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Alfred de Grazia:



FACTIONS, cliques, gangs, lobbies, and caucuses always accompany political events. However, the condition called "party government" is a recent occurrence, with so many points of difference from and developments beyond the above-mentioned organizations that it deserves a distinctive place in the annals of politics. It would be abusing the term "political party" if we applied it to every opinion group among the politists of a society or if we regarded the major social groups -such as labor, capital, farmers, and churches-as if they were the same as political parties. Party government and its chief feature, the political party, have a rather distinct habitat, a peculiar mode of operation, and special characteristics of structure and function. A glance through history may give us some idea of how the modern political party has come about. Afterward we will define at length the qualities of the party, its aims and organization, its variations from place to place, and its relationship to the government.



In the Greek city-states, a kind of party politics that is usually termed "factionalism" was common. Men formed themselves into groups that stood for or against something. For example, they favored aristocratic or democratic values, they were followers of strong personalities such as Pericles or Philip of Macedon, or they were for or against some such issue as war against the Persians or alliance against Sparta. Romans, too, both under the Republic and under the Empire, split into opposing groups of plebeians or equestrians, landed and landless, into the advocates of leniency for or annihilation of the Carthaginians, into the followers of Sulla or of Marius, of Caesar or Pompey.

The Middle Ages were similar. The medieval Italian cities resounded with the clamor of factional struggle in the piazzas and in the narrow streets. The medieval Romans were no less susceptible to appeals to democracy and equality from the lips of Cola di Rienzi than were the Americans of nineteenth-century South America to the republican slogans of Bolivar. Guelf and Ghibelline fought bitterly in Dante's time, and the medieval citizen of Florence would probably have had as difficult a time distinguishing issues from personalities, church from state, sincerity from hypocrisy as the American citizen who sits in judgment on the Democratic and Republican Parties on election day.

The triumph of monarchy in most of Europe from the thirteenth through the nineteenth centuries brought the factions off the streets into the salons and courts of the Kings. The matters of sovereignty, legality, succession, and legitimacy were settled in some places for long periods of time, but the ancient pattern of conflict and compromise continued among the interpreters of these concepts.


This history of partisanship and factionalism gives us the impression that there is a lack of continuity and regularity about the factional process, a lack of organization of the struggle, a lack of agreement on the weapons to be used in the fights, all of which distinguish them in general from the modern phenomenon of the political parties. Perhaps the agreement on the weapons to be used came first. The long tenture of monarchs was partly responsible for this development, since the contending factions had to use the tactics of court diplomacy. Rioting, assassinations, wholesale massacres, and direct appeals to the populace went out of style for the most part. Flattery, discussion, and maneuvering for place in the royal court, the armed forces, and administration became the accepted techniques of factional conflict.


In England, where party government began, the presence of a legislative body of some consequence, the House of Commons, allowed further scope for tactical "party" maneuvers. There was an electorate to contend with. Men could even appeal from the Crown to the people or from the people to the Crown. The developing interests-among them the Puritans, the manufacturers, and the commercial companies - found a political structure in the courts, Commons, and Crown administration that was loose enough to give room for party maneuver. There was greater place for the bargaining, manipulating, and conspiratorial activities so important to party strategy. A half century of revolution had burned out the forces of fundamental conflict and left a rather dulled group of factional protagonists when the seventeenth century drew to a close.

One could barely distinguish between men who were known as Whigs and others who were known as Tories; yet everyone seemed to agree that these two parties existed, much like people in America who are hard put to tell specifically the distinction between Democrats and Republicans but who are positive that some difference exists. As Lecky described the difference, the Tory group was somewhat overcast with sentiments favorable to the Crown, the Anglican Church, and the landed interests, while the Whigs were just as slightly tinged with bias towards the House of Commons, religious independency, and the commercial interests.

Whatever the real state of affairs, it hardly corresponded to Edmund Burke's famous definition of a political party that he enunciated in the last quarter of the eighteenth century: "Party is a body of men united, for promoting by their joint endeavors the national interest, upon some particular principle in which they all agreed." Parliamentary politics in most of the parliamentary sessions in which Burke served could have better fitted his definition of a "cabal," a clique striving for positions and favors, united temporarily for those particular purposes on the principle of subservience to the King.

Yet the psychology of party was fixing itself on the minds of the English ruling class to such an extent that long before Burke, when William of Orange became King of England and wanted to appoint a Cabinet, he found considerable opposition to the idea of selecting men of both parties. He could not comprehend the difficulty at first. He felt that the best men should serve the "national interest" regardless of party and saw no incongruity in their serving it at the same time. His concession to the spirit of party was a lasting one, and coalition cabinets became an exceptional occurrence. The Whigs grew imperceptibly into the Liberals, the Tories into the Conservative Party. Their identity and continuity were assured, even though their membership and leadership occasionally shifted, not to mention their policies. The ruling class of England was still small, and a few managers arranged the electioneering. Hardly any semblance of formal structure existed to mark the location and operation and identity of the parties. Yet English politists were agreed that the party that controlled a majority of the seats in the House of Commons ought to name the Prime Minister and Cabinet.


It was in the United States that the modern political party came to fruition. There the factors of agreement on the weapons and continuity and regularity of party procedures and functions were joined with the factor of durable organization. This did not occur all at once. There was a great deal of preliminary skirmishing on the English model, and the Federalist Party, which held the most influential posts in politics, was of the English variety.

Colonial and Revolutionary Americans often disapproved of factionalism. Government was to be by gentlemen, who were presumably well-equipped to govern the nongentlemen. The caucus was the prevailing method of organizing political strength. George Washington believed strongly that faction and parties were unnecessary evils. He even warned his youthful nephew against the dangers of participating in a current affairs discussion group. His attitude was shared not only by the most influential Federalists but also by many of the American intellectuals and well-to-do of the nineteenth century. New England, for example, which had furnished a most active political class from among its wealthiest and best educated citizens, lost the services of most of these men when the American party developed into its later mass-organized form. Alexander Hamilton was one of the few Federalist leaders who saw the future clearly and wished to engage the party in an organizing campaign at the grass roots, but his ideas found little support.


Thomas Jefferson built the first great mass-democratic party of modern times. He gave the modern party its essential mode of operation-winning the active consent of the mass of voters. His Democratic-Republicans, using the techniques of the majority principle, grass-roots control over elected politicians, universal suffrage-in short, all the devices that the radical democratic idea contained-maintained a substantial monopoly of American politics until the Civil War. In the haste to credit Jefferson with the philosophy of the pure democrat, subsequent generations have failed to respect him as the master organizer. It was he who created the modern party by adding the factor of organization. Jobs, favors, a constant stream of letters, advice and exhortation, the encouragement of organization in the state and county and village, the consistent reiteration of slogans of self-government and egalitarianism-all came forth to convert a party of anti-Federalism into a continuing and durable structure. The Democratic-Republicans became the prototype of the political parties of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


The key change associated with the rapid development of the Jeffersonian type of political party was the gradual extension of the suffrage to all adults. As a great many people obtained the right to vote, the advantages of efficient party organization on a grand scale were maximized and inefficient organization heavily penalized. And only among an extensive electorate could the typical appeals of rationalism, individualism, egalitarianism and democracy that characterized party life in later times find their most appreciative audience.

Wherever universal suffrage was delayed, the political party in its most advanced democratic form was late in appearing. Europe and England were two generations behind the United States in gaining universal suffrage. Aristocratic residues in social and political life and limitations on the suffrage retarded the emerging pattern. During the nineteenth century, English parties were traditional and liberal. They contended over specific economic issues and benevolent reforms. They did not "trust the masses," as the Jeffersonians would put it, but rather trusted to enlightened leadership. The European parties tended to be still the mouthpieces of declining aristocracies, romantic exponents of heroic ideals, or revolutionary movements, uncertain whether to use party, cabalistic, or violent techniques to make their weight felt. Personal parties were common, dominated by striking individuals of oratorical and idealistic pre-eminence. When the working classes received the vote, the parties reflected the change and modeled themselves after the Jeffersonian pattern.


