History of Political Thought

Volume XXI Issue 3 (Autumn 2000)

States and Societies:
Essays Presented to Neal Wood

Edited by M.M. Goldsmith with John Morrow


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  • M.M. Goldsmith & J. Morrow, Introduction: Neal Wood  full text
  • C.J. Nederman, Machiavelli and Moral Character: Principality, Republic and the Psychology of Virtù  abstract
  • G. Schochet, ‘Guards and Fences’: Property and Obligation in Locke’s Political Thought  abstract
  • J.M. Mastboom, On Their Own Terms: Peasant Households’ Response to Capitalist Development  abstract
  • E.M. Wood, Capitalism or Enlightenment?  abstract
  • D. McNally, Political Economy to the Fore: Burke, Malthus and the Whig Response to Popular Radicalism in the Age of the French Revolution abstract
  • J.A.W. Gunn, Conscience, Honour and the Failure of Party in Restoration France  abstract
  • G.C. Comninel, Marx’s Context  abstract
  • J. Morrow, Community, Class and Bosanquet’s ‘New State’  abstract
  • P. Meiksins, The Myth of Technocracy: The Social Philosophy of American Engineers in the 1930s  abstract
  • L. Lefeber, Classical vs. Neoclassical Economic Thought in Historical Perspective: The Interpretation of Processes of Economic Growth and Development abstract
  • M.M. Goldsmith, Republican Liberty Considered abstract
  • Bibliography of the Writings of Neal Wood  full text
  • Selected Abstracts

    MARX’S CONTEXT
    George C. Comninel, Department of Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada M3J 1P3. Email: comninel@yorku.ca

    Abstract: The method of interpreting political theory in relation to its specific historical contexts offers particular insight into the work of Karl Marx. When pre-capitalist societies are understood in relation to Marx’s rigorously conceived capitalist mode of production, it is apparent that the context in which Marx produced his very earliest work was itself pre-capitalist. It can then be recognized that Marx began by making a significant contribution to an existing framework of critical political theory but also that, following a critical confrontation with English political economy in 1844, he opened new avenues of thought in relation to a new context: capitalism.

    CAPITALISM OR ENLIGHTENMENT?
    Ellen Meiksins Wood, Dept. of Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada. Email: ewood@yorku.ca

    Abstract: Western conceptions of modernity — and, by extension, ‘postmodernity’ — typically conflate various historical processes, such as the development of capitalism and the rise of Enlightenment rationalism. Those conflations are also reflected in the identification of ‘bourgeois’ and ‘capitalist’. However, the cultural and intellectual forms of the French Enlightenment are distinct from the ideologies of capitalism. The Enlightenment belongs to a social, political and economic formation quite different from capitalist society. These differences affected conceptions of progress, science and the role of intellectuals.

    REPUBLICAN LIBERTY CONSIDERED
    M.M. Goldsmith, Department of Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand. Email: mm.goldsmith@vuw.ac.nz

    Abstract: Liberty is central to the republican ideal. Typically the set of rights and liberties of republican citizens will include rights to political participation as well as civil and quasi-political rights and liberties. Republican thinkers have sought to protect citizens’ rights, often by institutional arrangements. They have also been concerned to train citizens in the qualities essential to preserve the republic. It should be noted that the status of ‘citizen’ has often not been universally available to those who live in republics. A number of qualifications have usually restricted the right to full citizenship.

    CONSCIENCE, HONOUR AND THE FAILURE OF PARTY IN RESTORATION FRANCE
    J.A.W. Gunn, Department of Political Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Email: gunnj@qsilver.queensu.ca

    Abstract:  The political system adopted by Restoration France seemed to call for opposition, and possibly even parties, on the model of Britain. The French, however, remained deeply divided by the Revolution, such that the civilities of parliamentary government developed only with difficulty. Reflecting the distrust inherited from the Revolution, deputies favoured a secret ballot for votes in the chambers and this alone made it easy to disguise political loyalties or to change them. Those who resisted the British model emphasized the virtues of political choices that responded only to one’s conscience and sense of honour. On that basis, party seemed inconsistent both with French individualism and with a sense of delicacy. Supporting the claims for indig- enous political mores were perceptions of British politics that exaggerated the discipline of their parties. Though party bonds in France remained very loose — and understanding of the logic of parliamentary government less than perfect — those now deemed the important political thinkers of the time were, in the main, admirers of the politics of party.

    CLASSICAL vs. NEOCLASSICAL ECONOMIC THOUGHT IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: THE INTERPRETATION OF PROCESSES OF ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
    Louis Lefeber, Dept. of Economics and Graduate Programme for Social and Political Thought (emeritus), York University, Toronto, Canada. Email: lefeber@yorku.ca

    Abstract: Classical economics was oriented towards the advancement of the common interest as defined by the political institutions of the state, whereas neoclassicism is defined in a social and political vacuum. Furthermore, the former related realistically to an excess supply of labour, while the latter assumes full employment. These differences have significant implications for income distribution, accumulation, growth and development.
     Classical economists advocated free trade to increase domestic productivity and employment at stable or growing real wages. Contemporary globalization recreates the classical surplus labour economy to reduce domestic wage levels through moving domestic production from high to low wage areas around the globe. Free trade becomes necessary so that the goods produced abroad can be imported into capital exporting countries. However, without a corresponding growth of exportables, the trade balance must be adversely affected. Furthermore, adverse changes in income distribution diminish domestic demand for goods. The policy of globalization must become self-defeating.

