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Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  115 ratings  ·  11 reviews
This study argues that understanding Marxism and its critique of capitalism is more important than ever because of the collapse of Communism. It redefines historical materialism's basic concepts and theory of history to specifically identify capitalism as a system of social relations and political power.
Paperback, 316 pages
Published March 9th 1995 by Cambridge University Press
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4.37  · 
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 ·  115 ratings  ·  11 reviews


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Malcolm
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The paradoxical argument here is that the collapse of communism (in its actually existing form that is) has made marxism more important and more necessary than ever, mainly because it is one of the few if not the only mode of critical thought that can accommodate the idea of capitalism. Wood's argument is that other contemporary approaches can critique elements of capitalism and its culture but only marxism can get to grips with both the idea and the practice of capitalism. She is right, and she ...more
Peter Harrison
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, marx
The first part of this book is a magnificent re-statement of the relevance and usefulness of historical materialism as an analytical tool. Drawing much inspiration from the work of EP Thompson, Meiksins Wood critiques determinist and structural versions of Marxism. She emphasises instead how historical materialism provides a toolkit for social and historical analysis rather than a rigid straitjacket within which the evidence must be made to fit.

Meiksins Wood stresses the importance of class stru
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Mrtfalls
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From what I understood the central thesis of this book is that the overarching determinant in social and economic is capitalism and that overthrowing it and replacing it with socialism is about extending existing concepts of democracy to all walks of life.
She argues that current conceptions of democracy and capitalism are either not accurate enough to be useful or do not go far enough in their descriptions and analysis.
In particular when it come to capitalism she argues that most historians and
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Jason Schulman
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as great as it was in its first edition over 20 years ago. If you have an interest in Marxist thought and want to read one of Wood's books, start with this one!
Camilo Ruiz Tassinari
An impressive book. One of the most brilliant defences of a complex and undogmatic Marxism I've encountered lately. The two chapters on capitalist vs ancient democracy are excellent.
Thomas Andrew
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is like leftist brain bleach for anyone who looks at our world's decaying ecological state, rising far-right extremism, and decaying standards of life across the Western world.

Ellen Meiksins Woods clearly and brilliantly makes her case for a reinvigoration of historical materialism which lies at the core of Marxist theory. But putting past incarnations of Marxist theory and it developments over the years, she firmly courses the intellectual and political failings of the left over the p
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Eurethius Péllitièr
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Incredibly dense theory but part II picks up. Difficult to accept chapter 9s blindspot but pretty good
Tam
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because the title resembled the one I had picked for my Philosophy dissertation but with not much hope of it being interesting, and was pleasantly surprised. It is smart, edgy and well written.

Meiksins Wood asks an interesting question: what happened to the concept of democracy? How did we end up using the same name both for a system where every citizen participated and public officers were chosen by draw and for one where public officers are chosen and then virtually execu
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Bruce Foster
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-started it.
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Wood was born Ellen Meiksins one year after her parents, Latvian Jews active in the Bund, arrived in New York from Europe as political refugees. She was raised in the United States and Europe.
Wood received a B.A. in Slavic languages from the University of California, Berkeley in 1962 and subsequently entered the graduate program in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, fr
...more