Talk:Iron law of oligarchy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Politics / Oligarchy (Rated C-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Politics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of politics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the Oligarchy task force.
WikiProject Sociology (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Sociology, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of sociology on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.

Aren't you going to mention Plato and his cycle of civilizations?death metal maniac (talk) 18:21, 11 November 2008 (UTC)[edit]

You should feel free to. (talk) 10:36, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

what creats the iron law of oligasrchy according to R. Michels?[edit]

Good question. Bureaucratization and specialization mainly, which creates a specialized group of administrators in a hierarchical structure. This leads to The routinization of authority and decision making...basically the sorts of the things Max Weber delt with. And to a lesser and more cynical extent, the Peter principle. Hey...there's something we can add to the article! Thank you, unknown stranger:>--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) 06:22, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

National Socialist example in 1915 book?[edit]

Am I missing something, or is there something funny when the article says that an "example that Michels used in his book was Germany's National Socialist Party."? The only book mentioned is his 1915 "Political Parties", which would predate the Nazi party (assuming this is what is meant; the link is to a disambiguation page). Is the reference really meant to be to the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which Michel's entry indicates he was a member of until 1907? It looks like this was introduced in this diff. - David Oberst 04:11, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

My mistake, you are right.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 04:19, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Copyvio problems?[edit]

Also, there may be some copyright issues - chunks of the text are directly taken from this website. It is listed in the References section, but given the substantial usage should there not be more explicit notice? Also, the author asserts copyright, and I don't know if his release would be compatible with Wikipedia's GFDL? - David Oberst 04:11, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

There are inline citations in text, and it has been somewhat reworded. But perhaps we can put some remaining sentences in quotation marks?--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 04:18, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Has there been any actual sociology tests on this theory[edit]

Does anyone know of any sociology test on this theory? Nevermind, :) I have learned asking questions on wikipedia talk pages is usually futile. Travb (talk) 04:34, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Many, google scholar or print for Iron Law of Oligarchy. Lipset ITU study is likely the most famous.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  18:02, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

shit floats to the top??[edit]

This has got nothing to do with the Iron law of oligarchy. There is no claim being made that the "oligarchs" are bad people. It is pointing to a divergence of interests, IMO that whole section should be cut.Dejvid 11:42, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Which section?-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  18:01, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Prety much all of "Fiction and popular culture"as it stands.Dejvid 23:07, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Oh. It's unreferenced, I support moving it to talk.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  07:16, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

I've cut the section ==Fiction and popular culture== because it is unsourced and because it tottally misunderstands the Iron Law of oligarchy. The reason put forward by the theory as to why it is an iron law is that the people who get to fill higher positions have a level of competance that is not easily replaced. The problem is that undermines democracy in those organizations not that the people in high positions are crooks.Dejvid 08:40, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

The vulgar proverb "shit floats to the top" has sometimes been considered a rephrasing of the Iron Law of Oligarchy, 
especially in the very common situations where the oligarchy is also a [[kleptocracy]] and/or a [[kakistocracy]].{{fact}} 

This idea has been mentioned in several books by [[Terry Pratchett]], 
including the phrase 
 "other things float to the top except cream", 
"cream of society" being a phrase sometimes used to describe the upper classes.

Wikipedia and Iron Law[edit]

I am moving anon's paragraph here; while interesting, it is both POVed and ORish.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 11:36, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Another example is Wikipedia. While beginning as a fairly democratic and open forum, the iron law inevitably set in. Users who had the time and available effort slowly rose to the top of an editorial bureaucracy. As promotion, advancements, and levels were determined by success among the group, a uniform mindset inevitably became manifest. This oligarchy enforced its power through user expulsion and article deletion, dismissing views offensive to the group mindset as "non-notable." Eventually, this led to a stagnation of the content of the nascent encyclopedia, leading to its decline. It was later surpassed in content and users by rival, more open and democratic systems.
I agree. It's polemical and out of place here. Notabene, a reliably sourced and neutral paragraph would fit in here, but not this. It has been reinserted since your revert. I won't enter an editwar as a matter of principle, but unless the anonymous user offers a better alternative, that paragraph can't stay. (Note: I edited that paragraph previously without having read it entirely. This should not be mistaken: I think that paragraph should go, and have told the anonymous user so on his talk page. ) Kosebamse (talk) 10:18, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
I've reverted it on the basis of WP:NOR. --NeilN talkcontribs 14:58, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
There is No Cabal. Supermagle (talk) 21:49, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

From My Talkpage[edit]

Your edits to Iron Law of Oligarchy were reverted. Please don't add unreferenced information to Wikipedia. Thank you, --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 14:31, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

