Prosperity And Violence Analysis

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Politics and power are significant in all societies, rich or poor. In Prosperity and Violence, the Political Economy of Development, Harvard academic Robert H. Bates gives insight on the relationship between political order and economic growth. By analyzing the revolution of agrarian societies to industrial societies, he argues that as these transitions occur, violence is often used to strengthen the system of production. In spite of Third World countries’ similar pre-industrial history and early policies aimed at industrializing, Third World countries have not had the same growth as most European countries. Bates analyzes the process of development and concludes that this time period as an important variable in a countries’ development. The provision of violence can be seen as a key aspect of state emergence and development in the 14th and 15th century in Europe. During this time, as societies grew, families eventually emerged as monarchs. Europe began to expand and the importance of rural areas was recognized. In cities people were not able to produce food but still needed to consume it, thus relied on farmers in rural areas. As the value of agricultural land increased so did violence; landlords had to practice violence to protect their land from those who tried to claim it. Eventually monarchs realized the dangers and benefits of this and stepped in to help ensure the protection of farmers’ land. This was not for peace but instead to use violence in a way that best fit the interests of the rulers the ruled. This resulted in both farmers and city dwellers creating capital for the monarch in the form of taxes; which provided for security and personal gains. At this time, the monarch’s enforcement services were used for tax reve... ... middle of paper ... ...estructive but the threat of violence can lead to prosperity. In countries where stability is rare, the future is always tentative. Survival demands that people remain risk averse in these environments. It is only when the symbols of tamed power reemerge and hope of lasting peace returns that people begin to strategize for the future again Robert Bates presents a tantalizing argument that departs from the usual approach for interpreting development. He effectively links economic prosperity with political violence in an analysis that should is very insightful. However, each theory is supported by very little evidence so I cannot help but question the details. His argument is generalized to span across ages and he seems to pick and choose the subject matter and evidence to fit his conclusions. I would have liked to see more evidence and data to support his arguments.

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