17. Conceptual Foundations of Weber’s Theory of Domination
Prof: All right,
good morning. I want to do what I did last
time around the test; just to walk very quickly
through the test questions and sort of test myself;
how would I respond to them? There is a lot for today to
cover. So I will rush.
Let me just one more time
emphasize, you have plenty of time to do that.
I have a discussion section at
7:00. So I don’t want to risk that
something is going on wrong in the internet.
So I will post this before my
discussion section, before 7:00;
exactly when, I don’t know. I mean, I have these anxieties,
what Hobbes was talking about, and therefore I don’t want–I
prefer to be five minutes early, rather than being an hour late.
So sometime before 7:00 you
will find it, and you have to send your
answer around 9:00. Some of you communicated that
you need another time, because you have already
engagements; it is always you have to work
this out with your discussion section leader–right?–and your
discussion section leader will take care of your needs.
And be brief. Right?
Sort of the two questions
should be about–more like four to six double-spaced pages,
rather than much longer. I mean, we will accept eight.
So you will not be penalized if
you are longer. But the point is not to be
long, but to be crispy. And again the point is,
you know, you try to show the different views of the authors,
and then comment on it, whether– which is more
And a third,
a third, a third–right?–of a paper goes this way.
You spend a third presenting
one author; a third about an opponent of
that author; and then your reflections on
That’s about it.
So let me then rush through.
This is not an easy
question–right?–Marx’s theory of alienation;
Nietzsche’s or Freud’s theory of civilization.
I mean, there is a common
feature–right?–between the three authors.
This really asks to create a
controversy between the two. Right?
You can pick two, usually.
The common feature is that they
are all concerned about modernity and people’s sense of
being lost and being without control in modernity.
And the problem of modernity:
that we are too much controlled, and the control is
increasingly inside us, rather than outside,
and coercive. Right?
I think that’s the common
feeling. I think I made this point in
the lecture. If you read twentieth century
literature, particularly first half, you find this feeling
expressed by a lot of novelists. You read Franz
Kafka–right?–you read Albert Camus.
That’s where you get that same
feeling expressed, to what Marx,
Nietzsche and Freud are responding to.
But there are big differences.
Marx tries to move away from
Hegel and wants to come down to earth and offer a theory of
alienation which is rooted in the economy,
into the production process. And Marx has a view what
emancipated society will be, and he even has a historic
agent who will get us there, to emancipation;
the proletariat. Now Nietzsche is very
The genealogical method does
not really offer you the right solution.
The genealogical method only
shows you what is unique in modernity,
in modern morality, in the Judeo-Christian
morality, what you think is so attractive
and so noble. And he
shows–right?–how–right?–in the workshop where ideas are
produced, it’s actually torture and oppression what operates.
So there is no good society,
and no agent who will get you there.
You have to do it by yourself.
Now Freud also sees
civilization as coming from repression of sexual drives.
So he is in a critique of
But at the same time Freud has
this dual attitude about civilization.
Civilization is coming from
repression, but it is still sublimation,
and the most beautiful things in human society–
art and science–are coming from this sublimation.
And he is also reflecting–he’s
writing in 1930, through the rise of Nazism–an
anti–right?–civilization, and he does not want to support
So in a way,
you know, one can say that he does have- he does not offer you
the vision of good society. To some extent he is with
Nietzsche. He said, “You have to
emancipate yourself. You have to figure out for
yourself what your problem is.”
And he certainly does not have
a historic agent like Marx has. Anyway, this is the way how I
would be dealing with this. And I will not tell you what my
opinion is; I want to hear your opinion
about it. Okay, the second question.
That’s not easy either.
Practical theory of truth,
and Nietzsche’s genealogical method.
Well there is,
again, a common element between Marx and Nietzsche.
Neither of them believes in
objective abstract truth. Right?
Marx says there is no objective
abstract truth. Truth is a practical question.
Truth is being achieved by
human practices. Right?
of course, does not believe in objective truth.
