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ʻHow Bourgeois Were the Bourgeois Revolutions?ʼ

Remarks on Neil Davidson’s Book

In: Historical Materialism
Author:
Heide Gerstenberger University of Bremen

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Abstract

While the overview concerning debates on bourgeois revolutions is impressive, it cannot elucidate the theoretical concept of bourgeois revolutions. Neil Davidson’s own suggestion centres on the removal of hindrances to the breakthrough of capitalism, especially the pre-capitalist state. This formalistic definition is based on the assumption that revolutions occurred when the superstructure became a hindrance to the further development of productive forces. It deprives the theoretical concept of bourgeois revolutions of any concrete historical content. This paper suggests restricting the use of the theoretical concept ‘bourgeois revolution’ to those revolutionary changes of domination and appropriation which occurred in European societies of the ancien régime.

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