However, the resemblance did not last long. By the end of the nineteenth century the socialist doctrine began to take hold of large parts of the lower economic groups, and party demands became utopian. Complete reforms of the social and political system became part of the propaganda baggage of many European parties. Jefferson had assembled his party before the industrial working class in America had developed into a sizable portion of the population, but the English and European working classes were ready to step into the new parties of universal suffrage with a full and drastic program. The European parties were of no mind to play politics for politics' sake. Their members felt the party ought to use its organization for far-reaching economic and political reform; it should not exist merely as a vehicle for jobs and favors; and when the Jeffersonian type of party system failed to produce something other than the behavior typical of the American parties, the Europeans were fast to contemn it.

From 1880 to the present time, although many dozens of European parties have possessed the structure of the Jeffersonian model, two aberrations persistently intruded to prevent their working along American lines. In the first place, despite their possessing all the paraphernalia of the American machine organization-political managers, professional politicians, elaborate hierarchical structures, and appeals to democracy and equality-the European parties could never build up the tremendous traditional, affiliated vote of the American parties. They constantly fluctuated in membership. Their supporters, discouraged by the ineptness of their parties to attain remote goals, tried other parties one after another. Most Americans learned over a long time to contemplate without shock the paradoxes and inconsistencies of the American party system. Many Europeans abandoned hope for their parties before they became accustomed to them.

In the second place, rabidly monopolistic parties appeared on the European scene, conceiving that the function of the political party was rather to drive out the other parties and establish the government on the one True Idea than to alternate at holding office with the other parties. The "one-party" idea, although strictly speaking quite contrary to the idea of party itself, was not uncommon to the continent or even to England, and it finally came to fruition in the Italian Fascist Party, the Russian Communist Party, the German Nazi Party, the Spanish Falangist Party, and several other groups. This kind of party, which develops into the only party of a oneparty state, has a peculiar status of its own and scarcely can be called a party in the same sense as we apply that term to the parties of a multiparty state.


Let us look more closely at the idea of the political party as it stood after World War I. As Max Weber described it, the political party was a voluntary society of propaganda and agitation, seeking to acquire power in order to procure chances for its active militant adherents to realize objective aims, or personal advantages, or both.

In other words, the party is composed of joiners; one is not born into it. It is a social group with the same pressures on its members to conform to the group that are found in all social groups of any considerable degree of organization. It is organized to conduct propaganda and agitation; thus it has a certain militancy and a goodly number of leaders who possess skills in orating, writing, bargaining, and organizing. It seeks to acquire power and therefore always is plagued by the problems of means and ends, for power can often be attained only by the "temporary" sacrifice of other values held by the party leaders and members. Often the values sacrificed are the very ones that are used to justify the existence of the party in the first place. For example, Michels, in his famous study Political Parties, quotes several socialist leaders, otherwise advocates of direct, egalitarian democracy, who denounced submitting issues to the action of the total membership of the party by referendum. They felt such action would cripple the party leadership, lead to vacillating party policies, and cause internal dissension.

Nevertheless, once attained, power can conceivably provide the party with increased chances to do things. Once it gains office, the authority of the state is behind its acts. It controls the state's resources-financial, mechanical, and humanalthough only to the extent that these resources have been entrusted to the part of the government that is generally agreed to be subject to capture by the party. In the United States, a victorious party in the national elections is limited initially in the fullness of its triumph by the federal system, the separation of powers, the system of checks and balances, and a written constitution. The American party, because of the consensus developed within the last generation, cannot transform the administrative offices of the nation to its purposes. It cannot eliminate the influence of the Supreme Court, though it may conceivably cripple it by adding party adherents to its membership.

The active miltant adherents of the party get most of the new chances brought by victory. The rank and file of the party have to be content with less. The mass of party members are completely passive and generally have to wait for the next election to register their opinions again. The party leaders distribute the chances: the offices, the favors, and the positions of authority and power. This may be done efficiently by a few men or, in such a party system as the American, in a haphazard, informal manner with much pushing and shoving and many mutual accusations of inadequate militancy among the aspirants.

The chances, now won and distributed, should enable the chance holders to realize their political objectives. But as everyone knows there is no assurance of this by the time that victory occurs. Considering the travail, the disasters, the means, and the obligations that have littered the career of the party marching towards power, it is too much to expect that at the end of it all, the conquerors will dispense only the pure milk and honey of altruism. We need not, however, change our definition of the party so as to say that the personal advantages necessarily outweigh objective aims in the minds of its adherents. That remains to be studied in the case of any particular party.


Within broad limits, political parties are established around some guiding theme. Members of a party, when called upon to explain their actions, will give reasons. They will say they are working for a leader, or for a cause, or for a class. The facts may disprove their stated motives, of course. It may turn out that a man who claims he is working for a cause is really working because he expects to get a good job in the government if his party wins. Still, perhaps the most useful classification of parties, as suggested by Bluntschli and Michels, may be one that is based on the preponderant motivation of the active members of a party.

Using such a criterion for classifying parties, we would arrive at six significant themes: nationalism, political and moral issues, socio-economic class, charismatic or personal leadership, religion, and elitism. Although it tends to condition much of the party's behavior, the guiding theme of a party does not exclude the presence of other themes-one may find individuals in every party whose guiding motives correspond to any one of the six themes. Thus, in the American Democratic Party, one finds enthusiasts for Puerto Rican independence, economic reforms, the working class, the charms of an F. D. R. or a Huey Long, the beliefs of the Catholic Church, and the permanent elimination of the Republican opposition. On the whole, however, one influence predominates and gives a certain character to a party.


The principle on which nationalistic parties are based is the desire for independent statehood. A minority within a larger realm conducts a campaign for self-government. The former Irish Nationalist Party agitated against the British for a free and united Ireland, often openly and at other times in the shadow of police repression. The German Sudeten Party, in close co-operation with the German state, played a part in the sabotage of the Czechoslovak state; first demanding merely autonomy, it finally insisted upon and won separation from Czechoslovakia and incorporation in the Greater Reich by the Munich Pact of 1938. The Far East, after World War 1, saw the birth of several nationalistic parties in the Philippines, Burma, Indo-China, Indonesia, India, and elsewhere.

The end of World War II found nationalistic parties in Southeast Asia ready to take control of independent governments. Partly by peaceable means and partly by violence, the transformation of former colonies into nation-states was accomplished. Perhaps the most notable of the nationalistic parties of Asia is the Congress Party of India. It developed under British rule, partly in defiance of the authorities, and when the British withdrew from India it constituted the only effective governing group. The Congress Party included all shades of opinion before the attainment of independence and, even afterwards, maintained a one-party domination of the government under the leadership of Gandhi and, after Gandhi's assassination, Jawaharlal Nehru. From a nationalistic party, it has evolved into a kind of giant holding company for all sorts of political and moral ideas short of communism. In 1951, however, opponents of Nehru broke away from the Congress Party to form the first opposition party.

The mandate of Palestine, before it became the state of

Israel, presented a contrast to the Indian condition. The nationalistic parties that formed the provisional government when the British left Palestine had developed out of the British mandatory government's offices and from the cooperative labor organizations, especially the Histadrut. Most of the members of the first cabinet held triple membership in the Jewish Agency Office, the Histadrut, and the Zionist movement; and they formed the leadership of the Mapai and Mapa parties. Several smaller parties soon took the field as well. Unlike several of the Asiatic countries, Israel's party system quickly took on the appearance of the multiparty system that prevailed in western Europe.



A second guiding theme of political parties may be a program of doctrines and principles. One variety is the constitutional party, which is based on a preference for a particular form of government. Examples of this kind would be the many monarchist, republican, and unitary (for example, PanSlavic, Pan-German, antiregional) parties of nineteenth-century Europe. The States' Rights Party that broke off from the American Democratic Party in the 1948 presidential elections would be another example. A second variety of the party of ideas would be the party that is organized on behalf of specific issues. Perhaps the classic model of this type was the British Liberal Party, which stood for free trade and other economic principles for over a century. Another example might be the French Radical Socialist Party, which has been neither radical nor socialist and has shifted its positions on issues many times within the century. The loose alignment of center and progressive parties in France after World War lI, known as the Third Force, has the same general character. The Third Force is alleged to be neither right nor left, but down the "middle."

