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Max Weber on the Relation between Power Politics and Political Ideals

Marcus Llanque
Max Weber had an enormous theoretical impact on the development of political realism. His famous definition of politics striving for a share of power or for influence on the distribution of power1 seems to express clearly his understanding of all politics in terms of power politics. But to what extent was Weber himself a realist? Was he a realist in the sense that he opposed idealistic thinking? Or was he rather trying to integrate political ideals, even utopian ones, into a realistic framework of political understanding? The conclusion of this essay will suggest an answer along the latter lines. The main question here seems to concern the connection of liberalism to democracy and the still current problem of political elitism and mass democracy. Webers theory links two fields of politics that are often disconnected in political science today: international relations and democratic theory. In both fields political realism is particularly relevant: in international relations realism is firmly established, and it is also established though somewhat less clearly in democratic theory, where different labels are given to the same terms (realistic, competitive, elitist, empirical).2 In both subfields, realism is a reaction to the alleged failures of idealism. Although both approaches can be traced back to ancient Greece (with Thucydides on the one side and Aristotle on the other), both have gone through substantial revisions, such as neo-realism for example. The period between the world wars was crucial to the formation of both schools of thought, and especially for two of their founding fathers: Hans Morgenthau and Joseph Schumpeter.3 Morgenthau reacted to the breakdown of the League of Nations and the debate in western democracies about totalitarian systems: binding international law failed to maintain peace; moreover, it made democracies more vulnerable by tying their actions. Schumpeter reacted to the concern that the classical model of democracy, based on the peoples will and self-government, did not correspond to the real shape of democracy in the twentieth century. While there are few points of contact between these two branches of political realism, some noteworthy connections exist. Significantly, Webers work had a decisive influence on both.4 Morgenthaus concept of power as well as his concept of the national interest rest firmly on an analysis of Webers theory, although Morgenthau often seems to misunderstand Webers point of view.5 Webers influence on Joseph Schumpeter is even clearer.6 For Schumpeter democracy is not a normative idea that must be followed for its own sake and means popular participation, but consists, as it does for Weber, in the struggle for power among competing elites. Moreover both theorists were influenced by Webers general concept of the political. For Weber a realistic concept of the political is mainly a question of realistic
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politicians, leading him to favor a strongly personalized and even elitist model of political leadership. Members of the realist school of politics all show considerable interest in Webers political ethics. His alleged promotion of an ethics of responsibility, which he opposed to the norms and ideals of an ethics of conviction (359), seems to reveal his affiliation to realism most clearly.7 In addition, Weber was known for his criticism of the shortcomings of idealism in political thinking. He disapproved of attempts to fulfill the will of the people by means of direct democracy, as under so-called R atedemokratie (council democracy), which he considered naive. He did not support idealistic Kantian ideas like the demand that international negotiations be made public, that international treaties be published, or the League of Nations. In Webers opinion, to the contrary, public political negotiations might endanger peace. This follows from his belief that public opinion and irrational forces would undermine objective deliberation in foreign affairs (186). Public discussion does not necessarily serve the truth; it might instead be an obstacle to truth and rationality (359). Finally, Weber reproached pacifism for its political irrationalism (35964). However, these aspects of Webers political thought cannot be seen as evidence for his unambiguous affiliation with political realism if realism is understood in opposition to idealism. Weber tried to integrate political ideals into his concept of realism rather than exclude them. As a sociologist, he could see the effectiveness of ideals in politics. For him, a power-focused understanding of politics, one that does not take into account the determining influence of ideals on power politics, is incomplete. According to Weber, success in politics depends on establishing a sense for realities. He mentions in this connection Bismarcks famous definition of politics as the art of the possible (Kunst des M oglichen). But he also suggests that what is possible can often be achieved only by reaching for what seems to be impossible.8 According to Weber the accomplished politician requires passion, a sense of responsibility, judgement. Amazingly Webers demand for passion links two different aspects: passion in the sense of concern for the thing itself [Sachlichkeit] and the passionate commitment to a cause [Sache], to the god or demon who commands that cause (35253). The same word (Sache) is related to what is usually seen as the characteristics of the realistic approach: to keep calm, stick to the facts and consider what is possible; and on the other hand Weber speaks of Sache in the way it is used in the idealistic approach: the implementation of ideals is motivated by conviction.9 Max Webers reflections on political ideals were closely connected to his general understanding of politics, which was the result of a life-long debate with liberalism in transition to the modern age. Weber feared that German liberals tended to hide behind the walls of authoritarian rule instead of standing the course, facing the realities of power politics without forgetting their ideals. He thought himself a liberal but distanced himself from the traditional idealistic branch of liberalism whose aim was to bring the state under the dominance of abstract principles and ideals which often turned out to be influenced more by wishful thinking than by a realistic analysis of what was possible at the moment. For Weber the general task was to secure that liberalism was able to
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accept the rationale of power politics without leaving the ideals of liberalism behind. But this required to understand and to accept the influence of democratization on the political system. The purpose here is to discuss Webers peculiar model of an idealist realist. Being a realist, Weber did not reject utopian or idealistic aims in politics; he rather admitted their importance a fact that should not be underestimated by realists.