He’s trying to find truth.
But truth is being accomplished
by comparing, you know, different notions of
morality, and to show that in comparison
with each other, both have its upsides and
So there is–by the way
Nietzsche, don’t misunderstand him.
He is not a nihilist.
He does not say everything goes.
Nihilism is a very negative
term for Nietzsche. So he does not want to say
there is no truth at all. He said truth is just relative,
and you can arrive at a critical understanding of your
situation by comparing your situation with another one.
There is, of course,
a very fundamental difference again between Marx and
Nietzsche. Because what is this practical
truth? These are human activities,
and Marx basically arrives at these human activities through
changing the physical work, through the system of
production. And again, he has the agent who
is–this is the revolutionary practices of the proletariat,
which will get you to the truth.
There is nothing like that in
Nietzsche does not have a
historical agent, and does not have the society
where after all you will get to true society.
Well this is actually a very
simple question. Many of you did not like it.
So I’m thinking very hard
whether to put it on. It’s a bit narrow,
but very simple. German Ideology and the
Grudrisse. Very simple.
There are two unique features
in the German Ideology. One is when he–he does develop
the notion of mode of production for the first time in this book,
’45–1845. But he does identify the nature
of mode of production primarily by division of labor.
And this doesn’t serve him very
well, because the division of labor
does not capture the conflictuous relationship
between classes, which eventually will have to
lead to revolution. So he abandons it–does not
finish the book. Because only at the very end of
the book does he realize that the two components of mode of
production are forces of production,
technology, and relations of production.
And relations of production,
for most of the German Ideology,
is division of labor. And then he realizes,
no, no, no, it is not division of labor,
but property relations: the relationship between those
who have property and those who do not have property.
And he also has a very
deterministic view of history in the German Ideology.
All societies have to go
through the same modes of production: tribalism,
slave mode of production, feudalism and capitalism.
In the Grundrisse,
there are two big innovations. Now the center is property
relations; the peak of history of
capitalism, when the producer is separated from the means of
production completely. And he breaks from the
deterministic view of history. Right?
Now he has this multi-linear
development of history. Not every society has to come
through slavery and feudalism. The Asiatic societies,
in a quasi-communal society, can move directly into
So that’s basically a very
simple question. I probably did a very bad job
in the lecture, that this did not become clear.
So four, Marx as a historical
materialist, and compare him with Freud.
Well actually I am inspired
here by Jürgen Habermas. And Jürgen Habermas says,
“Well, Marx in the ‘Thesis on Feuerbach’ got it right when
he said that the real point of departure is sensuous human
activity.” At that time,
when Habermas was writing this, he was still a materialist.
Then he had his culture turn,
and he’s probably not a materialist any longer.
He said, “Materialism is
if your point of departure is what you can get from through
your senses, not through your ideas.”
But he said Marx made a mistake;
namely, that he reduced sensuous human activities to the
economy, and to production. And well, he said,
Freud is more interesting, because he has a different kind
of sensuous human activity. And this is sensuous human
activities between people–right?–sexual
relationships. In fact, Habermas makes it more
complicated; I don’t want to get into
Habermas. But his interpretation of Freud
is that Freud also starts from sensuous human activity,
to understand what is in people’s mind.
But it is not economic
reductionism; if anything,
it is sexual reductionism. Right?
It is a pan-erotic explanation
of history. But, in some ways,
you know, they all starts for sensuous human activities,
in explaining what can be in people’s minds–what is our
ideas. So the starting point is
material sensuous experience–right?–and the
product are ideas. Right?
This is, in this sense,
they are both materialists, but in different ways.
Is that–I suppose it should be
pretty clear now. Right?
Well you can have different
views on this, and especially whether Marx’s
theory of classes are still applicable.
You know, Marx defined classes
in terms of property relationship.
He had two classes in The
Communist Manifesto, the bourgeoisie and the
proletariat. The question is does it still
matter? And you have to reflect on this.
