After the Revolution? Authority in a Good Society

After the Revolution? Authority in a Good Society

After the Revolution? Authority in a Good Society

After the Revolution? Authority in a Good Society

Excerpt

Everyone notices changing styles in hair and hems, but many people miss changes in the style of political rhetoric. Yet a social scientist does not have to be very old to remember when charisma was a term used by Christian theologians and a few social scientists who had read Max Weber and misused by more who had not. Not long ago it was used by one of the characters in Pogo, which, if anyone is unaware of it, is a comic strip. This is what Weber would have called truly the routinization of charisma.

I have noticed that during the course of the last few years, revolution has swiftly become an in-word in the United States. In this respect the United States has been less developed than the Third World, where revolution has long been an in-word applied indifferently to the acquisition of a new military aircraft or a new military dictatorship. I find its increased usage in the United States somewhat worrisome, not because the increase foreshadows revolution (after all, you have not noticed any great increase of late in charisma) but because I fear it means we are in for a period of putting rococo decorations on existing structures. A large part of politics consists of purely expressive actions with little or no consequence for social, economic, or political change, and to roll the word revolution trippingly off the tongue appears to be particularly cathartic. It has sometimes . . .

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