I. Realpolitik: Wilhelmine Political Discourse


Webers special position between realist and idealist political theory was the result of his lifelong struggle with the political culture of the German Empire, where the concept of Realpolitik played a central role.10 Weber regarded the way German liberalism dealt with the problems of modern society as a failure. In the nineteenth century, the liberal middle classes demanded political leadership and the implementation of liberal ideals, but the bourgeois revolution of 1848 failed. The unification of Germany was rather the result of power politics in the form of several wars of unification, not least through the efforts of Otto von Bismarck. Liberals had been forced to admit that their highest ambition, the creation of a nation-state, had been achieved by non-liberal means. Thus, the relationship between liberalism and power politics needed to be redefined. The result was an ideology born of realism called Realpolitik. From a modern point of view this concept belongs to the older tradition of reason of state and is now understood as a corner-stone of modern political realism.11 In the German discourse of the time, however, Realpolitik was the result of liberal debates over how to deal with power politics. In 1853 the liberal Ludwig von Rochau concluded from the failure of 1848 that it was necessary to change from a primarily idealistic to a predominantly realistic policy.12 By the end of the nineteenth century this thought became the political ideology of liberalism. Heinrich von Treitschke gave the idea of Realpolitik its contemporary meaning when he claimed that the essence of the state was power and nothing but power.13 On Treitschkes view power politics should be restricted to heroic figures who could make tough decisions.14 However, there was also a branch of liberalism striving for a closer contact to reality without leaving liberal ideals behind. Hermann Baumgarten, the brother-in-law of Max Webers mother, was the spokesman of this school. In his famous 1866 essay, German Liberalism: A Self-Criticism, Baumgarten claimed that liberalism had to learn to accommodate the usages of political power.15 To achieve this, amateurs and mandarins should no longer pursue politics in their spare time; rather, certain people should devote their lives to politics and be trained to deal with its realities. Baumgartens ideas had considerable impact on the development of Webers political thought. In his youth Max Weber witnessed the debates of German liberals on their relationship to power politics. His letters to Baumgarten show that he opposed the ideology of Realpolitik.16 In his 1919 lecture Politics as a Vocation Weber analyzed Baumgartens 1866 demand as a complete transformation of the structure of political
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parties. For Weber, the ideology of Realpolitik was nothing but camouflage for liberalisms betrayal of its own ideals. The majority of the newly-founded National Liberal Party had supported Bismarck in his fight against the Roman Catholic Church and the socialists. For Weber this smacked of opportunism.17 Weber complained about German liberals willingness to surrender their ideals in the name of Realpolitik. On the other hand, liberalism was unable to accept the reality of a changing social structure and its effect on politics. Weber called democratization the political outcome of the emergence of mass society.
Mass Democracy and Elites: Oligarchy or Aristocracy?

Weber called democratization the political outcome of the emergence of mass society. Democratization means that the wishes and needs of the mass of the people have to be taken into account by politicians: stable politics requires the trust of the masses.18 On this definition, democratization can occur even in the absence of constitutionally established democratic institutions. On Webers view, democratization has three main political effects in mass societies: bureaucratization, emotionalization, and a Caesaristic selection of political leaders (220). Since only a bureaucratic administration can satisfy the needs of the masses, democracy overcomes paternalistic and authoritarian rule, but at the same time establishes new bureaucratic elites. Politicians have to secure the consent of the masses, increasing the importance of the public for the formation of political opinion but also leading to an emotionalization of politics. Emotionalization, as well as the fact that the mass electorate can only be reached by publicity, leads to a new, Caesarist type of a politician. Public appeals take the place of rational parliamentary deliberation, demagogues the place of representatives (18182). On the other hand, the Caesarist politician may serve as a remedy against bureaucracy, competing with parliament. In Webers eyes, parliamentarism and democracy often represent an institutional contradiction. As a type of rule, Caesarism is highly unstable because it depends entirely on the personal abilities of the leader. It regularly fails because of the question of succession, whereas rational and continuous policy requires institutions like parliament and parties (138). Caesarism pretends, however, to represent the rule of the political genius, legitimized by the appeal to the mass electorate, thus allowing it to avoid parliament and the usual procedures of lawmaking. Weber therefore accused Bismarck of having introduced voting rights for men in the Empire only in order to avoid parliamentarian opposition. Much of the secondary literature equates Webers understanding of politics with his concept of the charismatic leader.19 This is the consequence of conflating different conceptions Weber developed to describe the role of personality in modern politics. Weber distinguished the Caesarist politician from the charismatic type, and both of these from political leadership. The Caesarist acquires power through plebiscitarian power politics, by direct appeal to the people; the charismatic politician by his special abilities, by making his followers believe him already having been chosen; while the
