Author(s)McCants, Anne E. C.
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Mccants: It has now been more than a half century since the publication of Hobsbawm’s formulation of the seventeenth century as a time of crisis. Yet the historical questions that Hobsbawm raised, and the historiographical solution that he offered, retain their vitality despite the numerous fierce debates that they have spawned during the intervening years. Unlike others before him who had identified the various ills that befell Europeans who lived at that time, he did not see the seventeenth century as merely an age visited by the misfortune of numerous, but discrete, crises. Rather, he argued that it was fundamentally, structurally, a moment of crisis sui generis. Moreover, in keeping with his Marxist intellectual foundations, he invested this crisis with a purpose, discarding the lingering limitations (dare I say shackles?) of the old feudal order and thereby opening a space for the industrial capitalism that he understood to be the defining characteristic of the modern economy.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Humanities. History Section
Journal of Interdisciplinary History
“McCants.” Commentaries in Journal of Interdisciplinary History 40.2 (2009): 295-296. © 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc.
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