Book Report and Review: Robert G. Williams “States and Social Evolution: Coffee and the Rise of National Governments in Central America
The problem of the existing differences in socio-economic and political development of countries of Central America has been always discussed in works of many specialists. Among them Robert G. Williams has made probably the most significant contribution in the understanding of the entity of the problem and its causes and his thoughts concerning this theme he developed in his book “States and Social Evolution: Coffee and the Rise of National Governments in Central America”.
The book represents a very skillful historical analysis of the emergence of democracy in Central America, its political and socio-economic basis. The book is quite interesting from the point of explanation the causes of the variety that are observed in countries situated in Central America. Basically the author agrees that the basis for the development of the countries of this region was coffee planting which gradually get the status of ‘strategic’ plant for Central American countries since it provided the main part of the national GDP.
In other words, coffee has become the economic basis, which provided the countries with the possibility to develop not only economically and socially, but politically as well. As a result new democracies has started to appear in Central America. However, the author underlines that despite significant economic growth and an impressive leap in political, namely democratic, development of the countries there still remained differences in their development and particularly contrasting was the situation with democratic changes in the countries. Practically the same may be said about social development of the countries and political repression that were the characteristic of many of them.
In his book, Robert G. William analyzes the development of the world coffee market in the late 19th century, which was extremely profitable for the countries of Central America and he attempts to understand the responses of the countries to such economic progress in political and social life. Basically, http://www.dxlws.com/liuxueshengzuoye/ on discovering the differences between the countries, the author tends to explain such differences in their political and democratic development by differences in socio-economic structure of the countries.
He stands on the ground that many products may be compatible with varying industrial and social structure, which eventually effects political structure of the countries, but he states that coffee as the main product of the region may be flexible in some countries while inflexible in others that also affects political structure and social development of the society. He explains such differences socio-economic reasons.
His main idea is that political development and structure basically depend on class structures and land-holding patterns. As a result it is difficult to expect development of democracy in socially polar society when the opposition between rich landholders possessing enormous territories for planting coffee and poor peasants and workers is so contrasting that the latter is a deprived class which practically totally depends on ruling class of landholders.
Thus, in conclusion, it is possible to say that Robert G. William suggests his own particular view on the problem of political development of the countries of the Central American region and he mainly explains differences in political structure and democratic development by socio-economic reasons and inequality existing in the countries due to economic development of the country, where coffee plays the most important role.
1. Williams, Robert G. States and Social Evolution: Coffee and the Rise of National Governments in Central America. New York: McGraw Hill, 1998.