Bourgeoisie Successfully Overthrows Aristocracy

Barrington Moore, Jr. in Chapter seven of his Social Origins of Dictatorship and

Democracy, explores among other things, the reason for England and other countries (such as the US and France) taking the democratic route to the modern world; a route which he refers to as the bourgeois revolution. This is relatively different for each country at the inception and at various points in time, but is essentially a combination of parlimentary democracy and capitalism. Whereas in China, Russia, and Germany, preindustrial bureacratic rule has proven unfavorable to democracy, in England, on a comparative level, there was more of a balance between the crown and the nobility. Moore maintains that the concept of a relatively independent nobility has proven favorable to the growth of democracy. The bourgeois class was essential to this growth as well. Whereas in France, Russia and a large part of Germany there was a strong growth of absolutism, in England there was resistance to this ideology. The landed aristocracy began getting involved in commerce at an early date in England whereas in large areas of Europe there were still communities of self sufficiency.

In England a particular type of commercial agriculture (or an appropriate form as Moore puts it) was conducive to the democratic route. It fostered a relationship of dependency between the landed upper class and the bourgeois class.

In order to portray the differences with the English (or even on a smaller scale) route to democracy and the Russian route, for example, Moore examines critically all these aspects and explores the variants on a comparative level, and concludes that the English experience for these specific reasons was conducive to a democratic route to modernity.

moore, barrington
social origins of dictatorship and democracy

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