Monday, 28 July 2008

The Great Arch: State Formation, Cultural Revolution and the Rise of Capitalism by Philip Corrigan

Unlike the pioneering Miliband Book, this builds on the far more sophisticated Gramscian Marxist insights based on the experience of the west rather then trying to say that the revolution would be as Russia or China. It starts from the premise that unlike these two countries the state was politically and culturally "legitimate". Hence how did the state arise and gain this legitimacy and what were the social forces that created it? So it covers both economics and cultural drivers as well as the notion of civil society.

The insights from this perspective(but not in the book) help to explain one of the factors behind the rise of Nazi Germany in the lack of a German civil society in the 20-30's to root and legitimate the state. It also shows that one of the dynamics in African lack of stability is the lack of the forces that create the legitimate state. It also links to notions that one can do "politics" by creating movements that generate new notions of what is right. Examples of this could be how rape, incest, and domestic violence have moved from taboo subjects in say the 60/70's that were seen if seen at all as domestic rather then political issues. Now legal and institutional and social views of changed out of all recognition.

In short this book is part of the wider radical thinking that allows for change within and through the democratic process without liberal or revolutionary illusions

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