Poverty, Wealth
Dictatorship, Democracy:
Resource Scarcity and the Origins of Dictatorship
by Jack Barkstrom

The News Line

January 4, 1999
BCM Box 747
London SC1N 3XX

A Simplistic View of Power

The author of this book declares that the 'amount of resources which a country has determines whether it will become a democracy or a dictatorship.'

Barkstrom believes that 'countries which possess large amounts of resources will become democracies.' Conversely, countries 'where resources are scarce will become dictatorships.'

These statements, which may be true under particular historical conditions Barkstrom transforms into a universal law. He applies his theory equally to the ancient slave societies of Athens, Sparta and Rome. Athens had ample agricultural supplies and was a 'democracy,' according to the author. The fact that this democracy extended to only a small minority in this slave society seems to be considered of no importance.

Alongside the ancient civilizations, the author considers the 'dictatorship' of the Jacobins during the French Revolution (1789), which Barkstrom puts down to the economic crisis of the day. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany are treated equally, both being described as 'dictatorship,' having its source in the scarcity of resources.

Barkstrom's ahistorical, asocial and undialectical approach to these issues makes his book of little value for anyone seeking to grasp scientifically the present economic and political crisis gripping capitalism.

The relative economic decline of United States imperialism will, according to Barkstrom, bring forward increasingly dictatorial tendencies directed against the American working class.

This is true, but this author's overall approach is mistaken.

He is like someone with a broken watch which will be correct about the time on two occasions in a day.

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