Weber Politics as a Vocation

  • Created by: Lauriie
  • Created on: 21-03-17 10:57
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  • Weber Politics
    • Politics as Vocation
      • History: Germany was much more autocratic (contributed to  the loss of the war) In 1919: Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George and Clemenceau: politicians who were not soldiers.
        • Politics is for politicians, not for businessmen or soldiers.
      • Weber definitely looking at politics from the inside, participating and learning from experience.Wants to know what it is like to be a politician; it is a specific role/ vocation.
        • With the monopoly on political power; great power but your only weapon for achieving that is violence; you have to accept this. EG: recognise that you might have to reconcile the pursuit of peace with the use of violence (thinking in opposite ways at once.)
        • Politicians have to have personal responsibility for their actionsParadox of politics: a politician has to look at evidence and have responsibility, but also a strong belief; should I do what I think is right, or what the situation/ people expect of me?
          • Unintended consequences matter: Paradox; to do good you have to use your only means which is violence There will be side effects that you cannot get rid of but you have to try to take them into account beforehand
            • Being a politician is to have extreme power and extreme responsibility; you have to combine idealism with violence, and to take responsibility for everything even the consequences you did not intend to happen. This is very tough; not everyone can do it. Requires both passion and being paid for it; both a profession and a calling.
              • Examples of Weberian leaders: Abraham Lincoln:Professional politicianConviction to preserve the unionRealised this would need violence on an extreme scale; civil warAssumed responsibility for this violence and won.
          • No ethic to justify when the good ends justify the bloody means; the decision has to lie with the politicianTemptation to find a ‘clean’ sanctified violence but it cannot be found, you cannot say that the collateral damage was not part of the package, you did it.
      • Weber calls this the paradox of politics: Thinks it’s the hardest job in the world‘It may send you mad’ because it’s very hard to believe one is doing god when they’re doing bad.
        • Evidence-based politicsConviction overriding evidence means you’re sidestepping responsibility; ‘my convictions made me do it’Your convictions cannot give you a clean slate; responsibility
    • Definition of the Modern State: the State is that organisation which successfully claims the monopoly of legitimate violence. Empowered by political acquiescence of the citizens.
    • Political Leadership
      • Most important issue for Weber;Why were the leaders of England and the US more successful?In Germany those who had power did not have responsibility. The Kaiser had ultimate power but was not answerable to anyone, the parliament did not have any power
        • The British system is more consistent; democracy, Where the prime minister is answerable to parliament, And has to have the confidence of parliament
          • The German system:Does not produce leaders, Going into politics is a dead end as Parliament has no power The MP is answerable to the people who voted for him (not what Weber wanted), And leaders not responsible to a separate body (parliament) (What Weber wanted)
            • Good leadership is trying to win votes from the wide public not a narrow section of interestBritain and the US; (kind of) two party states where the parties have to appeal to a broad section of the electorate.
            • Civil servants have the power to do things, but do not have responsibility as they only work for the ministers. Germany has a lack of fusion between power and responsibility.


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