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Robert Michels, author of the classic work Political Parties is typically described as a disillusioned socialist who drifted from Marxism and became a proponent of anti-democratic elite theory after encountering the works of Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto. I argue for broad continuity in his writing during his most political period (1904-14) which included the publication of Political Parties. By reinterpreting Michels and his relationship to socialist and syndicalist thought of the period, his work is recontextualized as part of a larger conversation on socialism, democracy and the mass political party. Michels emerges as a complex thinker whose work diverged from Mosca and Pareto's in tone and purpose.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of History and Political Science, College of St. Rose, Box 2438, Albany, NY 12203, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2019

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