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Bourgeois revolution: the genesis of a concept

By Bertel Nygaard, University of Aarhus (bertel.nygaard@hum.au.dk)

Historical Materialism Conference, London, December 8-10, 2006

Abstract The concept ‘bourgeois revolution’ developed through a particular synthesis of three world views, each with its own period of dominance in Western thought. In the enlightenment views of civilization history developing in Scotland and France from the 1740’s till about 1800, materialist notions of historical progress were developed focussing on social structure and the main conditions of social development. Important notions of agency, including social classes as historical agents, and of revolutions as specific leaps in the developmental process, were developed with the onset of romantic re-appropriations of enlightenment theses in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Finally, the development of modern socialist critiques of capitalism contributed an orientation towards a future socialist revolution necessary to construct ‘bourgeois revolution’ as a specific category of historical analysis. This paper proposes to expand upon these phases in more conceptual and historical detail. ***


As a contribution to this long-standing debate. implications and validity of this concept are still being discussed among historical sociologists. thus tying the two to each other with the power of effective history. particularly Marxists. feudalism. And the main object of the revolutionary is the state.1 Its conventional meaning can be summed up loosely as implying a capitalist bourgeoisie conquering the old feudal state for its own new social purposes. This comprises assumptions about macrohistorical development. capitalism. and 2 .3 Yet. a necessary form of change. to another.The concept ‘bourgeois revolution’ has been a main theme of several important debates among historians and social theorists. or to the general interests of the ruling class. especially in the wake of ‘revisionist’ critiques of the traditional social interpretations of the French and English revolutions.5 Through this particular perspective. During most of the 20th century this concept was central to interpretations of the developmental processes of the modern bourgeois. we may reconsider also the historical roots of Marxist thought. conceived as a political apparatus or form of power functionally related in one way or the other to the basic socio-economic interests.2 Since the 1960’s many specialist historians have tended towards a negative verdict on its validity. social structure and social agency: The specific revolutionary moment is seen as a crucial point. crystallized on a concrete level in the notion of classes in reciprocal conflict. or capitalist. even if not with the power of theory or logic. discussions about the one has invariably held implications for the other. within a long-term process of transition from one long-dominant social type. The main driving powers in this transition are socio-economic needs and interests. the meanings. society. this paper proposes to focus on the genesis of the concept ‘bourgeois revolution’ as a network of concepts concerning social structure and development.4 Though it would surely be overhasty to judge the theoretical success and prospects of Marxism as a general theory of history by the success or failure of the concept ‘bourgeois revolution’.

6 The main proposal in the following is that the concept ‘bourgeois revolution’ developed gradually during the nineteenth century by way of a synthesis of three distinct world views. synthesizing the prior elements within an enlarged temporal framework. though necessary. This highlighted notions of human agency and rupture and thus concepts of class as a historical agent and revolution as a specific mode of change. within the long-term evolution of civilization. The second one is the moment of romanticism gaining dominance after the French revolution. one may view mode of enquiry as a way of considering one aspect of this question often somewhat denigrated by recent revisionists and historical sociologists. particularly the historical theories of civil society in Scottish and French 3 . Only within the perspective of a future socialist revolution did the earlier large-scale revolutionary events achieve their significance as bourgeois revolutions. developing theories of long-term historical evolution through distinct stages of social development. The first world view is enlightenment notions of the history of civilization dominant in European thought during the latter half of the eighteenth century. at the same time typologically similar precedents of future socialist revolutions and typologically different. aspects of the prehistory of future socialist revolutions. to what extent were the classic bourgeois revolutions likely to be conceived as ‘bourgeois’ in the terms of their own epoch. each with its own specific historical period of appearance and dominance. And finally the socialist critiques of capitalism gaining strength from the 1820’s onwards and culminating in Marxist theories of historical development. oriented towards a radically different future beyond the capitalist stage of development.thus indirectly confront questions of its specificity and its relation to other currents of thought. So the first main contribution occurred within the world view of enlightenment. Also. namely.

