Ellen Meiksins Wood argues that, with the collapse of Com- munism, the theoretical project of Marxism and its critique of capitalism is more timely and important. Historian and political thinker Ellen Meiksins Wood argues that theories of “ postmodern” fragmentation, “difference,” and con-tingency. Ellen Meiksins Wood. · Rating details · 94 ratings · 9 reviews. This study argues that understanding Marxism and its critique of capitalism is more important.

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She is, of course, also in favour of the defence and extension of democracy in a more limited and everyday sense; but her fundamental argument is, in a sense, a way of talking about socialism, not a programme for againsh different constitutional arrangement under capitalism.

But there is trade and trade. Capitalism and human emancipation race gender and democracy. But putting past incarnations of Marxist theory and it developments over the years, she firmly courses the intellectual and political failings of the left over the past 50 years or woo while making an extremely compelling case for a new path.

Clearly, something must be wrong with meisins tendencies that would so disarm us. EMW is right, I’m sure, that it’s significant that these revolutionaries saw the Roman republic as their model, not Athenian democracy.

For she argues that Marx revealed what had been concealed by economists, that the essence of capitalist production is political in that it rests on the relations of power between those who own the means of production and those who do not. It is surely significant that these movements emerged then – in the context of the Enlightenment and the French revolution – and not before. Darren Poynton rated it it was amazing Feb 05, Books by Ellen Meiksins Wood. The Foundations of Athenian Democracy, she explains that the peasant-citizen of Athens produced an unprecedented historical formation, democdacy which had the profound social implication of some balance of power between rich and poor.

Of course it is true that the bourgeoisie, keiksins very early on if not the outset, had an ambiguous and contradictory relationship to the democratic impulse eklen revolutions bring with them.

Democracy Against Capitalism by Ellen Meiksins Wood | : Books

Elen also provides a philosophical underpinning to more modern thinking on the challenges for the left for example the work by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams in ” Inventing the Future “. Class as process and relationship. Jul 23, Malcolm rated it it was amazing Shelves: Lelen the first to ask a question about Democracy Against Capitalism. Hence it was rule by a highly privileged elite who supposedly represented the people as a whole, and was clearly understood to be opposed to democracy.


Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism

Almost immediately – straight after the revolutions, or even after June in Paris – Marx and Engels recognised the undemocratic role of the bourgeoisie. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. But these revolutions, nevertheless, took place. This will enrich the socialist project — and is capitalidm to the success of both, since there is little chance of capiralism a mass socialist movement today without taking very seriously issues of race, gender and sexuality.


Therefore a vision of human liberation requires a theory and practice of a more universal form than current identity politics provides. In a previous life I was familiar with some of Brenner’s work. Hence democracy, of a socially weak form, is characteristic of capitalism.

meikssins She does not, of course, argue against ‘representative’ democracy. I said in my review of ‘Democracy Against Capitalism’ that I didn’t feel qualified to judge some of the historical questions she raises, since at least to some degree they depend on detailed knowledge outside my competence.

Fapitalism is much that is interesting demlcracy persuasive in her account. Kenan Malik, in his interesting book ‘The Meaning of Race’, traces how the Enlightenment project of human equality faced the contradiction of class inequality.

It is at least conceivable, moreover, that non-class oppression could be ended, yet capitalism endure. In short, if you would love a great intro into the failings of leftist thoughts over the last 50 years, a field guide to the normative strengths of renewing a Marxism grounded in historical materialism, and a wonderful survey on the evolution of democracy from ancient times up past the industrial revolution: Plainly, what attracts EMW to ancient Athens is its character as a citizen-state; that the direct producers peasants and artisans capitslism exercised political power and that in terms of political power, were equal to larger landowners.

She is right, and she The paradoxical argument here is that the collapse of communism in its actually existing form that is has made marxism more important and more necessary than ever, mainly because it is one of the few if not the only mode of critical thought that can capitapism the idea of capitalism.

But plainly, revolutions result, directly or indirectly, in new constellations of political power or class rule.


Essentially, it is a detailed defence of the historical theory of EP Thompson against Anderson and Althusseriansor at least of her own take on his work. Labour and democracy ancient and modern.

Similarly, it needs to be said – and here I return briefly to the first part of the book – the relevance of ‘anti-economism’. Trivia About Democracy Against In the western tradition, democracy has been reduced to ‘liberalism’ – to the parliamentary system, and to legal individual rights.

Western capitalist civilisation emerged in a period in which this democratic impulse was at work at all levels of society. Her historical account is persuasive up to a point – and as I have said, I don’t know enough about European history in the period she is dealing with the fifteenth century or so to the mei,sins to comment in detail. Once the market imperatives took hold, capitalism began. This part of the argument relates to the discussion on democracy in my earlier article: These relations of ownership and non-ownership — simultaneously economic, social and political — are the basis of the power of capitalists.

But putting past democrac of Marxist theory and it developments over the years, she firmly courses the intellectual and political failings of the left over the p This book is like leftist brain bleach for anyone who looks at our world’s decaying ecological state, rising far-right extremism, and decaying standards of life across the Western world.

I’m not sure this is true, though. Is the Bolshevik approach to the Constituent Assembly a model, or not? This colours the interaction between ‘base’ and ‘superstructure’ which is envisaged not as a rigid hierarchical relationship but as an interaction, something to be analysed in a specific historical conjuncture rather than assumed to fit a pattern.

The critics, she charges, are essentially ahistorical: Andreas From rated it it was amazing Feb 25, The historical specificity of wood is much more remarkable than these theories suppose: Another metaphor, suggested by our late comrade Peter Dawidowicz, is that of a jazz group which plays together with a common theme but gives individual musicians an opportunity to improvise with their different instruments, backed up by the rest of the group.

Finally, then, on this question of revolution.