Bourgeois revolution?

loupaulsen at loupaulsen at
Mon Jul 28 13:03:41 MDT 2003

Mark Lause wrote:
> I suspect that Marx (and others who began to use the concept) intended
> the concept of a "bourgeois revolution" more to describe the outcome of
> the process more than the process itself.  I think don't think the
> bourgeoisie itself--as such--ever led or could lead a revolution...if,
> for no other reason, because it could not yet exist in the coherent form
> of a ruling class.

What?  Why couldn't the bourgeoisie 'exist in the coherent form of a ruling
class'?  Isn't that exactly what they did in the Italian city-states in the
12th to 14th centuries, and in the Netherlands after the revolution against
Spain, and in the Continental Congress?  Perhaps I haven't entirely understood
what you're saying.   In any case I think that the term 'bourgeois revolution'
does mean a revolution that tended to result in the rule of the bourgeoisie,
but I also think bourgeoisies tended to be involved in the process of
bourgeois revolution and that such revolutions tended to be ideologically
grounded in bourgeois-democratic principles.  Naturally all real revolutions
differ somewhat from the 'ideal type'.

> Indeed, the class interests of the bourgeoisie determine little that
> doesn't involve the accumulation of capital...making money.  In pursuit
> of this, the bourgeoisie demonstrated its willingness to do deals with
> Junkers, samarai, slaveholding planters, etc.  It will defend an open
> door to other peoples or remove them to reservations...or it will even
> embrace the standards that had them marrying off their own daughters off
> to European nobles.

Well, yes and no...  It's certainly true that the bourgeoisie engage in all
sorts of unprincipled conduct, but that isn't the same thing as saying that
there are no such things as bourgeois principles, bourgeois ideology, etc.
(Similarly, if the leadership of a workers' state violated socialist
principles, it wouldn't mean that there really are no socialist principles.)
The fact that a principle is 'bourgeois' doesn't mean that if you survey the
bourgeoisie you will find that a majority of them will adhere to it.  It means
that it is consistent with and contributes to the ideological and political
stability of the capitalist system and of bourgeois rule.  (In any case, I
wouldn't argue that it's 'unprincipled' for socialist countries to trade with
the capitalist world, so why would it be unprincipled for the bourgeoisie
to 'do deals' with feudal lords, etc.?)

This is a large topic,


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