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“There is now the nagging fear that Marx’s spectre may return to be the ghost of revolutions yet to come.” Jonathan Clark reviews Ellen Wood’s Liberty and Property for the TLS

Alex Doherty30 January 2013

Jonathan Clark, in his review of Ellen Wood's Liberty and Property (the sequel to Citizens of Lords) says that the author addresses the “heartland of the historiography of political thought from Machiavelli to Rousseau”, attacking the Cambridge School and its leader, Quentin Skinner, and questioning the premise that there was one transition to modernity, or that there is one modernity as such.

Against this method, and on the usefulness of Marxism as a tool for understanding important historical transformations, Clark writes:

“Why religious conflict destroyed so many polities, why mixed monarchy theory failed, why republicanism proved weak and democracy belated, are questions that Marxism did not really answer”. But on other matters (interactions between property and the state, how self-interested worked alongside professions of principle, how material goals marked out social constituencies, why polities differed in their long-term political trajectories) Marx still has much to offer.”

All this is very promising. But does Wood deliver?

Visit the TLS to read the review in full.

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