The Agrarian Seeds of Empire: The Political Economy of Agriculture in the U.S. State Institutional Capacity Building, 1849-1980
Bauerly, Bradley Alan
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This study outlines the influence of agrarian movements on the process of US institutional capacity building during the period of 1840- 1980. It investigates the specific nature of US institutional efforts at various stages of development over different eras, highlighting how they informed the formation of state institutional capacities. The unique strength and development of US farmer’s movements led to a state institutional development path that had important implications for economic and social development going forward. In demonstrating the specific and important influence of agriculture and agricultural social movements on US state institutional formation, it will be shown how the two forces of state intervention and social movement pressure converged in a symbiotic relationship to produce agro-industrialization. Through this study this agro-industrial developmental path will be shown to have roots in the state’s institutional response to agrarian pressure in the concrete historical political economy. This state led development I label the agro-industrial push and highlight its relationship with agrarian social movements in the development of industrial agribusiness in the US over the course of the second half of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth Centuries. It will then be shown how the particular institutional capacities that the agro-industrial push developed, along with the economic and political outcomes it created, were used in the twentieth Century to impose the same project outside of the US. The findings of this investigation link together and augment existing approaches to US capitalist development, International Relations, and theories of the relationship between the state and the food system.