socio-economic modes of production and reproduction. hence the close semantic relations between civil society. This is different from what can be found in earlier theories such as those of Hobbes or Locke.Enlightenment figures writing mostly from the 1740’s till the 1790’s: Adam Smith. the state is essentially an instrument for the preservation of the existing social order. such notions of macrosocial development are tentatively developed further. both from the latter half of the eighteenth century. civil society is also middle class society. civilized society and commercial society in the writings of Smith.9 Hence. in associating the revolutionaries with new commercial and industrial capital. Historically. that is. Anne Robert Jacques Turgot and others.10 4 .8 Also.7 In a structural sense it is conceived as a specifically social sphere. in this view. say Antoine de Barnave or Pierre-Louis Roederer. to the benefit of the ruling social strata and the protection of the propertied against the poor. If we turn from these Scottish forefathers to their French disciples who during the French Revolution applied Smithian historical categories in order to understand the process they were going through. the historical result of conflicts arising from contradictions between old and new social interests. opposite to the political state. we find some significant further developments of these concepts. the stages defined by specific ‘modes of subsistence’. In David Hume’s and particularly John Millar’s analyses of the English Civil War. Here notions were developed of historical progress through distinct stages of social development towards modern civil society. civil society is viewed here as a distinct historical stage comprising both commercial development and cultural refinement. to whom ‘civil society’ and ‘political society’ designated the same thing. This innovative notion of ‘civil’ society is defined and demarcated both structurally and historically. monopolists and feudal high nobility. John Millar. or the ‘middle ranks’ or ‘middle classes’. against the non-industrious rentiers.

11 In the writings of Smith and Millar the word ‘revolution’ covers all different sort of change. their historical writings show no real connection between particular historical action and the general developmental processes.12 And though terms such as ‘rank’ or ‘class’ are associated with large socio-economic interest groups of great importance to the social structure as a whole. publicists and politicians were romanticists in so far as they intended to resituate certain achievements of enlightenment history in a new theoretical context of the historical particular. these writers identify the socio-economic middle class with the social. civilized commercial society becomes bourgeois society.14 And especially in the hands of French historians inspired by Hegel’s philosophy of history this resulted in a grand synthesis of affirmation and negation. from changes in furniture design to the fall of the Roman Empire. but there is no notion of macro-social or macro-historical agency.13 These historians.Apart from connecting the French Revolution with the long-term civilization process.15 5 . sensibility. with its roots in the medieval towns. or the modern understanding of social revolution in general. in the hands of the French. Turning to the great French romantic liberal historians from the restoration and July monarchy period. King Charles and Oliver Cromwell both play important roles in their writings. of conflict and harmony in history. François Guizot. viewing it as the culmination of the latter. Augustin Thierry and others. Thus. of human agency. juridical and historical category of the bourgeoisie. we find precisely such intertwined notions of revolution as rupture and macro-historical class agency. the concept of revolution and class developed here do not emphasize the moment of rupture and social agency associated with modern notions of bourgeois revolution. and a longing for harmony and love as principles for social cohesion. Yet.

in his History of the French Revolution from 1824 Mignet views the Revolution as the result of the long-term evolution of the third estate.20 Thus. parliament and monarchy achieved through constitutional monarchy. And after the fall of Robespierre. According to Guizot.16 And integral to this perspective are the concepts of class and class struggle as motor forces in both the general development of world history and the particular internal dynamics of revolution. meaning essentially the bourgeoisie with its roots in new forms of commercial wealth and manufacture.17 Thus. power passed to the Jacobin government with its basis in the “lower classes”. From moderates of the National Assembly. power was returned to the hands of the bourgeoisie and parts of the nobility in what Mignet terms a “geometrical” movement from the lower to the upper classes. with a similar cycle of political and social radicalisation and deradicalisation. reflecting the strong position of the bourgeoisie.18 In Guizot’s multi-volume History of the English Revolution published from 1826 till 1850’s the English Civil War is basically reconstructed as a social revolution along lines of the French. But where he really unfolds the new conception of class struggle is in the internal development of the revolution. the history of civilization culminates in the post-revolutionary settlement of that balance of forces between people. 6 . is commercial society. It is in the writings of Guizot. or bourgeois society. Mignet and Thiers that we find the first great presentations of the histories of revolutions proper – as ruptures within a limited number of years. Guizot would agree with Smith that civil society. yet macro-historically significant because of their roots in the long-term history of civilisation.On important condition of this is the fact that the concept of revolution itself has been reconstructed in the wake of the French Revolution.19 Together with this new view of revolution and class agency as intertwined sociohistorical features we see in the reasoning of Guizot and several of his contemporaries a new emphasis on the state as the instance securing the civilized and moral character of modern civil society.

