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Charismatic Leadership and Social Movements

Charismatic Leadership and Social Movements: The Revolutionary Power of Ordinary Men and Women

Edited by Jan Willem Stutje
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 212
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  • Book Info
    Charismatic Leadership and Social Movements
    Book Description:

    Much of the writing on charisma focuses on specific traits associated with exceptional leaders, a practice that has broadened the concept of charisma to such an extent that it loses its distinctiveness - and therefore its utility. More particularly, the concept's relevance to the study of social movements has not moved beyond generalizations. The contributors to this volume renew the debate on charismatic leadership from a historical perspective and seek to illuminate the concept's relevance to the study of social movements. The case studies here include such leaders as Mahatma Gandhi; the architect of apartheid, Daniel F. Malan; the heroine of the Spanish Civil War, Dolores Ibarruri (la pasionaria); and Mao Zedong. These charismatic leaders were not just professional politicians or administrators, but sustained a strong symbiotic relationship with their followers, one that stimulated devotion to the leader and created a real group identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-330-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
    Jan Willem Stutje
  5. Introduction: Historiographical and Theoretical Aspects of Weber’s Concept of Charismatic Leadership
    (pp. 1-20)
    Jan Willem Stutje

    In the 1920s Karl Löwith called Max Weber the ‘bürgerlichen Marx’.¹ While Weber disagreed widely with Marx, he was, as Eric J. Hobsbawm noticed, always in dialogue with Marx and Marxism.² As thinkers, Hobsbawm said, they shared more ideas than one would expect considering their differing political outlooks (socialism versus liberalism).³ They converged even in their understanding of modern capitalism: they both perceive it as a system where ‘the individuals are ruled by abstractions (Marx), where the impersonal and “thing-like” (Versachtlicht) relations replace the personal relations of dependence, and where the accumulation of capital becomes an end in itself, largely...

  6. I. The Charismatic Family

    • Chapter 1 A New Kind of Force: Examining Charisma in the Light of Gandhi’s Moral Authority
      (pp. 23-43)
      Dilip Simeon

      Max Weber is renowned for advocating the idea of a value-free science of culture. It was Nietzsche for whom an irrational ‘will to truth’ became aware of itself as a problem, and who characterized modern culture as one in which the ‘highest’ values had withdrawn from the public sphere. The phenomenon of the autonomous individual developed within this culture. For Weber, the world is objectively meaningless and visible only through the perspectives of ideal-types. Value-perspectives are created by the dynamic of charisma and routinization, which confronts and displaces prevalent forms of culture.² Charismatic individuals are those whose devotion to a...

    • Chapter 2 An Unlikely Charismatic Leader: D.F. Malan in a Weberian Light
      (pp. 44-65)
      Lindie Koorts

      It was a May night in 1948. The winter chill was setting in, as all across South Africa people huddled around their radio sets, listening intently to the election results pouring in, from one constituency to the next. The picture that emerged led to euphoria and astonishment.Timemagazine reported: ‘[i] n rural Burghersdorp a pro-Malan voter had got so excited over the election returns on his radio that he ran out firing his rifle in the air, accidentally shot down his antenna. A Smuts supporter kicked his radio to smithereens and had to be given sedatives by the doctor’.¹...

    • Chapter 3 Bearded, Attractive and Beloved: The Charisma of Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis (1846–1919)
      (pp. 66-83)
      Jan Willem Stutje

      Max Weber’s celebrated essay on charismatic leadership appeared posthumously in 1922.¹ Weber observed that in situations of crisis the public endow a charismatic leader with the supernatural powers necessary for the fundamental social changes they want. Loaded with extraordinary gifts Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis probably was the most charismatic leader ever in the Dutch labour movement.²

      In the 1880s and the beginning of the 1890s Domela and his followers shared an ‘emotionale Vergemeinschaftung’ [emotional communality]: a bond that can be considered as a creative cultural community in opposition to the ruling social order, which was to be turned upside down.³ The...

