Dictatorship Social Origins Meaning

Dictatorship Social Origins


The shaping of societies in the past is responsible for the arrangement of the current society that we live in today. There are many factors that led to the growth and development of all economic societies. Social origins explain the systems that countries practiced so that the countries could advance as a result. Some of the systems that played a significant role in the shaping of the communities were the agrarian and industrial revolution. These systems took place all over the world from the time of the ancient days to the advancement of technology (Moore, Friedman and Scott, p. 1-124).


The purpose of this paper is to apply the ideas or Barrington Moore’s book social origins of dictatorship and democracy to the book of master and lord’s mid-19th-century Planters and Prussian Junkers. The paper will provide a summary of both books and their role in the political, social and economic aspects of the society.  Barrington Moore will later be applied to the book of masters and lords. The paper will thus provide a concluding paragraph that will summarize the contents of the whole book.

Social origins of dictatorship

Barrington Moore’s book is one of the most recognized comparative books in the fields of political, social and economic arrangement. The book talks about the country’s political and democratic influences. One of the themes of the book states that the political systems are derived from the existence of the agrarian and industrial revolution. Based on the 8 influential countries in terms of their political roles at this time, the book divides the transformation into three phases which define the major periods.

The book looks at the social system in these respective countries and the role of different social groups. The society is divided into the wealthy and influential and the peasant who is not as influential. Different classes play different roles in society contributing to the organization of the economy. The social classes were brought about by the transformation from a less complex system to the agrarian system. The agrarian system was defined by the adaptation of agriculture as the main contributor to the economy.

This involved the practice of farming so as to produce enough produce for the country and export. This, in turn, improved the countries social, political and economic position. This led to the division of roles in society in that the peasants were responsible for the provision of labor.  This left the upper class to run the country by providing policies that would fuel more production. The agrarian revolution was essential for the development of the countries as a whole.

Despite this, the system proved to have its disadvantages. The system was not enough to finance the countries which demanded more funds due to the rate of growth. The agrarian revolution paved the way for the industrial revolution in that the use of farming equipment brought about more inventions and innovations. When the world wars took center stage, the countries realized the need for arms and ammunition. This led to the creation of industries that were defined by machines that were used to ease the workload of human beings. The industrial revolution was a great determinant in the way countries organized themselves in all aspects.

The creation of industries changed the dynamics of the political system of the world as a whole. Many countries invested in mechanical knowhow so as to further develop their countries by building infrastructure and financing their armies. This set apart the world powers from the rest of the world in that they had the authority to influence their ideologies to the rest of the world. The industrial revolution led to the divide of the world powers into two groups. Some of the countries were in support of the socialist system that while others were in support of a democratic way of life.

The Americans advocated for democracy which was defined by giving the social power to choose the leader they preferred. It also allowed for the creation of more than one political party in that society had the choice to choose from more than one leader. The socialist system, on the other hand, was defined by the rule of the nation by one party state eliminating the possibility of having more than one party.  The society did not have the opportunity to elect their leader due to the political arrangement that was in place. The two different sided used their power and influence to spread their ideologies to different parts of the world like Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

The agrarian and industrial systems of an organization played a significant role in determining this factor. The agrarian system contributed to the formation of industries in different parts of the world. This, in turn, was marked by the invention and innovation of several machines which triggered further indusial development (Moore, Friedman and Scott, p. 1-456).

Analysis of the book of masters and lords

One of the main themes of the book is the difference between the economic systems that were practiced in the north and the southern states of America. The south had invested a lot in their agricultural industries that were defined by cotton and sugar plantations. This system had proved to be very successful in these states in that most of their labor came at a low cost. At this time, slavery had taken center stage in that all the farmers owned slaves who worked in the farms. The south was intent on maintaining this system due to its profitability. This situation was however different the northern states form in that they were intent on moving to the industrial system which involved the use of machines and the development of infrastructure.

The conflict of interest resulted in the occurrence of the civil war that was marked by the separation of the Confederate states form the rest of the country. This resulted in a change in the dynamics of the economy of the country. The slavery laws were abolished paving way for the introduction of a new system of governance that recognized the rights of all individuals. The situation in the south is one of the examples that display the capitalism in America. The use of the slave indicated taking advantage of the ordinary man so as a small minority could gain.

One of the arguments concerning the early economy is whether slavery shaped the economy of the southern states. The southerners argue that they had alternative industries that fueled the development of the states apart from the profitable slave trade. One of the factors responsible for industrialization was the emergence of world wars. The wars were defined by the use of arms and ammunition during the battles introducing a new phase in the economy and political system (Bowman, p. 1-357).

Application of social origins of dictatorship to the book of masters and lords

Both books have similarities in that they all display the formation of the early political, social and economic systems. What sets the books apart from each other is the mention of the social origin of different countries in the world. Most of the societies have been shaped through different occurrences in the case of the first book. This is owed to the different structures that the countries adopted. The first book concentrates on social dictatorship and which was mainly carried out by the economic systems such as the agrarian revolution and the industrial revolution. The majority of the peasants were placed under the authority of the masters through the arrangement of the land system that limited growth on the part of the peasants.

In the case of dictatorship, countries that adopted this system had no democracy in the country as a whole. The power is reserved for the powerful minority thus reducing the chances of the citizens to voice their opinion. This system applied to countries like the USSR and the democratic republic of China. Both the countries were a one-party state. Such countries selected leaders who had absolute authority and could not be challenged. Moore compares this system to the one of democracy that was adopted by countries from the western sides.

As mentioned earlier, the western world is responsible for adopting the ideologies that encouraged democracy. Although democracy had its advantages, it was also responsible for the mismanagement of the community. Democracy encouraged capitalist systems that were favored by the wealthy. The capitalist was in control of most of the assets in the country. One of the ways that this system affected the growth of the country was the creation of different social classes. The people who owned the land and property used their power to make more money. This was done at the expense of the peasants in that they were responsible for the provision of cheap labor.

The book of masters and lords concentrates on America as opposed to the systems of other countries. Masters and lords look at the different economic systems of both the north and the south. In the initial stages of the settlement of the British settlers, the preferred way of developing the country was through agriculture. This proved to be profitable in that it led to the invention and innovation of new ideas and machines. As America began to interact with the rest of the world, it was evident that technology had begun to take center stage. The south was predominantly known for their support of capitalism. This is similar to the ideas of Moore who emphasized the role of the south in the adaptation of democracy as a principle law.

Masters and lords concentrate on slavery and the role it played in the growth of the American republic. Slavery was categorized as an agrarian system in that the economy was highly reliant on the produce. Moore mentions the agrarian system in other countries where slavery was not practiced. For such countries to be productive, they took advantage of the peasants for very little pay. Both books thus bring out the effectiveness of the social classes and how the wealthy took advantage of the poor to improve on their wealth.


In conclusion, society has gone through a number of phases for it to have reached where it is today. This is owed to the different economic systems that were adopted at the time. All these systems had their advantages and disadvantages in that the wealthy took advantage of the peasants so as to improve their wealth. The shaping of society ensures the creation of social classes. The first book talks about democracy and dictatorship as a factor that shaped the world as a whole. The second book talks about how the economic system of the south and how it contributes to the growth of America. Both books are thus essential in that they display how history contributed to the way the societies are arranged in the present day.


Works cited

Bowman, Shearer D. Masters & Lords: Mid-19th-century Us Planters and Prussian Junkers. New York, NY u.a: Oxford Univ. Press, 1993. Print.

Moore, Barrington, Edward Friedman, and James C. Scott. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993. Print.

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