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leader is simply the most general and neutral description of a politician. A born political leader is not necessarily a charismatic personality. Webers examples among the liberals, for instance, were not charismatic figures nor was the entire leadership of the Social Democratic Party (171). August Bebel for example, the party leader for many years, was highly esteemed by the working masses not for his charisma or for his moderate intellectual abilities, but for the courage he proved during the period of prosecution in the 1880s (349). In Webers terminology, leader is the term for all politicians who have the abilities to win acceptance for policy decisions and compete with others. Hence, the charismatic politician is only a borderline case of political leadership, not at all the ideal one, for he is not able to lay the grounds for continuity. Charisma is seen by Weber as a revolutionary power that has the political energy to break through the routine of a bureaucratic apparatus, but Weber asserts that in its pure form charisma can only prevail in periods of transition, especially in revolutionary moments. Charismatic power is not lasting, for it does not obey rules. It is a highly emotional type of leadership that cannot be generalized. In reality, government is composed of different kinds of personal rule. Weber also mentions cabinet government under parliamentarism, where the top positions in the bureaucratic administration are occupied by party leaders, which mixes charismatic with bureaucratic rule; a similar mixture can be seen in modern political parties.20 According to Weber, it is a sociological fact that only a small number of people determine the fate of a nation, an insight he took from the organizational sociology of his day. Under the conditions of mass democracy, direct self-government on a national level was no longer possible: the masses had to be organized, leading to hierarchy and bureaucracy.21 Webers focus on political elites was shared in large part by the political sociology of his time, especially by the Italian authors Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto, and frequently also by Robert Michels.22 These thinkers of political elitism are generally considered enemies of democracy.23 In his correspondence with Michels, Weber called the idea of the will of the people fictional: Such notions as the will of the people, the true will of the people, ceased to exist for me years ago; they are fictions.24 However, this must be read as a sociological statement and not as a political one. Michels investigations of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, one of the most modern parties of that time, which regarded itself as the spearhead of German parties, showed that it tended to build hierarchies and self-perpetuating elites.25 This is what Michels called the iron law of oligarchy, incorporating the insights of Moisei Ostrogorski, who had put a considerable damper on optimism about democracy.26 The conclusions of organizational sociology showed that democracy with regard to the actual development of the society could no longer be explained by what Schumpeter called the classical model. These findings were the starting point for Webers realistic theory of democracy. The question is not whether Weber had a personal preference for the outstanding position of such leaders. As a sociologist, he thought that modern mass democracy inevitably caused the emergence of elites, and this had to be acknowledged by liberal
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politicians. But not every kind of elite can claim to be legitimate; the question is how well these elites meet the task of leadership. Can a new aristocracy be recognized in Michels oligarchies? Here one has to take the concepts of Greek political science, especially Aristotle, literally. Oligarchy is the classical term for the rule of the few who care only for their own interests. In contrast, aristocracy describes the rule of an elite which, for the most part, acts to realize the interest of the people. Aristocracy in this sense is not a hereditary nobility. Weber was in search of a real aristocracy, an aristocracy in the political meaning of the word, whose outstanding feature is the quality of political leadership (109). Similar efforts to develop a theory of political aristocracy can be found in the work of Jacob Burckhardt, John Stuart Mill, and Alexis de Tocqueville.27 In Webers analysis, Bismarck stands not only for a new Caesarist type of politician, but also for an exemplary realism. It was Bismarck who had suppressed the emergence of an elite worthy of the name. Through his personal style of rule, Bismarck left behind a nation entirely lacking any kind of political education. . ., a nation entirely without any political will, accustomed to assume that the great statesman at the head of the nation would take care of political matters for them (144). He prevented parliament from being a place of education for younger politicians by depriving it of power. Bismarcks strategy of circumventing parliament by public acclamation was clear evidence of demagoguery for Weber. On the other hand, Bismarck is Webers prototype of an exemplary realist politician. He characterized Bismarck by his ability to maintain the primacy of contingent political decision-making against economic and military imperatives. Weber esteemed Bismarcks ability to make decisions for purely practical political reasons regardless of national feelings, and praised his will to assert the priority of political decisions to the logics of warfare and for his ability not to conflate different forms of political rationality.28 Political realism can be understood as the effort to eliminate irrational factors from political analysis, to establish a framework for the rational calculation of interests and powers. Morgenthaus attempt to establish rational politics or Schumpeters protoeconomic theory of democracy can be seen as examples.29 Weber, in contrast, is reluctant to characterize a politicians work as rational. Rather, he discussed different forms of rationality extensively and analyzed their political effectiveness.30 Rationality as a focus on the central elements of politics, the acquisition and retention of power, stands in the tradition of reason of state,31 a tradition some realists unsatisfied with the neo-realist turn toward economics are now trying to revive.32 This tradition was familiar to Weber from his early readings of Thucydides and Machiavelli.33 But as a sociologist Weber was interested in the whole spectrum of rationality in politics, which he roughly divided into instrumental rationality and value rationality.34 As a matter of course, Weber assumed that instrumental rational interests, including influence, money, privileges as well as prestige, are important factors in questions of power. Power is produced either by a congruence of interests (self-interest) or by coercion (survival). But there are other ways of establishing durable power. What interested Weber most was voluntary obedience, which requires belief in the rightness of the reasons and aims