But we have yet to disclose the actual expression ‘bourgeois revolution’. Thus. Any revolution expressing the moderate liberal principles of 1789 as Guizot and Mignet see them must be the final one. all of these commentators share a certain epochal apologetic. according to Mignet. conceived clearly as a post-capitalist social order. This epochal apologetic was gradually transcended in social thought with the development of modern forms of socialism. bourgeois society. for still we have not encountered the orientation towards the future necessary to provide the necessary historical perspective for this conception. that is. not as the return to pre-capitalist or pre-modern forms of social cohesion. this new bourgeois society needs to be heavily mediated by the political state.22 And since history is inextricably bound to conflict and revolutionary change. in order to be truly civilized and moral. in order to produce the grand harmony of differing social interests desired by Guizot. in some cases causing a violent revolution necessary for the progress of civilisation. based on the world-historical process of technical innovation initiated by the development of capitalism. he would agree that the history of civilization leads to a conflict of interests between the new bourgeois class and the old-regime state. Yet. Eager to show the present as the harmonized telos of history. historical time cannot significantly transcend the present epoch.21 So with the moment of romanticism some of the main ingredients of the conception of bourgeois revolution: macro-historical progression through grand stages of development. class struggle and class agency. We see this modern form of socialism evolving mainly on the basis of the enlightenment liberalism mentioned above 7 . This is no coincidence. in Guizot’s view. Mignet provides a good example of this.Also. he begins his work by proclaiming the French Revolution as the consummation and ending of class struggle.

a fact often forgotten in attempts to deduce a theory of history or a sociology of revolution from these short passages. was a political revolution. But the more general background to these passages should probably be sought in Marx’s earlier writings of the years 1843 and 1844. the liberation of the political. The state as such was brought into existence together with modern bourgeois society. It is here that we disclose. continues to hold sway over the political state. particularly through Saint-Simonism and some of the Young Hegelians in Germany. And it is here that he conceives his basic critique of that Revolution and of Jacobinism. resulting in the separation of the political sphere from the social. Marx’s most famous and oft-quoted judgments concerning the French Revolution and the English Revolution derive from such political interventions. according to Marx. And it is clear that the categories 8 . this liberation is still limited by its purely formal character. mainly in the writings dating from the years around 1848. But though this surely indicated a progressive step. in terms not yet influenced by conceptions of social class.24 And the context of these uses of the term is almost always an attempt at political intervention by means of historical example.23 In this precise form the expression can be found in only a few instances within the writings of Marx and Engels. rather than a thorough and detached historical analysis. It is here that we find the precise expression ‘bourgeois revolution’. achieving a genuine emancipation of human beings from the alienated relationships of capitalist society. bourgeois-capitalist society. particularly Moses Hess.25 This context of political intervention itself suggests the way in which this concept is linked with a socialist project for the future. this whole edifice is re-synthesized. the human revolution. The French Revolution.and romantic impulses. Marx’s most intensive work in the history of the French Revolution. The social sphere. And with Marx’s transformation of perspective from the speculative sphere to the historical practice in the here-and-now. Therefore the political revolution is a precondition for a future revolution.

