Robert Michels (1876-1936) was a German sociologist who wrote on the political behavior of intellectual elites and contributed to elite theory. He became a Socialist while teaching at the University of Marburg, and became active in the radical wing of the Social Democratic Party of Germany; he left the party in 1907. In 1914, Michels became a ...
Robert Michels (1876-1936) was a German sociologist who wrote on the political behavior of intellectual elites and contributed to elite theory. He became a Socialist while teaching at the University of Marburg, and became active in the radical wing of the Social Democratic Party of Germany; he left the party in 1907. In 1914, Michels became a professor of economics at the University of Basel, where he taught until 1926. He is best known for his book Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy (1916), which contains a description of the "iron law of oligarchy." Amongst his other works are Proletariato e la Borghesia nel Movimento Socialista Italiano (1908), Probleme der Sozialphilosophie (1914) and Imperialismo Italiano: Studi Politico- Demografici (1914).
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Michel, himself, a participant in the earliest, major socialist movement in Europe in the 18th century, describes the transition from a movement to a beauracracy (of the union movement in Europe). He describes for the first time "the iron laws of beauracies" and predicts the downfall of the USSR by the inevitable transition into an organization, which has as its primary goal the preservation of the privileges and security of the leaders of the organization. The clients of the organization exist to feed the organization. His predictions qualify him for a position on a pedestal next to Nostradamus and as a must read for any student of sociology.
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