Winner of the 2003 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize
This book rejects a commonplace of European history: that the treaties of Westphalia not only closed the Thirty Years’ War but also inaugurated a new international order driven by the interaction of territorial sovereign states. Benno Teschke, through this thorough and incisive critique, argues that this is not the case. Domestic ‘social property relations’ shaped international relations in continental Europe down to 1789 and even beyond. The dynastic monarchies that ruled during this time differed from their medieval predecessors in degree and form of personalization, but not in underlying dynamic. 1648, therefore, is a false caesura in the history of international relations. For real change we must wait until relatively recent times and the development of modern states and true capitalism. In effect, it’s not until governments are run impersonally, with no function other than the exercise of its monopoly on violence, that modern international relations are born.
Ellen Meiksins Wood (1942-2016) was a leading political theorist and one of the world's most influential historians. Her wide-ranging and original work, covering topics which range from examinations of Athenian democracy to contemporary American imperialism, has, alongside Robert Brenner, inaugurated the 'Political Marxist' approach to history. Political Marxism is founded upon a critique of the teleology and formalism of many forms of Marxism in an attempt at rehistoricising and repoliticising the Marxist project. The influence of Ellen's distinctive work can be seen across the social sciences and has influenced generations of scholars.
To celebrate her work, we are making available one of her most influential essays, "The Separation of the Economic and the Political in Capitalism", originally published in NLR 1/127 (1981).