Mosca, Gaetano

Mosca, Gaetano
born April 1, 1958, Palermo, Sicily, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
died Nov. 8, 1941, Rome, Italy

Italian political theorist.

Educated at the University of Palermo, he taught constitutional law there (1885–88) and at the Universities of Rome (1888–96) and Turin (1896–1908). A member of the Italian chamber of deputies from 1908, he was made senator for life by Victor Emmanuel III in 1919. In works such as The Ruling Class (1896) he argued that, historically and properly, society has been governed by minorities, whether military, religious, oligarchic, or aristocratic.

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▪ Italian jurist and philosopher
born April 1, 1858, Palermo, Sicily, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies [now in Italy]
died November 8, 1941, Rome, Italy

      Italian jurist and political theorist who, by applying a historical method to political ideas and institutions, elaborated the concept of a ruling minority (classe politica) present in all societies. His theory seemed to have its greatest influence on apologists for fascism who misunderstood his view. His work, along with that of Vilfredo Pareto (Pareto, Vilfredo) and Robert Michels (Michels, Robert), inspired subsequent studies by political scientists of the process of the “circulation of elites” within democracies and other political systems.

      Educated at the University of Palermo, Mosca taught constitutional law there (1885–88) and at the Universities of Rome (1888–96) and Turin (1896–1908). A member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies beginning in 1908, he served as undersecretary of state for the colonies from 1914 to 1916 and was made a senator for life by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1919. His final speech in the Senate was an attack on the Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini (Mussolini, Benito).

      Mosca's Sulla teorica dei governi e sul governo parlamentare (1884; “Theory of Governments and Parliamentary Government”) was followed by The Ruling Class (originally published in Italian, 1896). In these and other writings, but especially in The Ruling Class, he asserted—contrary to theories of majority rule—that societies are necessarily governed by minorities: by military, priestly, or hereditary oligarchies or by aristocracies of wealth or of merit. He showed an impartial indifference to the most diverse political philosophies. For him the will of God, the will of the people, the sovereign will of the state, and the dictatorship of the proletariat were all mythical.

      Although sometimes called “Machiavellian,” Mosca actually considered most of the political ideas of Niccolò Machiavelli (Machiavelli, Niccolò) (1469–1527) impractical. He opposed the racist elitism preached by the Nazi Party in Germany, condemned Marxism, which in his view expressed the hatred within Karl Marx (Marx, Karl), and mistrusted democracy, seeing the greatest threat to liberal institutions in “the extension of the suffrage to the most uncultured strata of the population.” Mosca viewed the most enduring social organization as a mixed government (partly autocratic, partly liberal) in which “the aristocratic tendency is tempered by a gradual but continuous renewal of the ruling class” by the addition of men of lower socioeconomic origin who have the will and the ability to rule.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • MOSCA (G.) — MOSCA GAETANO (1858 1941) Après avoir fait des études de droit et de sciences politiques, Gaetano Mosca enseigne lui même ces disciplines à l’université de Turin, puis à Rome. Parallèlement à son activité scientifique, il mène une carrière… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Gaetano — gaetano, na. adj. Natural de Gaeta. U. t. c. s. || 2. Perteneciente o relativo a esta ciudad de Italia. * * * (as used in expressions) Donizetti, (Domenico) Gaetano (Maria) Mosca, Gaetano Vestris, Gaetano Appolino Baldassare …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Mosca — (Del lat. musca.) ► sustantivo femenino 1 ZOOLOGÍA Insecto de cuerpo negro, ojos salientes, aparato bucal picador y chupador, patas con capacidad adherente, muy común y molesto. (Musca domestica.) 2 Pelo que le crece al hombre entre el labio… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Gaetano — (as used in expressions) Donizetti Domenico Gaetano Maria Mosca Gaetano Gaetano Appolino Baldassare * * * …   Universalium

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