Uncovering the history of the English Revolution
Publisher: International Socialism
Date Written: 29/06/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21179
A review of John Rees, The Leveller Revolution: Radical Political Organisation in England, 1640-1650, Verso (2016).
Like past attempts -- Christopher Hills The World Turned Upside Down, Brian Manning's The English People and the English Revolution, David Petegorsky's Left-wing Democracy in the English Civil War and Ehud's Dagger by James Holstun, to name just a few -- John Reess The Leveller Revolution represents a major contribution to our understanding of the English Revolution and an equally valuable intervention into the interpretation of the events of the period 1640 to 1660.
For as long as I've been involved in debates about the English Revolution much similar ground has been trodden and retrodden. Debates range from the simple and obvious to more profound questions: How do we name this period? Do we call it the English Revolution, the English Civil War or, even most egregiously, the Interregnum? Did the radical wing of the revolution that features in the works named above even exist? And, if it did, does the legacy of the ideas and actions of the revolutionaries have any lasting resonance or relevance? None of this is of a simply historical nature. It is shot through with political implications: about the nature of British society and its "democracy", about the forms political change can take, about how that change can come about.