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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Most capitalist societies throughout the history of capitalism have required pretty intensive state coercion to guarantee the extraction of agxinst value. I know there are other areas of her thought I haven’t gone into here which are informing this debate.

Meiksins Wood stresses the importance of class stru The first part of this book is a magnificent re-statement of the relevance and usefulness of historical materialism as an analytical tool. Current intellectual fashions of the left which emphasize ‘post-modern’ fragmentation, ‘difference’, contingency and the ‘politics of identity’ can barely accommodate the idea of capitalism, let alone subject the capitalist system to critique.

Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism – Ellen Meiksins Wood – Google Books

Clientelism, Interests, and Democratic Representation: The left needs to assert this proper meaning of democracy – direct popular power – against democrcay. Meiksins Wood stresses the importance of class struggle as both a process and a relationship rather than as a structure. But I think the democratic impulse was stronger than this implies.

Counter-intuitive theories are not necessarily wrong, of course – look at quantum mechanics. There was no such thing as ‘bourgeois revolution’, either meiksind England or elsewhere, if by this is meant ‘capitalist revolution’.

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Be the first to ask a question about Democracy Against Capitalism. It was, of course, a tradition shot through with contradictions.

Democracy Against Capitalism

A crucial challenge facing socialists today is how to integrate interests arising from non-class forms of oppression with socialist politics. The concern with the specificity of capitalism, and with class struggle as the motor for historical change rather than globally-defined ‘economic’ processesis clearly visible in the account of the origin meiosins capitalism offered here by Wood.

The woov versus we the people from ancient to modern conceptions of citizenship. Even on the separation of politics and economics, this is so.

Guy Abrahami rated it it was amazing May 25, But in the theory of bureaucratic collectivism it takes on a new, or sharper, significance. At the heart meikains all this is an argument that capitalism has narrowly defined democracy in the words of Eduardo Galeano, democracy is more than an electoral ritual and that a politics againsy takes democracy beyond those limits imposed by capitalism is essential to human liberation.

The most original and interesting part of the book is an extended study of the difference between ‘democracy’ as it was understood and existed in ancient Athens, and as it has developed in the modern capitalist world. The separation, in capitalism, of the ‘economic’ and capitaliam spheres is of course a fairly basic Marxist concept, central in a sense to the theory of surplus value itself it is what distinguishes surplus value from pre-capitalist forms of surplus.

Class as process and relationship. Wood ultimately accepts that this separation can’t really be achieved.

Almost immediately – straight after the revolutions, or even after June in Paris – Marx and Engels recognised the undemocratic againsg of the bourgeoisie. Therefore, for the first time in history citizenship could be extended to all, without compromising the economic power of the ruling class — but the significance of this citizenship was greatly restricted.


Gavin rated it really liked it Aug 14, Why did agsinst emerge when it did and not before?

Where Athenian democracy was the fusion ellem the citizen and the state and economics and politicsmodern democracy is, in a sense, the opposite. My library Help Advanced Book Search. And Wood proceeds to show us just what is wrong.

Such historical examples put some flesh on the bones of any discussion dwmocracy democracy, surely. Paperbackpages. Alexandre Klaser rated it really liked it Aug 20, The struggle against capitalism will continue as long as capitalism does, and sharpened ideological weapons are more essential than ever.

But ‘liberal democracy’ is not ‘democracy’ in its original and literal meaning at all. Slavery in the ancient world was largely recognized to be conventional e.

Its ‘literal’ democracy is in contrast to the separation of ‘citizen’ from real social power under capitalism. She is right, and she The paradoxical democray 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 accommodate the idea of capitalism.

From toWood was an editor, along with Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy, of Monthly Review, the independent socialist magazine.