Capitalism was born in England, yet the dominant Western conceptions of modernity have come from elsewhere, tably from France, the historical model of bourgeois society. In this lively and wide-ranging book, Ellen Meiksins Wood argues that what is supposed to have epitomized bourgeois modernity, especially the emergence of a modern state and political culture in Continental Europe, signalled the persistence of precapitalist social property relations. Conversely, the absence of a modern state and political discourse in England testified to the presence of a well-developed capitalism. The fundamental flaws in the British ecomy are t just the symptoms of arrested development but the contradictions of the capitalist system itself. Britain today, Wood maintains, is the most thoroughly capitalist culture in Europe. This book is as interesting and provocative to observers of contemporary capitalism as to historians of early modern Europe or Western political thought.
Ellen Meiksins Wood, for many years Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto, is the author of many books, including Democracy Against Capitalism and, with Verso, The Pristine Culture of Capitalism, The Origin of Capitalism, Peasant-Citizen and Slave, Citizens to Lords, Empire of Capital and Liberty and Property.