Legitimate Authority and Communist Systems of Government
The distinction between naked power and legitimate authority becomes an important one for political analysis. Power, which Max Weber defines as "the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance,"1 is commonly regarded as authority when accorded legitimacy. Yet legitimated power, or authority, is a problematic concept in Weber's writings. Weber actually employed the term Herrschaft, but it is a term that suffers from ambiguity in translation. Talcott Parsons has translated Herrschaft as "imperative control."2 Reinhard Bendix3 and Gunter Roth, 4 however, prefer the term "domination." The term "legitimate domination" best describes Weber's usage. But, one can ask, is "domination" ever legitimate? And how does the exertion of power over people by political leaders gain legitimacy in their eyes? Do leaders dominate people by legitimating their power and gaining "authority." How do people formulate their "subject beliefs" such that they come to accept domination as legitimate, and can they reject such domination as illegitimate? Let us look more closely at the problem of power and domination on the one hand, and authority and consent on the other.
If it is true that human groups, as opposed to animal groups, can become consciously aware of the leader-led process and can question the right to power of any given leader, and if any human group can withdraw its "consent" from any leader, that leader would then find it difficult, almost impossible, to continue in a leadership role. On the other hand, while any human group can remove and replace any leader from whom they have withdrawn consent, it is also true that the process of consent-giving can be manipulated by the leader, who is, after all, in social-psychological interaction with the group and not isolated from the consent-giving process.