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Democracy and the Political in Max Weber's Thought

Democracy and the Political in Max Weber's Thought

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Democracy and the Political in Max Weber's Thought
    Book Description:

    InDemocracy and the Political in Max Weber's Thought, Terry Maley explores, through a detailed analysis of Weber's writings, the intersection of recent work on Weber and on democratic theory, bridging the gap between these two rapidly expanding areas of scholarship.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9594-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Religion, Philosophy, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-28)

    In his occasional political writings, speeches, and interventions during and after the First World War, Max Weber argued strenuously that the existing, and crumbling, autocratic monarchical regime ruled by the Kaiser should be replaced by a parliamentary democracy based on equal suffrage. In his arguments for political renewal in a time of crisis, Weber was calling for a national yet liberal-democratic political community in postwar Germany; in doing so, he was confronting political opponents on both the right and the left. Controversially and publicly, he called for heroic leaders to run the new democratic system; those who had a ‘calling’...

  5. 1 Bureaucracy versus Democracy?
    (pp. 29-51)

    I begin by suggesting that Max Weber’s sociological analysis of bureaucracy plays an important and sometimes polemical role in his political writings and in his model of democracy. There are also overlapping political contexts for reading Weber’s sociology of domination, in which his best-known discussion of bureaucracy is found. According to Weber, bureaucracy and democracy – already intertwined historically in the modern West – were becoming increasingly inseparable in the early twentieth century. For his contemporaries, the ‘iron cage,’ or ‘steel-hard casing,’ of bureaucracy was one of Weber’s most compelling political thematics.¹ I begin with it because it frames the...

  6. 2 The Politics of Realist Democracy
    (pp. 52-76)

    In his wartime and postwar political writings, Weber argued strenuously for a system of parliamentary democracy based on equal suffrage. In those writings, besides responding to the political issues of the day, he provided the outlines of a model in which he thought modern democraticpoliticscould be ordered and contained. This outline provided the basis on which a newpolitical, higher-order endeavour could be reconstructed from the chaos of a failed system.¹ While Weber’s advocacy for democracy was clearly a response to the immediate political and constitutional crisis precipitated by the Kaiser’s disastrous prosecution of the war, I approach...

  7. 3 Democracy and the Political
    (pp. 77-120)

    In this chapter I want to look atwhyandhowWeber strategically adds the idea of the charismatic political hero to his model of democracy. He does so most forcefully in his well-known lecture ‘The Profession and Vocation of Politics.’ In a detailed analysis of the logic and style of argument of that lecture, I will argue that Weber’s heroic political actor is a problematic emblem of what Sheldon Wolin has called thepolitical. For Wolin, ‘Thepolitical. . . is an expression of the idea that a free society composed of diversities can nonetheless enjoy moments of...

  8. 4 The Puritan Sects and the Spirit of Democracy: The Memory of the Political in the Protestant Ethic
    (pp. 121-145)

    This chapter seeks to further explore Weber’s notion of the heroic agent upon whom he called in ‘The Profession and Vocation of Politics’ to recreate a newpolitical. We find the roots of that ideal in the ideal-typical construction of the bourgeois Puritan ofThe Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism(hereafterProtestant Ethic) of 1904, the revised version of 1920, and Weber’s work on the Puritan sects in America. Commentators have long noted that Weber’s ideal type of the heroic Puritan has, from its initial reception, been a highly contested concept. One hundred years after theProtestant Ethic...

  9. 5 Science as a Vocation, or the Politics of Science
    (pp. 146-175)

    Weber always insisted that theProtestant Ethicwas an example of the ‘one-sided accentuation of reality’ that characterized all ideal types. Thus, what Peter Breiner has called the ‘just so’ story of the Puritan sects and their heroic founding of capitalism was a consciously selective reconstruction rather than a straightforward historical account. Having suggested, at the end of the last chapter, that Weber’s methodological writings provide the constitutive assumptions for the construction of the ideal types, I now look more specifically at what those assumptions are, how they underlie the ‘fictional’ reconstruction of the heroic Puritan and the agency of...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 176-204)

    This quote, from the last lines of ‘The Profession and Vocation of Politics,’ though not quite as famous as many others from Weber, precisely captures the dilemma of his model of democracy. In the context of the historical constraints that confronted Weber and other progressives, be they liberal, socialist, or feminist in the aftermath of the First World War, arguing for a formal system of universal suffrage and the full inclusion of the working class constituted a (liberal) version of ‘reaching for the impossible.’ But, Weber believed, only heroic leaders were really capable of both envisioning the impossible (in ethics...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 205-264)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 265-282)
  13. Index
    (pp. 283-292)