My name is Marc Mulholland. I am a Fellow (lecturer and tutor) in the History Faculty of Oxford University. My College is St Catherine's. I come from Ireland.

This is a blog relating to my book published in 2012 by Oxford University Press, Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear: From Absolutism to Neo-Conservativism.
Now on sale here and here. If you want 20 per cent off the price, I can arrange that! Send me a message or leave a comment, and I'll tell you how.

The thesis my book is examining was rather pithily summarised by Leon Trotsky in 1939: "Wherever the proletariat appeared as an independent force, the bourgeoisie shifted to the camp of the counter-revolution. The bolder the struggle of the masses, the quicker the reactionary transformation of liberalism." [Context is here]

However, my book isn't a defence of Trotskyism, or indeed any particular ideology. It's a study of an idea that took shape in Left, Right, and Centre variations.

This blog has tid-bits not included in the book, and other thoughts that occur.

You can see book details at the
OUP website.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Heinrich Heine on the 'Politics of Fear'

The title of my book comes from Heinrich Heine. His most famous quote is, "That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also." He was referring to the burning of the Quar'an during the Spanish Inquisition. Heine's works were amongst those that were put to the flame by the Nazis when they came to power. The line is displayed at the Yad Vashem centre in Israel, as a still pertinent warning.

Heine was a friend of Marx, but did not share Marx's optimism that a better new society would emerge from the hegemony of the proletariat: Heine feared for the survival of educated merit. Hal Draper, a twentieth-century American socialist, whose massive series on Marx I used for my book, also translated Heine's poetry.

Anyway, here is the longer extract from Heine:

"The Parisian bourgeoisie are obsessed by a nightmare apprehension of disaster. It is not fear of a republic but an instinctive dread of communism, of those sinister fellows who would swarm like rats from the ruin of the present regime. No, the French bourgeoisie would not be alarmed by a republic of the earlier variety, nor even by a little Robespierrism. They would easily reconcile themselves to that form of government and stand watch over the Tuileries regardless whether the building housed a Louis Philippe or a Committee of Public Safety. For what the bourgeoisie warn above all is order and protection - protection of their existing property rights and these are objectives that a republic should be able to guarantee as surely as a monarchy. But as already noted these shopkeepers sense instinctively that today a republic might no longer represent the principles of the seventeen nineties. It might become the instrument through which a new unacknowledged power would seize control, a proletarian party preaching community of goods. The bourgeoisie are therefore conservative by external necessity, not by inward conviction. Their politics are motivated by fear."

[Source: Heinrich Heine (12 July 1843), Geoffrey Bruun, Revolution and Reaction, 1848-1852: A Mid-Century Watershed, ed. Snyder, Louis L. (New Jersey: Van Nostrand, 1958), p. 108.]


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