Politics as a Vocation
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.
To block the invitation to Eisner, Weber changed his mind and accepted.
The students were apparently expecting Weber to give a rousing campaign-type speech that would offer comment on the political issues of postwar Germany, and also feed their idealism. Weber instead offered them a philosophical speech, which meditated on the very nature of government, and the inherent tensions found in the “calling” of politics. Weber’s conclusion for the students is a gloomy one, in which he points out that even one meant for politics will at times use evil means to achieve a greater good. This is not the speech that the students contracted for (see Dahrendorff 1992).
The result is that, more so than the other essays, this “essay” is a speech. Weber is sarcastic and at times flippant in this speech/essay. He uses it to deliver barbs to contemporary political opponents, including Bavarian president Kurt Eisner, communists, and other “demagogues of the street.” The pacifist philosopher Friedrich Förster does a little better—but then Förster never crossed swords with Weber’s DDP party, as Eisner and the Spartacists like
Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht did. The deposed Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the victorious Allies (especially Woodrow Wilson) who were demanding an onerous peace of Germany and admissions of guilt do not fare as well either (see pp. XXX). But for the purposes of “Politics as Vocation,” this is beside the point. In Weber’s mind, what all of these politicians share in common is a naïveté for what politics can offer in terms of reform and the conduct of human affairs.
While these contemporary staples of 1919 politics are littered throughout the essay (particularly toward the end), Weber’s main point is still that politics is an endeavor with inherent ethical tensions that sap the soul of whoever practices it. The soul is sapped because inherently politics is about the wielding of coercive power (Gewalt) that is at times violent. The effective politician must wield this violence with a “sense of proportion” as decisions are made about who will be taxed, fined, restricted, coerced, flattered, demagogued, and even executed. Maintaining this sense of proportion is of course extremely difficult for a “true human”—as power-bearers they are constantly dealing with appeals to their vanity, and the temptations of power—a precise condition that leads them to lose any “sense of proportion.”
The ethical conviction needed to do this, Weber writes, is difficult because the politician is always balancing the ethics of decisions rooted in moral convictions (Gesinnungsethik) with the consequences actions have on the immediate responsibilities being aware of the consequences of actions (Verantwortungsethik).
Much of the point of “Politics as Vocation” is made at the beginning and end of the essay. The first part of the essay defines the inherent relationship between government and violence. The end of the essay discusses the ethical tension this definitions presents. The middle is more of a philosophical/historical excursion through the vast terrain of Weber’s reading and thinking about the exercise of power throughout history.
The middle of the essay is thus a classic of comparative historical sociology. It is a comparison between how modern politics in Germany and Great Britain developed out of feudal relations, and why in each place they took a unique trajectory, resulting in similar—but different—styles of politics and bureaucracies in each country. Weber’s point in developing this is to show that, in both places, politics emerge from coalitions of people who seek power. It is easy to get lost in Weber’s details about the machinations of nineteenth-century party politicians. Making it even easier to lose one’s way in Weber’s prose is that he introduces a third comparison—the new country that is the United States, which Weber points out has a uniquely corrupt form of politics due to the abundance of resources, which means that the “bosses” do not need to be as responsive to the governed. Such corrupt and inefficient practices are, Weber points out, only possible in a country that is so much younger than Europe.
Reading “Politics as Vocation”
At times “Politics as Vocation” is written with the cadences of the spoken word. At times, its rhythms are those of a sermon, a political speech, and a university lecture. In each case, an intimacy with the audience is implicit. This is especially true in the first and last sections— though there are asides and mocking remarks sprinkled throughout.
The beginning of the essay is among the best known in modern social science. It is here that the definition of the states as a “monopoly over the use of coercive power …,” (p. XXX) is found. Descriptions of traditional, bureaucratic, and charismatic dominion (Herrschaft) are found here too (pp. XXX). These are concepts underpinning the rest of the essay.
