oriental despotism


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oriental despotism

Karl Wittfogel's (1955) now largely discredited term for ‘Asiatic society’ (see ASIATIC MODE OF PRODUCTION AND ASIATIC SOCIETY) and types of social system which he felt were related to this. ‘Asiatic society’ was a form of society which, following Adam SMITH, MARX and J. S. MILL and much 19th-century European thought, Wittfogel saw as characterized by ‘despotic’ state power. This resulted from a necessity for public works to provide irrigation and flood control, hence his alternative term -HYDRAULIC SOCIETY. Oriental despotism was contrasted with Western European forms of constitutional, ultimately liberal constitutional, government. The absence of ‘private property’ (and CIVIL SOCIETY) was seen as a further decisive factor in accounting for this difference. While there remains much support for the contention that Western European development (including constitutional state forms) constitutes a distinctive route (e.g. see WEBER, ANDERSON), the idea that this can be explained simply, or even primarily, in terms of an ‘hydraulic’ social basis has not been accepted. See also ORIENTALISM.
References in periodicals archive ?
Chapter 2, for example, examines the place of the Ottoman Empire within the nascent system of international law, by means of an insightful discussion of "oriental despotism" as a new analytical tool used to mark the boundaries of the presumably universal law of nations.
Oriental despotism and the rise of large empires, such as in China, are explained by need to manage water systems.
Here Tiffin again notes the function of the candi at the intersection of opposing perspectives of statecraft: their local value in making merit and reinforcing the exemplary centre of the negara (Clifford Geertz's concept of the theatre-state), and for the British, their ubiquity as symptoms of 'oriental despotism'.
In this regard popular opinion from the side of west is that oriental despotism was a hurdle in the development of means of communications in oriental societies.
Under oriental despotism, Islam was sometimes lenient against dissidents and harboured theological or philosophical disputes.
After Oriental Despotism: Eurasian Growth in a Global Perspective
In his analysis Ahmed describes the centralized authoritarian state paralleling what Karl Wittfogel call the 'hydraulic society' or 'Oriental Despotism' in its totalistic power over peripheral tribal regions, as an ongoing dialectic since the evolution of the state in various areas of the world.
Year by year, the Russian political system becomes more of a corrupt Oriental despotism -- with Moscow closer to Almaty than Berlin.
Influenced by Montesquieu, Hegel, Marx, and other Western thinkers, he formulated his own system of universal history and produced Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power, a book which draws a large amount of materials from Chinese culture and brings China into a world system.
Among the factors that created this void, one should not underrate the lure of Karl August Wittfogel's concept of oriental despotism. (5) Generations of scholars have now wrestled with his assertion that total power lodged in control over water, and while one case after another showed that total power was a relative thing in hydraulic societies, Wittfogel's ghost seems to have been impervious to exorcism.
xix), unlike the stereotypical view of the inadequacy of dissent against the traditional view of Oriental despotism. They argue that ancient state-forms were as complex as modern ones, and can thus be explained with analogous models.
Exposing the 'misleading' and 'self-serving' claims of early scholar-administrators that Malay rule was nothing but 'oriental despotism' (pp.