    ON THEIR OWN TERMS: PEASANT HOUSEHOLDS’ RESPONSE TO CAPITALIST DEVELOPMENT
    Joyce M. Mastboom, Department of History, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH 44115, USA. Email: j.mastboom@csuohio.edu

    Abstract: Although the social and economic structure of peasant households exhibited much continuity before and after the rise of capitalism, those households were not rigid or inflexible in the face of economic change. A study of peasants in a Dutch region shows that households, motivated and bound by both cultural and economic factors, made careful choices in how to react to capitalist pressures. By responding actively and deliberately, peasants were able to exert significant control over their lives and their future and did not become mere victims of capitalist development. Indeed, instead they actually helped shape the local economy.

    POLITICAL ECONOMY TO THE FORE: BURKE, MALTHUS AND THE WHIG RESPONSE TO POPULAR RADICALISM IN THE AGE OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
    David McNally, Department of Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada. Email: dmcnally@yorku.ca

    Abstract: In the face of new forms of popular radicalism in the 1790s, British Whigs turned increasingly hostile to the French Revolution and doctrines of radical social improvement. Yet, rather than turn to Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France to frame their anti-radical arguments, Whiggism took up the claims of Thomas Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population. By eschewing the voluntarist idiom of Burke’s Reflections in favour of a Newtonian rhetoric which resonated with the discursive traditions of radicalism itself, Malthus provided a powerful anti-radical weapon which became a central pillar of the emerging ‘science’ of political economy. Debates in political economy thus moved to the forefront of the contest between Whigs and popular radicals.

    THE MYTH OF TECHNOCRACY: THE SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY OF AMERICAN ENGINEERS IN THE 1930s
    Peter Meiksins, Department of Sociology, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH 44115, USA. Email: p.meiksins@csuohio.edu

    Abstract: Engineers have generally been viewed either as members of a ‘middle class’ attracted to a distinctive technocratic politics that rejects the leadership of both labour and capital or as passive servants of capital. Using published and archival data, this article shows that American mechanical engineers during the 1930s were not attracted to technocratic ideas. Instead some supported pro-business ideas, while many others showed an interest in organizing themselves as employees with interests different from business. This example suggests that engineers do not constitute a distinctive, homogeneous middle class, but are, in fact, internally divided by class.

    COMMUNITY, CLASS AND BOSANQUET’S ‘NEW STATE’
    John Morrow, School of Political Science and International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand. Email: john.morrow@vuw.ac.nz

    Abstract: A consideration of Bosanquet’s treatment of ‘community’ and ‘class’ draws attention to radical dimensions of his political and social thinking. These features of Bosanquet’s thought were part of a more broad-ranging attempt to formulate an account of a revitalized state that would be central to the life of a democratic community. This distinctly modern state would play an important role in promoting a progressive political culture which transcended the dichotomy between individual and social life that was a feature of Victorian liberalism and of the social democratic discourses that sought to supplant it.

    MACHIAVELLI AND MORAL CHARACTER: PRINCIPALITY, REPUBLIC AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF VIRTÙ
    Cary J. Nederman, Dept of Political Science, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ 85721, USA. Email: nederman@u.arizona.edu

    Abstract: Little attempt has been made to explore Machiavelli’s attitude towards the psychological dimension of virtue. Yet such an exploration bears surprising fruit. Machiavelli proves to rely very heavily upon the psychological premises of his predecessors. In particular, he upholds the view that human action arises out of a set of personal characteristics which are firmly rooted and relatively insusceptible to variation or erasure. Thus, Machiavelli believes that how one behaves reflects the sort of psychological attributes with which one is endowed. This position echoes the view maintained by the classical and Christian moralists of whom he is regarded as an implacable foe. To the extent that Machiavelli steps away from previous psychological teachings, he does so only in the political implications which he draws from the psychology of moral character. He concludes that psychology tends to favour republics over principalities: a republican regime is better prepared than a monarchy to cope with the limitations imposed by the fixed character traits of human beings.

    ‘GUARDS AND FENCES’: PROPERTY AND OBLIGATION IN LOCKE’S POLITICAL THOUGHT
    Gordon Schochet, Department of Political Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. Email: schochet@rci.rutgers.edu

    Abstract: Property and political obligation are central issues of Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. It is agreed that obligation is somehow contingent upon the government’s protecting the property of its members. But ‘property’ in the Two Treatises had two meanings — in the state of nature usually referring to material possessions but in civil society meaning ‘life, liberty and estate’ — and its relationship to political obligation is complex. This complexity results from Locke’s varying accounts of the movement from the state of nature to civil society: he combined a traditional natural law justification of ownership with a legalist and semi-Aristotelian conception of the ends of and limitations on the state; he failed to provide a full account of the obligation of landless residents; he left unsettled difficulties inherent in the concept ‘property’ itself. Locke’s notions of ‘trust’ and the ‘public good’ pointed to solutions to be worked out by future generations.


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