the revolutions as events. 9 . this is still only the most general contours of these transformations.political and human here are reciprocal: The political revolution is only political because it is contrasted with the human one. Thus.26 Of course. the separation of the political and the economic. but central features of this process is crystallized within certain social. It does not confront the specificity of individual revolutionary transformations. political and cultural revolutions. this sense of a post-capitalist social alternative as a collective mental structure contributed greatly to the credibility of such macro-historical categories of analysis as bourgeois revolution. but also from post-capitalist societies of the future. the modern concept of bourgeois revolution appears. and the relative demise of the term in mainstream historiography should probably be related to the general lack of faith in social alternatives today. This is ‘bourgeois revolution’ as a general process. bourgeois society is conceived as structurally and historically rooted in the capitalist mode of production. but as Marx gradually unites them with the notion of class and with a more concrete analysis of capitalist society. This implies its structural opposition to the modern state as well as its historical demarcation not only from precapitalist societies of the past. Simultaneously. and what for the young Marx was the mere political revolution is now reconstructed as a grand social transformation through which the capitalist mode of production wins out on a world-historical scale. in the plural. bourgeois revolution is primarily a world-historical process. these thoughts are still rather speculative and general. the bourgeois revolutions. And yet. what to Smith and Guizot appeared as the achievement of civilized commercial society. In a wider sense. Such macro-historical considerations not only provide the general theoretical framework for Marxist analyses of bourgeois revolutions but also explain the importance of such past social transformations for Marxism. For Marx.

Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press Brenner. Stuttgart: Ernst Klett 10 . Robert 1989. A. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Brunner. (ed. and London's Overseas Traders.) 1974-97. Introduction à la Révolution française (ed. 271-304 Brenner. Many of the later disagreements about the applicability of this concept as an analytical category can be at least partially explained by this background.27 Suffice it to say that a greater knowledge of this concept as historicaldynamic entity should be a starting point of any discussion of this concept. Fernand Rude). Cambridge: At the University Press Barnave. reflecting a dialectical interconnection between the particular and the universal.Thus. Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. between the structural and the historical. ‘Bourgeois Revolution and Transition to Capitalism’ in Meier. Whether this multiplicity of meanings is a sign of strength or weakness I shall not judge in this context. Shlomo 1972. or the juridical. Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Exchange. Robert 1993. Hegel’s Theory of the Modern State. David & Geoff Eley 1984. Antoine de 1960 [1792]. The Peculiarities of German History: Bourgeois Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany. et al. (Hrsg. Political Conflict. ‘Bourgeois revolution’ can hardly be satisfactorily defined in the formal and static terms of. and many historians of revolutions have proceeded from certain category mistakes. the political and the economic. whether we wish to retain it as an analytical category or not. ‘bourgeois revolution’ derives from a rather complex interaction of words. between the ideological. pp. for it is a historical term. Cambridge: The Past and Present Society. the political and the socio-economic. 1550-1653. meaning and social reality. or paying insufficient attention to the precise relationship between the civil and the capitalist aspects of this.): The First Modern Society: Essays in English History in Honour of Lawrence Stone. Otto et al. Literature Avineri. either confounding Marx’s analysis of a worldhistorical process with specific revolutionary events. Paris: Librairie Armand Colin Blackbourn.L. say analytical philosophy.