The middle sections of “Politics as Vocation” is a meditation on the nature of nineteenthcentury German, British, and American politics, with occasional examples from China, Russia, France, and elsewhere. The comparison is also dated for a twenty-first-century reader. The controversies Weber cites in each country no longer have the immediacy that might have been understood by Weber’s audience in 1919. What does have immediacy are his descriptions of the cliques that emerge out of different forms of politics—English gentlemen, American bosses, journalists (naughty press boys), vain Honoratioren who emerge from the respected circles in each community. And then, of course, the imperious process-bound bureaucrats, and the vain dilettantes who permeate the practice of politics are described here. It is in this middle section that the gems of Weber’s descriptions are buried.
The final sections of the essay are Weber’s philosophical conclusions about the nature of ethics in politics. It is here that Weber’s interest in religion is most sharply expressed, with frequent references to Christian and Hindu writings about the nature of ethics within the Stand of the politician. This is also where Weber comments directly on the conclusion of World War I and the then ongoing peace talks at Versailles—where idealists like Woodrow Wilson were demanding German confession of guilt as a prerequisite for a permanent peace. As Weber argues here, he finds this an ethical impossibility, without roots in basic reason. Grasping Weber’s distinction between Gesinnungsethik and Verantwortungsethik is critical to this. The concepts that first appear on p. XX are at times difficult to understand. However, we hope that with the richness of Weber’s examples and the advantage of context, their meaning becomes clear.
Politics as Vocation
The Spirit of Work and Vocation
Second Lecture: Politics as Vocation
Verlag Duncker & Humboldt
Chico, California, and Hamburg, Germany
Anja Seitz, Maximilian Vohleitner
The lecture which you have asked me to give will disappoint you in various ways, since in a lecture about politics as a profession; you will undoubtedly expect a position about current political issues. This however will only happen at the end of this lecture, and then only in a strictly technical way, and in a way that will answer specific questions about the significance of political actions within the entire conduct of a political life. What we will not be talking about are questions regarding politics one should conduct, specifically which content one should promote while practicing politics. Because this has nothing to do with the question of what politics as a profession is and what it means.
—Let us begin.
Understanding of Politics
What is our understanding of politics? The term “politics” is a very wide one and encompasses many kinds of independent leadership functions. One talks of foreign currency politics of private banks, of the interest rate politics of the Reichsbank regarding bills of exchange, of union politics during a strike, a city or town’s school politics, and a club president’s politics of leadership.
Finally, one talks even of the clever politics of a wife when she attempts to lead her husband.
This broad definition of the term “politics” will, of course, not be the basis for tonight’s lecture. Instead we will define politics as the leadership or influence exercised by leaders of a political organization; in other words, of a state.
Sociological Definition of a “Political Organization”
But what is, from a sociological point of view, a “political” organization? What is a “state”?
The problem is that relative to a political organization, a state can, sociologically speaking, not be defined. There is almost no task that a political organization hasn’t undertaken at one point or another. One cannot say that there are tasks that have always and solely been in the hands of the political organizations, today known as “states,” or the predecessors of the modern states.
Thus, sociologically speaking, it is only possible to define the modern state with respect to the one specific means innate to every political organization: the physical force that includes the capacity to be violent [Gewalt].
Definition of the State
Trotsky once said in Brest-Litowsk: “Every state is founded on ‘Gewalt,’ that includes physical force.”
Trotsky sees that correctly!
If there were social entities were unaware of the concept of Gewalt as a means [especially with its implications for the use of violence], then the term “state” would cease to exist. And then something would have occurred that we would call anarchy, in the very specific meaning of that word.
Physical force is, of course, not normal, nor the only means available to a state—this is not what we are talking about—I am saying that physical force is specific and intrinsic to the state. And especially today, the relation between the state and physical force is a very intimate one. In the past, various entities—starting with the clan—have known physical force as a normal means. Today, contrary to the past though, we are compelled to say that the state is the only human Gemeinschaft which lays claim to the monopoly on the legitimated use of physical force.
