Private Property and the Fear of Social Chaos (2023)

“Beatty is rising as an important young historian able to speak to large issues with authority, evidence, and nuance. This book is an elegant and economical study of the social origins of modern liberalism and conservatism and Marxism. It is a highly original work with unexpected but well-connected elements.” David Roediger, author of The Sinking Middle Class

This is a book about what people imagine it means to live in a world where private property is dominant, and their fears – and sometimes hopes – about living in a future world where private property has disappeared. In the propertied imagination, private property is a fragile thing, an institution beset by terrifying enemies and racialised and gendered mobs: Levellers and Diggers, socialists and anarchists, fervent religious radicals, abolitionists, feminists, and haughty welfare-state bureaucrats. The history of private property is the history of a recurring nightmare that one or another of these groups would storm the castle and take control. That threatened social chaos is the central unifying story of this book.

Private Property and the Fear of Social Chaos starts by charting the thinkers who laid the foundations for how we understand private property, including Locke, Burke, Marx and Engels. The book looks at how their ideas have been put into practice in ways that continue to shape the modern world, from Harry Truman’s housing policies and the anti-abolitionist George Fitzhugh to Margaret Thatcher and Elon Musk. Arguing that the spectre of ‘the mob’ has been intimately interconnected with the idea of private property throughout capitalist modernity, the book ambitiously narrates this history from the early colonisation of the Americas to Silicon Valley, and the future of human colonisation in space.

Download information about the book here

Buy it here

Irish Questions and Jewish Questions: Crossovers in Culture (2008)

“Beatty’s and O’Brien’s comprehensive collection corrects and amplifies our understanding of the historically significant relationship between the Irish and Jews, one that has been largely governed by the linking analogy of the title, but, as these critics show, with insufficient nuance. These impressive essays represent in divergent ways what Stephen Watt describes in his contribution as the ‘multi-disciplinary bristle of a nascent Irish-Jewish studies.’ ” —Marilyn Reizbaum, Bowdoin College

“Boldly revisionist—challenging and deconstructing the notion that Ireland was friendly to Jews, the authors offer a more nuanced and complex image of the ambiguous and often unsettling relationship between Irish and Jews.” —Eugenio Biagini, coeditor of The Cambridge Social History of Ireland since 1740

The Irish and the Jews are two of the classic outliers of modern Europe. Both struggled with their lack of formal political sovereignty in nineteenth-century Europe. Simultaneously European and not European, both endured a bifurcated status, perceived as racially inferior and yet also seen as a natural part of the European landscape. Both sought to deal with their subaltern status through nationalism; both had a tangled, ambiguous, and sometimes violent relationship with Britain and the British Empire; and both sought to revive ancient languages as part of their drive to create a new identity. The career of Irish politician Robert Briscoe and the travails of Leopold Bloom are just two examples of the delicate balancing of Irish and Jewish identities in the first half of the twentieth century.

Irish Questions and Jewish Questions explores these shared histories, covering several centuries of the Jewish experience in Ireland, as well as events in Israel- Palestine and North America. The authors examine leading figures of both national movements to reveal how each had an active interest in the successes, and failures, of the other. Bringing together leading and emerging scholars from the fields of Irish studies and Jewish studies, this volume captures the most recent scholarship on their comparative history with nuance and remarkable insight.


Buy it here

Masculinity and Power in Irish Nationalism, 1884-1938 (2016)

Winner of the James S. Donnelly, Sr. Prize for Books in History and Social Sciences, American Conference for Irish Studies, 2016

“This comparative analysis of Irish nationalism and Zionism has a compelling narrative drive. In its treatment of territory, language and state ethos, an interpretative audacity on questions of gender is chastened only by sound scholarly scruple and a tremendous archival rigour. The work is done on that difficult but challenging borderland between cultural and historical studies. It will prompt many exponents of colonial and postcolonial theory to review many of their assumptions.” – Declan Kiberd, author of Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation

“Beatty provides an innovative analysis of masculinized nationalism in Ireland. By unpacking key Irish case studies he demonstrates how the circulation of “muscular” ideals constructed a “proper” political manhood in Ireland. His approach—which includes a thoughtful comparison with Zionism—serves as a model for future historical studies of manhood and nation.” – Sikata Banerjee, author of Muscular Nationalism: Gender, Violence, and Empire in India and Ireland, 1914-2004

This book is a comparative study of masculinity and white racial identity in Irish nationalism and Zionism. It analyses how both national movements sought to refute widespread anti-Irish or anti-Jewish stereotypes and create more prideful (and highly gendered) images of their respective nations. Drawing on English-, Irish-, and Hebrew-language archival sources, Aidan Beatty traces how male Irish nationalists sought to remake themselves as a proudly Gaelic-speaking race, rooted both in their national past as well as in the spaces and agricultural soil of Ireland.  On the one hand, this was an attempt to refute contemporary British colonial notions that they were somehow a racially inferior or uncomfortably hybridised people. But this is also presented in the light of the general history of European nationalism; nationalist movements across Europe often crafted romanticised images of the nation’s past and Irish nationalism was thus simultaneously European and postcolonial. It is this that makes Irish nationalism similar to Zionism, a movement that sought to create a more idealized image of the Jewish past that would disprove contemporary anti-Semitic stereotypes.

This book is based on my doctoral dissertation, which won the 2014 Adele Dalsimer Distinguished Dissertations Prize, also from the American Conference for Irish Studies.


Buy it here