Do you think property relations
still is a major antagonistic divide in American society,
or not any longer? And, of course,
Marx believed in The Communist Manifesto,
yes there is still a middle-class,
but it will be done away; middle-class will be become
either bourgeois or become proletarian.
And, of course,
in the United States, the received wisdom is that we
are all middle-class. Are we all middle-class?
I would like to hear your view
about this. Right?
But that’s the big question.
Clearly Marx did get it wrong;
that’s undoubtedly, I think everybody agrees.
I think Karl Marx,
if he would be alive, he would say,
“Ah, I screwed it. I made a mistake.
Of course there is a big
So, I mean, you don’t have to
really hate Marx, you know, that there is a
middle-class. He clearly made a mistake.
Anyway, but you can ask the
question, who is the middle-class?
Are we indeed all middle-class?
Is this sensible to talk about
the big bourgeoisie? Well there are no big
bourgeoisie any longer. This is people’s capitalism we
live in. And these are the questions I
would like you to deal with. Okay, labor theory of value,
and Adam Smith. I thought this is a very easy
Adam Smith said that,
you know, all value is created by labor.
But then he said when it comes
to distributing wealth or income, it has to go to labor,
capital and land. Marx, on the other hand,
said, “Well, this is a contradiction.
If all labor goes to- if all
value is created by labor, it should go to labor.
And therefore if it is taken
away from labor, it should be understood as
exploitation.” Is this an advance or is this a
misunderstanding? And you can say,
“Well this is a misunderstanding because Adam
Smith was right. He said all labor is–all value
is created by labor, in societies where capital is
not accumulated and the land is not privately owned,
and therefore this is a consistent argument.”
Or you can say,
“Well Marx actually got a very important point,
because there is indeed exploitation;
there are exploitive relationships,
and it does drive history.”
I mean, how you take your
position, this is up to you. You have to argue
consistently–right?–and the argument of consistency will be
rewarded. Seven: Well this is–again,
a lot of people said don’t do it because we have not talked
about domination. I’ll probably leave it,
because I will talk in the next–
how much have I got?–forty minutes about this–
domination and mode of production, and what domination
is. Well Protestant ethic;
was he as an idealist? Some people think this is a too
narrow question. Well I think you kind of can
ask the question, is this really an idealist
view? Some people said,
what Weber is saying, that it is Calvinism which
created capitalism. Is this his view?
What is exactly his view?
He is very critical of Marx.
He believes that Marx has a
simplistic materialist explanation: it is consciousness
which– it is existence which
determines consciousness, rather than the other way
around. Is Weber saying the opposite?
It is consciousness which
determines existence or capitalism.
And that’s what The
Protestant Ethic is trying to do.
And, of course,
he has this interesting notion of elective affinity–
questions whether there is really a causal relationship
between ideas and the economy. And you can labor on this,
what he might mean. And what you think–this is a
cop-out–right?–that he actually–is Marx more of a
contemporary social theorist, because he has a causal
explanation? He tries to give a causal
explanation. And that’s what you are told in
political science or economics. “Real social science comes
up with causal explanations.”
And Weber shies away,
and Marx tries to do causal analysis.
Did I miss nine?
Well this is very much a–very
similar to the previous question.
Here only I ask you to compare
the two: Is Marx really a simple-minded economic
deterministic–determinist? It is existence which
determines consciousness. Or does he have a more
complicated view? Is there a contradiction in
The philosophy of praxis,
that we are making history. He also makes that claim.
How does it fit?
Does he simply contradict
himself, or is this a consistent ideology?
And, you know,
Weber, is he an idealist, or he is not really an
idealist? What does he mean by this
elective affinity? And then finally,
with the final question, I think people seem to be
liking this. Not easy, by the way.
Marx clearly has a notion of
human nature. Right?
Marx believes–is a
Rousseauian–an even more radical than Rousseauian theory
of human nature, especially in his theory of
We are good,
and the problem comes as society makes us alienated.
