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.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

'The treason of the Bourgeoisie'

I discuss in my book the allegation that, as  the working class developed as a force no longer under tutelege of the middle class, the bourgeoisie reacted by drifting from their radical reforming commitments. As we have seen here, the eminent liberal historian Benedetto Croce - no socialist he! - thought just this. The Revolutions of 1848 are often taken as a turning point from where the bourgeoisie lost its mojo. However, it needs to be recalled that the bourgeoisie had long been accused of sucking up to aristocratic power, and indeed were historically keen to become aristo themselves if at all possible. The legendary historian Fernand Braudel, in the second volume of his The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (1949, 1966), explicitly spoke of “the defection of the bourgeoisie”, when the bourgeois turned "class traitor" (p. 726). Braudel meant by this the tendency of urban families in the 16th Century, in seeking security, to move away from mercantilism into judicial and official pursuits. The exception to this pattern, however, was found in the Netherlands and England.

I think one may doubt whether one has to be in commerce as such to be a 'loyal' bourgeois. 'Career open to talents' is really the defining ideal of the bourgeoisie, and this can apply as much to state officialdom as to private prospects in the market-place. Indeed, bourgeois penetration of officialdom must have done quite a lot to shift state policy towards the bourgeois ideal over time.

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