The Machiavellians, Bauman, and the direction of future inquiries
The contributions made by the likes of Pareto, Michels and Mosca are invaluable to our current understanding of power and politics (even though they have been relegated to the dustbin of history by the Italian left, guilty of participating in the fascist regime).
After reading Bauman though, it is clear that something is missing: the texts feel outdated, and while one can tell that they could accurately describe the behavior of the elites of their times (of solid elites), it is just as evident that as economic power went global, things are not as simple anymore.
Pareto’s residues and derivations can still be used to attempt to describe some of the ways society functions on a basic level, just like Michels’ iron law of oligarchy applies to organizations today just like it did at the beginning of the XX century, but the question has to be asked: after the divorce between power and politics, can (should) we talk of elites on the national level, or of global elites? Or both? Would that mean plurality, or would the elites at the national level be subordinate to the global elites (thus stripping them of their elite title)? How does the market as a producer of elites work? In a similar fashion to the production of political elites? Or maybe the market, in view of the impossibility of real, political democracy, can actually function as more of a democratizing process than democracy itself? Is this just a centrifugal phase? Or did the melting reach a permanent point that, if not of “not return” will signify a permanent shift in power relations between economy and power — to say it in Landian terms: will the state win the arms-race against deregulation (both in cyber and actual space)?
These are, I believe, the questions that will give us better tools to analyze modernity’s trajectory, and maybe let us retrieve the “black box of the pilotless plane where the passenger of liquid modernity is seated”