However, this monopoly is limited to a certain geographical area, and in fact this limitation to a particular area is one of the things that defines a state.
Because of the uniqueness in the modern day, all organizations or single persons have the right to physical force only to the extent the state permits it. The state is seen [today] as the sole grantor of the “right” to physical force. Therefore, “politics” in our case would mean the pursuit for a portion of power, or for influencing the division of power whether it be between states, or between groups of people which the state encompasses. Any form of governmental Herrschaft which grabs control over a sustained [political] administration needs, on the one hand, attitudes of obedience toward rulers who claim to bear the right to the legitimated power [Gewalt]. And on the other hand, the rulers need control over the material assets necessary to apply physical force. Finally, it is only through habits of obedience that rulers have access to the administrative staff and the physical means of administration.
The Means of The Coercive Violence that is Gewalt
This view of the term “politics” corresponds also with an essentially common usage. Thus, if you look at the question as being a political one and if you talk about a minister or civil servant (Beamte) as being a political Beamte, if you talk about a decision as being politically conditioned, then it always means that the power of distribution, the power of retention, or the interest in the shift of power determines the decision the sphere of action of a particular Beamte.
Anybody who practices politics is striving for power, either power as an instrument to pursue a goal—a goal that can be idealistic or selfish—or to enjoy power for the sake of power itself because it gives [pleasurable] feelings of prestige. A state, as well as the political organizations which came historically before it, has a rulership [Herrschaft] relationship of the people and over the people, which means legitimate but coercive power (that is, legitimate in the eyes of the people). To ensure that the state endures, the people who are ruled need to submit to this dominating coercive authority.
[The question is] why and under what circumstances will the people submit?
And on which intrinsic internal legal justification and what external means does domination [Herrschaft] rely?
The Three Principles Justifying the Legitimacy of the Herrschaft
As a matter of principle there are in fact three intrinsic justifications underpinning the basic legitimacy of any political dominion [Herrschaft].
First is the authority of an “eternal yesterday.” This type of authority is based on conventions which possess validity through habitual attitudes toward keeping sanctified customs. This “traditional” type of dominion [Herrschaft] was practiced by patriarchs and patrimonial princes of the old school.
But in addition [secondly], there is authority which is based on a special personal spiritual gift (charisma), and which is reflected in a personal dedication to, and a personal trust in revelation, heroism, or other traits characteristic of A Leader [Führer]. This kind of charismatically based Herrschaft was practiced by a prophet or—if you think in political dimensions—by a chosen warlord, or [in Rome] the popularly elected “Ruler,” the great demagogue, and the Leader of political parties.
Finally, there is the authority of effective dominion [Herrschaft] based on “legality,” the belief in the validity of legal statutes which is justified by rational rules, professional competence, [and who therefore express an obedient attitude in fulfilling their prescribed duties]. This means
[dominion in a modern state] is based on modern “civil servants” and on all legal holders of [legitimate] power who resemble them. It is understood that in real life such docility is caused by massive motives of fear and hope, as well as other interests. [For example], fear can be caused by the fear of revenge of magical and superstitious powers, or a “Ruler” who wields power. Hope can be offered via promises of reward either during the present life on earth or in the afterlife.
More about this in a bit.
The Justification of Charisma for the Leader [Führer]
If you ask about the justification for the legitimacy of this kind of docility, you will find three “pure” [ideal] types [i.e., the traditional, charismatic, and legal authority as described above]. These perceptions of legitimacy have their intrinsic justifications and have important consequences for the internal structures of domination [Herrschaft]. Still one should keep in mind that these “pure” [ideal] types are seldom observed in the real world.
