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Bourgeois revolution: the genesis of a concept

By Bertel Nygaard, University of Aarhus (

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


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



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

Also. particularly the historical theories of civil society in Scottish and French 3 . The second one is the moment of romanticism gaining dominance after the French revolution.thus indirectly confront questions of its specificity and its relation to other currents of thought. 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. aspects of the prehistory of future socialist revolutions. though necessary.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. And finally the socialist critiques of capitalism gaining strength from the 1820’s onwards and culminating in Marxist theories of historical development. at the same time typologically similar precedents of future socialist revolutions and typologically different. to what extent were the classic bourgeois revolutions likely to be conceived as ‘bourgeois’ in the terms of their own epoch. So the first main contribution occurred within the world view of enlightenment. each with its own specific historical period of appearance and dominance. Only within the perspective of a future socialist revolution did the earlier large-scale revolutionary events achieve their significance as bourgeois revolutions. oriented towards a radically different future beyond the capitalist stage of 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. within the long-term evolution of civilization. developing theories of long-term historical evolution through distinct stages of social development. 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. synthesizing the prior elements within an enlarged temporal framework. namely.

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

their historical writings show no real connection between particular historical action and the general developmental processes. Thus. of conflict and harmony in history.13 These historians. or the modern understanding of social revolution in general. 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. from changes in furniture design to the fall of the Roman Empire. but there is no notion of macro-social or macro-historical agency. we find precisely such intertwined notions of revolution as rupture and macro-historical class agency. Augustin Thierry and others. viewing it as the culmination of the latter. sensibility. in the hands of the French. François Guizot. civilized commercial society becomes bourgeois society. juridical and historical category of the bourgeoisie. of human agency. Yet.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. 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. with its roots in the medieval towns.Apart from connecting the French Revolution with the long-term civilization process. Turning to the great French romantic liberal historians from the restoration and July monarchy period. these writers identify the socio-economic middle class with the social.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. King Charles and Oliver Cromwell both play important roles in their writings. and a longing for harmony and love as principles for social cohesion.11 In the writings of Smith and Millar the word ‘revolution’ covers all different sort of change.15 5 .

According to Guizot. the history of civilization culminates in the post-revolutionary settlement of that balance of forces between people. Mignet and Thiers that we find the first great presentations of the histories of revolutions proper – as ruptures within a limited number of years. From moderates of the National Assembly. But where he really unfolds the new conception of class struggle is in the internal development of the revolution. or bourgeois society. 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. 6 . power passed to the Jacobin government with its basis in the “lower classes”.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.17 Thus. is commercial society. with a similar cycle of political and social radicalisation and de- radicalisation. Guizot would agree with Smith that civil society. 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. reflecting the strong position of the bourgeoisie. meaning essentially the bourgeoisie with its roots in new forms of commercial wealth and manufacture. And after the fall of Robespierre.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. parliament and monarchy achieved through constitutional monarchy. It is in the writings of Guizot. yet macro-historically significant because of their roots in the long-term history of civilisation.19 Together with this new view of revolution and class agency as intertwined socio- historical 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.On important condition of this is the fact that the concept of revolution itself has been reconstructed in the wake of the French Revolution.

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

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

the separation of the political and the economic. but central features of this process is crystallized within certain social. but as Marx gradually unites them with the notion of class and with a more concrete analysis of capitalist society. This is ‘bourgeois revolution’ as a general process. bourgeois revolution is primarily a world-historical process. the bourgeois revolutions. in the plural. these thoughts are still rather speculative and general. this is still only the most general contours of these transformations. the revolutions as events. but also from post-capitalist societies of the future. Simultaneously.political and human here are reciprocal: The political revolution is only political because it is contrasted with the human one. 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. This implies its structural opposition to the modern state as well as its historical demarcation not only from pre- capitalist societies of the past. the modern concept of bourgeois revolution appears.26 Of course. In a wider sense. bourgeois society is conceived as structurally and historically rooted in the capitalist mode of production. 9 . It does not confront the specificity of individual revolutionary transformations. Thus. political and cultural revolutions. what to Smith and Guizot appeared as the achievement of civilized commercial society. 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. For Marx. and the relative demise of the term in mainstream historiography should probably be related to the general lack of faith in social alternatives today. 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. And yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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