Bourgeois revolutions?

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Thu Aug 1 16:06:55 MDT 1996


Rahul objects to the use of the term 'bourgeois revolution'.

He writes:

>Even in France, although the feudal aristocracy was smashed by 1830, the
>other great pillar of feudalism, the Church, was still going strong. It was
>not until 1881, with the introduction of compulsory, free, primary
>education, that the church's stranglehold over this vital area was
>challenged. Even as late as 1910, when the battle was clearly won, 40% of
>secondary students went to religious schools, and there were half as many
>priests in the country as public school (in the American sense, not the
>English) teachers.
>
>With England, it's much clearer, since there never was a bourgeois
>revolution. The aristocracy and the Church maintained the balance of power
>(and wealth) until almost the eve of the first world war. Not only was the
>House of Lords not exactly a cipher, the aristocracy dominated the foreign
>service, and concomitantly the policy of the Empire. I believe it was 1912
>when the House of Lords was finally relegated to the insignificance it so
>richly deserved.

The bourgeoisie was more interested in real power than show. Remember the
Beehive posters: 'We rule you', 'We fool you' etc. Letting aristocratic and
ecclesiastical fellow-travellers share the loot helped legitimize the setup
by preserving familiar and delusive figureheads.


He continues:

>By the way, don't bother to tell me that, even though the aristocracy
>maintained power, capitalist social relations were being introduced. That's
>obvious.

Not just 'being introduced', but 'had become totally dominant'. This was in
fact the whole point of the argument. Land rent is a capitalist category,
as far as 'aristocratic' landowners go, so they were aristocrats in name,
but their feudal power based on the possession of land and the serfs tied
to it and personal service privileges had vanished. The 'power' they
wielded was firstly superstructural, and secondly bourgeois in character.

If you were really out to kill my argument you should have taken up the
Corn Laws. But these (a reflection of the completely anti-revolutionary,
hence anti-Jacobin nature of the English bourgeoisie once it had
established its bourgeois constitutional monarchy) were repealed in 1848.


>The point is that the lack, in countries other than France, of a
>revolution led to the extreme drawing out of the process of
>bourgeois-democratification, the end of which Mayer places at 1918, if not
>after.

This is no point, since bourgeois democracy is not the name of the game.
The extension of bourgeois democratic rights to everybody in their quality
as 'citoyen/citizen' (as opposed to the sharply differentiated,
non-universal 'bourgeois' or 'proletarian') was the result of irresistible
revolutionary pressure from the international working class which had to be
bought off with concessions. Hence the avalanche of voting rights after
1917. Even in the best-developed bourgeois democracy of the 19th century,
the US, it took a civil war to abolish slavery!

Glad you brought these points up, Rahul, they obviously needed fleshing out.

Cheers,

Hugh




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