But I think he goes a little
beyond Rousseau. Because he thinks that in the
state of nature we are actually social;
being social is in our nature. Right?
Rousseau did not think so.
The noble savage has to be
socialized into civil society. Marx believes that this whole
idea of state of nature is an abstraction.
We are all born in society,
and by nature we are social. Only capitalism,
which makes us competitive–competitive
bourgeois individuals, makes us asocial and egoistic.
Well does Weber has a theory of
human nature? It’s a more difficult question
to pose. I think, if I would argue,
I would say if Weber does have one,
it is closer to Hobbes, because he does believe that
people– the history of humankind is a
struggle for power; yes, an ending struggle for
power, and that’s why he explained human history with
power struggles. That’s about it;
that’s the way how I would, in a nutshell,
try to deal with this. And I hope this was somewhat
helpful, and makes you relaxed–right?–that this will
not be a difficult test. It will be actually a lot of
fun, to deal with these intriguing, interesting issues.
And believe me,
I really want you to have fun. I think these are interesting
questions. Okay, now we come to Weber’s
theory of domination. And that’s almost impossible,
what I am trying to do now. But will try to rush you
through. And first of all we have to
understand Weber’s theory of action which has some
similarities to Hobbes and Hobbes’ theory of voluntaristic
action. But then we also have to deal
with Weber’s notion of rationality, and then his
distinction between power and domination;
his theory of legitimacy. This is very, very important.
It’s one of the most
fundamental concepts, particularly in political
theory, but also in economics and in sociology.
And finally his types of
authority; we will deal at great lengths
with different types of authority.
I’ll just give you a sense what
this is in the next twenty-five minutes.
Okay, the four types of
economic action. He makes a distinction.
The question is,
how can–how are we orienting with each other?
What motivates us when we are
interacting with other people? He said well we can act
instrumentally, rationally, and I will explain
it to you what he means. And then he said we can also
act value rationally; and again we’ll come–explain
what this means. In our interaction we can be
led our emotions. And he said this is–well,
whether this is rational; he said this is not irrational
thing. It is not necessarily
irrational that we act out of our emotions,
and I will tell you when he thinks this is becoming
irrational, acting out of emotion.
Or, in our interactions we can
be led by tradition. Now to understand this,
that we actually interact with each other in very different
ways– over time, with the same
person, we can act occasionally instrumentally or occasionally
we can act affectually. Right?
Occasionally we act towards
somebody because we have a great deal of emotion or feeling;
love or hate. And occasionally we can act
We use somebody in order to
achieve somebody. Can I borrow twenty dollars
from you? Right?
Then we act instrumentally.
But we also can act out of hate
or love. Right?
In a discussion section I
really hate the guts of somebody who is always speaking–
right?–in the discussion section, and then I just will
contradict, because I just–it is my
antagonism. Or I just sympathize with
somebody, and therefore I also tend to disagree;
basically driven by my emotion. And now I’m not talking about
love, which binds people more. Now what is behind this is
Weber’s fundamental methodology. He calls his approach to
society ‘interpretative sociology.’
The term interpretative
sociology is translated from German.
The German term is
Verstehen; Verstehen means
understanding. Occasionally we also translate
it into English, that what Weber does is
understand. But Weber’s strong commitment
is that social analysts– be it an economist,
be a political scientist, be a sociologist,
be a historian, be an anthropologist–
is not to pass value judgments on others,
but to try to understand what drives other people.
Don’t assume that other people,
because they act differently than you, would act in their
situation, that they are dumb, evil, or irrational.
This is particularly a debate
with economists. Economists tend to
have–right?–a very strong conception that there is one
economically rational behavior. Weber said, ‘No;
I mean, there are various types of ways how we can act,
and my job is not to say, ‘Now you’re very rational’.
My job is to try to put myself
into your position, and to understand why you did,
and why you did the way how you did it.”
This is interpretive sociology.