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of political power or is based on shared political ideals. In other words, Weber was interested in legitimacy. The difference between Herrschaft (usually translated as domination) and Macht (power) indeed marks the central problem of Webers theory of legitimation.35 Ideals have a specific role in creating legitimacy, even political realists must be interested in voluntary obedience because legitimacy produces stability. As Weber emphasized, power based on instrumental-rational considerations is less stable than power founded on value rationality,36 since an actor who supports a certain form of government will doubt its authority when it no longer serves his wishes and interests. The majority principle, for example, may be evaluated on an instrumental-rational basis. From this perspective, people are predominantly interested in its results. If those are dissatisfying, the procedures itself may be rejected. If, on the other hand, the majority principle is given its own importance, then its evaluation is independent of its results. If people support the majority principle for mostly value-rational reasons, it has intrinsic validity; majority decisions will not raise doubts even when they harm private interests. Similar considerations can be applied to foreign policy. Alliances decline much more easily if the link between member-states is based on instrumental rationality alone. If states assess an alliance only according to a material understanding of their national interests, it will fail when those interests differ. If they assess the alliance according to value rational principles, it will be much more robust when the common interest and national interests conflict. Considering the place of rationality in politics, Weber assumed that the form of rationality practiced in economic and military matters can conflict with prudence and sound judgment, which should be used in the political realm. More generally, Weber doubted whether bureaucratic rationality was appropriate for a nations vital questions. On his view Augenma (perceptiveness, a sense of judgment) was the first quality of the ideal politician, by which he meant the ability to deal with conflict in an appropriate way, maintaining the primacy of politics. By conflict Weber did not mean to promote struggle as an irrational aspect of social life, and he believed that conflicts could be solved by compromise. To be sure, when he calls all politics struggle, he is influenced by vitalism or social Darwinism. And his picture of the leader-politician is not far from Schumpeters elitist theory of democracy, where competition takes the role of selection on this point Weber has frequently been criticized for being influenced by Nietzsche.37 However, struggle is not a term Weber exclusively associates with politics but is used for all social life, ranging from the economy to love.38 One of Webers favorite examples for the advantages of the primacy of politics was Bismarcks policy after Prussias victory over Austria at K oniggr atz in 1866, which led to the foundation of the German national state. The crushing defeat of the Austrian army showed the army officers, especially Helmuth von Moltke, the famous inventor of the General Staff, everything military power could achieve. All kinds of scenarios about cessions of territory, smashing the Austrian army, or invading Vienna were discussed. Bismarck, on the contrary, insisted that Prussia should not take undue advantage of the military success, but rather strive for a peace among equals without any cessions of
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territory. It was only through continuous threats to resign that he succeeded in influencing the Emperor, making the moderate peace of Nikolsburg possible. The intended effect was to secure Austrias approval to the already-planned German unification. Weber discussed Nikolsburg as a model for a peace agreement during World War I. By declaring Bismarck the authority for his own model, he was able to use the icon of national liberalism to argue for his own, more moderate position against the dogmas of power-realism. Weber complained about German debates during the war about a so-called Siegfrieden (dictating peace) and fantastic dreams of territorial gains, which showed how much liberals trusted in military power, instead of trying to attract allies, consider the interests of the various parties, and anticipate the postwar period. Discussions of military strategies were left entirely to military logic, most disastrously concerning the question of unlimited submarine war, which provoked the entry of the United States into the war, but also in peace negotiations with Bolshevik Russia. Webers discussion of Bismarck went beyond mere admiration. Although Bismarck was a national hero, German mistakes during the war clearly showed that the political elite did not emulate Bismarcks rational political judgment, succumbing to the illusions of crude power politics. The predominance of political decision-making means that civilian politicians have to decide on questions of war, that political criteria have to determine strategic questions. Military expertise should not replace political judgment. Political compromises are the prerequisite for lasting peace. The situational opportunities and short-term advantages seized upon by power politics must be balanced with long-term alliances.39 In Webers eyes the problem of the predominance of military logic in wartime exemplified a far more basic problem, namely the relationship between politics and expertise. The expertise of fiscal, military, demographic, or security specialists often extends only to the limits of their fields. Whatever feasible action an expert may recommend, it is without regard to the consequences for other areas. To outline a strategy that gives all these fields a common direction in order to achieve political aims exceeds the horizon of experts. In saying this, Weber followed Bismarcks definition of politics as the art of the possible and completed it by adding, and what is preferable in the long run.40 But according to Weber the analysis of what is possible in politics must include political ideals and even utopian goals.

