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The Bourgeois Revolution: From Marx's Point of View

A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011, at Left Forum, Pace University.

The "bourgeois revolutions" from the 16th through the 19th centuries-- extending into the 20th--conformed humanity to modern city life, ending traditional, pastoral, religious custom in favor of social relations of the exchange of labor. Abbe Sieyes wrote in 1789 that, in contradistinction to the clerical 1st Estate who "prayed" and the aristocratic 2nd Estate who "fought," the commoner 3rd Estate "worked:" "What has the 3rd Estate been? Nothing." "What is it? Everything." Kant warned that universal bourgeois society would be the mere midpoint in humanity's achievement of freedom. After the last bourgeois revolutions in Europe of 1848 failed, Marx wrote of the "constitution of capital," the ambivalent, indeed self-contradictory character of "free wage labor." In the late 20th century, the majority of humanity abandoned agriculture in favor of urban life--however in "slum cities." How does the bourgeois revolution appear from a Marxian point of view?

Panelists
James Vaughn - University of Texas at Austin, Platypus Affiliated Society
Jeremy Cohan - New York University
Richard Rubin - Platypus Affiliated Society
Spencer Leonard - University of Chicago, Platypus Affiliated Society

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