It's not...some just can't handle the Wikitruth...-- (talk) 15:26, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't see any references. Ergo, it is unreferenced WP:OR. Please observe our policies (WP:V). Wikitruth is certainly not reliable, but I am sure they would welcome such unreferenced criticism.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 17:08, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia's policies are flawed. You, yourself, have just violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the dread 3RR. You are also violating the sprit of WP:OWN since you do not own that article..nor does anyone here. As far as reliability goes,the TRuth has a much better record of getting it right on the subjects it knows about than WP. A few great editors such as yourself not withstanding, WP is 95% regurgiated, cut and pasted, pastuerized crap. And a clear example of the Iron Law in action.-- (talk) 17:17, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Please don't re-revert without discussion. As you presumably know, continued reversion is not tolerated and will eventually result in administrative measures. Your addition to that article is not in line with Wikipedia's content guidelines. You may wish to take your complaints elsewhere. Kosebamse (talk) 10:30, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
I am attempting to discuss, but you are not discussing. All you are doing is dictating policies, or rather your interpretaions of them, to me and then threatening to use your sysop tools against me if I do not comply. Which amouts to using your tools as weapons in an edit war to support your own opinions...not facts...I'm sure there is a policy against this somewhere, but I doubt you will be called out for it in this case...afterall you are an admin and I'm just an IPeon; a 3rd class citizen at best. All this only further serves to show just how apt an example of the Iron Law Wikipedia has become.-- (talk) 12:40, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Your polemics aside, you are free to suggest a better version. Unless you convince other editors of the merits of your views, you will have to accept that said views will not be represented. If you want strong opinions placed in an article, the burden of proof is upon you. Edit warring will not be interpreted in your favor, by the way. Kosebamse (talk) 18:45, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
The anonymous user is right. His paragraph should not be entirely deleted, although Eventually, this led to a stagnation of the content of the nascent encyclopedia, leading to its decline. It was later surpassed in content and users by rival, more open and democratic systems. should be deleted if the paragraph comes back. Stagnation? Decline? The user is right about the flawed policies and the enforcement of those flawed policies. If he does come with references, they would most likely be dismissed as unreliable. Mallerd (talk) 18:56, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
But adding Wikipedia in an example might cause severe biases, after all everyone here is reading Wikipedia and will inevitably change their opinion (from something that was only supposed to be an example, not a claim against the relationship between the Iron Law and Wikipedia) of the Iron Law from the example about Wikipedia. Another factor to creating a bias is that applying the law to Wikipedia will inevitably imply to readers that it is extemely important that Wikipedia should not be an oligarchy, dispite that websites, businesses, and other capitalism structures are usually supposed to be oligarchys however bad the word oligarchy sounds. That further makes there appear to be a terrible problem between the Iron Law and Wikipedia even though there isn't. Also, "Wikipedia's policies are flawed" is not derectly related to the Iron Law because it states every organization, even if not flawed, will evolve to an oligarchy. (talk) 23:41, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is obviously subject to the Iron Rule for reasons quite apart from internal division between frequent and infrequent users. Editors will inevitably be those who are educated, wealthy enough to own or access a computer, and have sufficient time to compose or edit articles. Stating that Wikipedia "avoids the Iron Law" indicates a fundamental lack of comprehension of the doctrine in question. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jhunyadi (talkcontribs) 04:01, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

See also Pournelle's law?[edit]

The writer Jerry Pournelle has proposed an "Iron Law of Bureaucracy", which builds on the Iron Law of Oligarchy in a somewhat depressing manner. Should we mention it in the "See also" section of this article? Perhaps as

(BTW, I've just edited the Jerry Pournelle article to mention this article.) Cheers, CWC 09:52, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

See also would be fine. Please add references in footnotes, note the usage of external links in main body is discouraged (WP:EL). --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 22:11, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
OK, I've added it as an item in the "See also" section. I think that's the appropriate level of coverage in this article. I'm not sure I used the best format; further edits welcome. Cheers, CWC 07:53, 3 July 2011 (UTC)


I have heard that Mohism takes a similar negative standpoint on oligrachy/monarchy. It could be similar to the Iron law of oligarchy. I don't know if this is worthy enough to get a mention on a Mohism perspective in this article. Komitsuki (talk) 14:38, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

Iron cage[edit]

I don't know. Does the concept of Iron cage have in common with the Iron law of oligarchy? Tried to include Iron cage in this article but decided not to. Komitsuki (talk) 07:46, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Dubious claims about Wikipedia's immunity[edit]

Since the previous discussion of the matter is no longer applicable to the current version, I'm starting a new one. The claim that Wikipedia is somehow not subject to the law is extremely dubious, and the only reference given is by Piotr Konieczny, who has actively participated in the article's editing. That makes it unreliable, and almost certainly running afoul the WP:ORIGINAL policies. You cannot be an active editor, write the article, and use your own publications. Unless and until independent third party references are provided, I will oppose this claim. And I doubt any will ever be found, because Wikipedia is not immune. If anything, it's a perfect example of how the Iron Law holds, even in the face of new and unusual initial structures. mathrick (talk) 14:20, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Piotr is an excellent editor, but if we are going to engage in self-reference, the source should not be one of ourselves. And there are scholarly papers (I come here from listening to one) which present Wikipedia as a type-case of the Iron Law. Either a section - or preferably not at all. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:10, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

The section on Hayes should be removed[edit]

The section on Hayes and his "iron law of meritocracy" is irrelevant and is a blatant plug. If you want this to be here without introducing a pov you would have to include myriad supposed political laws - for instance mine: "the iron law of inefficiencies" which holds that the only effective restraint on oligarchy is that its construction inevitably introduces inefficiencies in a nonlinear relation to its amassed political power and thus leads inevitably to its own demise. The section should be removed. (talk) 06:13, 11 June 2013 (UTC)Robert Wood