Rethinking the French Revolution: Marxism and the Revisionist Challenge. 4. Münster: Dampfboot Griewank. Entstehung und Geschichte. Ceri 1993. E.: Suhrkamp Guizot. International Socialism no. Neil 2003. 1789-1815. ‘Bourgeois Revolutions and Historical Materialism’. François 1854.. Vol. No. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Haakonssen. No. Neil 2005a. Vol. James 2000. Gramsci and Italy’s Passive Revolution. Paris: Didier Guizot. Alex 1989. London: Pluto Press Davidson. 232. Penser la Révolution française. Historical Materialism. Arthur 1949. 2 Vols.M. Wealth and Virtue: The Shaping of Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment. The Science of a Legislator. François 1989. Frankfurt a. Henry 2006. London: Routledge Davidson. Karl 1973 [1955]. Paris: Gallimard Gerstenberger. London: Verso Holstun. Historie du protectorat de Richard Cromwell et du rétablissement des Stuarts. Guizot: Aspects of French History 1787-1874. 13. pp. Istvan & Michael Ignatieff 1983. Histoire de la république d’Angleterre et de Cromwell (1649-1658).J.Callinicos. London: George Virtue Johnson. Douglas 1963. François 1828. Behr Guizot. Vol. 2 Vols. Two Centuries Look Back on the French Revolution. Historical Materialism. 3-33 Davidson. French Historians and Romanticism: Thierry. George 1987. New York: Berghahn Hobsbawm. 3. Knud 1996. 13. David 1847 [1754-56]. Echoes of the Marseillaise. Paris: Didier Guizot. pp. Pourquoi la Révolution d’Angleterre a-t-elle réussi?. 43. Mind. Alfred 1964. John A. François 1850. ‘How Revolutionary were the Bourgeois Revolutions?’. 1990. London: Verso Hont. The Social Interpretation of the French Revolution. Cambridge: At the University Press Comninel. London: Croom Helm Furet. François 1856. Heide 1990. Natural Law and Moral Philosophy: From Grotius to the Scottish Enlightenment. The History of England from the Invasion of Julius Cæsar to the End of the Reign of James II. 113-171 Cobban. Histoire de la Révolution d’Angleterre. François 1845-46. Paris: Didier Haakonssen. London: Verso Crossley. Discovering the Scottish Revolution 1692-1746. the Saint-Smonians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Hatto. Die subjektlose Gewalt: Theorie der Entstehung bürgerlicher Staatsgewalt. The Bourgeois Revolution in France. pp. ‘How Revolutionary were the Bourgeois Revolutions? (cont’d)’. 495-517 Heller. Histoire générale de la civilisation en Europe.. Paris: Pichon & Didier Guizot. 58. 3-54 Davis. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 11 .) 1979. Guizot. Knud 1981. Berlin: B. (ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Hume. Der neuzeitliche Revolutionsbegriff. No. pp. Ehud’s Dagger: Class Struggle in the English Revolution. Quinet Michelet. Neil 2005b. ‘“Revolution“: An Enquiry into the Usefulness of an Historical Term’.

1956.free. pp. 54. Historien libéral 1796-1884.-A. Pierre 1985. 2003. II. Bernard (ed. An Historical View of the English Government from the Settlement of the Saxons on Britain to the Revolution in 1688. ‘”Civil Society” oder ”Bürgerliche Gesellschaft”’. Mary Consolata 1955. Pierre-Louis 1831. Reinhart 1969. 258-279 Réizov. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rebellion. Rut 1925. Boris G. Murray G. Paris Rosanvallon. Bruxelles: H. Paris: Gallimard 12 . The Making of Bourgeois Europe. The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment. Reinhart 1984. Michael & Robert Sayre 2001. Durham & London: Duke University Press Markner. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Mignet. Sudipta & Sunil Khilnan i (eds. V. London: J.fr/bg-dini. Saint-Louis Knibiehler. From Feudalism to Capitalism: Marxian Theories of Class Struggle and Social Change.). 653-788 Löwy. Ronald L. Vol. ‚Der neuzeitliche Revolutionsbegriff als geschichtliche Kategorie’. Vol. L’Esprit de la Révolution de 1789. Guizot als Historiker. H.) 1990. Aufruhr. Social Science and the Ignoble Savage. Yvonne 1973.) 2001. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Keiser. 1803]. 1976. Bürgerkrieg’. The French Revolution and Marxism (Science & Society special issue. Neuwied & Berlin: Luchterhand Riedel.. Manfred 1979. L’historiographie romantique française. ‚Revolution. Dumont Millar. Studium Generale. Science and Society (forthcoming) O’Connor. ’Historiography’. New York: Greenwood Press Kaviraj. 22. in Alexander Broadie (ed. Naturzustand und Naturgeschichte der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft.Katz. Moskva: Editions en langues étrangères Riedel. Brunner 1974-97. Vol. Histoire de la révolution française. Bürgerliche Gesellschaft und Staat bei Hegel. 825-838 Koselleck. Manfred 1970. London: Verso Moss. Bertel 2007. Berlin: Dietz Medick. http://markner. ’The Meanings of ”Bourgeois Revolution”: Conceptualizing the French Revolution’. Mawman Mooers. pp. Mignet.htm Marx Engels Werke (several editions). Hans 1973. Le moment Guizot. 719-800 Roederer. 1844 [1824]. Claudio J. Romanticism against the Tide of Modernity. Civil Society: History and Possibilities. The Historical thought of François Guizot. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Meek. 1989. Lille: Université de Lille Koselleck. pp. ‚Gesellschaft. Colin 1991. 3) Nygaard. bürgerliche’. F. No. Brunner 1974-97. Reinhard 1999. Washington: The catholic University of America Press Pittock. John 1818 [1787. pp.

