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.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Maurice Dobb on Popular Frontism

Here's British Communist intellectual Maurice Dobb in 1937 explaining the turn to the Popular Front (an alliance of the left with bourgeois parties in opposition to fascism). Popular Frontism, on the face of it, was in direct contradiction to the Leninist dictum that in advanced capitalist ('imperialist') countries, the bourgeoisie had become entirely reactionary. Dobb argued that this new turn was justified by the exacerabation of just those tendencies identified by Lenin. The bourgeoisie, bound to the imperialist state, had lost its drive towards liberalism inherent in the days of competitive capitalism (as Max Weber had also argued). The further development of aggressive protectionism and imperialism,

are already exerting an influence on the social structure in the home countries of so radical a kind as to constitute a political landmark of no small importance. I refer to the disintegrating effect of recent economic effects on the various middle strata of the metropolitan economy. The economic position of these strata has many links, direct and indirect, with the colonial system; and with any shrinkage of colonial super-profit this position, becomes immediately insecure. But it is also to a large extent these strata who are adversely affected by the new stage of intensified monopolistic development in the home country, in particular by the increasing emphasis on the purely restrictive aspect of this development, such as economic nationalism and the paralysis of foreign trade, price control by cartels and restriction-schemes, which are apt to bear with special heaviness on the small producer as well as the consumer. That the increasing radicalisation of the this so-called ‘middle class’, which we are witnessing today, and their willingness to align themselves (for the first time since 1848) with the proletariat in an organized ‘people’s front’ of ‘the left’ is connected with a fundamental modification of their economic position in contemporary society, is a suggestion to which too little attention has been paid.

[Maurice Dobb, Political Economy and Capitalism: Some Essays in Economic Tradition (London and Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1937), pp. 263-4.]

It's an interesting, if tortured attempt to explain a volte face whilst saving the phenomena.

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