Isocracy pp 187-198 | Cite as

The Structural Possibility of an Alternative

  • Nicolò BellancaEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism book series (PASTCL)


In this brief final chapter, we ask ourselves about the achievability of Isocracy. We distinguish between the objective or structural side and the subjective one. On the first side, the most debated trajectories of institutional change are those planned from above and those that emerge from the spontaneous interaction of individual behaviours. In my opinion, a third modality is particularly important today. It works by temporarily breaking the rules of an institution, on the part of a coalition however small. When many of these interventions converge on the same “narrative”, they take on a unitary meaning and can shape new institutional rules. Rather, on the subjective side, it is necessary that multiple coalitions defy existing rules. As long as the imagination of people lies within the horizon of power asymmetries, the change stagnates. It can happen, however, as some models analyse rigorously that small alterations in someone’s narrative multiply and amplify to become a critical mass. In conclusion, Isocracy represents a theoretical project, whose structural and subjective possibility is rooted in the multiple conflictual dynamics of capitalism. Organisational set-ups of economic pluralism as well as political pluralism, promoted by humans who self-regulate all their passions, can together conjure up a real utopia: its forms are those of “polyphony”, a plurality of settings, spheres, arenas, where power is diffused, balanced, distributed on more levels and freedom is shared. The social world is always imperfect. We can never achieve a perfect ideal. However, we can design an ideal for imperfect people.


  1. Antoci, Angelo, Nicolò Bellanca, and Giulio Galdi. 2018. At the Relational Crossroads: Narrative Selection, Contamination, Biodiversity in Trans-local Contexts. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 150: pp. 98–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Denzau, Arthur T., and Douglass C. North. 1994. Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions. Kyklos 47 (1): pp. 3–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. de Figueiredo, Rui J.P., Jr., Jack Rakove, and Barry R. Weingast. 2006. Rationality, Inaccurate Mental Models, and Self-Confirming Equilibrium. Journal of Theoretical Politics 18 (4): pp. 384–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hoff, Karla, and Priyanka Pandey. 2006. Discrimination, Social Identity, and Durable Inequalities. American Economic Review, Papers & Proceedings 96: pp. 206–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hoff, Karla, and Joseph E. Stiglitz. 2010. Equilibrium Fictions: A Cognitive Approach to Social Rigidity. American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings 100: pp. 141–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kuran, Timur. 1995. Private Truths, Public Lies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Levitsky, Steven, and Maria Victoria Murillo. 2009. Variation in Institutional Strength. Annual Review of Political Science 12: pp. 115–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Meade, James. 1993. Liberty, Equality, and Efficiency: Apologia pro Agathotopia mea. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  9. Michéa, Jean-Claude. 2002. Impasse Adam Smith. Paris: Éditions Climats.Google Scholar
  10. Morin, Edgar. 2010. La mia sinistra. Trento: Erikson, 2011.Google Scholar
  11. Olson, Mancur. 1965. The Logic of Collective Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Ostrom, Elinor. 2005. Understanding Institutional Diversity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Russell, Bertrand. 1919. The Proposed Roads to Freedom. New York: Henry Holt and Company.Google Scholar
  14. Sandler, Todd. 2015. Collective Action: Fifty Years After. Public Choice 164: pp. 195–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Shepsle, Kenneth A. 1989. Studying Institutions: Some Lessons from the Rational Choice Approach. Journal of Theoretical Politics 1 (2): pp. 131–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Shepsle, Kenneth A. 2017. Rule Breaking and Political Imagination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Vaneigem, Raoul. 1967. The Revolution of Everyday Life. London: Rebel Press.Google Scholar
  18. Willer, Robb, et al. 2009. The False Enforcement of Unpopular Norms. American Journal of Sociology 115 (2): pp. 451–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. World Development Report. 2015. Mind, Society, and Behavior. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  20. Wright, Erik Olin. 2010. Envisioning Real Utopias. London: Verso.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

Personalised recommendations