In the 1960s and 1970s, Eugene Genovese revolutionized historical writing about the Old South. Using a supple form of Marxian analysis, he ended the reign of the “consensus” historians, who had viewed white southerners as guilt ridden liberals driven by their economic interests to defend an institution that contradicted the democratic values that they shared with other Americans. Seeking to rescue the slaveholders from the enormous condescension of liberal historians, he took them seriously and on their own terms, finding in the proslavery argument an authentic American variant of the reactionary anticapitalism or anti-modernism that had arisen in Europe among defenders of anciens regimes against the bourgeois utopianism of the French Revolution.
At the time that he published books like
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