A third variety of the party of ideas would be the two-party system of the "ins" and the "outs," as it is found in the United States. One party operates as the government, and the other party acts as the critical opposition. We may do well to discuss at some length the American party system, with particular reference to four of its principal features: the two-party pattern, its decentralization, its political machines, and its heterogeneity.


One notes throughout American history a tendency towards a two-party system. Over the last century, the Democratic and Republican Parties have dominated the national political arena, except for minor and transient trespasses by Populists and Progressives. For a few years before the Civil War, several parties contested for national pre-eminence, but before that time, we find that two parties also prevailed.

The strength of the two major parties is distributed rather evenly over the population of the nation as a whole. In relation to the total popular vote, the parties are well matched. The gaining of a million or two million votes out of fortyeight millions may well spell the difference between victory and defeat in a national election.

This close national competition is the more remarkable when we see how unbalanced the parties are in the several states. The Republican Party hardly exists in most of the South. The Democrats usually carry the border states of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Maryland by comfortable majorities. The Western states shift their alignment frequently. The Midwest, New England, and the East are solidly Republican in the rural areas and Democratic in the cities.

It is by no means clear what caused this bipartisanship; but there is no necessary connection between bipartisanship and democracy. Other countries that may be termed as democratic as America have had several parties-Switzerland and Norway, for example; and the two-party system has often occurred in nondemocratic forms of government. Eighteenthcentury England, with its Whigs and Tories, could better be called an oligarchy than a democracy. And several South American republics that have shown an equal affinity for bullets and ballots have had only two parties.

We may also exclude the degree of complexity of a society as a factor explaining the development of a two-party system. Both rural America of the early nineteenth century and diversified America of the twentieth century seem to have favored the two-party system. Industrialized Germany has had several parties, whereas industrialized England has fostered two parties. Furthermore, industrialized Germany received warmly a one-party system under the Nazis, Soviet Russia a one-party system under the Communists, and agricultural India a liberal one-party system under the Congress Party.

Perhaps we are incorrect in seeking the origins of bipartisanship in such basic social factors as a democratic way of life or economic organization. We may do better if we seek the explanation of the two-party system in more limited structural and psychological conditions.


The structural or legal conditions are fairly clear. The prize office of American party politics is the Presidency. In order to capture the Presidency a party must capture a majority of the electoral votes or else face the difficult task, if no one gets a majority, of controlling a majority of the state delegations in the House of Representatives. This feat requires that the parties expand their ranks at any cost in order to solicit successfully the electoral vote of as many states as are necessary to obtain the majority.

Now this pressure to expand, in other party systems of the world, would be balked by the intensity of convictions of some groups of politicians. They would refuse to share the same roof with men of contrary principles. But in America, politics are so decentralized, the state parties are so independent and isolated, that uniting to elect the President does not throw politicians of contrary principles together forever and irrevocably. They can remain aloof from their brethren both in victory and in defeat. Thus the lure of the Presidency combines with the comfortable autonomy of the state party to establish a condition in which a majority and minority party are the most compatible arrangement of national politics.

In addition to this major legal condition there are other legal supports of the two-party system. The general employment of single-member districts in elections discourages any small party that has no hope of quickly achieving a majority or plurality of all the votes cast in the district. (Proportional representation would assure the small party of at least some representation in a legislature.) Furthermore, the two major parties have for generations piled one legal difficulty upon another to prevent minor parties from arising. In some states it is almost impossible for third parties to get a place on the ballot, and the participation of the two major parties by law in the administration of elections gives the parties ample opportunity to discourage dissident voters and opposition candidates. This second kind of legal hold possessed by the major parties can be broken in only one way-a faction of a major party must desert the main body and gain control of particular localities, as occurred in certain Southern states in 1948 when the States' Rights Democrats revolted against the Truman Democrats.


Certain psychological influences, historically imparted, add their weight to the maintenance of the two-party system. The American colonists were familiar with the "ins" and "outs" system of old England. To change it in the new republic would have required breaking a habit. Moreover, a host of colonial governmental structures, too numerous and detailed to list, depended implicitly on the politics of the government party and the opposition. For example, old parliamentary rule-books could be adapted easily to colonial needs, whereas many new rules of procedure would have had to be devised for a multiparty system. Today, a hundred and fifty years of perpetuated customs have done their work-Americans are not likely to be persuaded by proposals for a multiparty system.

Another psychological force, present in America from its beginning, also bolsters these customs. This is the popular belief in the majority. Call it the will of the people, or the mandate of the voters, or the general will, or something else; in essence, it is the satisfaction felt when most people seem to be behind a government and the sense of insecurity, even Of shame, felt when a government has to operate without most people at least seeming to be behind it. Consequently, the programs of both the Democratic and Republican parties veer more towards each other than they veer apart. There are far more cases on record of Democrats and Republicans, or Democrats and Whigs, edging closer to one another on the same vaguely defined platform than there are cases of the Democrats and Republicans moving toward the programs of third parties. The major parties, leaders and followers alike, monopolize each other's attention.

Both the law and the psychology of the two-party system have been rationalized to the satisfaction of the great majority of people. The two-party system has been declared on countless occasions to be the most simple, the most workable, the most democratic, the most compatible with American institutions of all party systems. Thus to the effect of the laws, of habit, and of the belief in the majority, must be added the effect of political education over several generations on the advantages of the two-party system.


We will now discuss the second notable feature of the American party system: its decentralization. This is of two types: a lack of power at the top of the national party to control the state and local branches of the party; and a lack of central direction or integration of party efforts at the national, state, and (often) local levels. These two types of decentralization shape the general structure of the party. The accompanying internal phenomena are a lack of party discipline and a lack of party program.


Close party competition has a reinforcing influence on the phenomena mentioned earlier, the lack of a party program and the lack of party discipline. Only the narrowest and vaguest of principles seem to separate the Democratic from the Republican Party at any one moment, and this situation is likely to be changed quickly by one of the parties imitating the other's stand. Sometimes those who point to this fact become angry at politicians, as if the politicians were the ones who were avoiding an issue. This is not so; in their individual conduct and private opinions, American politicians often are very independent and seriously preoccupied with alternative courses of conduct.

But, if such politicians want to convert their principles into law, they must combine with kindred spirits in both parties, and they cannot very well expect their party to espouse their issues. As they go into a political campaign, they must realize that, their party being so decentralized, all sorts of politicians disagreeing with them are to be found on the same ticket. To proclaim one set of precise principles as the correct party platform will arouse the anger of other members of their own party and perhaps cause a split within the party and result in defeat. Furthermore, if they raise specific issues, they may antagonize some group of the electorate whose 3 or 4 per cent of the total vote would spell the difference between victory and defeat.

Therefore, the politician-who may be vigorously concerned over political and moral issues-finds it best, under most conditions, to bide his time for the presentation of the issues. The party is not constructed to be a vehicle for any issues save the most universal and generally agreed upon sentiments. When such sentiments are perceived to exist, usually the managers of both parties are able to recognize that the issue may now safely be proclaimed.

If we conclude, then, that the party cannot afford to espouse specific principles "prematurely" without threatening its own internal disintegration and the dissolution of its popular following, we must ask how the party does go about keeping itself together. First of all, bowing to the inevitable, the party allows its individual members to espouse issues in their own districts. Thus we have the typical phenomenon of a politician apologizing to his constituents because his party did not support a particular bill that he had been arguing for, and promising them to continue his efforts. Fortunately for him, his opponent is likely to be getting no greater support from his party on similar problems. A Chicago Democrat will be elected on issues that a Mississippi Democrat shuns, and a Chicago Republican running for the State Senate will believe in different principles than a Republican State Senator from "downstate."


But the program of the party in the American system is not as important for maintaining the party as is its organization, which is motivated mainly by friendship, favors, and patronage. The party must trust to a vague program of " glittering generalities" to attract some part of the electorate, and get down to the endless day-to-day task of building a huge number of individual connections.