Today, I will not further broach the issue of highly complicated variations [of the ideal types of legitimated authority], transitions, crossings, or combinations of these types. In fact, this topic belongs into the field of “general political science” [and not sociology]. Here, in our context it is most important to focus on the second type [of legitimacy]: The Herrschaftdominion which emerges by virtue of devotion of obedient people to the personal charisma of “The Leader” [Führer]. This is because the idea of politics as a professional vocation has its highest manifestation in the charisma of a Leader [Führer].
Devotion towards the charisma of the prophet or The Führer during wartime, or the great Demagog in the [Greek] Ecclesia or in Parliament, indicated he was confirmed as the internally called Führer of the people. The people submitted to him because they believed in him; they were not forced by custom or laws or coercive power. The charismatic Leader [Führer] lives for his cause, and strives and promotes “his work” (if the Leader [Führer] is more than just someone who, in the blink of an eye, vainly takes advantage of a narrow moment to gain power).
[A truly charismatic Leader [Führer] only lives and strives for the calling of politics]. Nevertheless, the devotion by his entourage, the discipleship, and the very personal and active party supports is focused on the Leader [Führer] and the qualities of his personality. This kind of leadership has appeared in every region and during every historical epoch in such figures, on the one hand, as magicians and prophets, warlords, gang leaders, or, on the other hand, as freeItalian mercenary soldiers of the Italian city-states and Papacy [Condottiere].
However, what really concerns us here is the form of political Leadership which developed idiosyncratically in the Occident. Political leadership firstly appeared in the form of independent “demagogues” and developed in the city-state, particularly in the Mediterranean cultures. Secondly, political Führer-ship concerns us because later it appeared in the form of parliamentary “party Leader” which only could develop in the Occident because it was rooted in the [traditions of the] constitutional state, which is also a peculiarity of the Occident. These homegrown professional politicians are “called” in the truest sense of the word. But of course, they are never the only significant actors in the dynamic of the struggle over political power.
Most crucial are the types of resources and means of assistance available to the politicians.
How Do the Ruling Powers Maintain Political the Dominant Herrschaft?
How do the politically ruling powers [Gewalt] manage to maintain their political dominion? This question is vital for every kind of dominion [Herrschaft] including, the [three types of] political Herrschaft in all their variations: the traditional, as well as legal, and charismatic form.
The administrative staff, of course, represents the political origin in its outer appearance, as does any other organization. But it is obviously not only by the idea of a legitimacy chained simply to obedience to the holder of power [Gewalt] that sustains their loyalty; also, things which appeal to personal interest like material compensation and social honor are important. These rewards include dues paid to vassals, sinecures of the patrimonial Beamte, salary of the modern civil servants, chivalric honor, privileges of the Stände, and the honor of the Beamte represented by compensation. The fear of losing these privileges is the final decisive foundation for the loyalty of the administrative staff towards the power holder.
This also holds true for the Herrschaft of the charismatic dominion of a Leader [Führer]. They receive military honor, booty that are “the spoils,” and the right to exploit the ruled by means of “monopolies.” These monopolies’ political profits appeal to the vanity of the men who are part of the demagogue’s entourage. Thus, for the maintenance of every forcibly controlled political dominion [Herrschaft], certain material goods are needed, as with a profitable business operation in the economy.
All state organizations are arranged according to the principle of whether its staff on whose obedience the power holder relies, be it Beamte or whoever they may be, have personal access to the means of administration. The means of administration can include money, buildings, war supplies, vehicle fleets, horses, or anything else. Or, the administrative staff is separated from the means of administration in the same sense as the employees and proletarian workers of a capitalistic company are detached from owning the material means of production. The question hence is whether the Ruler holds the administration in his own hands and organizes it himself, or whether the opposite is the case. In the first case, personal servants, that is, hired
Beamte or personal minions or confidantes, organize the administration on behalf of the Ruler. They are not owners in their own right of material means of organization and are directed by the Ruler. This difference is found in all types of administrative organizations in the past.