II. Power and Responsibility


For Weber power is only a means for realizing political ideals. When power becomes the only goal without ideals being involved it lacks the decisive component of controlling and restricting its use. Weber did not identify power with national interest as it was later the case with Morgenthaus realism. To Weber it is clear that interests do dominate the actions of politicians, but nevertheless the definition of interest is determined by the actors ideals: Not ideas, but material and ideal interests, directly govern mens conduct. Yet very frequently the world images which have been created by ideas have, like switchmen, determined the tracks along which action has been moved by
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the dynamism of interests.41 To this extent, ideals and interests are more or less in a tense way related to each other. Consequently, political power has to be seen in connection with ideals. Unlike Morgenthau, Weber tries to connect ultimate ends with power politics. The politician can learn to deal reasonably with political ideals only by the burden of power itself. As they were kept away from power, the socialists unsurprisingly turned increasingly ideological. Only a politician entrusted with power must prove his ideals in the material world and not only in the world of public opinion. The effect of the real world of politics is to moderate the extent to which a politician can try to realize ideals. The public sphere is the place to discuss ideals. The question is whether publicity opens the door for emotions or allows the rational discussion of ideals. Publicity always holds the danger of demagogy or propaganda, as could be seen during World War I. Weber was not alone in his skepticism about how easily democratic publics could be manipulated by demagogues. In the US Walter Lippmanns experiences during the war led him to drop the idea of a naturally reasonable public opinion and the public sphere as a place of deliberation.42 But public debate on ideals is an essential part of politics, allowing parties and causes to acquire followers and allies. The essence of all politics, Weber writes, is conflict, the recruitment [Werbung] of allies and voluntary following (173). In German Werbung or werben does not only mean recruit, but also to woo, advertise, canvass, or seek publicity. By Werbung in domestic policy politicians try to win a stable community of followers and the consent of the people, expressed through democratic elections. In foreign affairs it serves the search for allies. In democracies werben takes place in the media; this is why the modern politician has a special responsibility for what is said in public (204, 330). According to Weber, the ideologists of power, among them the supporters of Realpolitik, act irresponsibly when they drop their ideals just for the sake of power. Nevertheless, politics stand for power, and to deny this fact would be not only naive but dangerously idealistic. A politician who is unfamiliar with power politics can cause unintended results that undermine his own ideals. A pacifist, for example, who desires nothing more than peace, may for honorable reasons accept a peace agreement at all costs. But an unjust peace will only give rise to a desire for revenge, so that in the end an unconditional peace may bring about the next war (359). Dealing with ideals is not primarily a question of ethics. Weber is famous for his distinction between ethics of responsibility and ethics of conviction. He is not entirely in favor of ethics of responsibility, as authors from the realist school often suggest.43 Both ethics are rather ideal types, marking poles of a spectrum of possible ways to act morally. Ethics concern the attitude of a politician towards the problem of dealing morally with power, presenting a dilemma that can never be solved satisfactorily, for a compromise between power and idealism is unavoidable. No ones ethics ever follow exclusively from either the principle of responsibility or the principle of conviction. Every case shows varying parts of both aspects. In Webers formula for an ideal politician cited

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above, the sense of responsibility does not only cover personal responsibility for the immediate consequences of ones actions, which is referred to in connection with political ethics, but responsibility for the ideals one wants to realize by means of power. The notes for his lecture Politics as a Vocation show that Weber originally intended to speak of an opposition between ethics of power and ethics of conviction, but later crossed out the word power and replaced it with responsibility.44 In his discussion of ethical questions, the use of the word responsibility came relatively late. Much earlier and more frequent he used the pair power and responsibility, which meant to describe the political understanding he preferred. Webers formula power and responsibility describes the peculiarity of a professional politician who does not administer political questions like a bureaucrat and also does not seek power out of personal or material interest, but rather for the sake of a cause for which he feels responsible.45 Interests motivate the wish to be powerful, ideals motivate the wish to be responsible. Weber wants to unite responsibility for ideals and accountability for deeds. Responsibility refers to a cause or a political aim, something a professional politician feels obliged to. Responsibility for that cause becomes the decisive lodestar of all action (353). The cause cannot be exchanged arbitrarily, changing the reason and the aim of his actions. It marks the border of his responsibility; once trespassed, he has to resign. Thus, irresponsibility, along with lack of objectivity, is one of the two deadly sins of politics (354). Surprisingly, Weber connects objectivity to passion: Passion in the sense of concern for the thing itself [Sachlichkeit which also means objectivity], the passionate commitment to a cause [Sache] (353). If a politician does not act out of conviction, commitment, and dedication to a cause, if the intellectual insight into the rightness of a political opinion is not matched by a corresponding inner attitude, the ethos or obligation that underlies commitment, then politics is nothing but a frivolous intellectual game. The commitment to a cause protects the politician from the temptations of pure power politics, or striving for power for the sake of power itself. A politician intoxicated by power becomes unsachlich (in the double sense of Webers usage of the term), no longer committed to the cause, betraying ones own ideals. For an appeal to Sachlichkeit in the only meaning of objectivity would indicate that Weber favoured the realistic approach. But he points out that it also has to be seen in the light of idealistic commitment and that shows his intentions to connect both aspects of political thinking. The nature of the cause one selects as the lodestar of ones actions is a question of faith (355). Weber lists possible contents of such a cause, beginning with the national interest and ending with the interests of the whole of humanity. Whether the cause turns out to be a realistic aim is not a question scientists can answer. As long as there is personal belief in the validity of the chosen cause, it is valid. This is Webers liberal credo. The possibility of the free choice of ideals is the last refuge of freedom in a more and more regulated world. The modern age increasingly restricts the liberties of lifestyle, for the progress of rationalization and bureaucratization produces a tight net of norms and regulations in what Weber calls the iron cage.46 No matter whether one
