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02/2023 – Vilfredo Pareto nel centenario della morte (1923-2023): l’attualità di un “guastafeste”

ISSN: 2037-495X
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storia del pensiero politico e sociale: vilfredo pareto cent’anni dopo (1923-2023)

Un classico da rileggere Giovanni Barbieri

Pareto e la demistificazione della giustizia Joseph V. Femia

Pareto teorico della decadenza Pier Paolo Portinaro

La sociologia di Pareto: un quadro per teorizzare la bipolarizzazione culturale e politica tra élite e non-élite Alasdair J. Marshall

A proposito di Pareto sociologo delle emozioni Emanuela Susca

Gli ultimi scritti di Pareto su democrazia e riforma delle istituzioni Giovanni Barbieri


osservatorio internazionale: il dragone e il medio oriente

Le potenze mediorientali e il dragone: tra hedging, timori e vantaggi Federico Donelli

La proiezione cinese verso il Medio Oriente: il caso Afghanistan Silvia Menegazzi

Le relazioni Cina-GCC in un’epoca di competizione tra grandi potenze Jonathan Fulton

Il ruolo cinese nella partnership con l’Iran Jacopo Scita

L’evoluzione dei rapporti sino-turchi: fattori determinanti e implicazioni Federico Donelli, Riccardo Gasco

Cina e Israele: rapporti bilaterali, ma filtrati da Washington Arturo Marzano

Egitto e Cina dagli anni Cinquanta a oggi: storia di una lunga relazione tra ideologia, convergenza geopolitica e sostenibilità economica Alessia Melcangi, Giuseppe Dentice


Notizie sugli Autori





Joseph V. Femia, Pareto and the Demystification of Justice

The article examines Pareto’s reflections on the concept of justice. While some economists argue that the principle of Pareto-Optimality can be used as a criterion of just distribution, Pareto himself thought that the correct balance of benefits and burdens in society was a philosophical rather than an economic question. However, as an advocate of Machiavellian “realism”, he argued that this question could never be answered objectively. What we call justice will always vary with the cultural and historical context. Pareto attempts to prove this proposition by showing that the different philosophical approaches to justice – utilitarian, natural law, social contract – all fail to make the case for a universal and timeless understanding of the concept.  The article will conclude that Pareto was basically right.  While all societies require visions of justice, these will necessarily depend on particular cultural traditions and subjective value-judgements.

Keyword: Vilfredo Pareto; Justice; Machiavellian realism; social contract


Pier Paolo Portinaro, Pareto Theorist of Decadence

The theme of the decadence and corruption of political regimes, a classic theme in political thought, runs through Pareto’s entire sociological oeuvre, from Les Systèmes socialistes to the Trattato di sociologia generale to the essay Trasformazione della democrazia. It forms an integral part of his theory of the circulation des élites, which is one of the most representative intellectual products of the crisis sweeping European societies in the late 19th century. Interpreters have not failed to point out an affinity between this diagnosis and the Weberian one concerning the “will to powerlessness” of the bourgeoisie in the age of imperialism. An affinity that manifests itself in the element perceived as the most macroscopic indicator of the decadence of liberal society: bureaucratic stiffening.

Keyword: Vilfredo Pareto; Decadence; Political regime; Liberal society


Alasdair J. Marshall, Pareto’s Sociology: a Framework for Theorising Elite versus Non-elite Cultural and Political Bipolarisation

Recognising Pareto’s class one and class two residues as modelled on Machiavelli’s Foxes and Lions, the paper argues that these offer viable cultural descriptors for the nub of contemporary culture war between liberal elites and conservative non-elites.

Drawing heavily on Pareto’s theory of demagogic plutocracy, it creates a frame for theorising deteriorating relations between the two sides, under conditions where culture war escalates towards possible civil unrest, terrorist violence, or actual war. Within that context, the paper reminds the reader that Pareto’s Lion roars loudly today as an internet meme used widely by the dissident nationalist right. Pushing the discussion in a practical direction, the paper proposes basic structural risk factors and conflict accelerants which may be captured together to form a distinctively Paretian risk barometer for fundamental social conflict. The paper concludes by reasserting Pareto’s ideal of open, balanced elites, as the distinctively Paretian route towards peaceful cultural settlement.  

Keyword: Vilfredo Pareto; Machiavelli; Elite; Social conflict


Emanuela Susca, About Pareto Sociologist of Emotions

In the current crisis of the theory of the fully rational actor, interest has grown in recent years both in the sociology of emotions and in Pareto seen as a sociologist of emotions. It is therefore appropriate to deepen the analysis by separating, on the one hand, the theory of logical and non-logical actions and, on the other hand, the later focus on residues in the Treatise on General Sociology. In this way, one can better appreciate both the originality of Pareto’s approach to emotions and the fact that residues, while conceived in a markedly elitist framework, have implications that are in part still relevant today. Although it remains true that Pareto was looking primarily at the issue of rulers, his view is multifaceted and by no means simplistic.

