John T. Sidel, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy Revisited: Colonial State and Chinese Immigrant in the Making of Modern Southeast Asia
Barrington Moore, Jr., argued that a vigorous and independent bourgeoisie is a necessary, if insufficient, condition for democracy. This article addresses this thesis through a comparative analysis of class formation in Southeast Asia. Colonial era state policies towards immigrant Chinese merchant minorities shaped the diverging capacities and inclinations of capitalist classes in the region to assert themselves in political life and to assume control over state power. The variegated identities and strengths of the capitalist classes of Southeast Asia have prefigured enduring authoritarian rule in most countries in the region over the past several decades, while enabling democratic rule in the Philippines, Thailand, and, in recent years, Indonesia.
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