An Analysis Of Barrington Moore 's Social Origins Of Dictatorship And Democracy

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In Barrington Moore’s book Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World, the ideas put forward by the author mainly consider the political roles of landlords and peasants in the transformation of an agrarian society into a modern one. He adopts a neo-Marxist approach to address the emergence of social classes and inter-class coalitions.
In chapter 4, Professor Moore argues that the gentry’s failure to make the transition from preindustrial to commercial forms of farming plays an important part in the undermining of the mandarin state and in the creation of new political. Furthermore, the traditional role of the scholar declined and the power of the central government weakened, which resulted in the gentry taking the control of local affairs more and more in their own hands. As local landlords gained more power, the countryside got more and more divided into warlord satrapies. This society, in which commercial influences were eating away the peasant’s proprietorship and concentrating wealth in the hands of a new social formation, produced a fusion between parts of the old ruling class and new urban elements rising. It is this new class that would later become the main social basis for the Kuomintang. Moore argues that the main basis for the Chinese revolution were both the land-short peasantry that was plagued by massive poverty, famines and debts and the landlords that lost their raison d’être. The
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