This is understanding,
That I emotionally try to put
myself into your situation, and rather than saying,
“This is what I would do”,
I decide if I were you, in your situation,
would I do the same thing? Why do you do that the way how
you do do? Assuming that you are not
acting irrationally, but try to understand why you
act the way you act. Okay?
Now let’s talk about
instrumentally rational action. This comes to the closest what
most economists, especially neoclassical
economists, regard as rational economic action.
He said, “Instrumentally
rational action”– he calls it Zweckrational
ität– is when the ends and the
means are all rationally taken into account and weighted.
This is kind of utility
When you–utilitarians define
this as the rational way to act. Right?
That you have–you are striving
for happiness, and you try to achieve this
happiness, and in this process you maximize utility.
You try to reduce the expenses,
and you try to increase the return on what you try to
achieve. But let me also emphasize that
Weber’s notion of instrumental rationality does not say that
the ends are irrational. Right?
Weber, very much like John
Stuart Mill, is quite aware that we actually
do have preferences, and there are some ends what we
find more valuable than other ends.
Instrumental rationality only
means if in order to achieve this end is too costly for us,
then we probably will go for our second preference,
rather than our first preference.
So well I would like to date
somebody; I very much would like to date
that person. But in order to have a
successful date, I have to take this person into
a four, five-star restaurant. Well the dinner will cost me
$200.00. Well there is another person
whom I would not mind to date– you know, my second
preference–and that would go with a full-star restaurant,
and would cost me only 50 bucks. And therefore,
you know, I will weigh it, you know?
Is my preference for the first
date is so strong that it is worth for me to pay $200.00?
Or it’s actually not that much
stronger; my second preference is
actually pretty good, and therefore I actually go for
the $50.00 dinner. You see what I’m getting at?
So you are weighting
rationally, both the ends and the means, and you come to a
conclusion. Again, you know,
not all that far away from Hobbes–
right?–and Hobbes’ idea–right?–that we are–
you know, we do have these drives, we have these appetites,
and we have these fears, and then we arrive at a will.
This is instrumental
rationality. But he said people can act
value rationally, and if somebody acts value
rationally, I am not willing to call them irrational;
value rationality, if somebody says,
“This value is so important for me that I don’t
care what is the price I will have to pay for it.”
Well let me give you a very
simple example. Right?
You actually may think that
human life is particularly valuable.
Now you or your partner may be
expecting a child, and then you will have to make
a decision. Will you give birth to this
child or will you have an abortion?
And then it can come back to
value rationality. Right?
People can say that the life of
an unborn child is so superior for me that though I know it is
a very crazy stuff for me to have a child,
or my partner, to have a child right now,
I will do it; you know, because I am acting
value rationally. I know it is instrumentally
I may have to quit school,
you know, in order to earn an income or
to take care of the baby or something,
and I’m actually screwing my life, but I don’t mind–
right?–because I have such a strong value commitment.
You see what I’m getting at?
And you cannot say this is
irrational behavior. Right?
This is rational behavior
because people has a commitment to an ultimate value,
and this ultimate value occasionally is so high that you
are sacrificing your economic interests;
and occasionally you sacrifice your life.
You are wiling to die for noble
causes–right?–and you do it–right?–rationally.
You weigh it,
but you know that you will die. And if you know that you will
die for this noble cause, one cannot say that you are
acting irrationally. Affectual orientation.
that you are led by emotions. He said it can be on the
borderline, because if it is simply an uncontrolled reaction
to a situation, then it is irrational.
If you’re simply acting out of
anger, then you were irrational. Right?
When you are drunk in a party
and you are saying something to your partner,
and your relationship is breaking up;
you actually wanted this relationship to go on.
Next morning you wake up and
said, “My goodness gracious, what have I
done?” Right? “I was dumb,
I was irrational. I was led by emotions.
