Max Weber: "Politics as Vocation"

For our next philosophical piece, you will be happy to know that I have selected a much shorter work that is almost contemporary. Max Weber's "Politics as Vocation" won't take very long to get through, but it will underline some real problems in our current politics. 

Now, Weber wasn't a bad guy. Per the first link to the SEP:
Weber’s political project also discloses his entrenched preoccupation with the willful resuscitation of certain character traits in modern society. [He was concerned about] great transformations that were undermining the social conditions necessary to support classical liberal values and bourgeois institutions, thereby compelling liberalism to search for a fundamental reorientation.... Weber’s own way was to address the problem of classical liberal characterology that was, in his view, being progressively undermined by the indiscriminate bureaucratization of modern society.
Weber's opening in this work is to define politics in terms of the state, which he describes as a territory-linked institution that has successfully claimed a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. I emphasize describes because I almost always encounter this in contemporary philosophers as if it were a prescription. Weber was not arguing that a good state ought to claim such a monopoly, nor (like Hobbes) that it would be to the common good to have a state that did; he was merely discussing what the modern state does, states that included Soviet Russia, Communist China, and Nazi Germany. 

As we will see, Weber is actually quite concerned about the necessary relationships of domination that occur when the modern state succeeds at claiming to be the only legitimate user of force. Note that the whole idea is in direct contradiction to the principle of the Declaration of Independence that the People should be free to 'alter or abolish' a state that ceases to defend their core liberties: if the state is solely capable of using force legitimacy, no revolutionary politics can be legitimate. 

Weber is clear from the beginning that he's talking about 'successful claims,' rather than actual legitimacy; and also he is clear about how dubious these claims actually are. You'll find it worth your time, I think. The whole thing is only 30 pages, and though it was originally in German, the translation provided is smooth. 

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