A political organization in which the objective means of administration are completely or partly owned by the subordinate administrative staff we will call an association that is stratified by Stand. For instance, the vassal in the feudal system paid for the administration and judicature in his district that was given to him out of his own pockets. He also equipped and victualed himself for war, and so did his subordinated vassals. This, of course, had consequences for the ruler’s power/authority, which was wholly based on personal “affiliations by loyalty” [towards the vassals], and the notion that social honor of the fiefdom and its vassals are derived from the ruler’s “legitimacy.”
However, we also find anywhere—even in the earliest political organizations—rulers who seek to seize the administration themselves. Such a Ruler seeks to gain control of the administration by using personal dependents, such as slaves, personal Beamte, servants, personal “minions,” or prebendaries. He remunerates them in natural produce or money from his own pockets and pays for the necessary resources from the income of his own patrimony. Lastly, he seeks to create an army that is personally and solely dependent on him by equipping and victualing it out of his own granaries, magazines, and armories.
In contrast, in an organization based on Stand, the Ruler rules with the help of an autonomous aristocracy, while the Ruler’s power to rule is dependent on the manorial servants or plebeians, that is the strata of people who have no possessions or social honor, and who are dependent on the Ruler and have no access to any power in their own right. All forms of patriarchal and patrimonial rule, the despotism of sultans, and bureaucratically organized state all belong to this type. Especially the modern states represent the most rationally organized bureaucracy.
The development of the modern state started in places where the feudal princes began to expropriate those who were the independent “private” holders of administrative power and were the owners of the means of warfare, administration, finance, as well as politically useful commodities of all kinds.
The entire process of gradual expropriation of the independent producers by the feudal lords paralleled the development of capitalist operations.
In the end, we see that in a modern state the assets to run a political organization are used only at the very top-level of the state. No single Beamte is a personal owner of the money he spends or of the buildings, inventory, tools, or assets of war he uses. In today’s state, the “segregation” between the administrative staff and the means of production is what defines today’s state. Thus, the administrative Beamte and the administrative worker do not own the tangible assets that are used to operate the state’s business. This is the point where the most advanced modern development starts, and where, in front of our eyes, the “expropriation of the expropriators” of the political assets of production begins, thereby initiating the concentration of political power.
This revolution is accomplished, at least in the sense that statutory rulers were replaced by charismatic Führer, through usurpation or election, and have asserted authority over the political staff and the material assets [of the state]. But the Leader [Führer] only derives legitimacy through the will of those ruled, no matter how much this legitimacy was [in name] based on the law.
This is separate from the question of whether such success means that they can also hope to expropriate capitalist economic business. [This is difficult because] the management of business enterprises, despite the obvious analogies to political administration, are in their essence based on different rules.
But we are not taking a position on this today. I believe that for our consideration only the (mere) conceptual aspects are important. Important is that the modern state a Herrschaft institution sought successfully a monopoly over a geographical area. For this purpose, the Herrschaft puts the objective businesslike means of production in the hands of its Leader [Führer]. But all of the proper functionaries of the Stände, who formerly had administrative power, were expropriated, and the new Leaders put themselves at the top as a replacement.
During this political expropriation, which occurred in all nations of the earth, and was to varying degrees successful, the first type of “career politicians” emerged. These career politicians emerged in the service of feudal princes. A second type were people who did not want to be rulers themselves like the charismatic [Führer] but went into service to political rulers.
Thus, the career politicians placed themselves at the disposal of the feudal princes. By implementing their politics, they made both a living on the one hand and created an idealistic purpose for life on the other.
We find this type of career politicians only in the Occident where they also served other authorities besides just the feudal princes. But in the past, such career politicians proved to be the most important instrument for sustaining power and political expropriation by the feudal princes and other authorities.
The Practice of Politics and the Career Politician
Before we go into greater detail, we should get the facts straight and understand in all their dimensions, what the existence of such “career politicians” means.