The national organization of both parties is relatively primitive. The party that controls the Presidency has certain advantages. The President can surround himself with a certain number of loyal supporters in top positions of the government, and the various perquisites of his job allow him to do many more individual favors for important and influential people in the national community than the opposition party can do. But beyond his patronage of a few hundred appointments and a chance to help some thousands of individuals directly, the President runs into the feudal structure of American politics and is prevented from consolidating his position as the leader of an integrated and centralized party.

Apart from the Presidency, the "in" and the "out" parties are in much the same loose condition of organization. Each has a national committee composed of party representatives from each of the states; its task is to tie together the forty-eight autonomous party domains in national campaigns and on national issues. In recent years, the committees have maintained a small permanent staff of organizers, publicity men, fund gatherers, and research clerks to keep the party's case before the people continuously. The committees perform also a liaison function between the President and the party in Washington and the state parties, or between the presidential nominee and the state parties.


It is not easy to place the congressmen as a group in the party system. Senators and representatives are elected from different states and districts, and in that sense are local representatives. But the great majority of congressmen are local representatives in another sense also. They are the "delegates" of state party organizations. They will co-operate sometimes with their national party leader, but will not go against their states' interests. Some congressmen are really administration supporters; they will go down the line for the President's program. Most of the latter come from districts that are closely contested in each election, such as a number of the metropolitan districts. In these areas, which are more closely tied to national interests than to local interests and where the independent vote is eagerly solicited by both parties, joining forces with the President is often more effective politics than following the views of the local politicians.

In general, however, the national Congress has a local character. Whereas in England, for example, one sometimes gets the impression that the members of Parliament are Londoners who deign to visit the provincials who elect them, in America one senses that the congressmen are provincials who deign to visit Washington. A congressman in Washington will have a retinue of people from "back home," and hundreds of constituents from his state or district will come to him from time to time with requests for information about and help in connection with the great agencies of the government. There is no strong national party spirit among these legislators. Just as, legally speaking, the national leaders cannot control the state parties, sociologically speaking, the national leaders for the most part cannot comprehend a truly national party. Whatever goods are parceled out by the national party are divided forty-eight ways or among the several states according to population. There is little thought, except when the President brings up the matter or when some money is to be given out by the national party, that the total resources of manpower, locally gathered money, and most appointments should be under central direction or devoted to victory in the crucial districts that determine which party shall gain control of Congress and the Presidency or reserved to insure the election of key leaders of the party.


Integrated national parties have never existed in America. Perhaps Mark Hanna came closest to organizing a truly national party for the Republicans in the nineties. But integrated state parties have existed under the leadership of certain men -for examples, we need think only of names like Huey Long in Louisiana, Vare in Pennsylvania, Horner in Illinois, or Dewey in New York. The state is the legal unit for purposes of general party-organization. State statutes govern the pattern of organization, and, once a powerful group can find a means of mutual co-operation among its members, it can operate on a state-wide basis.

Two general kinds of state party-organizations in America are worth notice. One is the bureaucratic organization or the state party machine. The other is the personal faction. At one extreme, in states like Pennsylvania and Illinois, the parties are organized, integrated, and continuing bodies. At the other extreme, in states like Nevada and Louisiana, the parties are shifting, transient, and personally led combinations. The organized state party ordinarily has a semiprofessional governing group within the party itself. These people have a definite personal stake in the success of the party. The bulk of the members of the organization are officeholders, although as one moves to the top of the national and state parties, be finds that the leaders tend to have other occupations as well as political ones-they may be lawyers, businessmen, or manufacturers. Down at the grass roots, on the other hand, most of the faithful and persistent workers hold public jobs.


As often as not, however, the state party and its central executive committee do not control the cities. In a good number of the cities, one finds the political machine par excellence, the machine that foreign observers and many Americans exaggeratedly regard as typical of all American politics. The political machine of the city is a bureaucratic oganization; it has a full complement of permanent and professional workers, a hierarchy much like that of a government bureau or an army division, and an elaborate system of rewards (including promotions), punishments, and activities. It is composed of managers and runners for office; the top leader may or may not be an elected official. Thus the chief or boss may be the mayor, as were Mayor Hague of Jersey City or Mayor Thompson of Chicago; or he may be a metropolitan county chairman of the party, as was County Chairman Arvey of Cook County in Illinois. The subchiefs may hold positions such as county sheriffs, party district leaders, ward committeemen, aldermen, or city attorneys.


The rank and file of the well-organized city machine is

composed of the precinct captains or precinct committeemen, as they are sometimes called. A party will have hundreds of precinct captains to staff the many polling districts of the city. Without the precinct captains, an organization cannot move, and the man who controls the precinct captains controls the whole party system. A large number of precinct captains hold public office in return for their services. Others have no personal interest but are fascinated by the great game of politics. Still others have received some privilege or favor from their political leaders or have special business interests that they can protect by actively engaging in politics. Thus one finds tavern owners, rooming-house keepers, real-estate men, and lawyers holding posts as precinct captains to facilitate agreeable relationships with the various agencies of the local government.

Various surveys made in recent years show that precinct captains are the prime instrument for administering the party's mediation function. The precinct captains of a city like New York or San Francisco will perform thousands of individual favors, most of them quite legal, within a single year. A large proportion of these favors are interventions by the party on behalf of a person who is having some difficulty with one of the various governments. The party depends upon the captains strongly for maintaining a wide network of favorable connections among people of all kinds.

The nature of much of the party's work as a mediator between individuals and a sometimes adamant and threatening government is apparent when we look at some of the social developments that have occurred since the heyday of the city machines in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A new profession of social service has grown up and numbers many thousands of workers. Extensive social security measures have been enacted providing institutionalized services of many kinds-to the old and the young, to the unemployed, to widows, to the poor, and to the sick. The precinct captain, who used to be a general practitioner on problems of human relations, has been replaced or at least supplemented by specialists of all kinds, working under distant auspices and regularized laws. The city machine, it turns out, has fallen victim to the bureaucratization of social services and full employment.


Both in the country as a whole and in most localities, each party contains all types of leaders and followers. At the core of the political party is a central group of active leaders, an inner circle that directs the whole group. Next, outside of this nucleus, comes a much larger outer circle of those who take a lively and practical interest in politics and are, one might say, the rank and file of party workers. Then comes a wider circle of those who are strongly partisan and can hardly be shaken from their party affiliations by any sort of issue or economic condition. After this group would come another circle composed of those who habitually follow a particular party, but who on occasion will stop short and vote for another party. These circles shade off into groups of voters who are largely independent of party affiliation and who move freely from one party to another, depending on their feelings at the particular time an election is held.

Many of the individuals in all of these circles are organized into a variety of groups-nationality groups, unions, trade associations, women's clubs, reform organizations, and the like. While some people operate in politics as individuals, many others-probably just as many-operate through the group or by representing the group to which they belong. The party is a mixed mass of persons who have traditions, tendencies, habits, or principles that make them Republicans, or Democrats, or sometimes insurgent members of third parties.

The party leader, or politician, in America, if he is more than local in influence listens to the electorate as the expert musician to a chord struck by a great symphony. He can hear it as one meaningful voice with a given tendency; but he also can hear the many individual voices. Sometimes, like the ordinary symphonic listener, he can hear only the whole chord and must guess at the parts. At other times, he can hear only the flutes or the timpani and has no perception of the total chord.


Whereas the unsophisticated observer of the two American parties sees no differences save in name, the expert politician perceives a number of rather fine distinctions among those on whose votes the Democrats and Republicans may depend strongly. He knows, for example, and political scientists have verified his experienced guesses, that north of the MasonDixon Line Republicanism tends to be more widespread among Protestants, the well-educated and the well-to-do. He knows that recent immigrants tend to vote for Democratic rather than Republican candidates. He knows that the press represents for the most part a Republican bias. He knows that organized labor is more strongly Democratic than unorganized labor. He knows that business interests, especially finance and manufacturing, are strongly Republican, but that liquor and entertainment interests are more inclined to be Democratic. Real estate groups, commonly divided among the parties locally, tend to support the Republican Party nationally. Yet so fine are most of these distinctions that a campaign can scarcely be based on them. The heterogeneity of the party following, like the heterogeneity of the party leadership, throws the individual politicians back on the reliable techniques of friendship, favors, and patronage.



