The comparison of Marxists and Elitists accounts of political power. In this essay we will try to compare the Marxists and the Elitists views of political power and what makes these views different. Before we start analyzing it should be remarked that the Elitists approach is closely connected to the works and ideas of Gaetano Mosca, Roberts Michels and C. Wright Mills and the founder of such an approach to studying political power (W. Pareto), who opposed his ideas to those of Marx and Gramsci.
Therefore, there is a conflict of ideas, which is to be unveiled in this essay. Firstly, Marxists approach to political power is to be briefly overviewed. The cornerstone of all Marx’s work is the base-superstructure model-every aspect of his work can be linked to it. In this model economy is the base and the rest was superstructure, which is determined by base. The superstructure is comprised of culture, education, politics, etc. So, in this respect Marx’s view can be reduced to stressing the economic determinism in the field of politics.
Moreover, Marx saw the whole historical process, as the change in the modes of production (the forces of production + the means of production + social relationships of production) plus the increasing alienation of human beings. The change in modes of production according to Marx determined the political regime and the list of those, who govern the state. He saw the political power as the one based fully on economic backgrounds-the possession of the forces of production-the owners of labour forces.
On the other hand, political power in Marx’s theory is used as the ideological weapon to put the “wrong goals” in the heads of the forces of production-the working class-and by this to alienate them from there real aims and goals for the sake of the ruling capitalist class. To cut this all to one sentence it could be said that economy determines everything, political power is not an exception. Now the Elitists approach will be briefly discussed.
The first to introduce this theory is considered to be Wilfred Pareto, whose idea can be summarized, as that there are some “chosen”, “ruling” or “better” elements in a society, those who are “superior” to others in terms of some socially significant capacity, ability or resource. This idea reminds of the Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, who is the one to power the others. The similarity of these ideas lies in the fact that in Elitist’s theory they assume that all people are not created equal: some are tronger, more intelligent, more artistic, etc. Of course, not all abilities lead to economic wealth or political power-however, those people who have the most of the particular abilities which a society rewards become the political elite. Here we can draw a line to cross out Marx’s idea that people are born equal and the only thing that makes them different is being attributed to certain social class and therefore, there personal characteristics defer the social structure-the economic structure.
Another Elitist Gaetano Mosca proposed the idea that there is a ruling elite, so-called “Classe Politica” (political elite) and “Social forces”-those social and economic categories on whom the society depends on because of their particular abilities. In other words, not the whole layer of elite actually rules-political power is the representative one-social forces have a major influence in them. Moreover, political elite are also the representatives of the masses- all elites stabilize their rule by making it acceptable to the masses. This is achieved by “political formula”, e. . : socialism, nationalism, unemployment targeting, etc. In Marxists approach there wasn’t a place for such a mechanism-the only one considered was ideology and propaganda, which have a bit different sense-they are one-sided relationship-in the Elitists approach we see a two-sided one. It should, finally, be mentioned that Roberts Michels and C. Wright Mills developed the Elitists theory and did it in the direction of bureaucracy and as a consequence of which-the emancipation of leaders from the masses was stressed as well as the mechanisms for committing it.
However, Marxism hadn’t touched the question of bureaucracy-it is Weber who had-so it won’t be discussed in this essay. To draw the conclusion, it should be mentioned that having analyzed both theories-Marxist and Elitist one can come to the idea that they are two different and contrasting views. The core of this distinction is in the fact that for Elitists economic power was important, but it was not all-important.
To reduce all that have been said to one sentence: political struggles for Elitists is the struggle of ruling minorities (“aristocracies”) and not the struggle of social classes and these struggles are accorded an autonomy that verged on the independence (in this context, independence=not absolute determination) from economic factors. Thus, the Elitists argued that the elites were necessary and inevitable and that any revolution which pretended to abolish elites would end up by simply replacing one elite with another.