Revolution and Its Alternatives

Other Marxisms, Other Empowerments, Other Priorities     


Against the usual argument heard most frequently on the left, that there is no subject for a radical politics together with its form of political mobilization, there is – but in the absence of a radical leftist project, this subject has in the past transferred, and in many instances is still transferring, his/her support to the radical politics on offer from the other end of the ideological spectrum. The combination of on the one hand a globally expanding industrial reserve army, generating ever more intense competition in the labour markets of capitalism, and on the other the endorsement by many on the left not of class but rather of non-class identities espoused by the ‘new’ populist postmodernism, has fuelled what can only be described as a perfect storm, politically speaking.
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Biographical Note

Tom Brass, D.Phil. (1982), formerly lectured in the Social and Political Sciences Faculty at Cambridge University and directed studies for Queens' College. He edited The Journal of Peasant Studies for almost two decades, and has published extensively on agrarian issues and rural labour relations.

Table of contents

Introduction: The best of times, the worst of times?
The vanishing
The banishment
Making a difference?
The shrewd scholar?
Something they have forgotten?

Revolutionary/counter-revolutionary practice/theory

Chapter 1 – Revolution in Practice
Introduction: Revolution, or reform (and counter-revolution)
Educate them to revolt
The greatest of all proprietors
Desperation and vengeance
As the part to the whole

Chapter 2 – Revolution in Theory
Revolution and/as modernity
To the barricades?
Half the voters plus one?
Confused chatter and legislative obstruction
Modernity and/as bourgeois democracy

Chapter 3 – Refusing Revolution, Empowering Counter-Revolution
Introduction: To the barricades?
What history taught us
The nation’s great concerns
The balance of class power?
To the barricades
The world we/(they) have lost
A (Marxist) warning from history

Other Marxisms, other priorities/identities

Chapter 4 – The (Revolutionary) Path not taken
Introduction: promoting capitalism, not socialism
Laissez-faire discourse-against
Laissez-faire discourse-for
In the footsteps of laissez-faire
Capitalism – or socialism?
The path not taken

Chapter 5 – Avoiding Revolution: A Return to Patronage
Introduction: from periphery to the (academic) core
Empiricism, patronage and subsistence
Personal tie of affection?
Two concepts, or one?
A caring state...
...or permanent revolution

Chapter 6 – Misunderstanding Revolution: (Re-) Defining Coercion?
Introduction: A necessary journey?
The debate
The debate transcended?
Problems with theory
Butterfly collecting

Chapter 7 – Other Priorities, Other Identities: Unmasking the Subaltern
Introduction: (armchair) generals go to war
Subaltern conquests
Nationalist Appropriation I: Cambridge and England
Nationalist Appropriation II: Delhi and India
Critique of a Critique
Difference and sameness
‘A reiteration of the already said’

Alternatives to revolution?

Chapter 8 – Betraying Revolution (Again)
Introduction: Revolutionary socialism as the fifth horseman
Peasants, left and right
A plan of campaign?
Power Wanting, but Wanting Power?
Resistance, not revolution

Chapter 9 – Viva la Revolución? Eric Hobsbawm on Peasants
Introduction: A time there was…
Big in Brazil
Hobsbawm and Feudalism
Hobsbawm and the hacienda system
Hobsbawm and Capitalism
Hobsbawm and Marxism
Outside Latin America

Chapter 10 – Marxism or Postmodern Precursor? John Berger on Peasants
Introduction: holy humble peasants?
No country for old peasants
Migrants, gender, money
Different stories, same themes
Looking, but seeing?
Too much history, too many lives



The book is aimed at an audience of undergraduate, postgraduate and academic researchers with an interest in social change, development studies, agrarian issues, labour conditions, and political economy.