I said things what I should not
have said.” In this case emotion was
irrational. It was an uncontrolled reaction
to a stimulation. But otherwise,
to act out of love and to make sacrifices for love is very
We do this all the time. Right?
Your parents do it.
You know, they send you to Yale
and they pay $200,000.00 to get you a Yale degree–
right?–very well aware that probably they will never get
anything like that back from you.
They hope they will get some
love back from you. Well they might or they might
But, you know,
they act out of love. And, you know,
some people may say, “You are crazy.
Why you invest so much to your
children? They will put you in a home of
elderly”–r ight?–“when you get old.
Nobody will take care of
you.” Right? Well they–but the answer is,
“But I love my child and I want the best for my
child.” Right? This is a very not irrational
behavior: well justified. Anyway, these are traditional
orientation, where you act out of tradition.
Well some people actually still
believe in arranged marriages. Right?
Certainly if you are Islamic,
or even if you are an Orthodox Jew, you probably want to choose
your partner through an arranged marriage.
You go to the rabbi and the
rabbi will arrange the marriage for you.
You have to be pretty orthodox,
but there are some Orthodox Jews who do.
Many Muslims who do that.
Is it irrational?
Actually one can say romantic
love is not all that bloody rational.
The whole idea that you see
somebody, fall in love, and next day you propose,
that seems to be a pretty silly thing to do.
Is not it is much better to go
to the rabbi, who knows you,
who knows your potential partner, and arranges the
marriage for you? Anyway, the point
is–right?–tradition can guide your action.
And that’s again not irrational.
It is only irrational if it is
completely unthinking. I think that’s very important
to say. If it is self-conscious,
you know what you do. I do it because I am a Jew.
I am doing it because I am a
reborn Christian, and that’s what reborn
Christians do. Right?
If you follow this way,
then you are acting rationally; or not acting irrationally,
to put it more. Now what is rationality?
Well I think the key–it’s a
very complex notion. For me–and you can have a
different interpretation; now I will give you my
interpretation. I think what is important,
that rationality means that you substitute unthinking acceptance
of a situation and not thought out,
spontaneous reactions, to deliberate adaptation.
So when you are conscious about
what you are doing, then you are actually acting
rationally, or at least you are not acting irrationally.
He makes a distinction between
rational, which is giving a great deal of
thought, and non-rational,
where actually there is still some reflection going on.
Schluchter, a major Weber
scholar who knows much more about Weber than I do.
Though I have read this book
cover to cover a couple of times,
I haven’t read all the sixty volumes of Weber cover to cover,
but have read quite a bit of it. Anyway, but Schluchter has read
everything more than once. This is his interpretation.
He said, “The question is
means and ends. Instrumental rationality is the
ultimate rationality, because you consider both means
and ends.” And he said,
“Value rationality is a lower level of rationality
because you do not consider really means any longer.”
And traditionally the factual
rationality are more marginal types of rationality.”
Well I would offer you an
alternative interpretation. This is my reconstruction of
Jürgen Habermas; which said, “Well what
Weber is emphasizing is what is the level–right?–of your
reflexivity? Do you really think about what
you are doing? And also to what extent you can
communicate to others what you are doing.
And if you do it this way,
you can have reflexivity which is very high.
So you think very hard why you
are doing, and you are aware what the motivation of your
action is, and you can explain it to a great deal to others.
If this is so”–I think
this is really Habermas– “then your rationality is
the highest level of rationality.”
Because you can really explain
your values very well. Instrumental rationality.
There is not much to say.
It’s only I am making more
money this way. Right?
Therefore the level of
communication is relatively low, though you know very well what
you are doing. Anyway, I’ll just leave it for
you– don’t want to elaborate on this anymore.
But the bottom line is for
Weber rationality is really– has something to do how
conscious you are of what you are doing,
and how conscious you are of the consequences of your action.
You are irrational when you
don’t know what the consequences of your action are.
Now power and domination.
Weber makes a fundamental
difference between power–in German, Macht–and
domination. And this is a very important
“Power is the probability
that an actor within a social relationship will be in a
position to carry out his own will despite resistance.”
