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Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy / Edition 1

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The principle of self-government through political parties, the cornerstone of democracy, has come to be regarded as a solution to the problem of nationality. This is because the principle of nationality entails the acceptance of the idea of popular government. The importance of the principle of nationality is undeniable, and most of the national questions of Western Europe might be solved in accordance with this principle. Matters are complicated by geographical and strategical considerations, such as the difficulty of determining natural frontiers and the frequent need to establish strategic frontiers. Moreover, the principle of nationality cannot help us where nationalities barely exist or where they are entangled in inextricable confusion.

The present work is a critical discussion of the problem of democracy. Michels believes that democracy, as an intellectual theory and as a practical movement, has entered upon a critical phase from which exit will be extremely difficult. In this book he analyzes the tendencies that oppose the realization of democracy, and claims that these tendencies can be classified in three ways: dependence upon the nature of the individual; dependence upon the nature of the political structure; and dependence upon the nature of organization.

This edition, described by Morris Janowitz as a "classic of modern social science" and by Melvin Tumin as "the beginning of a tradition," offers a landmark study in political science. Following its original publication in 1910, the study and analysis of political parties was established as a new branch of science. Political Parties continues to be a foundation work in the literature and is a necessary addition to the libraries of contemporary political scientists, sociologists, and historians.

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Editorial Reviews

**** Cited in Books for College Libraries, 3rd ed.. Comprises a critical discussion of the problem of democracy with an analysis of the three tendencies that oppose the realization of democracy: dependence on the nature of the individual, the political structure, and the organization. First published in 1910, this text is aimed at political scientists, sociologists, and historians. No bibliography. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765804693
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/22/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Seymour Martin Lipset (1922-2006) was professor emeritus of sociology at George Mason University. Among his books are American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword; North American Cultures: Values and Institutions in Canada and the United States; Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics; and Rebellion in the University. He had a long-standing interest in Israel and Jewish affairs, and was past president of the Association of American Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

Robert Michels (1876-1936) was considered a founder of political sociology. He was the author of a variety of books including German Social Democracy as an International Association and Proletariat and Bourgeoisie. He wrote regularly for The Archives of Social Science in Germany.

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Table of Contents

Author's Preface 5
Introduction 15
Democratic Aristocracy and Aristocratic Democracy 43
The Ethical Embellishment of Social Struggles 52
Pt. 1 Leadership in Democratic Organizations
A Technical and Administrative Causes of Leadership
Introductory - The Need for Organization 61
Mechanical and Technical Impossibility of Direct Government by the Masses 63
The Modern Democratic Party as a Fighting Party, Dominated by Militarist Ideas and Methods 78
B Psychological Causes of Leadership
The Establishment of a Customary Right to the Office of Delegate 81
The Need for Leadership felt by the Mass 85
The Political Gratitude of the Masses 92
The Cult of Veneration Among the Masses 93
Accessory Qualities Requisite to Leadership 98
Accessory Peculiarities of the Masses 105
C Intellectual Factors
Superiority of the Professional Leaders in Respect to Culture, and Their Indispensability; the Formal and Real Incompetence of the Mass 107
Pt. 2 Autocratic Tendencies of Leaders
1 The Stability of Leadership 117
2 The Financial Power of the Leaders and of the Party 129
3 The Leaders and the Press 149
4 The Position of the Leaders in Relation to the Masses in Actual Practice 153
5 The Struggle Between the Leaders and the Masses 167
6 The Struggle Among the Leaders Themselves 172
7 Bureaucracy. Centralizing and Decentralizing Tendencies 188
Pt. 3 The Exercise of Power and Its Psychological Reaction upon the Leaders
1 Psychological Metamorphosis of the Leaders 205
2 Bonapartist Ideology 212
3 Identification of the Party with the Leader ("Le Parti c'est Moi") 220
Pt. 4 Social Analysis of Leadership
1 Introductory. The Class Struggle and Its Disintegrating Influence upon the Bourgeoisie 227
2 Analysis of the Bourgeois Elements in the Socialist Leadership 238
3 Social Changes Resulting from Organization 254
4 The Need for the Differentiation of the Working Class 271
5 Labor Leaders of Proletarian Origin 277
6 Intellectuals, and the Need for Them in the Working-Class Parties 293
Pt. 5 Attempts to Restrict the Influence of the Leaders
1 The Referendum 307
2 The Postulate of Renunciation 312
3 Syndicalism as Prophylactic 317
4 Anarchism as Prophylactic 325
Pt. 6 Synthesis: The Oligarchical Tendencies of Organization
1 The Conservative Basis of Organization 333
2 Democracy and the Iron Law of Oligarchy 342
3 Party-Life in War-Time 357
4 Final Considerations 364
Index of Names 373
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