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strives for human rights democracy, or socialism, the demands of political leadership remain the same. Weber applied his idea of his political ethics to parliamentary theory by transferring the argument from the personal to the institutional dimension. In his view parliamentarism can connect the commitment to ideals with a realistic view on power by giving space for both. For it is the public platform to pursue ideals as well as the working place for legislation. Ideals motivate legislation and in turn legislation transforms ideals into interests. At the same time parliament combines power with accountability for the results of using power. In Webers times liberal parliamentarism didnt appreciate democracy without resentment. The universal suffrage was mostly an invention that followed the war experience (in Germany, in Great Britain at first with some restrictions for women, in France unchanged without womens suffrage until 1944). Many liberals feared the effects of democratic suffrage on the parliament. According to Weber, in spite of all changes caused by mass democracy parliament was still the place that combined best accountability for deeds with responsibility for ideals (222). But Weber also saw that mass democracy was prone to demagoguery as public opinion played an important role, thus encouraging appeals to the people as a strategy to bypass parliament. On the other hand Weber claimed that one advantage of democracy was its openness to new elites. The example of Social Democratic politicians very often manual workers with no higher education was used by Weber to demonstrate how democracies could generate a new kind of leadership personnel. Weber accepted the democratic tendency for a personal leadership appealing to the public but tried to combine it with the daily work on legislation in cooperation, the debate on ideals with the expertise of administration and political parties. In parliament politicians can support ideals publicly and can be held responsible for the results of their politics at the same time. Obviously, this model is based on the example of the British parliamentary system.47 Although Weber focused on political leadership, he didnt refer to the American presidential system. In the foundation period of the Weimar Republic Weber was naturally thinking of parliament as a place for fundamental political decisions: socialism versus liberalism, parliamentary democracy versus R ate-republic, international labor movement versus middle-class nation what long-term ideal had to be pursued? This discussion continued the debate during World War I on what the nation-states were fighting for and why they were sacrificing so much human life. Weber was deeply convinced that fundamental questions could not be solved by means of instrumental rationality but by a value-rational decision.48 To weigh these kinds of decisions, a special type of professional politician is required: realists, who have kept their sense for political vision, who are able to put vital questions on the agenda against the resistance of routine and the power apparatus, and at the same time unshaken by arguments that their ideals appeared to be inaccessible at first. It is difficult to achieve a compromise of different political ideals, which from a normative point of view do not tolerate compromise, for this would mean betraying ones ideals. Deciding such questions requires the independence and
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judgment of politicians who have experience in dealing with fundamental questions, where the expertise of administrations is useless: Weber was convinced that administrations like all bureaucracies could only start when questions of polity are already settled. So, Weber came to an orthodox conclusion in an unorthodox way. His support for parliamentarism was not based on dogmatic grounds but on his ideas about political leadership. Shortly after his lecture on Politics as Vision in January 1919 he discovered that the traditional liberal party elites returned into the parliament of the young republic. Weber thought that these liberals were incapable of understanding the nature of politics in a democratic surrounding. His own candidacy for parliament had been avoided by the party bureaucracy despite of the strong support Weber had in the electorate. So unsurprisingly he was pessimistic about the chances of a reform of liberalism according to the lines Weber felt necessary. When parliamentarians seemed to be unable to keep the balance between bureaucracy and leadership and the tendency to prevent a specific personality from candidacy for parliament was in Webers eyes a clear sign for that tendency he was quick to look for new institutional models and found it in the system of dual executive consisting of parliament cabinet government and presidency which was about to be installed. This system wasnt Webers invention, in fact it was proposed by Hugo Preuss, the driving force behind the drafting of the new constitution in 1919. In this situation Weber published the article The President of the Reich in February 1919 in which he advocated Hugo Preuss idea of a presidency that should be independent from parliament. This change was not significant for Webers usual institutional preference but for his understanding of democratic politics and his claim that political leadership should prevail against bureaucratic tendencies both in administrations and in parties. Here we return to our starting point, the relationship of the art of possibility to the efforts to reach the impossible in politics, i.e. utopia. Politics as a Vocation ends: what is possible cant be achieved, if one doesnt reach for what is impossible in this world again and again (369). Thus, Weber the realist included even utopian ideals into the process of politics, for utopia always determines action and is preferable to mere power politics or bureaucratic administration. The way Weber combined idealism and realism was a reaction to certain developments in German liberalism and to a specific perception of the impact of the democratic society on the political system. Apart from the fact that Webers model is embedded in the historical feature of German liberal discourse it provides the ongoing debate between idealistic and realistic approaches with an interesting solution. For instance, democracy itself can be seen as an ideal and its spreading may be seen as the natural strategy of foreign affairs; but without the realistic judgement how the implementation of this idea should take place, the idea is exposed to failure not because of its inferior value but because of the overestimation of its impact on politics. Weber tried to avoid the failure of the experiment to establish a democratic republic and feared a reaction back towards autocracy; a fear not merely the product of his times.