    • Chapter 4 Errico Malatesta and Charismatic Leadership
      (pp. 84-100)
      Carl Levy

      This chapter will examine the role of charismatic leadership in the Italian anarchist and socialist movements in the period up to thebiennio rosso(1919–1920).¹ It will focus on the role of Errico Malatesta (1853–1932) in the Italian anarchist movement. The Italian anarchists relied on informal leadership to maintain the continuity of their organizations. Even if Italian anarchism was a minority movement within the Italian Left by 1914, its symbols, repertoire of actions and geographically specific political cultures allowed it to exercise a notable effect during the social mobilization of the Red Week (June 1914) and thebiennio...

    • Chapter 5 Pasionaria: A Case of Charisma through Representation
      (pp. 101-116)
      Juan Avilés

      In May 1944, a group of leaders held a meeting in Moscow to appoint a new general secretary of the Spanish Communist Party (Partido Comunista de España, PCE). The Bulgarian Stepan Stepanov, who acted as an intermediary between the PCE and the international communist movement, was the first to speak and his words showed the extraordinary prestige that Dolores Ibárruri, known all over the world as Pasionaria, had achieved as a result of her role in the Spanish Civil War. Stepanov stated that, apart from the Soviet Communist Party, the PCE was the only one which could rely on such...

    • Chapter 6 Mao Zedong: Charismatic Leadership and the Contradictions of Socialist Revolution
      (pp. 117-138)
      Arif Dirlik

      It seems fairly safe to observe that while not all charismatic leaders are radicals or revolutionaries, all successful revolutionary leaders are charismatic.¹ As James Downton wrote in his bookRebel Leadership:

      Only a few rebel leaders succeed in making revolutions. These are the men and women who, by the very nature of their successes beyond the pattern of everyday life, assume a mythical stature and join history’s collection of heroic figures. Such persons as these are enshrined by nations and loved by the masses because they seemed able to change the course of history by the power of their social...

  7. II. Charismatic Observations

    • Chapter 7 Charismatic Leaders, Political Religion and Social Movements: Western Europe at the End of the Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 141-154)
      Henk te Velde

      When Max Weber discovered a new type of leadership in the politics of the late nineteenth century, he tried to make sense of it by borrowing the word and the concept of charisma from religious studies. This is no coincidence. Descriptions of charismatic leadership virtually always use religious words in order to characterize the experience of the followers or the alleged qualities of the leader. On the other hand, it could also be argued that so-called ‘political religions’ could hardly do without charismatic leaders. This calls into question the democratic nature of charismatic leadership, since political religions have often been...

    • Chapter 8 ‘Je ne sais quoi’: Some Reflections on the Study of Charisma
      (pp. 155-163)
      Marc Reynebeau

      Throughout history extraordinary personal qualities have always been attributed to leaders and rulers. They were usually derived from some kind of largely hereditary metaphysical blessing and were underscored by rituals, propaganda and image building of religious, artistic and other kinds. Thus rulers could command obedience, respect, reverence, admiration and even veneration. Divine authority not only provided premodern sovereigns with mere formal legitimacy, by which they could proclaim themselvesimperator in regno suo;¹ it also endowed them with an elaborate array of exceptional human qualities deemed necessary for the responsibilities of ruling, such as wisdom, courage, foresight, perseverance, military insight, ethical...

    • Chapter 9 Incendiary Personalities: Uncommon Comments on Charisma in Social Movements
      (pp. 164-180)
      Thomas Welskopp

      For historians and social scientists, charisma is a difficult business. As the contributions to this volume have amply demonstrated, the concept – substantially unchanged since Max Weber imported the religious term into political sociology – remains elusive and is at the same time nevertheless acknowledged as indispensable for the historical analysis of personalized leadership.¹ Its elusiveness mirrors not only a conceptual problem, as Marc Reynebeau argues in his chapter, but more fundamentally an empirical one. It is by definition almost impossible for the historian to observe charismatic interactionin actu, that is, as an ongoing practice generating – and responding to – charismatic effects....

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 181-194)
  9. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 195-198)
  10. Index
    (pp. 199-202)