1991 London Verso

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WoodEllen Meiksins ‘The Non-history of Capitalism’ Historical Materialism 1996b 1 1 5 21

WoodEllen Meiksins The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View 2002 [1999] London Verso

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WoodEllen Meiksins Liberty and Property: A Social History of Western Political Thought from Renaissance to Enlightenment 2012 London Verso

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WoodEllen Meiksins ‘Britain versus France: How Many Sonderwegs?’ Historical Materialism 2016 24 1 11 29

1

Bois 1978; Aston and Philpin (eds.) 1985.

2

Wood 2002p. 8.

3

Wood 1996b.

4

Wood 1996bp. 10.

5

Patriquin 2012pp. 2–3; Eagleton 2011.

7

Wood 1991.

8

Wood 1995.

9

Wood 2002.

10

Schulze Berghahn and Wolf (eds.) 2010.

11

Wood 2016p. 12.

12

Hill 1940.

14

Wood 1996a.

15

Teschke 2003 and 2005.

17

Wood 2014: ‘This is most striking in what the consequentialist analysts view as the classic case of the bourgeois revolution i.e. the French Revolution – which had the effect of fettering capitalist development by entrenching peasant property and opening the way to freer access to state careers for bourgeois officeholders.’

18

Wood 2003.

20

Callinicos and Royle 2014.

21

Wood 2014.

24

Wood 2016p. 17.

25

Wood 2016p. 18.

27

Wood 2016p. 28.

28

Wood 2016p. 27.

29

Wood 2009.

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