Max Weber's Political Sociology: A Pessimistic Vision of a Rationalized World

Max Weber's Political Sociology: A Pessimistic Vision of a Rationalized World

Max Weber's Political Sociology: A Pessimistic Vision of a Rationalized World

Max Weber's Political Sociology: A Pessimistic Vision of a Rationalized World

Synopsis

This collection of essays focuses on Weber's political ideology as well as his political sociology. This interdisciplinary work draws upon the expertise of a number of writers and challenges major schools of thought on Weber. In the first section on ideology, scholars question whether Weber's political predictions were based on a realistic appraisal of social development or if his objectivity was compromised by events in Weimar Germany. They then address Weber's attitudes toward socialism in light of contemporary sociology and his early writings. Part two examines Weber's theory: the concept of rationalization; ideas about charisma; and the decline of charisma in light of the growing role of the media. A study of Weber's analysis of the 1917 events in Russia concludes the volume.

Excerpt

Max Weber left us with a set of pessimistic predictions about the emergent structure of modern society -- predictions which haunt us today. He warned that bureaucracy would become the predominant mode of administration in both the economy and the polity and that bureaucracy, because of its intrinsic structure, could become the infrastructure in a system of authoritarian domination. Pursuing his analysis to its logical conclusion, Weber warned that bureaucracy could overwhelm parliamentary democracy, paradoxically, the system he spent his life helping to institutionalize in Germany.

Weber offered little hope to optimistic dreamers. He not only predicted the probable decline of parliamentary democracy, he also insisted that socialism, as an alternative system of economy and polity, would be doomed to an even more rapid decline. In Weber's view, socialism would degenerate into a more insidious form of bureaucratic despotism. Socialism demands more planning than capitalism and therefore generates a larger bureaucracy; socialism also fuses economic and political power, inadvertently establishing the administrative bureaucracy of the state as supreme.

Hopes for both parliamentary democracy and for classless socialism shatter against the rock of authoritarian bureaucracy. Weber's pessimism extended beyond the effects of bureaucratization to include certain "unintended" negative effects of the rise of rational science heralded with such enthusiasm by the enlightenment thinkers: The causually related decline of magic, ritual, and . . .

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