Parties having class as a guiding theme include various socialist, labor, and agrarian parties that believe in a fundamental class conflict that can be resolved only by the victory of some major class-interest. The socialist parties everywhere fall into this category. A notably successful class party is the English Labour Party. It deserves our close attention. Three of its characteristics are especially important: its stout presentation of significant issues, its tight integration, and its strong leadership.


The English party system, like the American, contains two major parties. They are the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. The Liberal Party, one of the two great English parties of the nineteenth century, no longer holds a firm grasp on a huge party following. It began to decline in the late nineteenth century, and is now only a minor influence in the party struggle for power. The Labour Party won its first decisive parliamentary majority and consequent mastery of the government in 1945, shortly after the end of the war in Europe.


The Labour Party, unlike either of the two major American parties, is based on economic and social-class issues. Aside from the monarchy, which remains unchallenged in political campaigns, the whole structure of British economy and society is subject to controversy in politics. The Labour Party traces its origins to the growth of the labor unions and to the socialist theories of British intellectuals and labor leaders in the late nineteenth century. The party has always advocated socialization of the means of production and an equalization of individual opportunity for education, medical care, old-age security, legal justice, and private and public employment. Once its power over the Commons was achieved, it set to work immediately on its program and with little difficulty nationalized large and important elements of British industry such as the mines, transportation, gas, and electricity; it also established national health-services for all, charging part of the costs to the government.


The main influence on the Labour Party is the trade-union idea. It is, one might say, the premise from which only minor deviations in party activity are possible. This leads to conservative, reformist socialism, with the biases and habits of trade unionists predominant. It leads also to a strong pressure for immediately beneficial changes in the conditions of organized labor, especially in working conditions, hours of work, and rates of pay. Deviant pressures come from the intellectuals of the universities, professions, and the press, who are inclined to view socialism more broadly and internationally. The "marginal voter" assumes some importance too, for the success of the Labour Party in national elections depends to a vital extent on voters who have no immediate desire or pressure operating on them to follow the Labour Party. Fifty per cent of the total electorate, after all, may not be a permanent percentage; many "independents" are among them. They are responsible for the wide appeals put out to the British public in Labour Party propaganda and perform a function not unlike that performed by the independent voters in America, though the former are weaker and less effective.


The Labour Party is integrated and centralized. Members of the House of Commons and candidates for office are much more responsible to the leaders of the party for their party behavior than are most American legislators. The force of the party program is so great and the leadership of the party so securely in control that the individual member in the constituency is carried along, prodded, and disciplined. The personal ambitions of the individual party-member are rather well channeled along party lines. He may hope for advancement, but that depends on his maneuvering within the party framework. He may want more income, but that is not acquired easily and through outside connections, as it is in America. He looks to the party for immediate honors and must depend upon it to get ultimate recognition by the state as a whole. Therefore, in his politics the English politician gives the impression of being more earnest, hard-working, single-minded, public-welfare-conscious and informed on state affairs than the American legislator, who, so to speak, "scatters his shots" over a wide range of interests, occupations, groups, and private affairs.

What keeps the Labour Party candidates and members of Parliament in line? What explains the integration and centralization? To say that England is a small country and thus tends to allow easy centralization may be partly true, but still England has been until recent decades one of the most decentralized nations, politically and administratively, in the world. The centralization of the Labour Party can be traced back to the organization of the working class as a whole. Trades unions came and then came the trades unions' party. The already bureaucratically constructed unions influenced the party structure. Other parties in England and elsewhere, both from external and internal causes, have shared these characteristics of centralization and integration, but not nearly to the same extent as the Labour Party.


A great part of the voters who vote for Labour candidates also belong to labor, socialist, or co-operative organizations that themselves are forceful groups in politics through their resources, skilled leadership, and permanent dedication to public activity. The trades unions (ranging from the more to the less member-controlled) joined hands in England with groups of intellectuals and nonlaboring orators, writers and organizers; they also joined hands with certain co-operative societies (also more or less democratically organized) and with purely local political organizations (their members impelled by a wide variety of motivations) to produce a general organization that today constitutes the Labour Party Conference. It meets annually to prepare a program which is decided by a two-thirds majority, to discuss party organization, and to elect the central National Executive Committee. As opposed to its counterparts in the Conservative and Liberal parties, the Party Conference does actually direct party activities and formulate policy.

But the very nature of the cabinet system of government makes the National Executive Committee an influential organ in the party organization. The cabinet system requires a party's leadership be free to make decisions and compromises as political exigencies demand. The National Executive Committee of twenty-eight members, twelve of whom come directly from the trade unions, operates continuously for just this purpose. It controls the central headquarters of the party organization and helps greatly in the local campaigns. It must approve all Labour Party candidates and it can dispel dissident individuals or organizations. Taking all these functions into consideration, it is evident that the Committee is an important factor in the policy-making process of the Labour Party, above and beyond the day-to-day control over policy by the rank and file.


The Parliamentary Labour Party is composed of the members of Parliament who have been elected on the Labour Party ticket. When it commands a majority of the Parliament, its leaders are appointed to the Cabinet. The Prime Minister of England, though legally appointed by the King, is in fact the chief of the parliamentary majority party. Also, legally, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet are chosen by their victorious party colleagues in the Parliament. But the Labour members are already part of a large and integrated organization when they come to perform this public duty. Therefore it cannot be expected that the choice of these men is a popularity contest decided on the spur of the moment. They are wellknown beforehand. Some modifications in the cabinet choices are perhaps made; some discussion and advice are heard. But the Labour Party moves inexorably as a permanent organization; the weight of the parliamentary party leaders is felt; the influence of the Executive Committee of the Labour Party Conference is strong; individual eccentricities may be viewed with indulgence, but they are not rewarded.


Charismatic parties are founded on the personal qualities of some great leader who may be himself the exponent of some class or nationality. But the party members do not bother with much of a program; they rely primarily on the leader to produce good through his personality. He has a mission in which they believe firmly. Thus between 1863 and 1875 in Germany the socialists under Lassalle were distinct from the other Marxists and followed wherever he led. In France before World War II the Blanquists, the Guesdists and the Juaresists subscribed to the deviation of their leaders from the central tendency of socialism.

In Italy, the party of Mussolini was a personal party. The Duce's charisma convinced the Fascisti that he could not fail, that his will ought to be followed blindly, and that no precision in program ought to bind him. He was free to do what he wished as the leader of the party. He was identified with Italy, with the party, and with the party membership. The whole arrangement rested on his personality, not on his program. So it was with Hitler and the National Socialists of Germany.


A prominent charismatic party of the post-World War II period sprang up as the Rassemblement du peuple Fran§!ais (or R.P.F.). This party was formed by General Charles de Gaulle in early 1947. It was called by James Burnham (the prophet of the "managerial revolution") the "first genuinely new political reality since Hitler." However, to the other parties in France it seemed to be the old phenomenon of the "man on horseback." The Communist Party of France referred to it as neo-Fascism, and to de Gaulle as the "mouthpiece of reaction, " and a large number of the leaders of the "Third Force," the coalition of the older parties, regarded it as destructive of parliamentarism or even of democracy itself.

The new party or movement, for it was really a combination of both, came on the French political scene after General de Gaulle had emerged from a self-imposed retirement from the Presidency of the Republic. During his retirement he had planned and organized his new movement. Six months after the R.P.F. was organized, it took 33.1 per cent of the votes for municipal officers; this percentage would be greater if coalition votes joining an R.P.F. candidate with other party labels were counted. In the elections of June, 1951, the R.P.F. obtained the biggest single bloc of seats in the National Assembly.

