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, 1 October 2012

Eric Hobsbawm, and the 'Dramatic Dialectical Dance' of History

Eric J. Hobsbawm has died. I've been reading him as long as I was seriously interested in history. His 'Age of ...' series on nineteenth and twentieth century history was a towering achievement. I've read and re-read him countless times.

I quote him in my own book, just published. In his 1962, Age of Revolution, he presented a thesis, in typically pellucid poise. In many respects, my book is an extended commentary on this very passage. I often wondered what he might have made of it. I'll never know now.

Here is the passage:
The main shape of French and all subsequent bourgeois revolutionary politics were by now clearly visible. This dramatic dialectical dance was to dominate the future generations. Time and again we shall see moderate middle-class reformers mobilizing the masses against die-hard resistance or counter-revolution. We shall see the masses pushing beyond the moderates’ aims to their own social revolutions, and the moderates in turn splitting into a conservative group henceforth making common cause with the reactionaries, and a left wing group determined to pursue the rest of the as yet unachieved moderate aims with the help of the masses, even at the risk of losing control over them. And so on through repetitions and variations of the pattern of resistance - mass mobilization - shift to the left - split-among-moderates-and-shift-to-the-right - until either the bulk of the middle-class passed into the henceforth conservative camp, or was defeated by social revolution. In most subsequent bourgeois revolutions the moderate liberals were to pull back, or transfer into the conservative camp, at a very early stage. Indeed in the nineteenth-century we increasingly find … that they became unwilling to begin revolution at all, for fear of its incalculable consequences, preferring a compromise with king and aristocracy.
No twentieth-century Communist lacks the burden of historical baggage. But Hobsbawm was a great, great historian. I fear we shall not see his like again.




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