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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Through this process, the separation between ‘economic’ and ‘political’ occurs discussed in my previous article: I know there are other areas of her thought I haven’t gone into here which are informing this debate.

Alexandre Klaser rated it really liked it Aug 20, Pablo Stafforini rated it liked it Feb 27, 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 than class.

Rob Smith rated it really liked it Sep 17, Historical Materialism and the Specificity of Capitalism.

Gavin rated it really liked it Aug 14, Underdevelopment theory, like its parent, more general ‘dependency’ theory, tended towards economic nationalist solutions to the poverty of the ‘periphery’. No trivia or quizzes yet.

Notes on Ellen Meiksins Wood’s “Democracy Against Capitalism” | Workers’ Liberty

Wood received a B. Indeed, it is Wood who seems to be trying to make this kind of reduction.

Collapsing capitalism into ‘the market’ robs us of a serious analysis of capitalism, and treats it, in effect, as natural in Adam Smith’s words, natural human ‘truck, barter and exchange’. This was understood both by supporters of democracy and their opponents, like Plato and Aristotle.

But the communist movement emerged from the historical processes thus unleashed. In fact, she suggests, one way of understanding the uniqueness of the modern social form of civil society is to say that the coercive power of the state has been privatized: She is right, and she The paradoxical argument here is that the collapse of communism in its actually existing form that is has made marxism more important and more necessary than ever, mainly because it is one of the few if not the only deocracy of critical thought that can accommodate the idea of capitalism.


Open Preview See a Problem? Capitalism and human emancipation woood gender and democracy. Is it true meijsins ‘actually existing capitalism’ achieves this separation?

Even on the separation of politics and economics, this is so. This is not quite the same as non-capitalist forms of surplus appropriation; and Wood does recognise the need for state coercion, which she sees as the result of capitalism’s contradictions.

Take racism, for example. Taking an overview of world history, that the period preceding modern capitalism was the period involving the conquest of the Americas, etc, does not seem accidental – as if the really important developments were taking place elsewhere.

The separation, in capitalism, of the ‘economic’ and ‘political’ spheres is of course a fairly basic Marxist concept, central in a sense to the theory of surplus value itself it is what distinguishes surplus value from pre-capitalist forms of surplus. She quotes Thompson rejecting ‘that contempt of the people, of their hopelessly corrupted state, of their vulgarity and credulity by comparison with an educated minority,’ and ‘a formalist Marxism [he means the Althusserians] which makes the whole people, including the whole working class, mere carriers of the structures of a corrupt ideology.

Civil society and the politics of identity. Simona Piattoni Limited preview – But ‘liberal democracy’ is not ‘democracy’ in its original and literal meaning at all. Where Athenian democracy was the fusion of the citizen and the state and economics and politicsmodern democracy is, in a sense, the opposite. Initially, race was used to describe lower classes, and only later became identified with skin colour. For she argues that Marx revealed what had been concealed by economists, that the essence of capitalist production is political in that it rests on the relations of power between those who own the means of production and those who do not.

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How did we get here from there?

Capitalism, EMW argues, is a unique social system because it revolutionises the means of production in way that no previous society did or indeed, previous modes of production may have ‘petrified’ them. She now resides in England. But she seems to me to miss a more general point – perhaps it’s the same point I’ve made above.

Sam V rated it it was amazing Dec 03, I don’t think she would deny this; but the precise political relevance of the Athenian model is never spelled out – and since the whole question of democracy is at least in some regard a debate about institutional forms, this seems an odd omission.

It redefines historical materialism’s basic concepts and theory of history to specifically identify capitalism as a system of social relations and political power.

Renewing Historical Materialism

Asking what it was about capitalism that created this ideological need, Wood suggests it lies in the contradiction between the bourgeois ideology of free and equal individuals and the importance for early capitalism of colonial oppression and slavery.

It is smart, edgy and well written. Kevin rated it liked it Nov 16, If the emergence of capitalism is regarded as some kind of teleological inevitability which is the view she is opposingand history is ‘read forwards’ with each step seen as the unfolding of an immanent process, it is true. This study argues that understanding Marxism and its critique of capitalism is more important than ever because of the collapse of Communism.