Ellen Meiskins Wood

Democracy against Capitalism; Renewing Historical Materialism
Editions:Paperback: £ 9.99 GBP
ISBN: 9781784782443
Pages: 320
ePub: £ 9.99 GBP
ISBN: 9781786630179

Historian and political thinker Ellen Meiksins Wood argues in Democracy Against Capitalism that theories of “postmodern” fragmentation, “difference,” and con-tingency can barely accommodate the idea of capitalism, let alone subject it to critique. In this book she sets out to renew the critical program of historical materialism by redefining its basic concepts and its theory of history in original and imaginative ways, using them to identify the specificity of capitalism as a system of social relations and political power. She goes on to explore the concept of democracy in both the ancient and modern world, examining its relation to capitalism, and raising questions about how democracy might go beyond the limits imposed on it.

This book was reprinted in 2016 by Verso Books and by Penguin Random House.

About Ellen Meiksins Wood

Ellen Meiskins WoodEllen Meiksins Wood (1942-2016), for many years Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto, was the author of many books, including Democracy Against Capitalism, The Pristine Culture of Capitalism, The Origin of Capitalism, Peasant-Citizen and Slave, Citizens to Lords, Empire of Capital and Liberty and Property.

Lecture on the Book

A lecture given by Wood in 2012:

Relevant Links

Table of Contents of Democracy Against Capitalism

Part I. Historical Materialism and the Specificity of Capitalism:

  1. The separation of the 'economic' and 'political' in capitalism
  2. Rethinking base and superstructure
  3. Class as process and relationship
  4. History or technological determinism?
  5. History or teleology? Marx v. Weber

Part II. Democracy against Capitalism:

  1. Labour and democracy, ancient and modern
  2. The demos v. 'we, the people': from ancient to modern conceptions of citizenship
  3. Civil society and the politics of identity
  4. Capitalism and human emancipation: race, gender and democracy
  5. Conclusion.