One can practice “politics,” which means to seek influence over the distribution of power between and within political structures. One can practice politics as a “cause politician,” on a part-time or full-time basis just like an economic pursuit. Now, we all are “cause politicians” when we hand in our ballot paper or when we express any similar opinion by applauding or protesting at a “political” gathering, giving a “political” speech, etc. And for many people their relationship to politics is limited to such nominal expressions of intentions.
But today, “part-time” politicians include, for example, all those representatives and board members of party association who act in such positions, but only when necessary. They in fact do not make their primary living through those positions, neither in a material nor in an ideological sense.
This also holds true for the members of state councils and similar advisory bodies who only practice politics when needed. Likewise, it includes large groups of parliamentary members who only practice politics when Parliament is in session.
Stände and Politics
In the past, groups of part-time politicians were found among the “Stände.”
“Stände” for our purposes include the rightful owners of military assets or the important means for the administration of ruling power.
Many of the part-time politicians had no intention to put their lives, no more than just occasionally, in the service to politics. They rather used the power and their authority for gaining rents or even profits. They became politically active and served political organizations and associations only when the fellow members of their own Stand specifically demanded so. This was also true for some of the part-time politicians who were used by the feudal princes in the fight to create their own personal political councils. These were only at the ruler’s personal disposal. The members of these councils, and before them, a substantial part of the “Curia” and other advisory bodies to the feudal princes, displayed the same characteristics. But, of course, these occasional or part-time political advisors provided not enough support for the feudal prince. Thus, the feudal prince needed to establish a full-time staff that exclusively worked in his interest.
The structures of the emerging dynastical and political organizations hinged on the choice of the full-time council members [and the nature of the Stand from which they were recruited]. This also influenced the whole character of the culture in question. This was a necessity for political organizations, which had constituted themselves politically as so-called free polities, having removed themselves totally from any princely power. These polities were not “free” in the sense of freedom from violent “domination by a Herrschaft,” but in the sense of an absence of traditional legitimate princely authority sanctified by religion as the only source of authority. These new “free authorities” had their roots in the Occident and their nucleus was the “citystate.” They first occurred in the Mediterranean cultural centers.
What were the characteristics of the full-time politicians?
The Two Forms of Politics as a Vocation: Living “for” Politics, and “off” Politics
There are two ways to turn politics into one’s full-time “vocational calling” [Beruf]. Either one lives “for” politics, or lives “from” politics. [In reality] though, they do not exclude each other, and normally a politician does both, at least in the ideal sense. Politicians who live “for” politics make politics their life’s purpose: they either enjoy the “naked” possession of power or they nourish their inner balance and ego because they are aware that service to “the cause” gives purpose to their life. In that sense, any serious human being who lives for a purpose also lives off this purpose. Therefore, the distinction points to a more crucial part of the issue: the economic aspect of politics.
A politician who seeks to make politics a permanent source of income lives “from” politics as a vocation [Beruf]. A politician who does not do this lives “for” politics [but] does not make [it] a permanent source of income.
In order for someone to live “for” politics—keep in mind we are still contemplating the economic issues—certain conditions must be in place like private property regulations under the dominion of a Herrschaft.
Under normal circumstances, the politician must be economically independent from the earnings that the work as a politician may produce. This simply means that the politician must have assets or have a private position in life which yields an adequate income [independent of the salary derived from politics]. But this really holds true only under normal circumstances. The entourage of warlords ask little about the conditions of a normal economy during times of economic and social stability, and for that matter neither do the followers of the revolutionary “street-heroes.” Both groups live off of booty, robbery, confiscations, contributions, and senseless forced payments. In essence, all of the above payments are the same thing. But these are, by definition, not everyday phenomena: in the everyday economy, only people who own personal assets can pay for professional political service.
