Politics > Spiral of Political Maturation > Stage-1: Politics Starts in the Pluralist Mode

Stage-1: Politics Starts in the Pluralist Mode

Reminder: Closed Organized social groups exist in all societies: in pursuing their interests, they come to define the structure of (political) power in the society: review what politics is about.

There Are Always Elites

Stage 1: Privileged elites carve up the social goods largely for their own benefit.

Politics emerges spontaneously in communities, because of the competition for social goods.

A few groups find themselves the natural possessors of much of their society's intrinsic «social goods»: power, status and wealth. These are the privileged elites—and they like the arrangement. Political institutions are therefore initially built around whatever powerful groups form the elite.

This focus on elite groups locates the political mode in the ellipse of the pragmatist-pluralist approach. We place this initial politics at the upper left end, because…Closed there are only a few elite groups and most groups in society are outside the inner circle of power.

So political maturation starts from a natural beginning in Pluralism—the quintessential group-oriented political mode.

Variants of Pluralist Politics

Pluralism exists in more than one form as an ethical choice approach, depending on the number and types of groups of interest to the chooser. So, in describing the political modes, we must identify the general features of Pluralism and then determine how these general features manifest specifically in this earliest stage of politics, which we will name Privileged Pluralism or Pluralism-I. (Syn: Primitive Pluralism, Pragmatic Pluralism).

Values & Institutions of the Pluralist Mode

The source of power within the elite groups described above is found in tradition or culture. That is why outsiders may find it difficult to understand why the power-structure is tolerated.


Integrating Force:
ClosedPopular ideals: Culture-based

Socio-political Institution:
ClosedEnduring groups: Traditional classes or brute power

Governance Requirement:
ClosedPolitical leaders: Privileged elites


Personal Benefit:
ClosedAccess to social goods: Under elite control

Access to goods is the result of membership of a group. In Pluralism-I, elites are themselves minimally productive and so goods are controlled and obtained exploitatively. In regard to tangible wealth, the privileged elites take the lion's share and divide it up amongst themselves. Elites claim to provide all with abstract social goods like unity, order and stability.

In traditional societies, kinship is the major force determining status. In a modern context, however, an ambitious person seeking self-advancement and benefits has the choice of entering an elite group, like the secret police or priesthood.

Social Interactions:
ClosedMaintenance of order: Authoritarian control

Provision of Knowledge:
ClosedManagement of information: Propaganda & censorship

Personal-Ethical Requirements

Core Value:

Civic Virtue:


Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 27 Mar 2014

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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