The R.P.F. derived a great part of its raison d'etre from a belief in the personal qualities and mission of General de Gaulle. The belief of his followers was reinforced by the remarkable success he had had in leading a small group of resistance fighters against the Germans when the legitimate authorities of France had surrendered in 1940, thereby becoming recognized in the eyes of the non-French and French worlds as the symbol of France. The General's abstemious, religious, and mystic personality impressed many. He was intensely patriotic, held factionalism in horror, and believed in the future of France as spiritual and political leader of Europe.


One indication that the R.P.F. was charismatic lay in the denial by its leaders that it was a party. "We are not just one more party," exclaimed de Gaulle. The R.P.F. disdained to present an economic program to the nation. One of de Gaulle's closest advisers, the novelist Andre Malraux, declared: "What de Gaullism stands for, first of all, is the restoration of a structure and vigor to France . . . . We have declared that the party system in France, as it functions at the present time, is in no condition to take measures for the public welfare." Malraux further said: "We maintained from the beginning: `We have no faith in programs, but only in objectives. Let us define our objectives one after another, reach them as fast as possible, and then go on to what follows. To put it another way, let's begin by doing what we say.' You can imagine how annoying this is to the program mongers."


De Gaulle himself advocated a thorough revision of the structure of the Fourth Republic to allow for greater permanency of leadership, the strengthening of the executive branch, and the exclusion of the Communist Party from any part in the government. In announcing the aims of the new movement, de Gaulle declared, "To move towards its right goals, the nation must be guided by a government that is coherent, orderly, capable of choosing and applying directly those measures imperatively required for the public safety. The present system, by which rigid and conflicting parties divide all powers, must be replaced by another wherein the executive power follows the country rather than the parties and where all insoluble conflict may be resolved by the people itself." Although careful at first to avoid an outright demand to outlaw the Communist Party, the idea of outlawry was undoubtedly implicit in his thinking.


The appeal of this personal party, which utilized symbols of patriotism, unity, religion, family integrity, and camaraderie, was strong. Suffused with enthusiasm and ostensibly possessed of direction, it posed a threat to the other parties of the state that did not go unrecognized. The reaction of the older liberal parties and the Communist Party was intense and continuous. A personal or charismatic party is one type of non-Communist party that has been able to compete with the appeal of Marxian dogma and discipline. For under a "leader," as under a Duce or Fuhrer, individuals regarded by traditional "issue" or "class" politicians as wholly antagonistic or at least dissimilar seem to be able to group together in a powerful political combination. Thus, among the de Gaullists, one found radical intellectuals, Catholic clerics, conservative businessmen, middle-class government workers and clerks, professional soldiers and ex-soldiers, opportunistic politicians, and generally some of the most active of the non-Communist youth. A heavy R.P.F. vote came from the rural areas and towns, from the Catholic and conservative portions of France, and from the middle-class urban residential areas. In the decade between 1950-1960, the R.P.F. declined greatly in activity and popular support, while de Gaulle went into political retirement. Then suddenly, in 1960, a coup d'etat by civilian and military leaders brought dictatorial powers to de Gaulle. He needed no party when the political crisis of France (over the Algerian war) reached a peak.



Examples of parties whose main theme is religion would be the early Belgian Catholic Party and the German Center Party. In general, the Democratic Christian Parties found cinder various names in Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, and elsewhere after World War II were strongly motivated by religious zeal and an antipathy towards atheistic communism. They seemed to be the most likely competitors of the charismatic (for example, de Gaulle's R.P.F.) and elite (Communist) parties of postwar Europe.


One may ask: "How could a political sentiment that was rather weak in prewar times achieve such dominance after the war?" There are several reasons. For one thing, the bipolarization of the world into American and Soviet groups required that some party rise up and become a center of anti-Communist or non-Communist activity. For once, an external force appeared ready and willing to support such an idea. That was the United States, which gave encouragement, vast gifts of food and machinery, and treaties of alliance to the non-Communist parties of western Europe. This was a novel event. Never before had nondestructive parties been able to get democratic support on a large scale. The effect was evident in the increased courage, enthusiasm, and decisiveness with which the new parties went about their work.

Another reason for the rise of religious parties is that parties of the extreme right-that is, nationalist and totalitarian parties - were repudiated during the war both by the victorious nations and by the conquered or liberated peoples. Also, general changes had taken place in the economic and social life of Europe, making a rigid defense of the capitalistic status quo a practical impossibility in democratic politics. Progressive reforms had to be promised. Furthermore, both Catholic and Protestant religious groups felt increasingly fearful that if the Communists came to power, religion would be subjected to rigorous state control or eradication.

Corresponding to this feeling among churchmen and active religious adherents was an impression that spread widely among nonadherents. Social order and peace were deemed preferable to rationalistic insistence on the secular, materialistic aims of the nineteenth-century democratic movements. In other words, the idea of believing the state could do everything well and right declined in force and acceptance. There remained a mixture of conservatism, pessimism, and antimaterialism.


To illustrate our points about the religious parties, let us take the Christian-Democratic Party of Italy. This party began as one of a number of parties contending for power in the first postwar elections in Italy. An acceleration of the influence of the factors listed in the above paragraph, together with skillful leadership and improved organization, gave it victory in the highly important elections of April, 1948. The Christian-Democrats, under Premier Alcide De Gasperi, won 53.3 per cent of the seats in the Chamber and 43 per cent of those in the Senate. The Communists and part of the Socialists united in a "Popular Democratic Front" and won 31.8 per cent of the Chamber and 31.7 per cent of the Senate. De Gasperi's strength was not great enough to govern comfortably, and he formed a coalition cabinet with progressive and conservative elements in it. Although his party lost some ground in elections held subsequently, he continued as Premier of a coalition government. His successors adopted the same policies.


The Christian-Democratic Party is not based on issuesalthough it expounds issues and professes a program of reform; it is not a "class" party nor a charismatic party. It has neither dogma nor prophets. It is held together basically by a conviction that, since other absolute solutions to social problems-Fascist or Communist-are intolerable, there remains only a course of exploiting the "civilized virtues" of European liberal conservatism together with piecemeal reform. Guiseppe Glisenti, a Christian-Democrat, described in 1948 "the different psychological structure of the two political forces."

On the one hand, the CD (Christian-Democratic Party), whose members, even though active and though they are propagandists, have a vision of the world that inclines them to seek the composing of human differences rather than a struggle for the undisputed victory of their own ideas; men who, the surer they are in their doctrine and the more apostolic in their life, the more they seek that pacification, that balance and that wisdom which excludes extremes in any action, even in the necessary struggle. On the other hand the PCI (Partito Communista Italiano), whose members, especially party workers-all the more so when they are "sincere"-are permeated with the conviction that they must overturn a mistaken world. They can accept no halfway stage, no truce and no intermediate position between the actual world and the world in which they believe. While for us there is a better world and a less good world, and in any case an improvable world, for them there is always an unacceptable world until the day of the perfect world.

The Catholic Church, while eschewing overt and official favoritism for the C.D., has openly vowed its hostility to the Communist Party and its collaborators and has urged united support of anticommunism. In a multiparty country where the only unity might come from the strongest progressive party, that is, the C.D., this was tantamount to throwing the Church's weight on the side of the C.D. Consequently, the C.D. derived some strength from Catholic "Civic Assemblies" organized locally, and benefited from a wide network of local organizations of the Azione Cattolica (Catholic Action).

Because of the pulling and tugging of regional interests, always strong in Italy, the party cannot maintain a doctrinaire position. To retain its quasi-majority, it must organize locally and produce "machines," and we find this urge to organization strongly voiced in party circles as the condition for survival. Of the alternative bases for establishing machines -fanatic dogma (as with the Communist Party), patronage and favors, a long period of rule with honors and habit adding their forces, or auxiliary organizations-at present only the fourth is possible for the C.D. And, although the party is increasing its influence in labor unions, its real dependence here is on the hierarchy and membership of the Catholic Church. Meanwhile the Communist Party, with its class appeals, picks up readily a solid mass of support from the industrial workers and tenant farmers. It need only defend its position among these voters and perhaps extend it a little.

