Author: John Higley

Abstract

This article argues that ideologies, which elites utilize for political justification and mobilization, are always misleading guides to what can be accomplished politically. After reviewing how socialism preoccupied and misled elites during the "short" twentieth century, I examine how the ideology of democracy, in which Western elites today have unquestioned faith, conceals a range of fundamental sociopolitical changes and distorts the implications of various major events. The fixation of elites on democracy's illusions is leading – in some respects has already led – to disaster.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: John Higley

Abstract

Many political thinkers have viewed democratic elitism as closing a democratic road they believe is or should be open-ended. Their view of democratic possibilities reflects the auspicious circumstances of Western societies during the past several centuries and especially since World War II. However, it involves a conflation of liberal and democratic values. I examine why and how this has occurred, and I argue that liberal and democratic values must be more clearly separated in today's dangerous world. In step with Schumpeter, democracy must be regarded as a method or instrumental value that in some but by no means all circumstances promotes the ultimate liberal value of actively individualistic free people.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: John Higley

Abstract

Circulations and qualities of political elites are subjects of abiding interest in comparative political sociology. Pairs of articles in this issue examine (1) long-term circulations of parliamentary elites in Norway, Denmark, and other Nordic countries; (2) changing compositions of ministerial and parliamentary elites in Spain and Russia since both countries transited from authoritarian rule; (3) personality traits of German parliamentary elites, compared with those of the German adult population, and proclivities of American and British elites since World War II. This introduction compares and contrasts the three pairs of articles with previous comparative studies of political elites.

In: Comparative Sociology
In: Democratic Elitism
In: Democratic Elitism
Editors: Heinrich Best and John Higley
Joseph Schumpeter's “competitive theory of democracy” – often labeled democratic elitism - has struck many as an apt and insightful description of how representative democracy works, even though convinced democrats detect an elitist thrust they find disturbing. But neither Schumpeter nor subsequent defenders of democratic elitism have paid enough attention to actual behaviors of leaders and elites. Attention has been riveted on how adequately democratic elitism captures the relationship between governors and governed in its insistence that competitive elections prevent the relationship from being one-way, that is, leaders and elites largely unaccountable to passive and submissive voters. Why and how leaders and elites create and sustain competitive elections, what happens if their competitions become excessively stage-managed or belligerent – how, in short, leaders and elites really act - are some of the issues this book addresses.

Contributors are Heinrich Best, Jens Borchert, Michael Edinger, Fredrik Engelstad, Trygve Gulbrandsen, John Higley, Gabriella Ilonszki, András Körösényi, Mindaugas Kuklys, Gyorgy Lengyel, Anton Steen, and Jacek Wasilewski.
Authors: Jan Pakulski and John Higley

Abstract

This article presents and assesses the thesis that a shift in the character of governing elites and leaders has been occurring in several important liberal democracies during recent years. Ascendant elites are more leonine and top leaders are more pugnacious. We attribute the shift to strong centripetal pressures that now impinge on elites and leaders, and we ask about the shift's consequences for the operation of liberal democracies.

In: Comparative Sociology
Authors: John Higley and Heinrich Best

Abstract

During the postwar decades following Joseph Schumpeter's seminal Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, democratic elitism struck many as an apt and insightful description of how representative democracy works – even though convinced democrats detected an "elitist" thrust they found disturbing. But during the last several decades political elites and leaders have wielded more power and influence in Western democracies than Schumpeter and his early adherents acknowledged. If it is to retain relevance and utility, democratic elitism must incorporate the now more evident roles elites and leaders play.

In: Comparative Sociology