But this alone is not enough. The politician must be economically independent, and that means also that his income must not depend on his personal labor, nor must it depend on his investing intellectual capacity to generate income. In this sense, being available and free [for politics] at all times is only the “pensioner” [Rentner]. The “Rentner” is a person who has an independent income, an income that is not attached to his work. For example, the landlords of the past had such an independent income as did the estate owners, and the gentlepeople of the “Stände.” In the ancient world and the Middle Ages, they received annuities from ownership of slaves and bondage-rents. The modern source of income is pensions for big landowners and noblemen which work the same way.
But we should note that neither the worker nor the businessman, and especially the largescale manufacturer are available in the same sense as the “Rentner.” The businessman is bound by the commercial character of his work, and not available [to work as a political professional]. The agrarian business operator is even more so bound to his work, due to the seasonal nature of agriculture. He is not free [from economic pursuits and responsibilities]. It is, in fact, often very difficult for a business owner to be replaced, even temporarily. The same is true for doctors— they have little economic freedom. Indeed, the more competent and the busier they are, the less free the doctors become.
It is in fact easier for lawyers to engage in politics, but this is due to the way business in law offices is run. Therefore lawyers take bigger roles as politicians, and they have actually dominated [the profession of politics]. We don’t want to pursue this comparison [between doctors and lawyers] now; instead, let us look at what impact the choices of the types of politician have. For example, if the leadership positions of a state or a party should be taken entirely by people who only (in the economic sense) “for” politics and not “from” the politics, it means that it is inevitable to recruit from the plutocratic Stand of the political leadership.
But this is not saying that the opposite is not true, that such a plutocratic leadership [i.e., a Stand which lives for politics] does not seek to make a living “from” politics, nor that they do not try to exploit their political power for their private economic interests. Of course nobody wants to imply this!
In fact, there has never been a group in society that has not tried to exploit political power in such a manner. However, it only implies that professional politicians do not necessarily need to seek payment from every person for their various political services, as any penniless person without means would. Neither does it mean that politicians without means have principally their own private economic interests via their politics in mind, and do not care at all or even foremost about “the issues” at hand. Nothing is more wrong.
Instead, experience indicates that the independently rich person is preoccupied with economic security. Economic security is both consciously and subconsciously a cardinal [red hot] focus for the orientation of their life. On the other hand, a totally ruthless and unconditional political idealism is found—if not solely but especially—among those who are impoverished, because they are outside the Stände of society which are responsible for the preservation of the economic order. This especially is true during unusual times, specifically during revolutionary epochs.
However, what all this means is this: the recruitment of politically interested people of a non-plutocratic background for political leadership and their entourages, needs to come with the obvious condition that the people recruited receive a regular, calculable, and reliable income for engaging in political business. [This brings us to the second type of professional politicians, those who live from politics.]
Politics can either be headed by or led by “volunteers,” and that means people who are independently wealthy, mainly “Rentners” [as described above]. Or the political leadership can be made accessible to the propertyless who need a reliable income. Thus the professional politician making a living from politics can be either sinecure collector or a salaried office holder who is a tenured “Beamte.”
A politician gets his revenue either from fees, “sinecures,” and payments for special services—gratuities and bribes are just an irregular and formally illegal and perverted category of this kind of income. Or the only alternative is that a politician gets a fixed wage either in-kind, a monetary salary, or both.
In such contexts, a professional politician can take on the form of a “businessman,” like an Italian Condottieri (mercenary soldier leader), a holder of an Amt, or as a buyer of an Amt. He can also be like the American “Political Boss,” who regards such expenses as an investment and uses his influence of this position to generate financial gains.
Or the professional politician can draw on a fixed salary like an editor, party secretary, a modern minister, or a modern political Beamte.
The Income of the Politician: Yesterday and Today
In the past, the princes, victorious conquerors, or party leaders who were successful gave their followers fiefdoms, a gift of land, and sinecures of different kinds. As the money economy was developing, the “Sportel” sinecures became the typical payment. [That means that the followers had the right to collect taxes in a particular territory and sinecures of all types as remuneration.