You can resist,
and nevertheless the person who is in power can force you to do
what you want to do. He said, “Well,
this actually very rarely happens in social situations.
What typically defines a social
situation is relations of domination.
That’s what he calls
Herrschaft. Domination is the probability
that a command will be obeyed. Right?
power–domination–this is sort of my little equation
here–domination is nothing else but power and legitimacy.
The people who hold power try
to legitimate what they do. You know, I was trying to do
this in the first twenty minutes.
“Look, you know,
you have these questions which sound difficult.
They are not difficult.
They are exciting.”
You know, there I tried to
legitimate myself. “This is sensible,
that you try to answer this question.
You will learn, you know;
you will understand society better.
You will understand yourself
better if you think about these questions.”
I was trying to legitimate the
process, rather than just acting out of power.
“If by 9:00 it will not be
here, you will get an
F”–right?– “and then you will be in
big trouble– right?–you will not get your
degree.” No, I did not want to
legitimate–I tried to legitimate what we will be doing
this afternoon– right?–by the legitimacy,
saying this will be sensible for you to do.
You benefit from it. Right?
I tried to
internalize–right?–what I want you to do, between 7:00 and
9:00, that you’re beginning to believe this is good for me that
I am doing it. It is fun. Right?
I’m enriching myself.
This is my self-development.
So I was trying to
convert–right?–power into domination.
And that is legitimacy;
a claim that what I’m doing when I’m asking you,
7:00, you know, not to have a cocktail,
but to sit down in front of your computer and to write a
test, is good for you. Right?
And if you internalize it and
you’re beginning to think how wonderful,
you know, that I can delay these cocktails for two hours–
right?–then I achieved, then I–you know,
then it was domination rather than power.
Is that clear?
Now what is legitimacy?
This is a very tricky question.
And well I have my own view;
many people will vehemently disagree with me.
He said–and that’s very
important–“Every genuine form of domination implies a
minimum of voluntary compliance.”
That is an interest in
Unless I could persuade you
that you will feel, well I actually could–you
know, I could drop this course and not to take this test.
This is too difficult;
I’ll just drop the course. I can live without this course.
You can have a kind of
voluntary compliance and, most important,
an interest. You’re beginning to think,
well I will learn something by doing this.
If I achieve that,
then this is really domination.
Now this is also an extremely
important argument. Right?
That every privileged
groups–people in position of power–are developing a myth of
their superiority; they are developing a myth that
this is useful for you to obey. So the essence–right?–of
legitimacy, that it has a certain–expects
you to believe in the reasons what those in position of power
try to justify their power, but also an understanding that
this is a myth. Because this is–right?–comes
very close to Nietzsche. Right?
Nietzsche is sticking his head
out here. Right?
It is a mythology.
It’s not really true. Right?
You just internalize your own
submission to the authority. Right?
But the tendency in history is
that you will internalize it. So this is very different from
what we normally say legitimacy, because by legitimacy in
contemporary political discourse,
refers–well Karzai is not legitimate because he was faking
the elections. If elections are fair and free,
then the person who is elected is a legitimate ruler.
No, no, no, that’s not Weber’s
view. It’s not universal suffrage and
free and fair elections, what makes the ruler
legitimate. What makes the ruler
legitimate, that the ruler is capable to develop mythologies,
to justify that you better obey the orders, what is given to
you; because you have some self
interest to do so, and you have some level of
belief that it is actually not bad for you,
to do what the ruler wants you to do.
Now there are different types
of domination and authority. And this is where he
clashes–right?–with Marx. As we have seen–right?–Marx
developed his typology of societies from economic systems.
Economy drives history.
Weber is a Nietzschian;
Hobbesian or Nietzschian. Right? What drives history is power,
struggle for power. And the nature of power,
how power is constructed, and how our power is
sublimated–right?– into domination,
to put it in the Freudian way, that is how you should
understand how societies operate.
