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History's Locomotives

History's Locomotives: Revolutions and the Making of the Modern World

Martin Malia
Edited and with a Foreword by Terence Emmons
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    History's Locomotives
    Book Description:

    This masterful comparative history traces the West's revolutionary tradition and its culmination in the Communist revolutions of the twentieth century. Unique in breadth and scope,History's Locomotivesoffers a new interpretation of the origins and history of socialism as well as the meanings of the Russian Revolution, the rise of the Soviet regime, and the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union.History's Locomotivesis the masterwork of an esteemed historian in whom a fine sense of historical particularity never interfered with the ability to see the large picture.

    Martin Malia explores religious conflicts in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe, the revolutions in England, American, and France, and the twentieth-century Russian explosions into revolution. He concludes that twentieth-century revolutions have deep roots in European history and that revolutionary thought and action underwent a process of radicalization from one great revolution to the next. Malia offers an original view of the phenomenon of revolution and a fascinating assessment of its power as a driving force in history.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13528-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Terence Emmons

    The essential insights informing this book on revolutions in the making of the modern world were already present in a paper Martin Malia delivered at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in 1975: that the numerous revolutions of the twentieth century have deep roots in European history, specifically; and that revolutionary thought and action underwent a process ofradicalizationfrom one “great” European revolution to the next, culminating in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia. That revolution established on the ruins of one of the last surviving European old regimes a revolutionary regime devoted, in theory for...

  4. Introduction. Delineating the Problem
    (pp. 1-10)

    Revolution, together with global war, was the defining characteristic of the twentieth century. Indeed, most of the events in world history that customarily qualify as ‘‘revolutions’’ have occurred since 1914. With Communism’s demise, the modern revolutionary phenomenon seems to have run its course. Is this, in fact, likely to be the case, or does revolution spring eternal in human affairs? Both to answer this question and to understand the century’s drama, it is necessary to trace the roots of modern revolutionary phenomena far back into the past of Western society.

    But does the subject of revolution as such exist? War...

  5. 1 Historic Europe: The Medieval Matrix and Its Internal Contradictions, 1000–1400
    (pp. 11-34)

    We begin with the problem of definition: what do we mean by Europe or the West? How did a geographical term come to designate a civilization? When did this civilization begin? How far does it extend in space, particularly to the East? What, finally, are its defining characteristics? This last question, of course, is not directed to anything metaphysical, to finding some enduring cultural essence, as in the usage common to a Toynbee or a Spengler or an Alfred Weber.¹ What is involved, rather, is a matter of empirically grounded delineation.

    A broad definition would put Europe’s beginnings in Greece...

  6. Part I. Revolution as Religious Heresy

    • 2 Hussite Bohemia, 1415–1436: From Heresy to Proto-Revolution
      (pp. 37-59)

      It was the Hussites of early fifteenth-century Bohemia that for the first time crossed the line from religious dissent to political and social upheaval. Why then not call their revolt a full-fledged revolution, without the qualification “proto”? After all, the established church was subverted, the monarchy was suspended in favor of rule by elected estates, and the social hierarchy was half turned on its head. And many books on the subject speak straightforwardly of the “Hussite Revolution.”

      One of the best of them, however, adds the subtitle “a historical anomaly,” as if to say this revolution came into the world...

    • 3 Lutheran Germany, 1517–1555: The Reformation as Semi-Revolution
      (pp. 60-97)

      That the Reformation was “revolutionary” in the extended sense of that word has never been in doubt, for it permanently divided the hitherto unitary world of Latin Christendom into two antagonistic blocks. In this sense, together with the French Revolution three centuries later, it constitutes one of the two great caesurae in the history of that Europe which took form around the year 1000.¹

      But the Reformation was revolutionary in another, more specific and institutional sense, in that it was a revolt against the superior element in the world of the two swords, the First Estate. And in that world...

    • 4 Huguenot France, 1559–1598
      (pp. 98-114)

      After the mid-sixteenth century the radical Augustinian theology of Calvinism and its revolutionary presbyterian ecclesiology would be the driving force of Protestantism throughout Europe, spreading out from Calvin’s own Geneva eastward to Poland and Hungary, northward to the Low Countries, Scotland, England, and in the next century to British North America. In Lutheran Germany itself, this “second Reformation” acquired important bases such as the Palatinate, even going on to become the religion of the ruling house in what would eventually be the most important state, Prussia.¹

      But this “Reformed” church, as it usually called itself, scored its first, and for...

