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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Western capitalist civilisation emerged in a period in which this democratic impulse was at work at all levels of society. The historical specificity of capitalism is much more remarkable than these theories suppose: Similarly, it needs to be said – and here I return briefly to the first part of the book – the relevance of againt.

Darren Poynton rated it it was amazing Feb 05, Capitallsm intellectual meikksins 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. She goes on to explore the concept of democracy in both the ancient and modern world, examining the concept’s relation to capitalism, and raising questions about how democracy might go beyond the limits imposed on it by capitalism”–Unedited summary from book cover.

The demos versus we the people from ancient to modern conceptions of citizenship. Want to Read saving…. Capitalism emerged after a period in which powerful trade empires had dominated the mieksins, in which huge sums of ‘merchant capital’ had been amassed.

Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism by Ellen Meiksins Wood

What distinguished Marx from the start of being a ‘Marxist’ was the merging of the young working class and communist movement with the traditions of revolutionary democracy, and we should beware of cutting Marxism adrift from this historical background. It is imperative, however, that socialists not go back to a pre-New Left understanding of a universal politics, one which suppressed differences and subordinated all forms of oppression other democrzcy class.


I don’t propose here dekocracy review much of it – I have neither the time nor the ability to cover it all, for one thing because it would require expert historical knowledge I make no pretence to having.

Wood’s argument is that other contemporary approaches can critique elements of capitalism and its culture but only marxism can get to grips with both the idea and the practice of capitalism. It redefines historical materialism’s basic concepts and theory of history to specifically identify capitalism as a system of social relations and political power.

Essentially, it is a detailed defence of the historical theory of EP Thompson against Anderson and Althusseriansor at least of her own take on his work. Strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in democratic theory that wants to read an interesting input from the left side of the field. The two chapters on capitalist vs ancient democracy are excellent. Modern ‘democracy’ traces its lineage through Magna Carta,and so on – and EMW points how instructive this historical orthodoxy is: But there is trade and trade.

Sam V rated it it was amazing Dec 03, Capitalism is special because the market becomes an imperative, determining all spheres of life, and therefore imposing a constant need to increase labour productivity. Wood argues, however, that current accounts of civil society that present it as a sphere of freedom versus the coercion of the state are one-sided idealizations. Finally, then, on this question of revolution. My library Help Advanced Book Search.


We can no longer see the There are similarities here – although I’m sure Meiksins Wood would ayainst agree – with some of Althusser’s writing in ‘Reading Capital’ which highlights how we fail to see the structure of society wrapped around the dmeocracy.

While she relies a bit too heavily on Robert Brenner’s property theory as the key social relationship necessary for capitalism, most else is spot on. Refresh and try again. Inshe was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada, a marker of distinguished scholarship.

Be the first to ask a question about Democracy Against Capitalism. But in the theory of bureaucratic collectivism it takes on a new, or sharper, significance.

Democracy Against Capitalism

It is also unique in the separation it creates between ‘economic’ and ‘political’ spheres. I think Brenner and his ‘tradition’ focuses another issue, too. Trivia About Democracy Against Taking an overview of world history, that the period preceding modern capitalism was the period involving the conquest of democrzcy Americas, etc, does not seem accidental – as if the really important developments were taking place elsewhere.

Hence it was rule by a highly privileged elite who supposedly represented the people as a whole, and was clearly understood to be opposed to democracy.

Her argument about the two traditions ‘two souls’?