From International Socialism (1st series), No.30, Autumn 1967, p.33.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The Triumph of the Middle Classes
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 70s.
This book is subtitled ‘a study of European values in the 19th century.’ At first sight it would seem to be an interesting attempt to integrate economic, social and cultural history in a survey of European society, with its expansion into other continents, between 1780 and 1895. Unfortunately, M. Morazé does not know enough about any of these subjects. The book is facile, impressionistic and opinionated, and teems with factual errors. One cannot even say the translation is competent – it consistently has ‘Jacobite’ for Jacobin.
Some of M. Morazé’s opinions are as follows: the French Revolution was entirely due to the failure of the monarchy to provide adequate credit facilities – and the Third Estate was purely and simply wasting its time in discussing other legal and social reforms; the triumph of the 19th century was the rediscovery of ‘the Greek art of proof by reason,’ otherwise defined as ‘science;’ and 1848 saw ‘the definitive failure of socialism.’ Meanwhile, the grand sweep of European society turns out to be a catalogue of the ‘We cannot leave the south without a glance at Sicily’ type.
This book has been taken seriously by at least one eminent English historian in the pages of a quality Sunday. It does not merit even that distinction.
Last updated: 31.12.2007