Lecture 6: Society and the State: Max Weber: Power and the Political Foundations of Modern Social and Political Thought
Society and the State The Politics of the Social The State as Social Doctor: Durkehim The State as Social Representative: Hobson The State as the Social: Bosanquet
Weber and the Nature of the State ‘ … a state is that human community which (successfully) lays claim to the monopoly of legitimate physical violence within a certain territory, this territory being another defining characteristic of the state. For the specific feature of the present is the right to use physical violence is attributed to any and all other associations or individuals only to the extent that the state for its part permits it to happen. The state is held to be the sole source of the right to use violence.’ The Profession and Vocation of Politics, 311.
Weber and the Nature of the Political ‘If one says that a question is a “political” question, or that a minister or official is a “political” official, or that a decision is determined “politically”, what is meant in each case is that interests in the distribution, preservation or transfer of power play a decisive role in answering that question … Anyone engaged in politics is striving for power, either power as a means to attain other goals (which may be ideal or selfish), or power for its own sake, which is to say, in order to enjoy the feeling of prestige given by power.’ The Profession and Vocation of Politics, 311.
Class, Status and Party: Economics, Society and Politics ‘Whereas the genuine place of classes is within the economic order, the place of status groups is within the social order, that is, within the distribution of honour. From within this spheres, classes and status groups influence one another and they influence the legal order and are in turn influenced by it. But ‘parties’ live in a house of power.’ Class, Status, Party, 194.
The Purposes of the Political: Weberian Nationalism ‘The aim of our socio-political activity is not the make everybody happy but the social unification of the nation, which has been split apart by modern economic development, and to prepare it for the strenuous struggles of the future.’ Nation State and Economic Policy, 26-7.
The Problems of the Political Value Pluralism and Difficulties of Disenchantment Class Displacement and Democracy Political Education, Qualifications and Engagement Bureaucracy and Instrumental Rationality
The Difficulties of Disenchantment ‘ … the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the brotherlieness of direct and personal human relations. It is not accidental that our greatest art is intimate and not monumental …’ Science and Politics, 155.
Class, Displacement and Democracy ‘Democratisation can certainly be obstructed – for the moment – because powerful interests, prejudices and cowardice are allied in opposing it. But it would soon emerge that the price to be paid for this would be the entire future of Germany. All the energies of the masses would then be engaged in a struggle against a state in which they are mere objects and in which they have no share. Certain circles may have an interest in the inevitable political consequences. The Fatherland certainly does not.’ Suffrage and Democracy in Germany, 129.
The Problems of Political Education ‘The danger does not lie with the masses, as is believed by people who stare as if hypnotised down into the depths of society. The deepest core of the socio- political problem is not the question of the economic situation of the ruled but of the political qualifications of the ruling and the rising classes.’ Nation State and Economic Policy, 26.
The Problems of Bureaucracy ‘… rule by officials has failed utterly whenever it dealt with political questions. This has not happened by chance … it is not the task of an official to join in political conflict, and thus, in this sense of the word, “engage in politics” … on the contrary, he takes pride in preserving his impartiality, overcoming his own inclinations and options, so as to execute in a conscientious and meaningful way what is required of him …’ Parliament and Government in Germany, 179.
Getting Politics Right: Leadership Leaders and their Cause Leaders and Responsibility Leaders and Political Judgement
Leadership and Cause ‘Anyone who lives for politics, makes this his life in an inward sense … feeding his inner balance and self-esteem from the sense that he is giving is life meaning purpose by devoting it to a cause.’ ‘Passion in the sense of concern for the thing itself, the passionate commitment to a ‘cause’’ Profession and Vocation of Politics, 318 and 353.
Leadership and Responsibility ‘Simply to feel passion, however genuinely, is not sufficient to make a politician unless, in the form of service to a ‘cause’, responsibility for that cause becomes the decisive lode-star of all action.’ Profession and Vocation of Politics, 353.
Leadership and Judgement ‘This requires … judgement, the ability to maintain one’s inner composure and calm while being receptive to realities, in other words distance from things and people. For the problem is precisely this: how are hot passion and cool judgement to be forced together in a single soul?’ Profession and Vocation of Politics, 353.
Politics: The Cause of Conflict ‘Anyone seeking to save his own soul and the souls of others does not take the path of politics in order to reach his goal, for politics has quite different tasks, namely those which can only be achieved by force.. The salvation of the soul is endangered … whenever men strive to attain it by political activity, employing the means of violence and acting on the basis of an ethic of responsibility.’ The Profession and Vocation of Politics, 366.
Conclusions: The Purposes of Politics Optimism or Pessimism? Varieties of Pessimism: Mill and Weber Varieties of Optimism: Mill and Durkheim
A Closing Remark ‘…the dictum that truth always triumphs over persecution, is one of those pleasant falsehoods which men repeat after one another til they pas into commonplaces, but which all experience refutes. History teems with instances of truth put down by persecution. The real advantage which truth has, consists in this: when an opinion is true it may be extinguished once, twice, or many times but in the course of ages there will be found persons to rediscover it’.