Temporarily, something much like a two-party system, with the Christian-Democrats dominating, came to a multi-party country. The permanence of this situation depended on the C.D.'s maintaining co-operative rather than dependent relations with the Church (for many of its supporters are suspicious of clerical politics), on the continued material and moral support of the United States, and on the wooing of secular organizations such as labor unions from the revolutionary or socialist fold.


Roberto Michels classified as elite parties the Fascist Party and the Soviet Communist Party. Elite parties, he wrote, defy the majority principle. They refuse to consider that they may remain forever a part of the nation rather than become the nation itself. They regard the idea of elections as abominable, but are fond of plebiscites. Yet, existing in an age when the idea prevails that the whole body of the people should be active in government, they oscillate between trying to represent the whole people and insisting on the special capacity and right of a few to rule.


Like the former Italian Fascist Party, the former German National Socialist Party, and like the present Spanish Falange, the Communist Party in the Soviet Union established itself as the only party in a one-party state. It monopolized the controlling positions in government despite the fact that on paper at least the structure of the Soviet Union was democratic and representative. It extended its monopoly not only to the central organs of the Soviet Union but also to the federal states of the Union, which again on paper were supposed to have considerable areas of independent and autonomous activities.

What do we mean by "monopoly"? Most baldly stated, we mean that no Russian can expect to be a member of the ruling elite unless he belongs to the Communist Party. We mean also that the top leadership of the party interlocks with and generally constitutes the top positions of the government (see Figure 10). For example, from 1941 to 1953, Josef Stalin was both Prime Minister (that is, Chairman of the Council of Ministers) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and General Secretary of the Communist Party. Since 1958, Mr. N. S. Khrushchev has followed precedent by also presiding as First Secretary of the Party Central Committee (the title of General Secretary was dropped in 1952) and Chairman of the Council of Ministers. And if there is any question as to which of the titles is more important, it is well to remember that the office of First Secretary has been for both Stalin and Khrushchev the launching pad from which they ascended to leadership of party and nation and that neither man, even after attaining Premiership, relinquished control of the Secretariat while in power.



* Reproduced with permission from
"The Government of the Sovi-· Union,"
Harper and Thompson, D. Van Nostrand Company, In,
with minor changes to carry through 1961.

By monopoly we also mean that although in theory control over the decision-making process resides at the bottom of the governmental heirarchy with the electorate as represented by the Supreme Soviet, in fact, leaders of the Communist Party-the members of the Presidium-at the top of the governmental machinery dictate policy for both the party and the state. There were in 1960 some 8,700,000 members of the Communist Party out of a population of some 212,000,000 persons. These men constitute the elite of their country and, because of their superior qualities and understanding of party history, doctrine, and dogma, have been deemed qualified to participate in the management of the nation. These trusted members of the party are placed strategically in positions of power (and power in the Soviet Union is an all-inclusive term embracing government, economics, industry, agriculture, and the arts) so that no considerable source of opposition to party decrees could be expected to develop at any point of the vast and complicated apparatus of governmental administrative and counciling bodies.

The Communist Party never abandoned the exhortations of Lenin that to be strong and effective the party must be fanatic, disciplined, and small. Revolution, according to him and his disciples, could never be achieved and carried to fulfillment without the active direction of a small and determined minority. But, since the elites of the twentieth century must operate in the name of the people, they profess that all that they do is on behalf of the great majority; they even claim to be democratic.


The functions of the Communist Party are, in line with the foregoing, to carry on the Bolshevist Revolution, to inspire and train the masses along Bolshevist principles and action, and to govern the land. Unlike the American and other parties, the Communist Party (in the Soviet Union and in its satellite countries) never has to act as the opposition; it denies that there is any need for an opposition party. Changes in policies occur as a result of the changed attitudes of the party leaders. The leaders may change the "line" or may allow a subject matter to be discussed in party circles. In the latter procedure, which the Russians like to call "democratic centralism," problems or issues are discussed freely within the party, although possible reactions from above are watched for. At a point designated by the leadership, discussion is closed, and a decision is arrived at by whatever means the leadership deems desirable: by vote, party-group consensus, or leadership consensus. Once decreed, the decision cannot be challenged by the party membership or organs. It persists until the leadership decides to reopen the matter again.


The original ideal of the Communist Party was that it should be the instrument of the workers, and working class members were sought diligently. However, since the qualifications for party leadership (short of the stable top group) demand the same qualities of vigor, ruthlessness, dedication to duty, and organizational ability that are demanded of the people who manage industry and government, middle-party leadership and managerial leadership very often coincide. It is idle to conceive that the thousands of managers, directors, and officials who operate the government and industry are ruled by soviets composed of the factory workers who during most of the time work under them. And it is also idle to assume that the party members and leaders, who are directing the energies of the country, sit back in manual jobs, allowing or assigning nonparty members to the important and wellpaying jobs in the management of industry, economy, and government.

This conclusion is inescapable from a deductive evaluation of the power structure of party and government, and from the inductive evaluation of the evidence on party membership, interlocking office-holding in party and government, and the social origins of party officials. The ruling class in both party and government is the same. The class of managers, directors, and officials runs the Soviet Union. Intellectuals are given honors and party positions, but they furnish adornment to the party, rather than leadership. Agricultural workers, even if they dwell on the collective or state farms, furnish relatively few members to the party. The armed forces contribute a much higher percentage of the total membership, and the ruling members of the party constantly strive to maintain party activity within the armed forces at a high level. Here, too, however, there has been an increasingly close identification of army leadership and party leadership. The time has passed when army officers might be checked by party political commissars; the ruling elements in the army have coalesced.

In sum, the Communist Party permeates the state and the economy. It is still a part of the whole; but it directs the whole, and it holds the formal titles, the legal positions, that are given to the chiefs of administration, industry, and the armed forces.



Political parties, whatever may be their raison d'etre, are susceptible to certain conservative and oligarchic influences. Of course, in an age of universal suffrage, they must employ many democratic symbols and try the best they can to sound sincere. Each party invariably claims that it is the most democratic and has the welfare of the whole nation at heart.

At election time, the aristoi candidates deign to descend from their mansions and to bestir themselves among the yokels in order to obtain the majority in their districts [writes Michels]. The majority parties also take care, in political elections, to address themselves not alone to their associates. In democracy everyone appeals to the people, to every one of the people, without discrimination . . . . A socialist who before the elections, and afterwards, has only a very narrow conception of what is meant by the working-class, loves, during the campaign, to stretch the theoretical extent of this class to the point of including capitalists, providing, of course, that they are not too refractory to accord to their employees, in such a case, some small wage increment. [1]

As Alexis de Tocqueville stated the point in his Democracy in America (1835) : "Democratic republics extend the practice of currying favor with the many and introduce it into all classes."

Michels also describes how a party is transformed through success. Once its flush of youth has gone and its first appeals - backed by fiery intent - have echoed away into the distances, it begins to acquire a bureaucratic mien.

From a means, organization becomes an end. To the institutions and qualities which at the outset were destined simply to ensure the good working of the party machine (subordination, the harmonious cooperation of individual members, hierarchical relationships, discretion, propriety of conduct), a greater importance comes ultimately to be attached than to the productivity of the machine. Henceforward the sole preoccupation is to avoid anything whitch may clog the machinery. Should the party be attacked, it will abandon valuable positions previously conquered, and will renounce ancient rights rather than reply to the enemy's offensive by methods which might "compromise" its position . . . . We have now a finely conservative party which (since the effect survives the cause) continues to employ revolutionary terminology, but which in actual practice fulfills no other function than that of a constitutional opposition. [2]

But parties not only tend to grow bureaucratic and conservative as they grow older, they also become oligarchic. More and more of the important decisions are made by the leaders with ever more feeble, formal and informal communication with the party membership, and even less communication with the party's general following in the electorate At the conclusion of his sociological study of the oligarchical tendencies of modern democracy, Michels summarizes his findings:

Now, if we leave out of consideration the tendency of the leaders to organize themselves and to consolidate their interests, and if we leave also out of consideration the gratitude of the led towards their leaders, and the general immobility and passivity of the masses, we are led to conclude that the principal cause of oligarchy in the democratic parties is to be found in the technical indispensability of leadership.

