Beyond Right and Left

Beyond Right and Left: Democratic Elitism in Mosca and Gramsci

MAURICE A. FINOCCHIARO
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 314
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bvfb
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Beyond Right and Left
    Book Description:

    Two Italian writers, Gaetano Mosca and Antonio Gramsci, have been very influential in twentieth-century political thought, the first cast as a thoroughgoing conservative, the second as the model of a humanistic Marxist. The author of this provocative book-the first systematic study of the connection between the two men-maintains that they are closer to each other than is commonly supposed-that they in fact belong to the same political tradition of democratic elitism.Maurice A. Finocchiaro argues that Gramsci's political theory is a constructive critique of Mosca's and that the key common element is the attempt to combine democracy and elitism in a theoretical system that defines them not as opposite but as compatible and interdependent. Finocchiaro finds that a critical examination of the major works of the two men demonstrates their shared belief in the viability of democratic elitism and undermines the importance of the distinction between right and left.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14418-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: RIGHT, LEFT, AND CLASSIC APPROACHES TO GRAMSCI
    (pp. 1-14)

    Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) represents a unique case in modern political and intellectual history because his life and writings can appeal to the Left and to the Right, as well as to political theorists who shun practical involvement and to common people who seek political enlightenment or inspiration. Thus, on the one hand, he has been hailed as the “Patron Saint of the Left”¹ by such a cultural icon as the LondonTimes Literary Supplement. On the other hand, recently he has become something of an anti-hero of the Right, where he has attracted the attention of no less than...

  5. ONE GRAMSCI AS A POLITICAL THEORIST: BACK TO MOSCA
    (pp. 15-21)

    Most works on Gramsci tend to reverse the relative weight and importance which ought to be given to his practical life and to his sustained thought; that is, they discuss at great length the details of his life before prison, and then they give a small amount of space to his thinking as recorded in the prison writings.¹ One reason for this stems from the difficulty of interpreting the Prison Notebooks. Another reason is the interpretation of Gramsci in terms ranging from communist revolutionary to socialist radical and left-wing ideologue (in short, the Gramsci myth); for this interpretation requires that...

  6. TWO MOSCA’S POLITICAL SCIENCE: DEMOCRATIC ELITISM AND BALANCED PLURALISM
    (pp. 22-61)

    The terms “elitism” and “democracy” are commonly regarded as antonyms, and yet there exists a tradition of political thought which treats the two notions as distinct but not opposite, and indeed as mutually interdependent. Gaetano Mosca is one of the earliest and most eloquent exponents of such a tradition, and I believe that this alone would justify the serious study of his thought. However, this does not begin to do justice to this thinker because his elitism turns out to be democratic not only in his own special sense of democracy, which he defines in terms of open elites, but...

  7. THREE GRAMSCI ON MOSCA: METHODOLOGICAL AND THEORETICAL CRITICISM
    (pp. 62-83)

    The Prison Notebooks contain three layers of evidence in regard to Gramsci’s acquaintance with Mosca and Mosca’s influence on Gramsci. The most extensive layer is also the deepest, both in the sense that it involves the conceptual structure of Gramsci’s political theory and in the sense that it is most deeply buried in the Notebooks, because it consists of discussions and analyses in which noexplicitmention is made of Mosca and his ideas; this layer will be examined in later chapters. The second layer consists of a number of explicit comments, which will be analyzed presently. The third layer...

  8. FOUR GRAMSCI’S ELITISM: AN EXTENSION OF MOSCA’S LAW
    (pp. 84-113)

    There are many passages in the Prison Notebooks which have an implicitly Moschian character, in the sense that the particular ideas advanced by Gramsci are reminiscent of Mosca, although the latter is not mentioned explicitly. The most significant of these passages cluster around the notions of elitism, democracy, liberty, the relation between Gramsci’s “hegemony” and Mosca’s “political formula,” the relation between state and civil society, the balancing function in a government, and parliamentarism. I shall begin with the elitist cluster, not only becauseMoscabelieves the elitist principle to be the most fundamental principle of political science, but also because...

  9. FIVE GRAMSCI’S DEMOCRACY: AN APPLICATION OF MOSCA’S CONCEPT
    (pp. 114-143)

    The word “democracy” has many meanings in ordinary language and everyday life as well as in practical politics and among scholarly experts. One of the most common definitions is in terms of majority rule, although the inadequacy of such a definition is also commonly recognized by admitting the possibility of a tyranny of the majority. Until recently, when the world was divided into communist and capitalist camps waging a cold war against each other, that geopolitical struggle was also reflected in a disagreement over the conception of democracy; the one side backed a version of democracy variously called proletarian, socialist,...

  10. SIX LIBERALISM AND ANTI-LIBERALISM IN MOSCA AND GRAMSCI
    (pp. 144-178)

    In an elitist political theory, the distinction between elites and masses is taken as fundamental, and then the main problems are discussed in terms of the diverse relationships between them. One of the most important and basic relationships is, as we have seen, the influx of members of the masses into the elites, or the openness of the latter to individuals from the former, or the renewal of the latter with elements from the former; this relationship provides the special content and meaning for the special concept of democracy which both Mosca and Gramsci accept, and which they contrast with...

  11. SEVEN MOSCA AND GRAMSCI ON FREEMASONRY AND FASCISM: AN EMBLEMATIC CASE
    (pp. 179-200)

    The analysis so far has been relatively abstract in that it has dealt exclusively with the political theory of Mosca and Gramsci. In the Introduction I explained this limitation as being intrinsic to the nature of the present investigation. Nevertheless, it would be desirable if the theoretical rapprochement between these two figures could be tested or supplemented by an analysis at a level closer to political practice. Moreover, aside from such a motivation, there happens to be a case of practical political convergence which is sufficiently emblematic to merit being studied in its own right, for other reasons as well....

  12. CONCLUSION: BEYOND RIGHT AND LEFT
    (pp. 201-222)

    The preceding chapters suggest three main conclusions. In increasing order of generality and theoreticity, they are as follows. The most historical and specific thesis asserts that Gramsci’s political theory is a critical elaboration or constructive critique of Mosca’s. The intermediate conclusion involves the notions of democracy and elitism and makes the claim that there exists a tradition of thought which aims to combine these two apparently incompatible concepts; that this tradition has considerable viability; and that Mosca’s and Gramsci’s political theories belong to this tradition. The most general thesis pertains to the concepts of political Left and Right; it holds...

  13. APPENDIX: CONCORDANCE OF THE CRITICAL EDITION AND ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS
    (pp. 223-240)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 241-264)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 265-296)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 297-302)