Who would have thought? Jonathan Clark has just reviewed Ellen Wood’s Liberty and Property for the TLS. It may be that the TLS intended mischief. Clark is, after all, a pretty conservative, if idiosyncratic and iconoclastic, historian. He’s been called probably the most distinguished ‘revisionist’ historian of the long 18th century who has made it a personal mission to attack Marxism, and Marxist historians in particular. But here he is, telling us:
Wood’s book may signal the rebirth of Marxism, hitherto, he tells us, definitively dead. It shows us that Marxism still has much to offer on questions like ‘interactions between property and the state, how self-interest worked alongside professions of principle, how material goals marked out social constituencies, why polities differed in their long-term political trajectories’. Wood, it seems, not only represents a major challenge to the dominant school in the historiography of political thought, the so-called Cambridge School. More than that: ‘there is now the nagging fear that Marx's spectre may return to be the ghost of revolutions yet to come.’ Well, whatever it takes…
‘This is a notable book, wide-ranging and perceptive, by an eminent North American Marxist scholar…. I disagree with much of it. But that is not the point.’
We admittedly live in times plagued by an obsession with genetic manipulation of both ourselves and our species’ evolutionary path. Hilary and Steven Rose’s latest book, Genes, Cells and Brains, has stirred up a debate around the scientific validity and the moral implications of these efforts. Here is what reviewers Steven Poole, from the Guardian, Ian Wilmut, from Nature, and Debora MacKenzie, from the New Scientist had to say:Putting aside certain epistemological doubts (as in, how can we be skeptical of neuroscanning experiments for making assertions that we can neither prove nor disprove using any other sort of reference; or, alluding to underlying behavioural characteristics of which we know neither their provenance nor how and where they manifest themselves), Steven Poole generally endorses the book’s motives and claims, which are that the science behind using the human genome and brain scans to understand and interpret humans and their behaviours is much more vague and imprecise than its proponents would like us to think. Additionally, he points out that the ‘medicalization’ which comes as a result is not only vague and imprecise; it is, in fact, dangerous as it provides the pharma-industry and the healthcare business with much more responsibilities and powers than they should be afforded.