Iron Law of Oligarchy - History

History

Robert Michels found that, paradoxically, the socialist parties of Europe, despite their democratic ideology and provisions for mass participation, seemed to be dominated by their leaders, just like traditional conservative parties.

Michels' conclusion was that the problem lay in the very nature of organizations. The more liberal and democratic modern era allowed the formation of organizations with innovative and revolutionary goals, but as such organizations become more complex, they became less and less democratic and revolutionary. Michels formulated the "Iron Law of Oligarchy": "Who says organization, says oligarchy."

At the time Michels formulated his Law, he was an anarcho-syndicalist. He later gave up his socialist convictions and became an important ideologue of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy, teaching economics at the University of Perugia.

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