The Elitism of Bertrand de Jouvenel. A Reinterpretation of Jouvenel’s Political Theory Through the Elite theory

Authors

  • Gabriele Ciampini University of Florence

Abstract

This paper aims to reassess Bertrand de Jouvenel’s political theory from an elitist perspective. Even if Bertrand de Jouvenel is commonly regarded as a liberal philosopher, I will however compare his thought with that of two main elitist thinkers: Gaetano Mosca and Roberto Michels. In the realistic vision of democracy developed by Jouvenel, popular participation is completely illusory. As Gaetano Mosca argued, any society is steadily ruled by an oligarchy. Not only cannot the entire electoral body fully participate in political life, but also MPs are deluded into thinking they can wield any kind of power. Moreover, they become, according to Jouvenel, selfreferencing institutions dominated by a political class which takes advantage of public services for its own interests. The analysis on modern political parties developed by Jouvenel is close to that of Robert Michels. They are viewed as powerful organizations whose aim is to perpetuate their own ruling class. Starting from this elitist analysis, Jouvenel focuses on concepts such as “common good” and “totalitarian democracy”. The common good is viewed as a rhetorical expression to justify the implementation of welfare and redistributive policies whose consequence is the creation of a hypertrophic bureaucracy. The political oligarchy capitalizes on the whole situation in order to retain its own privileges.

DOI: 10.5901/ajis.2013.v2n11p15

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Published

2013-10-10

How to Cite

Ciampini, G. (2013). The Elitism of Bertrand de Jouvenel. A Reinterpretation of Jouvenel’s Political Theory Through the Elite theory. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 2(11), 15. Retrieved from https://www.richtmann.org/journal/index.php/ajis/article/view/1377