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NOTES

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1. Max Weber: Political Writings, Peter Lassman and Ronald Speirs eds., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 311; hereafter cited parenthetically. 2. John Medearis, Joseph Schumpeters Two Theories of Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 1. 3. Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (New York: Knopf, 1948); Joseph A. Schumpeter, Socialism, Capitalism, and Democracy (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1942). 4. Michael Joseph Smith, Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger (Baton Rouge: Louisiana University State Press, 1986), 2353; Michael C. Williams, Why Ideas Matter in International Relations: Hans Morgenthau, Classical Realism, and the Moral Construction of Power Politics, International Organization 58 (2004): 63365; David Held, Models of Democracy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987), 14364; Manfred G. Schmidt, Demokratietheorien, 3e (Wiesbaden: VS, 2006), 17897. 5. Christoph Frei, Hans J. Morgenthau. Eine intellektuelle Biographie, 2e. (Bern: Peter Lang, 1994), 13437; Smith, Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger,13944; Michael C. Williams, The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2005) 18184; Steven P. Turner and Regis A. Factor, Max Weber and the Dispute over Reason and Value (London: Routledge, 1984), 16878. 6. Held, Models of Democracy; John Medearis, Joseph Schumpeters Two Theories of Democracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001). 7. Ethics of conviction or ethics of principle conviction, otherwise translated as ethics of ultimate ends: Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills eds. and intro., new preface by Brian S. Turner (London: Taylor & Francis, 1991), 120; John Herz, Political Realism and Political Idealism (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1951); Alastair J.H. Murray, Reconstructing Realism: Between Power Politics and Cosmopolitan Ethics (Edinburgh: Keele University Press, 1997), 11014; Smith, Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger, 4853. A different analysis is made by Daniel Warner, An Ethic of Responsibility in International Relations (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1991). 8. Max Weber, Der Sinn der Wertfreiheit der soziologischen und o konomischen Wissenschaften (1917), in Weber, Gesammelte Aufs atze zur Wissenschaftslehre, ed. Johannes Winckelmann, 6e (T ubingen: Mohr, 1985), 514. 9. Significantly, we find other translations struggling to make Webers formula comprehensible: Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, 115: Passion, a sense of responsibility, and a sense of proportion. This means passion in the sense of matter-of-factness, of passionate devotion to a cause, to the god or demon who is its overlord. 10. Wolfgang J. Mommsen, Robert Michels and Max Weber: Moral Conviction versus the Politics of Responsibility in Mommsen and J urgen Osterhammel, eds., Max Weber and His Contemporaries (London: Unwin Hyman, 1987) 12138; 184; Fritz Ringer, Max Weber: An Intellectual Biography (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005); Joachim Radkau, Max Weber. Die Leidenschaft des Denkens (Munich: Carl Hanser, 2005). 11. On realism: Jonathan Haslam, No Virtue like Necessity: Realist Thought in International Relations since Machiavelli (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 183246; Paul Madden, Realpolitik, in Frank N. Magill, ed., International Encyclopedia of Government and Politics (London/Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1996), 114547. 12. Ludwig August von Rochau, Grunds atze der Realpolitik. Angewendet auf die staatlichen Zust ande Deutschlands (1853/1869), Hans-Ulrich Wehler ed. and intro., (Frankfurt/M., Berlin, Vienna: Klostermann, 1972); James J. Sheehan, German Liberalism in the 19th Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 86. 13. Heinrich von Treitschke, Bundesstaat und Einheitsstaat, in Aufs atze, Reden und Briefe, M. Cornilecius ed., vol. 3 (Leipzig, 1920), 71 14. Ibid., 91.

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15. Hermann Baumgarten, Der deutsche Liberalismus. Eine Selbstkritik, Preuische Jahrb ucher 18 (1866): 455515 and 575629, A.M. Birke ed. (Frankfurt/M, 1974); cf. Wolfgang Heinrich Stark, Hermann Baumgarten 18251893. Ein biographischer Beitrag zur Kl arung der Ideenwelt des deutschen politischen Liberalismus im 19. Jahrhundert, Diss., Erlangen-N urnberg, 1973. 16. Eduard Baumgarten, Max Weber, Werk und Person: Dokumente (T ubingen: Mohr, 1964), 67. Cf. Lawrence A. Scaff, From Political Economy to Political Sociology. Max Webers Early Writings in Ronald M. Glassman and Vatro Murvar, eds., Max Webers Political Sociology: A Pessimistic Vision of a Rationalized World (London: Westport, 1984), 85. 17. Weber, Der Sinn der Wertfreiheit, 513. 18. Max Weber, Economy and Society, Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich, eds., 2 vols. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968), 984986; Weber, Political Writings, 220. 19. Turner and Factor, Max Weber and the Dispute over Reason and Value; Daniel Warner, An Ethic of Responsibility in International Relations (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1991). 20. Max Weber, Economy and Society, 21920. 21. Max Weber, Deutschland unter den europ aischen Grom achten (1916), in Gesammelte Politische Schriften, ed. Johannes Winckelmann, 5e (T ubingen: Mohr, 1988), 11229, 17576. 22. Wolfgang J. Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics, 18801920, tr. Michael Steinberg (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1984); David Beetham, Mosca, Pareto, and Weber: A Historical Comparison, in Wolfgang J. Mommsen and J urgen Osterhammel, eds., Max Weber and His Contemporaries (London: Unwin Hyman, 1987), 13958. 23. Geraint Parry, Political Elites (London: Allen and Unwin, 1969); Walter Struve, Elites against Democracy. Leadership Ideals in Bourgeois Political Thought in Germany 18901933 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973); Robert A. Nye, The Anti-Democratic Sources of Elite Theory: Pareto, Mosca, Michels (London: Sage, 1977). 24. Letter to Michels of 4 Aug. 1908, quoted Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics, 18801920, 395. 25. Robert Michels, Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy tr. Eden and Cedar Paul (New York: Dover, 1959). 26. James L. Hyland is critical of this in his Democratic Theory: The Philosophical Foundations (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), 24755. 27. Alan S. Kahan, Aristocratic liberalism: The social and political thought of Jacob Burckhardt, John Stuart Mill, and Alexis de Tocqueville (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). 28. Max Weber, Bismarcks Auenpolitik und die Gegenwart, Frankfurter Zeitung, 25 Dec. 1915, in Gesammelte Politische Schriften, ed. Winckelmann, 125, 127; Political Writings, 189, 261; Sven Elliaeson, Constitutional Caesarism: Webers Politics in their German Context, in Stephen Turner, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Max Weber (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 13439. 29. Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, 5e (New York: Knopf, 1973), 5. 30. Stephen Kalberg, Max Webers Types of Rationality. Cornerstones for the Analysis of Rationalization in History, in Americal Journal of Sociology 85 (1980): 11451179; Sam Whimster and Scott Lash, eds., Max Weber. Rationality and Modernity (London, 1987). 31. Weber, Political Writings, 17; Economy and Society, 600; Haslam, No Virtue like Necessity: Realist Thought in International Relations since Machiavelli, 1788. 32. Greg Russell, Hans J. Morgenthau and the Ethics of American Statecraft (Baton Rouge: Louisiana University State Press, 1990), 4148. 33. Wilhelm Hennis, Max Weber und Thukydides. Nachtr age zur Biographie des Werks (T ubingen 2003). 34. There are different opinions concerning the question whether value-rationality can claim to be a separate type of rationality: cf. Brubaker 1984; Esser 2003. 35. This distinction also creates problems of translation. Often Herrschaft is translated with domination (ES 53; Breiner 1991). More recent efforts prefer rule (PW). These problems are discussed in Reinhard Bendix, Max Weber. An Intellectual Portrait (Garden City/N.Y.: Anchor

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Books,1962), 481482. Im following H.H. Bruun, Science, Values and Politics in Max Webers Methodology (Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1972), 287, who stresses the mutual character of Herrschaft, which is seen as a social relationship: the will to govern is matched by a will to comply. 36. Weber, Economy and Society, 31. 37. Regis and Factor, Max Weber and the Dispute over Reason and Value; David Owen, Maturity and Modernity: Nietzsche, Weber, Foucault and the Ambiguity of Reason (London: Routledge, 1994); Williams, The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations, 11117. 38. Weber, Der Sinn der Wertfreiheit, 517. 39. Weber, Bismarcks Auenpolitik und die Gegenwart, 127. 40. Otto von Bismarck, Die Gesammelten Werke (Berlin: Stollberg, 192435), vol. 7, 222; vol. 9, 399. 41. Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, 280. Kenneth Thompson used this citation, in a slightly different translation, as a motto for one of his books on realism: Kenneth W. Thompson, Political Realism and the Crisis of World Politics. An American Approach to Foreign Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), 3. 42. Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (London: Allen and Unwin, 1922); Marcus Llanque, Massendemokratie zwischen Kaiserreich und westlicher Demokratie, in Christoph Gusy, ed., Demokratisches Denken in der Weimarer Republik (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2000), 3870. 43. Herz, Political Realism and Political Idealism; Murray, Reconstructing Realism: Between Power Politics and Cosmopolitan Ethics, 110114; Smith, Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger, 1986, 4853. 44. See Webers original notes in Max Weber, Wissenschaft als Beruf / Politik als Beruf , Wolfgang J. Mommsen/Wolfgang Schluchter, eds. (T ubingen: Mohr, 1992), 152. 45. Weber, Bismarcks Erbe in der Reichsverfassung, in Gesammelte Politische Schriften, 242, 169, 176, 184, 251, 334. 46. Ronald M. Glassman and Vatro Murvar, eds., Max Webers Political Sociology: A Pessimistic Vision of a Rationalized World (Westport: Greenwood, 1984); Lawrence Scaff, Fleeing the Iron Cage: Culture, Politics, and Modernity in the Thought of Max Weber (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989); Mark Warren, Max Webers Liberalism for a Nietzschean World, American Political Science Review 82 (1990): 3150. 47. Gustav Schmidt, Deutscher Historismus und der Ubergang zur parlamentarischen Demokratie. Untersuchungen zu den politischen Gedanken von Meinecke, Troeltsch, Max Weber (L ubeck: Hamburg, 1964), 28995. 48. Weber, Economy and Society, 26.

Marcus Llanque teaches political and social theory at Humboldt University, Berlin. He is the author of Demokratisches Denken im Krieg. Die deutsche Debatte im Ersten Weltkrieg (2002) and co-editor of several volumes, most recently Politische Theorie und Ideengeschichte and Bedrohungen der Demokratie (both 2007).

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