Max Weber
Politics as a Vocation [en]

Introduction: Politics as Vocation

The questions Weber asks are, “Why and under what circumstances will the people submit? And on which intrinsic internal legal justification, and what external means does domination rely?”

Weber’s “Politics as Vocation” is the capstone to this translation because it brings together Weber’s thoughts about power, bureaucracy, politics, charisma, and discipline. It was first delivered as a speech on January 28, 1919, when Weber spoke from notes (which are preserved in the Collected Works of Max Weber), and was then recorded by a stenographer sitting behind him as he spoke. The notes and the stenography were then organized into an essay over the next several months, which was then published in German.

Weber was invited to speak at the Munich University because the students wanted to know how to answer the “calling” to the “vocation” (Beruf) of politics. The students were excited with the revolutionary activity in Germany and wanted to hear from a “master,” and so they asked Weber to address them. Weber at first declined—he was too busy campaigning for the DDP and a seat in the Reichstag. So, as an alternative, the students proposed Kurt Eisner, the president of the newly proclaimed Bavarian Republic, who was also Weber’s political nemesis.