Davidson 2005a. perhaps due to the resurgence of 13 . 4 Blackbourn 1984.. Mignet. Teschke 2003. All constructive criticism is will be kindly received. 13. during the years of the most vehement anti-Marxist sentiment in academic and political circles as well as the immediate aftermath of the bicentennial of the French Revolution. The Theory of Moral Sentiments: Oxford: Oxford University press Stadler. Albert Soboul. and the Making of Modern International Relations. Russell 1973. ‘Bourgeois Revolution. Michelet.Russell. London & Basingstoke: MacMillan Press Smith. George Rudé and Michel Vovelle all held this revolution to be bourgeois and capitalist. the majority of the great social historians of the French Revolution. Though the debate may seem to have been somewhat quiet in the 1990’s. Geschichtschreibung und historisches Denken in Frankreich 1789-1871. London: Verso 1 This paper is a work in progress. i. No. several historians and historical sociologists from Barrington Moore to Ralf Dahrendorf and Hans-Ulrich Wehler have held the lack of a victorious bourgeois revolution in Germany to be the main explanation for the subsequent Nazi victory. Davidson 2005b. Gerstenberger 1990. briefly summarizing some of the main results of my PhD dissertation: Bourgeois Revolution. Teschke 2005. 3 The most important revisionist writings comprise Cobban 1964. Callinicos 1989. The English Revolution of the 1640’s has been termed a ‘bourgeois revolution’ by such prominent scholars of the field as Christopher Hill and Brian Manning. Jean 1986. Moss 1990. and. Benno 2003. Ellen Meiksins 1991. Vol. 2 To name but a few examples. Brenner 1993. Katz 1989. Similar analyses have been applied to a range of other national delepments. 3-26 Thiers. Holstun 2000. Augustin Thierry. in chronological order: Davis 1979. Adam 1976 (1759). Historical Materialism. Comninel 1987. Peter 1958. Brenner 1989. London & New York: Verso Teschke. 10 bind. Edgard Quinet. Albert Mathiez. The Origins of the English Civil War. Genève & Paris: Editions Slatkine Waszek. Adolphe 1839 [1823-27]. Heller 2006. Thiers. Les Maitres de l’histoire 1815-1850. To cite some of the most important contributions since the 1980s. Georges Lefebvre.e. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers Wood. Norbert 1988. Conrad 1973 (ed. Paris: Furne et Cie Walch. Guizot. Wood 1991. Mooer 1991. Benno 2005. Hobsbawm 1990. Furet 1989. The Scottish Enlightenment and Hegel’s Account of ‘Civil Society’. 2 pp. conversely.). The Pristine Culture of Capitalism. The genesis of a concept studied through historiography and political theory (in Danish). Geopolitics. Zürich: Verlag Berichthaus Teschke. Historie de la Révolution française. State Formation and the Absence of the International’. it has certainly been re-enlivened in the last few years. The Myth of 1648: Class.

