1. Radical Political Thought in Early Modern England
2. Historical Materialism and Early Modern Radicalism
3. Agrarian Capitalism and Class Formation
4. The Political Economy of Improvement
5. From the State as Property to Property against the State
6. Unearthing the Kingly Power
7. Between Monarchy and Multitude
This book situates the development of radical English political thought within the context of the specific nature of agrarian capitalism and the struggles that ensued around the nature of the state during the revolutionary decade of the 1640s. In the context of the emerging conceptions of the state and property—with attendant notions of accumulation, labor, and the common good—groups such as Levellers and Diggers developed distinctive forms of radical political thought not because they were progressive, forward thinkers, but because they were the most significant challengers of the newly-constituted forms of political and economic power.
Drawing on recent re-examinations of the nature of agrarian capitalism and modernity in the early modern period, Geoff Kennedy argues that any interpretation of the political theory of this period must relate to the changing nature of social property relations and state power. The radical nature of early modern English political thought is therefore cast in terms of its oppositional relationship to these novel forms of property and state power, rather than being conceived of as a formal break from discursive conventions.
‘This impressive study takes on a major challenge. Geoff Kennedy not only offers a clear and persuasive account of political ideas in their historical context, but also engages in methodological debate with other historians of political thought and explores the controversies among scholars of this much contested period in English history. He manages to interweave these different strands with commendable clarity and in accessible prose, suitable to a wide audience from specialists to students and the intelligent general reader.’
— Ellen Wood, York University
In History and Revolution, a group of respected historians confronts the conservative, revisionist trends in historical enquiry that have been dominant in the last twenty years. Ranging from an exploration of the English, French, and Russian revolutions and their treatment by revisionist historiography, to the debates and themes arising from attempts to downplay revolution’s role in history, History and Revolution also engages with several prominent revisionist historians, including Orlando Figes, Conrad Russell and Simon Schama.
This important book shows the inability of revisionism to explain why millions are moved to act in defence of political causes, and why specific political currents emerge, and is a significant reassertion of the concept of revolution in human development.