    • 5 The Netherlands’ Revolt, 1566–1609
      (pp. 115-130)

      The first significant fact to note about the upheaval conventionally called the Dutch Revolt is that it did not begin as such. The emergence, by 1609, of an independent Dutch Republic of seven provinces was the unintended outcome of a much broader revolution within the Seventeen Provinces of the Burgundian-Habsburg Netherlands, a dynastic proto-monarchy covering present-day Holland, Belgium, and a slice of northern France. Indeed, the revolution at first had its focus in what is now Belgium, and its principal leader, William of Orange, until his death in 1584, continued to see the movement in pan-Netherlands terms. To further complicate...

  7. Part II. Classic Atlantic Revolutions

    • 6 England, 1640–1660–1688: From Religious to Political Revolution
      (pp. 133-160)

      The first undeniably modern revolution was also the last European upheaval to be made in the name of backward-looking ideals. And this particularity is as germane to the revolution’s outcome and meaning as is the radical structure of action it shared with the Hussite and French upheavals. Making a revolution in the name of allegedly conservative principles, in both politics and religion, is not at all the same as making one in the name of overtly radical and secular ones.

      Such ostensible conservatism, it has already been noted, characterized all aspects of pre-modern European life. Until the emergence of the...

    • 7 America, 1776–1787: Revolution as Great Good Fortune
      (pp. 161-177)

      The transition from the English to the American Revolution presents a strange paradox: whereas the English after 1640 clearly lived through a major institutional upheaval yet have hesitated to this day to call it a revolution, the Americans, who following 1765 experienced only a modest structural overturn, immediately considered it a maximally radical event and have ever since gloried in its results. And so, together with France, British North America godfathered the concept of revolution as the modern world knows it. But in what sense was this colonial rebellion a revolution? The structure of the action leading to and following...

    • 8 France, 1789–1799: Revolution as Militant Modernity
      (pp. 178-212)

      If the Reformation had been a revolution against the First Estate, 1789 was in the first instance a revolution against the Second Estate, with the First Estate only thrown in for good measure. Discarding the monarchy, too, was an afterthought, decided upon only when it became clear that the king would not accept social leveling. And so there remained only the Third Estate, which was now indeed the nation, that great modern mass of equal and fraternal citizens. With 1789, European revolution attained a new and unprecedented order of magnitude. As its first great enemy, Edmund Burke, immediately understood (though...

  8. Part III. The Quest for Socialist Revolution

    • 9 From the First Modern Revolution to the First Anticipated Revolution, 1799–1848: The Nineteenth Century at a Glance
      (pp. 215-239)

      After 1789 there could never again be an innocent revolution. The rush of change begun in 1776 and brought to a climax in the years after the fall of the Bastille had for the first time revealed to the world that it was possible to reinvent the human condition. The secret was now out that history happens by revolutions, and the scenario of the modern liberation drama lay open for all the world to read. Henceforth, men could anticipate a more perfect reenactment, they could theorize about its nature and unfolding, and even organize to trigger its outbreak. The century...

    • 10 Marxism and the Second International, 1848–1914
      (pp. 240-252)

      The great paradox of the Revolution of 1848 is that although it failed to achieve any of its objectives—whether democratic-republican, national, or socialist—it left an ideological legacy of greater magnetic power than the revolution it had sought to imitate, the successful Revolution of 1789. This legacy, of course, was Marxism. Without it, all subsequent European politics, and in particular the Russian Revolution, would be unimaginable.

      Marx first proclaimed his message to the world in theCommunist Manifestopublished on the eve of the February Revolution of 1848 in Paris. At the time, it attracted almost no notice. Greater...

    • 11 Red October: The Revolution to End All Revolutions
      (pp. 253-278)

      The Russian Revolution has been a presence throughout this book because of the long shadow it cast over our understanding of all previous revolutions. Just as the nineteenth century lived under the hypnotic spell of the French Revolution, so the twentieth century was hypnotized by Lenin’s October. And, as the putative terminus ad quem of human progress (of the process of which Hus and Žižka were the terminus a quo), its categories of explanation interjected themselves into, indeed often dominated, the historiography of every revolution since the time of Hus and Žižka.

      Understandably, yet also unfortunately, this same spell has...

  9. Conclusion and Epilogue
    (pp. 279-286)

    On the basis of the preceding discussion of the European Great Revolutions, of the list of actors, and of the general nature of the action involved, I wish to advance the following propositions:

    The drama of a Great Revolution can occuronly oncein a given nation’s history, not for any metaphysical reasons of historical necessity, but for the thoroughly mundane reason that any given nation has only one Old Regime to be liquidated, and that once this has been accomplished—or even attempted—a millennial historical divide has been irretrievably crossed.Moreover, the level of historical development at the moment...

  10. Appendix I. Revolution: What’s in a Name?
    (pp. 287-301)
  11. Appendix II. High Social Science and “Staseology”
    (pp. 302-316)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 317-342)
  13. Index
    (pp. 343-360)