FINAL CONSIDERATIONS. Excerpts from Robert Michels’ Political Parties. A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy (1915) PART SIX: SYNTHESIS: THE OLIGARCHICAL TENDENCIES OF ORGANISATION


 “A prendre le terme dans la rigueur de I’acception il n’a jamais existé de veritable democratie, et il n’en existera jamais. II est contre I’ordre naturel que le grand nombre gouverne, et que le petit soit gouverné. ” — J. J. Rousseau, Contrat Social.

Leadership is a necessary phenomenon in every form of social life. Consequently it is not the task of science to inquire whether this phenomenon is good or evil, or predominantly one or the other. But there is great scientific value in the demonstration that every system of leadership is incompatible with the most essential postulates of democracy. We are now aware that the law of the historic necessity of oligarchy is primarily based upon a series of facts of experience. Like all other scientific laws, sociological laws are derived from empirical observation. In order, however, to deprive our axiom of its purely descriptive character, and to confer upon it that status of analytical explanation which can alone transform a formula into a law, it does not suffice to contemplate from a unitary outlook those phenomena which may be empirically established; we must also study the determining causes of these phenomena. Such has been our task.

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