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The Theory of Social Revolutions

Brooks Adams

Book Overview: 

Brooks Adams was an American historian and a critic of capitalism. He believed that commercial civilizations rise and fall in predictable cycles. First, masses of people draw together in large population centers and engage in commercial activities. As their desire for wealth grows, they discard spiritual and creative values. Their greed leads to distrust and dishonesty, and eventually the society crumbles. In The Law of Civilization and Decay, Adams noted that as new population centers emerged in the west, centers of world trade shifted from Constantinople to Venice to Amsterdam to London.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The contrary, indeed, I take to be the truth, and I think one chief cause of this imperfection in the administration of justice will be found to have been the operation of the written Constitution. For, under the American system, the Constitution, or fundamental law, is expounded by judges, and this function, which, in essence, is political, has brought precisely that quality of pressure on the bench which it has been the labor of a hundred generations of our ancestors to remove. On the whole the result has been not to elevate politics, but to lower the courts toward the political level, a result which conforms to the a priori theory.

The abstract virtue of the written Constitution was not, however, a question in issue when Washington and his contemporaries set themselves to reorganize the Confederation. Those men had no choice but to draft some kind of a platform on which the states could agree to unite, if they were to unite peacefully at all, and accordingly the. . . Read More

Community Reviews

interesting more by historical comparison than by its own merit.

This book may have been revolutionary when it was first written but it just doesn't hold up. The author's take on history from his era was interesting but misses the mark quite a bit.

Interesting for historical reasons, a treatise on the making of American democracy and the many questions and dilemmas that we still grapple with today. However, much of the content is outdated and reads like a pamphlet. The theory that societal change can only be brought about through revolutions h

This book really resonated with me. The similarities in the last chapter Inferences to today's politics, and the mindset of the current president is uncanny in every sense of the word. The electoral college elected The Capitalist.

American historian Brooks Adams critised capitalism and sort to explain the development of commercialism, he theorised a predictable rise and fall in commercial activities with the formation of commercial centres based on a need for such activities to be more easily practised. He also expounded upon

A warning to anyone considering this book: don't: It's just too out-of-date. I read 20 pages or so and just realized it was pointless

You would have to be a specialist historian or rather "historisist" investigating past theories to get anything out of this book.

for my duty