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Author: Paul Blackledge

The recent emergence of global anti-capitalist and anti-war movements have created a space within which Marxism can flourish in a way as it has not been able to for a generation. This book shows that by disassociating Marxism from the legacy of Stalinism, Marxist historiography need not retreat before the criticisms from theorists and historians. It also shows that, once rid of this incubus, Marx's theory of history can be shown to be sophisticated, powerful and vibrant. The book argues that Marxism offers a unique basis to carry out a historical research, one that differentiates it from the twin failures of the traditional empiricist and the post-modernist approaches to historiography. It outlines Marx and Engels' theory of history and some of their attempts to actualise that approach in their historical studies. The book also offers a critical survey of debates on the application of Marx's concepts of 'mode of production' and 'relations of production' in an attempt to periodise history. Marxist debates on the perennial issue of structure and agency are considered in the book. Finally, the book discusses competing Marxist attempts to periodise the contemporary post-modern conjuncture, paying attention to the suggestion that the post-modern world is one that is characterised by the defeat of the socialist alternative to capitalism.

From the Second to the Third International
Paul Blackledge

written up from her notes by Hill and Morton. Torr is, in many ways, the lost genius of British Marxist historiography, who taught ‘historical passion’ to the young members of the CPGB Historians’ Group, according to John Saville, Maurice Dobb, Christopher Hill and George Thomson; they suggested that Torr imbued her protégés with the idea that ‘history was the sweat, blood, tears and triumphs of the common people, our people’.202 Nevertheless, Torr did not allow her passions to cloud her historical judgements; on the contrary, her intense belief in the importance of

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
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Paul Blackledge

of inevitable stages through which history must pass’.81 Marxist historiography aims to provide a framework through which past processes can be understood and to inform analyses of those causal powers in the present system whose operation tends to foster or to impede the struggle for human liberation. Marxist studies of the past relate to contemporary struggles, therefore, both by locating them within the broad parabola of human history and by discerning relevant lessons from which the 16 Marxist theory of history contemporary movement might learn. This is

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
Marxism and post-modernity
Paul Blackledge

Anderson has described as an ‘inherent scissiparity’ between Marxist historiography and Marxist politics.3 Nevertheless, a number of Marxists, including Anderson, have attempted to follow Fredric Jameson’s demand to ‘always historicise’,4 by deploying Marx’s concepts to periodise the present with a view to informing socialist strategic thought. By contrast with the political imperative behind this project, Steve Rigby concludes his Marxism and History with the suggestion that the fates of historical materialism and Marx’s revolutionary politics have no necessary con

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
The emergence and characteristics of modern scholarly personae in China, 1900–30
Q. Edward Wang

necessarily be associated with a research institution or a university. All the same, a new context was emerging, largely due to the deepening of China’s national crisis from the late 1920s and the early 1930s. Arif Dirlik (1940–2017), who wrote an early book in English on the subject of Chinese Marxist historiography, offered the following observation: In its new context, Marxist historiography represented an unprecedented understanding to root history in social structure, revolutionizing the conceptualization of China’s past. The proliferation of social-economic history of

in How to be a historian
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Reconstructing popular political culture in early modern England
John Walter

witnessed ‘the disappearance of the peasantry’ and the mutation of the ‘labouring poor’ into the working class. Since much of this important early work on crowds reflected the importance of a marxist historiography, these narratives could become fused in explicitly classed readings of the trajectory of popular protest as an immanent working class came to realise the need to secure formal political power in its struggles against and within a developing capitalist economy. Something of the damage that these narratives have produced was captured in the labelling of the

in Crowds and popular politics in early modern England
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Tom Scriven

. Following Gareth Stedman Jones’s pioneering work on the language of Chartism, historians have studied the movement chiefly in terms of how it communicated its ideas and formed and represented a distinct identity. Stedman Jones’s account argues that rather than a novel response to industrialisation, as the earlier Marxist historiography proposes, Chartism was instead a continuation of the older ‘Old Corruption’ tradition of Radicalism. This discourse focused on State tyranny, corruption, and over-​taxation, and was therefore primarily a political critique. As such, it was

in Popular virtue
Paul Blackledge

the nature of the transition from feudalism to capitalism, has been articulated most famously in two influential exchanges: that between Dobb, Sweezy and others in the 1950s; and in the so called Brenner debate that flared up some two decades later. Given that Marxism evolved, centrally, as an attempt to understand the laws of motion of capitalism, it was only natural that Marxist historiography tended, from Capital onwards, to focus on this issue. Accordingly, it is with a discussion of the various contributions to this debate that this chapter focuses. Nonetheless

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
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Levellers and historians
Rachel Foxley

attribute to an under-documented, diffuse wing which tended towards the ‘true Levellerism’ of the Diggers a concern with property issues which was most clearly seen only in reflection, in the accusations of the Levellers’ enemies.8 The Levellers’ spirit of egalitarianism still pointed forwards, in ways which excited other socialist historians, including Brailsford, but the main branch of the Leveller movement had failed to pursue the more radical conclusions which even its seventeenth-century enemies saw as entailed by its arguments. This Marxist historiography may

in The Levellers
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Gender and imperialism: mapping the connections
Clare Midgley

, Routledge, 1990) targets his attack on Marxist historiography, a focus which seems somewhat misplaced, given that Marxism has never provided the dominant theoretical underpinning for Western writings on the history of imperialism, and that Marxian approaches have proved invaluable to scholars such as members of the Subaltern Studies group who aim to rewrite the history of imperialism

in Gender and imperialism