The process which has begun in consequence of the differentiation of functions in the party is completed by a complex of qualities which the leaders acquire through their detachment from the mass. At the outset, leaders arise spontaneously; their functions are accessory and gratuitous. Soon, however, they become professional leaders, and in this second stage of development they are stable and irremovable.

It follows that the explanation of the oligarchical phenomenon which thus results is partly psychological; oligarchy derives, that is to say, from the physical transformations which the leading personalities in the parties undergo in the course of their lives. But also, and still more, oligarchy depends upon what we may term the psychology of organization itself, that is to say, upon the tactical and technical necessities which result from the consolidation of every disciplined political aggregate. Reduced to its most concise expression, the fundamental sociological law of political parties (the term "political" being here used in its most comprehensive significance) may be formulated in the following terms: "It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization, says oligarchy. [3]

If only we had figures on the duration of the oligarchic process that could be used to compare one kind of party with another, we might make greater use of Michel's concept. However, as matters stand, many differences distinguish one party from another, and we can only suggest a wary attitude towards sweeping statements about all parties. One party's rank and file may be more forceful than another's. We can assume that communications among leaders and followersthe Iron Law of Oligarchy notwithstanding-are stronger and more meaningful in one party than another. The conservative and oligarchical tendencies will always suffuse party organizations with their qualities and effects. But the strength and character of a party's guiding theme must pose varying resistance to these tendencies, and-much to the harm of our neat "laws"-the times, the events, the public, and the men will conspire intermittently to interrupt and destroy any smooth progression that the abstract law of oligarchy may picture.


We have now come to a point where we may make several observations about the trend of political parties generally in the contemporary world. Today parties and governments are on the whole much different from those of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The main trends have been fourfold: The executive branch of the government has become more influential in directing, controlling, and organizing the party. The party machine-organization has grown stronger in relation to the party membership, rather than weaker. The relation of political parties to government has grown closer. And those parties that could count on the tangible support of auxiliary organizations such as labor unions have forged ahead of parties that rely simply on the support of the "independent" electorate. All of these trends are of increasing importance in contemporary politics.


The development of the executive branch of government and the development of strong parties go together. We have seen that the Italian and German charismatic (and later elite) parties of Mussolini and Hitler were integrated and centralized, and that their advent to power meant the abrupt decline of the legislatures. Also we have seen that the Communist Party is controlled by its executive committees and that the Soviet government itself is mastered by the top executives who simultaneously occupy party and state positions. In France, we saw that de Gaulle directs his party without challenge and that his primary demand for the reform of French government is that the executive be strengthened. In England, the executive leadership of the party and the Prime Minister and Cabinet of the state have grown stronger in parallel lines, so that it is difficult to say which came first, the strong state executive or the strong party executive. In either case, the fact is apparent that the party membership and the Commons have suffered equally in force and influence.

In Italy as in America, the situation is less clear. However, so far as Italy is concerned, politics based on colorful personalities is being overshadowed by party politics. People vote the party label increasingly. The executive is stronger under the new constitution than under the pre-World War I constitution. Although De Gasperi was not the strong personal figure that Crespi and Orlando were before World War I, still his position came to be as secure and dominating as were theirs. This might indicate that the executive leadership of the government is per se, that is, without regard to the personality of the incumbent, stronger today than it used to be.


Now let us look at the picture in the United States. The American party system historically joined with the governmental structure in promoting legislative leadership. Federalism and the separation of powers have contributed to making the local party strong and the national party weak. Yet, as Leslie Lipson and Leonard D. White have shown in their studies of the governors and national administration respectively, the executive power has been generally expanding in both state and nation. It is true that the party has lagged behind; it is not as much subject to the executive as is the administrative machinery of government. Nevertheless, the governor is a stronger political party figure today in most states than he was fifty years ago, and even a strongly criticized President such as President Truman was able to command party support in achieving his renomination as candidate for President in 1948. Separate state elections and independent state officers, however, seem to provide a barrier to the national executive's assuming thorough control over the party. Even President Franklin Roosevelt could not impose his choice of candidates on the local parties and electorates, nor could he compel the co-operation of Democratic Party members in Congress. And the very fact that the state governors have become stronger as party leaders means that they have less motive for following in the wake of the national executive.


Of the parties we have described above, only the American parties would seem to be reluctant to participate in the tendency observed by Roberto Michels in his study of political parties before World War I. As we have seen, he found that in every party he studied, the party organizations were increasing their controls at the expense of the membership, a process that he regarded as inevitable. However, in the American case one must distinguish between centralization and integration. Resistance against centralization often occurs when the lower levels themselves are undergoing a process of integration. Thus, as the governor gains party power within the state, he is likely to resist strongly the turning of such power over to the national party. Similarly, the American scene has a multitude of tightly integrated county machines that resist incorporation into the state machine. Let us say, then, that there exists, if at all, only a slight tendency for American parties to become centralized, if only because the American machines, local and state, are already integrated. The American machine actually became oligarchic before the parties of which Michels spoke became oligarchic; the advocates of "better organization" in Europe have referred wistfully to American party organization since the nineteenth century.


We also stated that the political parties seem to be drawing into a closer relationship to the government. In the Soviet Union, of course, the Communist Party runs through the government and economic system like a core of steel. But even elsewhere the victory of a party means more and more change in the activities and personnel of government. Party leaders are more and more often the same people as the government leaders. The parties are increasingly controlled by statutes in their activities and membership. Nevertheless, the idea that opposition parties should be completely out of office is changing in two different but related ways: First, in America and England, on issues regarded as vital, a two-party or bipartisan policy is sometimes adopted. This occurred in England during World War II, and of course the opposition party in England has had at all times a Stipulated duty and office. The same policy of bipartisanship occurred in America during and after World War 11 when, on matters concerning foreign affairs, Republican leaders joined the Democratic Administration. Thus the problem of a basic split in consensus, which many critics claimed would destroy representative government based on the party system, was attacked by stopgap, "emergency" measures. Second, as in France and Italy, a combination of coalition and fundamental rejection of the opposition is employed. The French and Italian governments have pursued the policy of inviting in all parties but the extreme left and right. The rejection of the Communists is to be considered a final and fundamental rejection-that is, a forced split in competing elites with the object of ultimately eliminating the extreme left. The R.P.F. combined the coalition and rejection ideas in a remarkable way. It insisted that it was not a party and recruited its members from all parties, but rejected utterly the Communist Party not only because the C.P. was in opposition but because it was composed of "non-Frenchmen."


The modern party cannot live on the votes of isolated individuals and affiliated volunteers. It richer diet of support from outside organizations. The Communist Party of Russia of course feeds right from the state. It ha no problem of sustenance. The English Labour Party relies on the mass strength of organized labor. The Italian Christian Democratic Party depends, with many doubts and selfinterrogations, on the support of Catholic Church organizations. The Rally of the French People provides its members with the excitement of a cause, a movement, a crusade, and the ultimate promise of victory. In the event of victory, a different solution to the organizational problem would have to be found.

The American political party still depends ultimately on favors and jobs for the local machine-workers and supporters and on "idealistic" politists. A slight challenge to this condition comes from the political strength of organized labor, which inclines towards the Democratic Party. The unions can give state-wide officers and national candidates a kind of support in which union favors are exchanged for machine favors. A more serious challenge to the traditional condition of American parties is the spread of the merit system in the civil service, which gives jobs to the qualified for as long as they remain qualified. Deprived of this source of work and favors, the local party is somewhat in flux; it is more vulnerable to attack by insurgents, more friendly to the influence of volunteers, and more tempted to rely on the support of organized groups like labor.

Also, we should remember that pressure groups representing special interests, which we are to consider in the next chapter, have been developing concurrently with these several trends in party politics. One may almost perceive a race occurring between the assimilation of highly organized social and economic groups into the party system and the independent establishment of special interests as agencies of the state. Perhaps we may better judge the potential victor in this race and the consequences of its triumph when we have observed more closely the tendency of contemporary pressure politics.

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