The Middle Class and Democracy in Socio-Historical Perspective


One of the basic theories of politics, put forth by Aristotle centuries ago, is the theory of the middle class and its causal link with democracy. According to Aristotle, a large, prosperous middle class may mediate between rich and poor, creating the structural foundation upon which democratic political processes may operate.
Beyond Aristotelian theory, the specifically commercial nature of the middle class is also made central, as the democratic institutions of law, power limitation, and electoral participation were carried by a commercial middle class.
This volume traces the development of democracy and the rise of the commercial middle class from ancient Greece to Renaissance Italy, to post-feudal Europe. Socialism, communism and fascism are discussed as reactions to capitalist-democracy. The book concludes with an analysis of the structural and cultural bases of democracy.
Ronald M. Glassman, Ph.D. (1968) in Sociology, New School for Social Research, is Professor of Sociology at William Paterson College of New Jersey. He has published extensively on the structural bases of democracy.
Introduction: Capitalism, the Middle Classes, and the Transition to Democracy

Prologue: An Ideal Type Definition of Democracy
I. The Ideal-Type Characteristics of the Democratic Political Process: Participation, Power Limitation, and Law
II. The Ideal Type Social Structure Supportive of Democracy – The Majority Middle Class
III. The Rational World – View As An Ideal-Type Characteristic of Democracy

I. Aristotle’s Theory of the Middle Class and Democracy
Aristotle’s Theory of Class Balance and Form of Government
Aristotle’s Conception of the Best Practical Form of Government: The Mixed Polity Based on a Majority Middle Class
The Mixed Polity: A Form of Democracy with Elements of Oligarchy-of-the-Rich and Democracy-of-the-Poor
The Problems of Oligarchy and Tyranny in The Mixed Polity
Oligarchy and Aristocracy
The Paradox of the Oligarchic Upper Class
How Much Oligarchy is Acceptable to the Middle Class and the Poor
A Note on Tyranny

II. The Unique Link Between The Commercial Classes and Democracy: Ancient Greece in a Weber-Marx Perspective
The Rise of Commercial Economics
The Rise of the Merchants as a Class
The Development of Money and Secular Law
The Low Status and Minimal Power of the Merchants in The Ancient Empires
The Anomalous Events in Ancient Greece
The Development of Merchant Activity and a Commercial Culture in the Ionic Greek City-States
The Rise of Legal Authority and Government by Law
The Scientific World-View
The Rational World-View and Its Political Implications
Rational vs. Irrational Legitimacy
Money, Private Property, and The Separation of the Economic and Political Spheres

III. The Link Between the Commercial Classes and Democracy in Post-Feudal Europe: From the Polis to the Nation State
“Standestaat” and Representative Democracy
The Rise of the Monarchy and the Commercial Classes
Protestantism and the Legitimation of Capitalism
The Commercial Classes Revolt Against Feudalism and Monarchy
Government by Law
Parliament: From Standestaat to Representative Democracy
The Commercial Gentry Replace and Knights at the Regional Parliaments
Laissez Faire Economics and the Power-Limited State
Oligarchy, Tyranny, and Democracy
The Nation States
1. The Dutch Republic: Guild Democracy
2. England: Triumph of the Gentry
3. U.S.A.: The English Revolution Continued
4. France: Stalemate of Classes
5. Germany: Feudalism Triumphant
Class Balance and Political Culture

IV. Industrial-Capitalism and Democracy
From Trade-Capitalism to Industrial-Capitalism
The Decline of the Commercial Gentry
The Emergence of the Small Business Middle Classes
The Heroic Era of the Artisans and Yoeman Farmers
The Decline of Artisan Production and the Emergence of the Small Business Middle Classes
The Industrial-Capitalist Working Class

