Theda Skocpol, “A critical review of Barrington Moore’s Social Origins”, Politics and Society 4 (1973), pp. 1-34.

Summary: Skocpol highlights the limits of Moore’s analysis.
== Detailed Notes ==
* Marxist perspective
=== 1. Social Origins: An Analytic Summary ===
====A. The Moral of the Story ====
* Moore’s purpose is moral and theoretical – and he sees no contradiction between these purposes
* Message: “the costs of modernization have been at least as atrocious as those of revolution, perhaps a great deal more.”
** Each route to modernization has contained an equal amount of popular-suffering and large-scale collective vioklence
* This book does more to facilitate the exposition of this moral conclusion than to test the conceptions of social change and political process which lead him to that conclusion.
====B. The Theoretical Argument ====
* Organized around three routes to the modern world, each culminating in one of three societal outcomes: Western democracy, fascism, and communist dictatorship.
* The class structures of agrarian states are linked to the alternate political outcomes through the analysis of political events seen through the lens of class struggles
* The communist and Fascist routes do identify patterns of (a) initial class structure, (b) revolutionary political conflict, and (c) ultimate systemic political outcome.  The ‘Bourgeois’ route, on the other hand is hobbled together, linked in pattern only by their outcome
* Moore articulate three key variables to explain (a) difference among the sequences characteristic of the major Routes, and (b) differences among the ‘Bourgeois Revolution’ cases.
** 1) The strength of a bourgeois or commercial impulse
*** Commercialization is an unexplained given
*** For Moore the agrarian strata are the strategic actors in the political revolutions from above or below, thus he must identify variables which can explain agrarian strata’s (a) political propensities (pro or anti-liberal/democratic) and (b) opportunities for extra-agrarian class alliances.
** 2) “Labor-repressive” versus “market”-commercial agriculture distinction
*** Market commercialization created crucial agrarian political allies for ‘strong’ bourgeoisies in England and US
*** Labor-repressive agrarian systems provided an unfavourable soil for the growth of democracy and if peasant revolution failed and a moderately strong bourgeoisie existed an important part of the institutional complex leading to fascism.
** 3) Peasant Revolutionary Potential
*** Reactionary Capitalist (Fascist) modernization is possible only if both bourgeois and peasant revolution from belo fail to occur. Peasants provide much of the insurrectionary force in both types of revolution.
*** Factors leading to strong potential:
**** Weak and exploitative ties to a landed upper class which is not making a successful transition to modern industrialism
**** A radical form of peasant community solidarity
*** Factors leading to weak potential:
**** Strong ties to the landed upper class
**** Weak peasant community solidarity (or a ‘conservative’ form of solidarity)
*** Potentially revolutionary peasants must have non-peasant allies to succeed
*  Page 10 has an excellent schematic chart summary of this
* Moore “does not explain the process of economic development per se, but instead identifies what seem to him probable sequences of three types of states or events – agrarian bureaucratic social structures; revolutions (from above or below), and ‘modern’ political arrangements – with economic development assumed as the continuous process connecting and activating the sequence of structures and events.
=== 2. Social Origins: Some Fundamental Problems ===
====A. Bourgeois Impulse – The Phantom of Social Origins ====
* Nothing is said about the criteria for determining the strength of the commercial bourgeois impulse
* Moore\’s statements about degrees of strength of the bourgeois impulse cannot simply be taken for granted
====B. Market versus Labor-Repressive Commercial Agriculture ====
* Much explanatory weight rides on the distinction between modes of agrarian commercialization
* But this distinction fails to survive close scrutiny as it neglects the role of the political realm
* The crucial question is not if such support is present or absent, but rather who controls the political mechanisms and how they are organized.
====C. The Inadequacy of Marxist Political Sociology ====
* The fatal shortcoming of all Marxist theorizing (so far) about the role of the state is that nowhere is the possibility admitted that state organizations and elites might under certain circumstances act against the long-run economic interests of a dominant class, or act to create a new mode of production.
* Each major sociopolitical transformation that does not eliminate a formerly dominant landed upper class must, in Moore’s scheme, somehow be explained as political action of a landed upper class.  This is hard to buy.
* Skocpol goes on to argue that the cases of England and Japan were not class actions and that state organization importantly affected the capacity of landed upper strata to preserve their interests during modernization in all three cases.
1. England: Bureaucracy’s Absence and Liberal Development
2. Japan and Germany: Bureaucracy and Revolution from Above
* Three propositions about the relationship of agrarian state bureaucratization to dominant (landed upper-) class political capacity seem to emerge from the case discussions:
1. Very weakly bureaucratized state apparatuses can, ironically, be so dominated by landed upper-class interests at all levels that they are rendered virtually useless as instruments of class political response to social crises.
2. A highly bureaucratic and centralized agrarian state which is staffed – especially at the top – by landed notables or men closely tied to landed notables (men who get a substantial part of their income and status from landed wealth) can serve as an especially potente instrument of landed upper-class response to external and internal crises, through the specific, short-run interests of ‘weaker’ class members.
3. A highly bureaucratic (though not necessarily centralized) agrarian state which is not directly staffed by landed notables can under extraordinary circumstances – especially foreign threats from more modernized countries – act against the class interests of landed upper strata.
====D. Wanted: And Intersocietal Perspective====
* Moore is repeatedly forced to refer to ‘external’ conditions or events in order to explain ‘internal’ states or changes.
===3. Toward an Alternative Theoretical Approach===
* To improve, Moore’s Marxist theoretical approach must be modified in two ways:
** 1) The independent roles of state organization and state elites in determining agrarian societies and landed upper classes’ responses to challenges posed by modernization at home and abroad must be acknowledged and explained.
** 2) One must break from a focus on exclusively intrasocietal modernizing processes.
== Class Notes ==
* Focuses more on non-economic factors
* Process instead of just the end – context matters, external factors matter
* What about factors influencing how independence came about, what institutions left behind by colonialism, etc?
* Skocpol comes straight out and says that Moore is wrong – the external factors are extremely important (i.e. competition, Britain’s non-reliance on a standing army, etc).
* Ideology, externalities, race and other factors are extremely important
** Moore’s reductionist approach doesn’t hold water

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