The Pristine Culture of Capitalism

The Pristine Culture of Capitalism:A Historical Essay on Old Regimes and Modern States

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Why Britain was capitalist but not bourgeois

In this lively and wide-ranging book, Ellen Meiksins Wood argues that what is supposed to have epitomized bourgeois modernity, especially the emergence of a “modern” state and political culture in Continental Europe, signaled the persistence of pre-capitalist social property relations. Conversely, the absence of a “modern” state and political discourse in England testified to the presence of a well-developed capitalism. The fundamental flaws in the British economy are not just the symptoms of arrested development but the contradictions of the capitalist system itself. Britain today, Wood maintains, is the most thoroughly capitalist culture in Europe.

Reviews

  • [Wood] has indisputably set the agenda anew.

    Times Literary Supplement
  • The writing is so supple and accessible, and the argument so persuasive, it's like watching a
    cloudy mixture of ideas being turned into a clear solution.

    Adrienne Rich
  • A splendid book.

    Eric Hobsbawm