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Human polities through history Human polities through history –Polities in pre-industrial societies –Moore’s Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy.

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Presentation on theme: "Human polities through history Human polities through history –Polities in pre-industrial societies –Moore’s Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Human polities through history Human polities through history –Polities in pre-industrial societies –Moore’s Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy –Democracy in the world today Theories of the contemporary state Theories of the contemporary state Social Movements Social Movements –Civil Rights movement –Fall of communism in Eastern Europe –Islam and the Iranian Revolution –Fundamentalist Muslim organizations as sponsors of terror –Why do social movements occur? –When do they succeed?

2 Polities in pre-industrial societies In the simplest societies, hunting and gathering societies, there is no true government Authority typically lies in a headman, but his power is limited

3 The same is true in horticultural societies. Big men have some authority, but they can easily be deposed if people do not like them Big men have some authority, but they can easily be deposed if people do not like them

4 It is only in agrarian society that a true government emerges This is usually a monarchy or other authoritarian government It can enforce its laws and decisions on the populace through the help of a full-time officialdom and a military force of some sort.

5 The general trend has always been toward a concentration of authority and power in the state as societies became larger and more complex.

6 There have been democracies, but they almost always were eventually merged into authoritarian states or empires. E.g. Ancient Greece became part of the Roman empire E.g. Ancient Greece became part of the Roman empire

7 We know that most states (especially in rich countries) in the world today are democracies. So how did democracies ever replace monarchies? A good question…

8 Moore’s “Social origins...” Requires a good answer Requires a good answer One good answer was provided by Barrington Moore, in his 1966 book Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. One good answer was provided by Barrington Moore, in his 1966 book Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy.

9 He wanted to know why democracy emerged in England and France and did not emerge, for instance, in China, which remained a monarchy into the early 20th century

10 Magna Carta was the beginnings of Parliament in England Magna Carta was the beginnings of Parliament in England Parliament became stronger over time, particularly because it maintained controlled the purse strings When the king wanted money he had to convene Parliament to ask for it

11 Landowners in England remained involved in commercial agriculture, unlike in other places in Europe They often pushed for the enactment of laws that favored commercial interests.

12 The English Civil War (1642–1651) pitted the supporters of Parliament against the supporters of the King It was started when the King tried to rule without Parliament, something Parliament objected to

13 The victory of the Parliamentarians meant that commercially oriented people had the upper hand in England. It also meant a continued division of power at the top in England!

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15 A somewhat more Romantic view

16 This division of power at the top was consciously imitated by the framers of the U.S. constitution This division of power at the top was consciously imitated by the framers of the U.S. constitution Other settler societies – Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc. also copied the English model Other settler societies – Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc. also copied the English model

17 In France, things went differently. In France, things went differently. There was no effective parliament and an aristocracy that simply squeezed the peasantry for its living There was no effective parliament and an aristocracy that simply squeezed the peasantry for its living

18 The old aristocracy and the monarchy were brought down by the French Revolution The old aristocracy and the monarchy were brought down by the French Revolution This led to the installation of a democratic government in France This led to the installation of a democratic government in France This was of course inspired by knowledge of democracy in England This was of course inspired by knowledge of democracy in England

19 Democracy in the world today Today, democracy and associated freedoms are found in much of the world Today, democracy and associated freedoms are found in much of the world The conspicuous exceptions being the countries that made up the former USSR, China, and much of Africa. The conspicuous exceptions being the countries that made up the former USSR, China, and much of Africa.

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21 Theories of the contemporary state Karl Marx thought democracies were in actual fact not very democratic at all. They actually weren’t when he was writing.

22 Marx thought the state was the “handmaiden of the ruling class” For Marx, in a capitalist society the elite were the capitalists—the owners of land, property, and machines.

