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Warren

Warren

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Published by: Alexander Rigas on Sep 11, 2012
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Max Weber's Liberalism for a Nietzschean WorldAuthor(s): Mark WarrenSource:
The American Political Science Review,
Vol. 82, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 31-50Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 05/10/2011 15:10
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MAXWEBER'SLIBERALISMFOR ANIETZSCHEANWORLD
MARKWARRENNorthwesternniversityVeber'scommentatorsftenccusehimfackingcoherentpolitical hilosophyecausehispluralist-eliteheoryfdemocracyeems ndifferentoliberal-democraticalues.argue, owever,hat he oreof Weber's oliticalhiloso-physa politicizedeo-Kantianiberalism,nethatroducesnethicallyignificantndpositive oncept fpolitics. heproblemsratherhatWeber's essimismboutnstitu-tionalizingositive oliticsnbureaucratizedocietieseft he thicalore fhispoliticalphilosophynexplicit. hisntroduced conflictntohisthoughtetweenisethicalcommitmentsndhisassessmentsf political ossibilities.heconflictscompellingbecausetreflectsheontemporaryapbetweenheromisendperformancefiberaldemocracies.t theameime,ormulatingeber'sroblemsnthese ermselpsden-tifyemocraticolutions hatremain bscuren hisassessmentf conflictsetweenbureaucratizationnddemocracy.
M
ststudentsfpoliticsnowMax Webers apoliticalsociologist ndsocial theorist,ut fewthinkfhim asapoliticalhilosopher.Afterll, he leftno treatisesnidealformsofgovernment,or systematictreatmentsf theplaceofpoliticsnthehumanondition,or xtendedonsider-ationsf normativerinciples. onethe-less,there sacoherentet of philo-sophicalroblemsndcommitmentshatguidesWeber's ocial ciencendpoliticalthought.arguethat Weber's houghtincludes commitmentoa distinctiveconceptionf politics,ne that s,ineffect, politicizedeo-Kantianiberal-ism:heseespolitics s a uniquelyumanactivity, ne withhe potentialothtocreatendtomanifesthe responsibilityand dignityfndividualsn an increas-inglysecularizedworld.This positiveconceptfpoliticss what accountsorWeber'searhatureaucratizationein-forceshat call a Nietzscheanorld-aworld nwhich ndividualsreunable ocreatedurablymeaningfulives throughgoal-directedctions.Ialso argue,however, hat Weberfailed o carryhis Nietzscheanroblemand positiveoncept f politicsntohismodel fapossibleolitics,s expressedin hispluralist-eliteheory f democracy.AlthoughWeber's modeldramaticallyillustrated hat he saw as an absoluteconflict etweenbureaucratizationnddemocracy,t also failed oexpressheinneroherence f his politicalhiloso-phy.Iam not, however, nterestednWeber's nconsistenciesor theirownsake.ft turns ut thatWeber'soliticalphilosophys coherent,nd his analylsisofcontemporarynstitutionsorrect,hediscontinuitiesn histhinkingresymp-toms of realchallengesordemocratictheory. he conflictsn Weber'shinkinghave not onlyobscuredisethical on-tributionsodemocraticheory,ut alsohisrealnsightsnto he imitsfiberal-ism and thedifficultiesf democracynbureaucraticallyrganizedocieties.et
AMERICANPOLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWVOL. 82NO.1MARCH1988
 
AmericanPoliticalScience ReviewVol.82
alsoarguehatheseonflictsouldhavebeenesshadWeberlaboratedis iberalcommitmentsn substantiallyemocraticdirectionsatherhanhelitistirectionhein facthose.Incontrasto extensiveommentarynWeber'shilosophyf social cience,hephilosophicalommitmentsf hissocialandpoliticalhoughtavenotbenefitedfromimilarttention.herere afewnotablend mportantxceptions,achofwhichrely nhere.KarlLowith1982)hasdevelopedWeber'sgeneraloncernwithndividualmeaningndresponsibil-ityn rationalizedocietiescf.Merleau-Ponty1974,chap.1).DrawingonWeber'sneo-Kantianontext,WolfgangSchluchter1979,1981)showshowWeber'ssocialsciencepresupposesnunderlyingoncernithistoricalondi-tionshatproducer undermineapaci-tiesforrationalaction (cf.Brubaker1984).AndJurgenabermas1984)hasraisedheevelofdebatey reconstruct-ingthebroadconceptionf rationalitythatnderwriteseber'sociologyf ul-turalevelopment.hatsmissingromtheiterature,owever,sanaccountfhowtheseimensionsfWeber'shoughtproducepoliticalhilosophy;hats,criteriahatwouldpermitimtojudgetherelativemeritsfpoliticalegimes.NordoestheliteratureprovideanaccountfhowWeber's oliticalhiloso-phyrelatesohispoliticalheory,hats,tohis views onwhat kindsf politicalinstitutionsre possible,ivenhenatureoftheontemporaryorld.
Pluralistiberal-DemocracyandthePluralismfValues
Whatwe dofind n theiteraturereattemptsycommentatorsnterestednWeber'soliticalhoughtoextrapolatepoliticalhilosophyromis concernorGermany'soliticaluture,ince tshereonefindshismostcommittedoliticalarguments.Moststrikinglyn"Parlia-mentndGovernmentnaReconstructedGermany"1978a,pp.2)Weberrguesforwhatwe wouldodayall apluralist-elitemodelofdemocracy,1othasanappropriateodelforGermanyndasthebestpossibleoliticalystemnmass,industrialocietiescf.Beetham,985,).MuchlikeSchumpeterater,Weberre-definesemocracyofithe actsfmasspassivityndhighevelsf gnorance.edoessobylookingtdemocracys amechanismor electingeadersyinsti-tutionalizingompetitionetweenlites.From anethicalperspective,iberal-democracyurnsouttobe aneutralprocesshateavesoutclassicaliberal-democraticalues,valueshavingodowithopularovereigntyndthegoodofparticipation.eber'smodelsespeciallydistinctiveorthemportanceeplacedonstrongoliticaleadershipithple-biscitaryasiss ameans orheckinghepowerof,and providingoalsfor,n-creasinglyxpansivendpowerfultatebureaucraciesBeetham985;L6wenstein1966,6-27;Mommsen974).Theproblemwithextractingeber'spoliticalphilosophyromthismodelstemsromomparingttoanotherrom-inent spectf his thinking.ommenta-torsreoftenakenwithWeber'sccountofthempactfsecularizationn societyandpoliticsL6with982;Merleau-Ponty1974,chap.1;Portis983).In Weber'sview,thebreakdownoftraditionalsourcesofmoralauthoritymeantthattherewas agreateriversityfvaluesnWesternocieties.Forthisreason,hethoughthat politicswouldinevitablyplaygreaterolenmediatingalueon-flictshanthadnthe astndthat olit-icalifewouldbe increasinglyarkedyconflictsfubjectivealueommitmentsagainstackgroundsf coercion.Nodoubtbecausef theirrominenceinhiswritings,ostommentatorsake tforgrantedhatWeber'sviewsontheincreasing luralismfvaluesdovetails
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