5 Methodologically. 584f. 13 economic or military event. Riedel 1979. lead them to moment of doubt as to whether commercial society is really so civilized after all. Pittock 2003. or whether it may 14 . 8 However. Roederer 1831 On the development modern concept of revolution: Koselleck 1969. 9 Hume 1847. Haakonssen 1996. a notion of world views inspired by Lucien Goldmann and an understanding of social history as a concrete totality in development. 313. unless one subscribes to a strong version of evolutionist determinism very rarely defended among historical sociologists today. 7 On the concepts of civil society in the Smithian and other traditions: Kaviraj 2001. On the other hand. one could of course argue that the social contract theory propounded by Hobbes and Locke does contain some of the logic of the state-society dualism. 195 Behind this significant change in concepts and ideas lies not only the French Revolution as a political.radical projects in general within academic circles and society and also a certain fatigue in postmodernism and revisionist interpretations of revolutions. pp. 6 Of course. Vol. their writings show an overall optimism in the theoretical framework supporting the long-term civilization process towards the telos of civilized commercial society of generalized commodity production.g. as part of explaining why even ever so unintended outcomes happened to come out exactly as they did. Hont 1983. 342. Koselleck 1984.. Smith 1976. On civil society and bourgeois society in the Marxian tradition: Markner 2001. this seeks to combine the approaches of German conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte) with more conventional approaches to the history of political ideas. by presupposing individuals capable of rational social choice. Mooers 1991] Yet. but closely linked to this event a much larger cultural or ideological rupture with some of the dominant features of Enlightenment thought: its rationalism and optimism – a socially generated epistemological break. the precise forms of action and intentions must indeed be seen as a crucial link in historical explanation. 10 11 Hatto 1949 12 Cf. [Davis 1979. Haakonssen 1981. III Barnave 1960. their empirical observations of the effects of such commercial activity in their own day. For it is revealing that one may already find elements of historical pessimism and doubt in the works of Adam Smith and John Millar. pp. Blackbourn 1984. On the historical theories of the Scottish enlightenment theorists in general: Medick 1973. Griewank 1973. On the one hand. this latter question is not immediately relevant to definitions of ‘bourgeois revolution’ proceeding from the unintended long-term consequences of political or institutional changes. the misery and malfunction of the manual labourers. On the four-stage theory of history: Meek 1976. allowing for a new balancing of the elements of thought. so to speak. 550. Callinicos 1989. Millar 1818. e.

p. Thiers 1839 This is still a rather vague category of class. bürgerliche Gesellschaft in German is simultaneously civil and bourgeois society. of course. is markedly stronger if we turn to Rousseau or Adam Ferguson. is severely underexposed.really work on its own. Keiser 1925. but the internal rift between theoretical optimism and practical-empirical doubt is strongest in the writings of Smith and Millar. 20 Guizot 1828 This. but it took a great social and cultural upheaval to put these notions to the centre stage of ideas and conceptual apparatuses.g. as in the general European political theory of the entire period from circa 1820 to circa 1848.) This points towards a notion of a much more active state apparatus as the instigator of poor relief. roads and so on. I present Marx’s use of the concept bourgeois revolution in a bit more detail in Nygaard 2007. of course. just as Bürger may be translated as either citizen (citoyen) and bourgeois. 18 Cf. not to mention social goods not necessarily wellhanded by private capital. 19 Guizot 1845-46. generally Marx Engels Werke. Guizot 1854. Guizot 1856. 25 15 . Correspondingly. the 17 juridical-political estates). rather closely resembles Hegel’s views on this matter. bürgerliche Revolution. Rosanvallon 1985. (This moment of doubt. This conception of the state is significantly different from the mere instrumentalist notion mentioned earlier. Stadler 1958. p.. education. a much more active sense of the state. is semantically related to term 21 22 23 bourgeois it does not significantly distinguish between this and the civil aspects. 2 Though the German form of this expression. Guizot 1850. sometimes with socio-economic interests. So. I show some strong Hegelian influences on Guizot in my PhD thesis cited above. sometimes being synonymous with “orders” (that is. This is clear from the use of the latter terms in. e. The most extensive analysis of Mignet’s historical writings is Knibiehler 1973. Réizov 1956. On Hegel and the enlightenment views on civilization and its history: Waszek 1988. such as bridges. in some respects the elements of agency as a necessary moment in developing civilized society is already there in some instances of Enlightenment theory. On the great French Historians of this period and their contexts: Walch 1986. IV-VII. Mignet 1844. 24 Cf. On Guizot as an historian and a political theorist: Johnson 1963. 385. 14 This notion of romanticism as world-view is loosely inspired by considerations in Löwy 2001. Riedel 1970 16 Guizot 1828. Vols. Mignet 1844. Mignet 1844. Avineri 1972. O’Connor 1955. the writings of Kant and Hegel. 15 The role of Hegelianism in French philosophy of history during the 1820’s. Crossley 1993. canals.

16 . Vol. Marx Engels Werke. I I defend a use of the concept as a category for social and historical analysis. in Nygaard 2007. conditioned by certain 27 precisions.26 Marx: ‘Zur Judenfrage’.

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