23 The beautiful Reading Room of the British Museum, where Karl Marx wrote his magnum opus, Das Kapital

24 Power elite theory C. Wright Mills: state policies reflect the interests of the power elite C. Wright Mills: state policies reflect the interests of the power elite Power elite are leaders of the military– industrial complex: military leaders, government leaders, and the heads of large corporations. Power elite are leaders of the military– industrial complex: military leaders, government leaders, and the heads of large corporations. Although they do not necessarily get together and conspire (but they may), Mills claimed that these people have similar interests and support similar government policies. Although they do not necessarily get together and conspire (but they may), Mills claimed that these people have similar interests and support similar government policies.

25 Pluralism This is the view that there are many elites and many political groups with different, conflicting interests. Outcomes are a result of the compromises between these groups So, the drug company lobby wants high drug prices, the AARP wants low drug prices, etc.

26 Social Movements A social movement can be defined as a grassroots movement of many people aimed at political reform or social change. Peasant revolts in preindustrial Europe, which were so important for bringing down states in France, Russia, and China, were social movements of subsistence farmers.

27 More recent examples of successful social movements include More recent examples of successful social movements include – –Civil rights movement in the United States in the late 1950s – –Fall of communism in Eastern Germany in 1989 – –1979 Iranian Revolution

28 Civil rights movement in the United States After the end of Reconstruction period at the end of the Civil War, Jim Crow laws in the U.S. South After the end of Reconstruction period at the end of the Civil War, Jim Crow laws in the U.S. South – –poll taxes, literacy requirements or comprehension tests deprived African Americans and many poor whites of their right to vote – –Public facilities were strictly segregated on racial lines

29 Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat to a white person on a crowded bus precipitated the Civil Rights movement Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat to a white person on a crowded bus precipitated the Civil Rights movement The Civil Rights movement consisted of organized protests against racial segregation and inequalities based on skin color The Civil Rights movement consisted of organized protests against racial segregation and inequalities based on skin color Culminated in Culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

30 Fall of communism in East Germany Things had been changing in Eastern Europe since 1985 and the ascension to power in the Soviet Union of Mikhail Gorbachev and his policy of Glasnost (openness) In the summer of 1989, Hungary opened its borders to the West, and 200,000 East Germans took advantage of this to flee to the West.

31 Protest demonstrations broke out all over East Germany in September 1989. Initially, they were of people wanting to leave to the West, chanting “Wir wollen raus!” (“We want out!”). Then protestors began to chant “Wir bleiben hier” (“We’re staying here!”).

32 The most crucial moment happened in Leipzig on October 9, 1989. Monday demonstrations had occurred all year The East German authorities decided enough was enough, and warned in the local paper that “these counter- revolutionary actions” would be dealt with, “if need be, with weapons in our hands.”

33 But no shooting occurred But no shooting occurred The demonstrations increased in size The demonstrations increased in size The longtime leader of East Germany, Erich Honecker, resigned on October 18, 1989. November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall was opened

34 Iranian Revolution The Shah had instituted economic policies that led to shortages of goods and inflation. In addition, the Shah was seen as a puppet of Western powers, particularly the United States. The first demonstrations against the Shah began in 1978. The Shah fled the country in January 1979

35 Eventually, the royal government fell when troops loyal to the Shah were overwhelmed by troops backing the revolutionaries. A national referendum was held on April 1, and Iran voted to become an Islamic republic.

36 When do social movements occur? People have a grievance People have a grievance People have the hope of success of a movement People have the hope of success of a movement

37 Some event precipitates the beginning of the movement Some event precipitates the beginning of the movement –E.g. arrest of Rosa Parks People in the movement are connected in a network of attachments People in the movement are connected in a network of attachments –E.g. many of the civil rights activists were members of the same churches

38 When do social movements succeed? Social movements succeed when, first, they achieve a successful mobilization of people and resources. This idea is often referred to as resource mobilization theory (Zald and McCarthy 1987).

39 The social movement must be able to withstand or overcome external opposition. It is more likely to succeed if it enlists external allies from other powerful groups in or outside the society, or at least does not face strong opposition from such groups


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