So it is not modes of
production what describes the evolution of history,
but types of domination which describes the evolution of
history. And there are really three
types of what he calls legitimate authorities.
There are three ways how rulers
in history legitimated their rules.
It can be legal
rational–easily you can say liberal–traditional and
charismatic. And we will spend time on this,
each one of them. I just very briefly want to
tell you what these different authorities are.
Legal rational authority is a
system in which there is a belief in the legality of
enacted rules. And those who are actually
issuing the commands, they themselves are bound by
those rules; by this is the rule of law.
That’s what he calls legal
rational authority. It is rule of law administered
in a bureaucratic manner. You do not have a personal
master. You do not obey a person.
You obey the rules of the game.
And these rules of the game are
prescribed. You know in advance before you
act. It is set, and you follow these
rules. That is legal rational
authority. This is not identical with
democracy. It can be democratic,
or it can be authoritarian. It can be actually a
constitutional monarchy. Right?
A constitutional monarch passed
laws by a separate legislature which was or was not
democratically elected. But everybody knew who the
rules of the game are–right?–in a constitutional
monarchy, eighteenth century, early nineteenth century
England. No democratically elected
But the laws were there and the
monarch followed the laws. That was legal rational
Then you have traditional
authority. Traditional authority,
he said, rests on the established belief on the
sanctity of immemorial traditions,
and the legitimacy of those exercising the authority under
them. In some ways,
you know, when you are obeying your father, you are acting
under traditional authority. The authority what your father
has is ascribed to your father by tradition.
We know that this is something
what fathers do have a legitimate right to say–
right?–that in fact, you know, fathers do have a
legitimate right to say that by midnight you have to be at home.
You kind of are not very happy
about this; you know, when you were sixteen
you started to revolt against this.
But, you know,
you accepted this is normally what, you know,
fathers, you know, or mothers do say.
And, you know,
he also said, “Well you did something
and therefore for this weekend you cannot go out.”
They are acting out of
traditional authority; authority which is ascribed to
them by tradition.
And finally there is
charismatic authority. This is a very complex issue.
We will talk about this a great
deal. Charismatic authority refers to
the fact when a leader is trying to legitimate its right to issue
commands, that he has some extraordinary
character– that he’s something like,
you know, an extraordinary,
unusual person. But it’s also very important to
see that they are often seen as supernatural,
or even superhuman, having exceptional qualities.
But what is also very important
to see, that charismatic authority in Weber is not really
the characteristics of the individual.
This is what we attribute to
the individuals, to have these extraordinary
characteristics. In the most recent U.S.
history, during the
electoral–during the presidential campaign,
Barack Obama, with his, you know,
charming personality, with his extraordinary skills
of delivering speeches, was capable to create a kind of
charismatic aura around himself. Right?
People got excited,
you know, almost like around a rock star.
And his whole arguments for
trying to legitimate himself was very much cast in charismatic
Hope you can believe in.
This is a very typical
charismatic appeal. “You have to believe in me
because I’m offering you hope in a hopeless situation.”
That’s what creates charismatic
authority. How much charismatic authority
President Obama still has, this is another
question–right?–what you may want to discuss in the
discussion section. It’s also a problem whether,
you know, candidate Obama was really a charismatic leader.
Weber basically defined
charismatic leaders as the great leaders, the makers of great
world religions. Jesus Christ was a charismatic
leader. So in some ways to say modern
politicians, they are charismatic, it’s a bit
slippery. But I think the emphasis on
hope and the call, “You believe me because I
will be able to deliver.” Yes we can.
You know, I remember when I
first heard him saying that, I said, “Yeah,
that’s exactly the charismatic appeal.”
It’s not quite reasoned out.
And it moved me when Barack
Obama came out and he said, “You think nothing can be
done. But yes, we can.
Hope you can believe in.”
This is very much a charismatic
appeal. That’s what charismatic
authority is all about.