Barrington Moore Jr., The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (1966)

Summary:  There are three principal routes from the pre-industrial to the industrial, modern world:
* Successful bourgeois revolution which commercializes and modernizes the countryside and assimilates aristocracy and peasantry into the modern economy and democratic polity
* Conservative revolution in which the bourgeois revolution is either aborted or never takes place and where industrialization is carried out from ‘above’ by a coalition of aristocratic-bourgeois elements in which the bourgeois is the junior partner
* Communist revolution in those areas in which the middle and “… urban classes were too weak to constitute even a junior partner …” in the process of modernization and in which a huge and alienated peasantry “… provided the main destructive revolutionary force that overthrew the old order …” and made the peasants its primary victims.
Moore is looking at how pre-industrial societies develop into ‘modern’ societies, and he focuses on class interaction (a la Marx).  For Moore, the outcome can be traced to the strengths, arrangements and alliances of the classes within a society.
From WikiSum: Conditions for the development of western-style democracy (through a “bourgeois revolution”): (1) The “development of a balance to avoid too strong a crown or too independent a landed aristocracy”; (2) a shifts toward “an appropriate form of commercial agriculture”; (3) a “weakening of the landed aristocracy”; (4) the “prevention of an aristocratic-bourgeois coaliton against the peasants and workers” [which would lead to fascism]; (5) a “revolutionary break with the past” (430-431).
== Quick Summary ==
Democracy emerges through:
* balance between strong crown and too independent a landed aristocracy
* shift towards ‘appropriate level’ of commercial agriculture
* weakening of the landed aristocracy (politically)
* prevention of an aristocratic-bourgeois coalition against the peasants and workers
* a revolutionary break from the past
3 different “Social Origins”
* Capitalist Democracy – from Bourgeois Revolution
* Fascism – from Revolution from Above
* Communism – from Peasant Revolution
* Peasants Weak:
** Elites Weak: Democracy (England, France, US)
** Elites Powerful: Fascism (Japan, Germany)
* Peasants Powerful:
** Elites Weak: None
** Elites Powerful: Russia, China
For Moore, feudalism provided a helpful starting point for Democratic Capitalism because
* Immunity of some against the ruler
* Right to resist unjust authority
* Conception of contract as engagement between free men
== Class Notes ==
* How does Moore define modernity? Is it ‘Western’?
* 3 routes/paths
* Does it matter if Moore is a Marxist
General Issues
* Level of Analysis and Actors (what / who counts)
* The role of struggle and violence
* What is the role of norms, values or culture?
* What is reality? How does our discussion affect our understanding of reality?
* Process of change associated with industrialization
* Starting point – class based, political conception
* Industrialization is a given
* For Moore, he is looking at the process of industrialization through the lens of class
* Difference between commercialization and industrialization
** Commercialization = consumption for profit – AKA Capitalism
* Often seen as synonymous with modernity
* Regardless of the path taken, the three varieties of modernity are equal
* For Moore, violence is inevitable – it is the driving force of history
* Moore leaves out rights, democracy, etc. things which are included in most other conceptions of modernity
* Modernity for Moore is sociological, not political
* It is also an urban society – and here you have workers – a labouring class
** They exist because of the industrialization of the country
* Origins in the peasantry – locked out of their land and move to the city to get jobs
Peasant Problem / Peasant Question
* How do you get rid of the peasants? They are incompatible with modernity
* Moore wants to highlight that the peasants are the big losers
* Moore’s analysis does not apply to (necessarily) Africa, Latin America, etc. because Moore’s case studies are all highly industrialized and can absorb the influx of new workers and classes
* Modernity, in the West, gets rid of slums – in the developing world they are growing
** The developing world is not absorbing the peasants
* For Moore, modernity is limited: urban + industrialized. Starting point = existence of landless peasants + a landed class
** Moore reduces modernization to a class analysis
* Moore’s argument is also premised on property rights – a distinctly Western conception – thus Moore premises his argument on the Western political thought of people like Locke and Rousseau, but then discounts the impact of ideas and culture in the resit of his analysis
Bourgeoisie Question
* Measured by the extent of commercialized agriculture
* Assumption that if the aristocracy is strong, that they must have an ally in the bourgeoisie
* The alliance between the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy is what drags people and countries into modernity
** The aristocracy is allowed to transform itself
* The contention is that without these classes, no modernity
* Assumption that the nation-state contains the classes – also trade routes
* It was easier for Britain to industrialize because they were first
* For Moore, the civil war represents the victory of an industrial class over an agrarian class
** Bourgeoisie vs. Aristocracy
* Western farmers are landed
* West formed an alliance in the North, thus guaranteeing the victory of industrialization over agrarianism
* The alliance was based on interests not morals
* The market for the Western farmer’s grain was the Northern US’s industrial workforce
* The Southern land owner’s economic interests were completely at odds with the North
* If the US South would have won, they would have become reactionary – fascist at its worst
* Strong tradition of Royal Absolutism
** Thus, the land owning class was dependent
** Exploitation of the peasants
* Labour-repressive Agriculture: Non-capitalist, profits from exploitation
** Peasants being squeezed by the aristocracy
* Result is a peasant revolt
* The French dealt with the peasant problem by keeping them on the land – they are squeezed out of being a class
* The landless peasants become small – land holders who seek to protect their interests
* Biggest threat to their interests are the urban poor – they fear the radicalization of the revolution
* Is the peasant question ever really resolved in France?
** Not really, it just changes
* Had the landed class not intervened, France probably would have gone towards communism
Fascist Path to Modernity
* Revolution from above – when strong elites suppress a weak peasant class
* Strong aristocracy, weak bourgeoisie (no need to commercialize – they are a junior partner)
* Peasants become the victims of labour-repressive agriculture
* The aristocracies get away with it because their relationship with the state – they are strong vis-a-vis the state. Aristocracy + Bourgeoisie = the ability to take over the state
* Ultimately, the peasants are crushed – the peasant problem is solved through repression
* Fascists are supported by the peasants – if the peasants are not eliminated, they become political fodder for future groups
* The ultra-right ascend because the aristocracy is strong – thus preventing a true bottom-up revolution
Why are China and the USSR different?
* Both had Aristocratic states
** Weak – Isolated from the peasantry (Geography)
** Thus, more vulnerable
** Peasants are strong (again, due to isolation)
* No Bourgeoisie
See Skocpol’s critiques of this