V. Industrial-Capitalism and the Socialist Reaction
Pre-Industrial Socialism: Agrarian-Communal vs. Statist
The Levellers and the Sans Culottes
The French Revolution and Pre-Industrial Socialism
The Statist Trend in French Socialism
Industrialism and Socialism
Marxism and Statism
Democratic Socialism: The Working Class as An Electoral Base
The Industrial Working Class as a Majority Class

VI. The Industrial-Capitalist World and the Fascist Convulsion
From Trade-Capitalist Democracy to Industrial-Capitalist Democracy
The Fascist Convulsion
The Great Depression and Fascism
The Class Constellations of Germany and Italy
The Political Culture of Fascism
Some Comments on the Marxist Interpretation of Fascism

VII. Industrialism and Communism
Marx Alters his Theory of the Progressive Stages of History
The Class Structure of Russia Before the Revolution
The Class Structure of Russia Under Communism
Communist Societies and The Inhibition of Small Business Classes
The Rise of the Working Class in Communist Societies
The Working Classes and their Discontents in Communist Nations
The peasants and Communism
The New Middle Classes and Democracy in Communist Nations
The New Middle Classes and Consumerism in Communist Societies
The International Youth Culture as Part of the New Middle Classes
Communism as a Development Stage in the Transition from Traditional to Modern Society
The Rejection of the Business Economy and the Failure of the Bureaucratized Command Economy
The Lack of the Bourgeois Revolution and the Absence of the Enlightenment Legal Democratic Institutions

VIII. Industrial-Capitalism and Legal Representative Democracy Triumphant (1945-65): The Main Line of History
Fascism Defeated, Democracy Established
Communism as a Rival Model
Industrial-Capitalism and Legal Representative Democracy
Industrial-Capitalism and Its Carrying Classes
American Industrial-Capitalism Evolves to a New Level of Technological Virtuosity

IX. High Technology Industrial-Capitalism as a New Mode of Production
High Technology Industrial Capitalism
The Technocratic and Bureaucratic Alterations in the Structure of the Economy
Who Owns the New Mode of Production

X. The Class Structure Engendered by High Technology Industrial Capitalism
The Rise of the New Upper Class and the New Middle Class: The Managers, Technocrats, Service Workers, White Collar Cerical
Workers and Professionals: Mills’ “New Middle Class”
The Decline of the Industrial Working Class
The Growth of an Underclass
The Continuing Existence and Influence of the Business Classes
Conclusions on Class Balance: Maintaining a Middle Class Majority on the High Technology Industrial-Capitalist Base

XI. Excursus on the Third World and Its Class Balance
The Death of Communism and Development in The Third World
The Aristotelian View: Class Balance and Political Structure
The Rise of the Middle Classes in Developing Nations
The Petite Bourgeoisie
The New Middle Class
The Majority Poor and Aristotle’s Dictum
Aristotelian Policies for the Developing Nations
Policies for Nurturing a Middle Class
Policies for Upgrading the Poor
Integrating the Left-Intellectuals into the Economy and Polity
Policies Concerning the Aristocrats and the Rich
The Subordination of the Military
Beyond Aristotle: The Establishment of a Modern Capitalist Economy
Third World Economies in the Global World System
The Pro-Active, Directive State
A Weberian Dimension: Nativist Movements and Charismatic Leaders
Beyond Marz: Stabilizing the Legal-Democratic State
Through Education and the Legitimation of Law

Epilogue: The Structural and Cultural Bases of Democracy
Part I: The Link Between Free Enterprise and Democracy
Constitutional Law and Legal Authority
The Rational-Scientific World View and Democracy
Electoral Participation, Civil Society, and Power Limitations
Part II: Class Balance and Democracy:
Middle Class Majority and Democracy
Policies Concerning the Poor, The Rich
Policies for the Expansion of the Middle Class
The Enlightenment Theorists
Consonance and Non-Consonance
Nativist Movements
Civilizational Nexus
Classes as Carriers of Culture
The Global Village: World Culture




All those interested in political sociology, political science, the study of democracy, the origins of democracy and the possibilities for democracy in post-communist societies and Third World countries.
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