Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

This a teleological manner. Organski argues that fascism in

This is an example of modernization theory, however also
shows an influence of British Marxism which creates tension in the argument. Modernization
theory explains the transformation of society from ‘traditional’ to ‘modern’ in
a teleological manner. Organski argues that fascism in some circumstances
played a part in the modernization of countries, citing Italy and Argentina as
examples. In modernization theory, ideas are seen one of the leading forces of
Organski conforms to this by explain that ‘attitudinal changes’ are ‘very threatening’
to the ‘traditional system’, citing egalitarianism and rationality as these threats
(p.25). Another characteristic of modernization theory Organski follows to is
the thought of a pre-determined end with three stages: traditional, transitional
and modern.2 His
use of ‘continuum’ also suggests a pre-determined end of being ‘modern’, and he
explains that fascism occurs in the transitional period, where societies are ‘in
the middle of a conflict between two antithetical ways of life’ (p.22). This
also indicates a conformity to a third part of modernization, the theory that
conflict occurs due to a resistance to change.3
However, Organski also deviates from modernization theory. Modernization theory
usually states that the elites modernize first, leaving workers who modernize ‘in
the end’4.
Organski argues that the workers have been mobilized, and that the elites had
to ‘unite’ to ‘resist the demands’ of transforming society, an attempt at ‘social
demobilization’ holding back the working classes (p.30). This is closer to
British Marxism and Robert Brenner’s argument, which places emphasis on class
struggle from below creating social change, the change from an ‘elitist’ to a ‘mass’,
modern system (p.24).5
Organski’s essay also deviates from modernization theory in the dates he
assesses. Usually, within the modernization paradigm, the ‘modern’ areas are
Western Europe and America in the 19th and 20th
Centuries, and the ‘traditional’ societies being western and medieval. Organski
however uses fascism to describe 20th Century Italy as being in the
transitional stage (pp.34-41), whereas most modernization theorists see the
transition period being from the 16th to 19th Centuries.6
Organski further illustrates some of the criticisms of modernization theory in
his essay. Tipps argues that the works of modernization theorists are vague and
western centred.7 Organski’s
lack of a definition of a non-modern and modern society and uses of ‘developed’
and ‘urban’ (p.20) instead of modern evokes vagueness in his article, and his lack
of evidence with regards to non-Western supports Tipps argument. In conclusion,
Organski attempts to be illuminating by using modernization theory for a
subject and time which it has rarely been used before. His piece includes some
of the obvious characteristics of modernization theory, however he also misses
and even contradicts some characteristics. His lack of a description as to why
20th Century Argentina and Italy are traditional is a fatal flaw,
and his British Marxist analysis of the roles of elites in modernization creates
tension in his argument. Overall the piece is vague, and highlights some classic
criticisms of modernization theory that show why it is not widely used today in
historical writings today.


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