Books for changing the world
State and Society in Eighteenth-Century France
Rethinking Causality

In contrast to the traditional Marxist interpretation of emerging capitalism and its revolutionary bourgeoisie, State and Society in Eighteenth-Century France shows that commodified labor, fundamental to the existence of a capitalist bourgeoisie, did not take shape in eighteenth-century France. Through the revolutionary period, the mass of the population consisted of peasants and artisans in possession of land and workshops, all embedded in autonomous communities. The old regime bourgeoisie and nobility thus developed within the absolutist state in order to have the political means to impose feudal forms of exploitation on the people. These class relations, and not the usual explanations, gave rise to the crisis of 1789 and the revolutionary conflicts of the 1790s.