Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Debates of the Communist Party Historians Group


Ideology, Absolutism and the English Revolution:
Debates of the British Communist Historians, 1940-1956

David Parker

This book offers a fascinating insight into ideas in the making - a glimpse into some of the early debates inside the History Group of the Communist Party of Great Britain, whose members included Christopher Hill, Rodney Hilton and Eric Hobsbawm. The outstanding contribution to historical studies of these and other members of the group is now almost universally recognised. The debates they initiated formed the ground for academic research that is still continuing, in particular their work on the nature of English civil war and revolution in the seventeenth century, and on the development of capitalism in Britain. This book focuses on the debates of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century section of the group and their work on ideology and absolutism. It reproduces original documentary material - single contributions, reports and minutes - from the debates, and also includes an informative introductory essay as well as useful notes and appendices.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Ideology, Absolutism and the English Revolution: Debates of the British Communist Historians 1940-1956

Documents 1-16: Absolutism
1. Amended Draft: The English Revolution 1640 (R. Palme Dutt)
2. Absolutism in England (Christopher Hill)
3. The Pokrovsky Controversy (Christopher Hill and Brian Pearce)
4. Discussion on the Problem of Absolutism (Academic Board of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR)
5. Theses for Discussion on Absolutism No 2: The Tudor State in English History (Victor Kiernan)
6. Theses for Discussion on Absolutism, 4: A note on Feudalism (Brian Pearce)
7.Comments on V. G. Kiernan's Theses on Absolutism as far as these discuss Feudalism (Rodney Hilton)
8. Note on Merchant Capital (Victor Kiernan)
9. Note in Reply to Kiernan on Merchant Capital (Maurice Dobb)
10. Note on the Origin of the Tudor State (Victor Kiernan)
11. Brief Definition of Feudalism (Rodney Hilton)
12. The Basis and Character of Tudor Absolutism (History Group discussion)
13. Discussion on Absolutism (Group Minutes July 1947)
14. Discussion on Absolutism (continued) (Minutes January 1948)
15. Postscript (Absolutism) (Victor Kiernan)
16. State and Revolution in Tudor and Stuart England (16th-17th century section)

Documents 17-26: Ideology
17. Some Notes on the Changes in the Mode of Production in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century (Maurice Dobb)
18. The English Bourgeois Revolution and Ideology (Christopher Hill)
19. Notes on Science and the Battle of Ideas in the English Revolution (Stephen Mason)
20. Notes on Science and the Battle of Ideas in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (2) (Stephen Mason)
21. Bourgeois Ideology after 1660 (Christopher Hill)
22. Calvinism and the Bourgeoisie (Christopher Hill & G de N. Clark)
23. Calvinism and the Transition from Medieval to Modern (Victor Kiernan)
24. The role of ideology in the 16th and 17th centuries (Minutes of the 17th Century Section)
25. The German Reformation (Roy Pascal)
26. Notes on Religion and Class Struggles in France during the Sixteenth Century (Mervyn James)

Appendix 1: Note on the Organisation of the History Group
Appendix 2: Extant Papers and Minutes Relating to the 16th & 17th century section of the History Group
Appendix 3: Discussion Meetings of the 16th & 17th Centuries Section and Aggregate Meetings of all Sections 1947-1958
Appendix 4: Biographical Appendix of Contributors to the Discussions of the 16th & 17th Century Section

David Parker is Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Leeds. His books include The Making of French Absolutism (1983); State and Class in Ancien Regime France. The Road to Modernity? (1996); and (as editor) Revolutions and the Revolutionary Tradition in the West, 1560-1991, Routledge, 2000.

Paperback, All Rights L&W
ISBN: 9781905007868

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