The object is to assess the validity, in the light of current economic development, of the epistemology structuring different historical interpretations linking capitalism, unfreedom and primitive accumulation. Conventional wisdom is that – regarding the incompatibility between capitalism and unfreedom –an unbroken continuity links Marxism to Adam Smith, Malthus, Mill and Max Weber. Challenging this, it is argued Marxism accepts that, where class struggle is global, capitalist producers employ workers who are unfree. The reasons are traced to the conceptualization by Smith of labour as value, by Hegel of labour as property, and by Marx of labour-power as commodity that can be bought/sold. From this stems the free/unfree distinction informing the process of becoming, being, remaining, and acting as a proletariat.
Using examples from different historical contexts, this book examines the relationship between class, nationalism, modernity and the agrarian myth. Essentializing rural identity, traditional culture and quotidian resistance, both aristocratic/plebeian and pastoral/Darwinian forms of agrarian myth discourse inform struggles waged 'from above' and 'from below', surfacing in peasant movements, film and travel writing. Film depictions of royalty, landowner and colonizer as disempowered, ‘ordinary’ or well-disposed towards ‘those below’, whose interests they share, underwrite populism and nationalism. Although these ideologies replaced the cosmopolitanism of the Grand Tour, twentieth century travel literature continued to reflect a fear of vanishing rural ‘otherness’ abroad, combined with the arrival there of the mass tourist, the plebeian from home.