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Catonism is described by Barrington Moore in his book Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy as “advocacy of the sterner virtues, militarism, contempt for ‘decadent’ foreigners and anti-intellectualism” (1966, 491). He characterized Catonist attitude as the reaction from rural aristocracy towards rapid political and economic changes.

"The function of Catonism is too obvious to require more than brief comment. It justifies a repressive social order that buttresses the position of those in power. It denies the existence of actual changes that have hurt the peasants. It denies the need for further social changes, especially revolutionary ones. Perhaps Catonism may also relieve the conscience of those most responsible for the damage -after all, military expansion destroyed the Roman peasantry.
Modern version of Catonism arise too out of the adoption by the landed upper classes of repressive and exploitative methods in response to the increasing intrusion of market relationships into an agrarian economy." (Moore 1966, 491).

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