Revolution and Counterrevolution: Change and Persistence in Social Structures

By Seymour Lipset Martin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
Moisei Ostrogorski and the
Analytical Approach to the
Comparative Study of Political Parties

As soon as a party, even if created for the noblest object, perpetuates itself, it tends to degeneration. -- Moisei Ostrogorski

It is organization which gives birth to the domination of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organizations says oligarchy. -- Robert Michels

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you add the tendency or certainty of corruption by authority. -- John Lord Acton

It is an interesting commentary on the state of political life that the three men quoted above have won increasing reputations as prophetic and brilliant analysts largely as a result of the popularization of statements such as these. A world that saw a war "to make the world safe for democracy" end with the destruction of the opportunities for democracy first in Russia and then in Italy, that witnessed the triumph of Nazism and the transformation of Bolshevism into totalitarianism, and that since World War II has observed the emergence of one-party regimes with little respect for the rule of law in many of the new nations of Asia and Africa has been ready to re-examine the assumptions of rational democrats that democratic politics can lead to humane and moral ends. Pessimism, rather than optimism, about the uses of power has become increasingly prevalent. Many socialist movements have questioned and rejected their historic commitment to resolve social and political problems by a drastic increase in state

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