Weber V: History and Honor

The next several pages are a worthy history of the problem, which I will neither quote nor summarize. I do recommend reading it. The one part that I'd like to put before you is the exception Weber notes to the general manner in which the prince (or the Parliament, whichever became dominant after the Middle Ages) brought the expert class to power as a means of contesting the other side of the medieval power structure. This was in Britain. 
The fourth category was a specifically English institution. A patrician stratum developed there which was comprised of the petty nobility and the urban rentiers; technically they are called the 'gentry.' The English gentry represents a  stratum that the prince originally attracted in order to counter the barons. The prince placed the stratum in possession of the offices of 'self­-government,' and later he himself became increasingly dependent upon them. The gentry maintained the possession of all offices of local administration by taking them over without compensation in the interest of their own social power. The gentry has saved England from the bureaucratization which has been the fate of all continental states. 
Alas this did not last forever, but it was a manner in which a sort-of 'middle class' could assume small and local powers to avoid having the corrupt bureaucracy come into being. The officers were able to assume these small local offices because they could afford to do them for free, on a voluntary basis (rewarded, that is, by honor alone).

This method is one we should keep in mind with an eye towards future reform: keeping powers small and local, so that the office need not be a full-time pursuit but one that a person can afford to perform voluntarily and for honor alone. It need not require a 'gentry' in the British sense, though it will require citizens who care about honor as well as the community: but our volunteer firefighters perform such tasks successfully in much of the nation already. Perhaps many other sorts of governance can be shifted into such a mode.

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