In This Review

Oriental Despotism: a Comparative Study of Total Power
Oriental Despotism: a Comparative Study of Total Power
By Karl A. Wittfogel
Yale University Press, 1957, 556 pp
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In this massive study of the roots of bureaucratic totalitarianism--the author uses the term "hydraulic" to describe those societies in which centralized control and management of irrigation and agriculture led to a static and pervasive despotism --Professor Wittfogel finds that a major danger of Communism resides in its capacity to take over and exploit such traditions of social organization. A stimulating and provocative work, but not light reading.