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Was the Greek Revolution of 1821 “bourgeois”?



Was the Greek Revolution of 1821 “bourgeois”?


14 June 2021


"The idea of bourgeois revolution is central to the modern historiography of revolution: it purports to explain central features of the Dutch, English and French revolutions by subsuming them under a unified explanatory scheme. This paper examines the claim that the Greek Revolution of 1821 can be subsumed under this unified scheme. I argue that, if the subsumption is to work, then the whole categorial framework of bourgeois revolution needs to be rethought along a number of dimensions. First, the relevant conception of revolutionary agency must be weakened to include merchants and military leaders, including the upper strata of the klephts. This must be done with care, as defining a revolution solely in terms of its consequences – without reference to the agency that brings these consequences about – renders the very idea of bourgeois revolution incoherent. Second, the theory must explain the alliance of this ascending ruling class with popular classes who, in the case of Ottoman Greece, were mostly independent farmers and not wage labourers. Third, it must systematically connect these alliances with at least an inchoate movement of opposition to the tributary mode of production – not to European-style feudalism – and explain how that opposition facilitated the ascendancy of the capitalist mode of production in the newly-founded Greek state."

From the book of abstracts of the event, as it was published on the organizer's website.

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