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Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

Marc Mulholland

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653577
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744594 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199653577.001.0001
Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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In 1842, the German poet, Henrich Heine, wrote that the bourgeoisie, ‘obsessed by a nightmare apprehension of disaster’ and ‘an instinctive dread of communism’, were driven against their better instincts into tolerating absolutist government. Theirs was a ‘politics … motivated by fear’. Over the next 150 years, the middle classes were repeatedly accused by radicals of betraying liberty for fear of ‘red revolution’. The failure of the revolutions of 1848, conservative nationalism from the 1860s, fascist victories in the first half of the twentieth‐century, and repression of national liberation movements during the Cold War — these fateful disasters were all explained by the bourgeoisie’s fear of the masses. For their part, conservatives insisted that demagogues and fanatics exploited the desperation of the poor to subvert liberal revolutions, leading to anarchy and tyranny. Only evolutionary reform was enduring. From the 1970s, however, liberal revolution revived on an unprecedented scale. With the collapse of Communism, bourgeois liberty once again became a crusading, force, but now on a global scale. In the twenty-first century, the armed forces of the United States, Britain and NATO became instruments of ‘regime change’, seeking to destroy dictatorship and build free‐market democracies. President George W. Bush called the invasion of Iraq in 2003 a ‘watershed event in the global democratic revolution’. This was an extraordinary turn‐around, with the middle classes now hailed as the truly universal class which, in emancipating itself, emancipates all society. The debacle in Iraq, and the Great Recession from 2008, revealed all too clearly that hubris still invited nemesis.This book examines this remarkable story, and the fierce debates it occasioned. It takes in a span from the seventeenth century to the twenty‐first, covering a wide range of countries and thinkers.

Keywords: bourgeoisie; capitalism; revolution; liberalism; constitutionalism; absolutism; neoconservatism; socialism; Marx; Communism

Book.  416 pages. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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Absolutism and Transformation in England in Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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Revolution, Restoration, and Reform in Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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Holding Back the Tide in Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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The Turning Point in Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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Liberalism and the State in Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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Bismarck, Liberalism, and Socialism in Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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Capitalism and Socialism in Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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Democracy and State Power in Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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Revolution and the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ in Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear

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