Keyword: Vilfredo Pareto; Sociology of Emotions; Elitism; Emotions


Giovanni Barbieri, The Last Works of Pareto on Democracy and the Institutional Reform

The article analyses the last works of Pareto, namely Trasformazione della democrazia and Pochi punti di un futuro ordinamento costituzionale, in which the author develops his criticism of democracy and puts forward his proposal of reforming institutions.

With regard to the first point, it highlights how Pareto, on the one hand, considers the democratic ideals as derivations devoid of any real confirmation, but useful in pushing the human being to act, and, on the other hand, sheds light on the facts that are behind the term democracy. Facts which pertain to both the form and the essence of power, and that refer to the parliament power, the means at disposal of the governing elite, and the demagogic plutocracy.

With regard to the second point, it focuses on both the similarities and differences between the proposal of Pareto and the transformation of the State’s institutional structure carried out under the fascist regime.

Keyword: Vilfredo Pareto; Democracy; Institutional Reform; demagogic plutocracy


Silvia Menegazzi, The Chinese Projection towards the Middle East: the Afghanistan case

The case of Afghanistan is particularly relevant for analyzing China’s projection in the Middle East: a highly unstable country from a political point of view but with a great geopolitical potential, located at the core of Southwest Asia, functioning as China’s gateway to the Middle East and consequently, Europe. Likewise, Afghanistan represents an important opportunity for the People’s Republic of China: the possibility to promote an alternative vision of international relations based on a mix of non-interference, ad hoc multilateralism and economic development. China’s growing involvement in Afghanistan signals that PRC’s foreign policy towards the Middle East is changing, in the light of an increasingly global role played by China at the international level.

Keyword: China; Afghanistan; Middle East; Southwest Asia


Jonathan Fulton, China-GCC Relations in an Age of Competition

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have long relied on extra-regional partners to navigate a highly competitive regional environment. After the end of the Cold War, the United States gradually established itself as the most important partner. However, since the beginning of the 21st century, the US has started to reduce its presence in the region, opening up competitive spaces that have been occupied by other countries, primarily China. The following article reconstructs the state of relations between China and the Gulf countries from an economic and political perspective. Following the announcement of the BRI project in 2013, relations between China and the GCC have intensified significantly; however, at the same time, Sino-US competition has intensified, adding a further layer of complexity to the full development of a platform of relations.

Keyword: China; Gulf Cooperation Council; BRI project; Cold War


Jacopo Scita, The Chinese Role in the Partnership with Iran

Recently, the partnership between China and Iran has attracted growing attention from policymakers and scholars, further suggesting the interest generated by the Chinese projection in the Persian Gulf. The paper looks at Sino-Iranian relations from two distinctive perspectives. The first one can be traced back to the Realist tradition of International Relations and looks at the economic, security, and strategic drivers of China’s relations with Iran. The other one, in contrast, is rooted in the Constructivist Theory, describing the ideational dimension of the partnership, focusing on how China and Iran describe their relations and where they locate them within their global vision. Ultimately, the paper tries to reconcile the aforementioned approaches by applying the Role Theory of International Relations, defining the role enacted by China in the partnership with Iran as the product of the interaction between the structural and ideational dimensions.

Keyword: China; Iran; Realist tradition; Constructivist Theory; Persian Gulf


Federico Donelli, Riccardo Gasco, The Evolution of Sino-Turkish Relations: Factors and Implications

The analysis of Turkish-Chinese relations represents a peculiar case study to analyze middle powers’ behavior during a power transition (US-China). Chinese footprint in the Middle East has been steadily growing over the last decade. Turkey, despite having historical relations with the US and Europe, decided to adopt an equidistant position, not counteracting Chinese investments in the country. The following article, through the lenses of Neoclassical Realism, analyzes the factors that brought Ankara to gradually open-up towards Beijing by elaborating on the behavior of a middle power during a power transition.

Keyword: China; Turkey; Neoclassical Realism; Turkish-Chinese relations


Arturo Marzano, China an Israel: Bilateral Relations but filtered by Washington

In this paper, the Author present a brief overview of the history of the political and economic relations between China and Israel, focusing in particular on the intensification of the commercial trade between the two countries over the past two decades. Despite the economic relations between Jerusalem and Beijing being strong, this proximity cannot be reconciled with the special relationship that binds Israel to the United States. In fact, the strategic alliance with Washington and the limits set by the American administration represents an obstacle that prevents Sino-Israeli relations from becoming even closer in the near future.

Keyword: China; Israel; United States; Sino-Israeli relations


Alessia Melcangi, Giuseppe Dentice, Egypt and China from the 1950s to today: History of a long Relationship between Ideology, Geopolitical convergence and Economic Sustainability    

This article, through a historical and political analysis of over 60 years of Sino-Egyptians relations, draws attention on the degree of development of this strategic synergy in the long term. Furthermore, expanding the dynamic from a bilateral plan to a broader perspective, we will try to analyze the effects of this cooperation on the Middle East region up to a geopolitical and economic reading of Egypt-China partnership in today’s international framework.

Keyword: China; Egypt; Middle East; Egypt-China partnership