The most typical remuneration was fees for administrative service.] The party leaders today assign positions of all sorts to parties, newspapers, cooperatives, health [and other types of] insurance funds, and municipalities as rewards for loyal service.
Even today, all party fights are not only fights for objective goals, but mostly and especially for the patronage of the Amt. All fights between the particularistic and centralistic orientations [of political groups] in Germany are mostly about the question of which political groups have administrative authority [Gewalt] over the patronage of the Amt, whether it be the administrative authority [Gewalt] of people in Berlin, Munich, Karlsruhe or Dresden.
For a party, it is worse to lose their share of positions, than to go against their explicitly stated policy goals. The displacement of the Prefects in Paris because of party politics was always seen as a greater upheaval and evoked more hubbub than the modification of the governmental programs [or policy initiatives], which were mostly seen as shifts in phraseology. In America, after the contradictions [about the role of parties] in the Constitution were resolved, some parties became pure headhunting agencies, who changed their objective policies to match the voters’ momentary whims.
In Spain until recently, the two big parties used conventional fixed elections cycles which were manufactured and staged by their leaders to take turns to provide their followers with positions in the government offices [Amt]. As for the Spanish colonial areas, those so-called elections or revolutions are about who controls the pig trough, at which the winner insists on being fed.
In Switzerland, the parties simply split their share of positions amongst themselves. Some of our [German] “revolutionary” constitutional drafts [of recent decades], like the first one in
Baden, wanted to expand the system to ministerial portfolios. The state and its Amt would have been treated as an organization whose sole purpose is to be a political pork barrel. Indeed, especially the “Zentrumspartei” was sold on this system and made in Baden the proportional allocation by religious denomination their program goal. No reference to merit was necessary to gain a parliamentary Amt given the nature of their program goal!
As the numbers of the offices [Ämter] increased due to the bureaucratization and the desire to provide guaranteed income for the party followers, the appointment of ever more party followers to Ämter increased. Therefore, the Ämter became more and more the means to guaranteed income support [to the point that the collection of such offices becomes the purpose of politics].
Luckily, in contrast to this development stands the forming of a modern Beamte (civil service) system. It consists of a professionally schooled and highly qualified and intellectual labor force. This specialized labor force displays a highly developed sense of integrity toward their Stand. Without this Stand-like honor code, the danger of dreadful corruption and the accumulation of deadwood and dilettantes would hover over us. The consequence would be that the technical performance and efficiency of the state apparatus which has a growing impact on the economy would suffer because of the growing and increasing complexity of the social welfare system.
The Emergence of Civil Service Reforms
The administration by dilettantes means that “booty-focused” politicians, such as those found in the United States, depend on the result of the presidential election, which replaces hundreds of thousands of Beamte down to the postman. The United States did not have tenured professional Beamte. Indeed [until recently], the Beamte in the United States never knew how long their appointment lasted; that has changed only recently with the Civil Service Reforms [beginning in the 1880s and continuing today in 1919].
Purely technical and undeniably obvious needs for administrative management made the establishment of the Civil Service in the United States necessary.
In contrast, in Europe a Beamte officialdom with divided responsibilities and specialties emerged across a period of five hundred years.
The Development of the Beamte Stände in Europe
The development [of Beamte Stände in Europe] started with the Italian cities, and their ruling Signors, and among the monarchies of the Norman conqueror states. The crucial step was initiated with the finances of the feudal princes.
This was visible in the administrative reforms during the times of Kaiser Max [1459– 1519]. Reform showed how difficult it was for the Beamte to dispossess the powerful feudal princes in this area, even during times of the utmost destitution and misery during the Ottoman domination. The Beamte dispossessed the Kaiser and reformed the administration because, at the time, they could not take a dilettante as a ruler like Kaiser Max, who saw himself foremost as a noble knight.
Specifically the development of war technology required a competent and specialized officer corps, and the refinement of the legal system required well-schooled lawyers; the nobility of a knight was irrelevant to such tasks. Thus, in the sixteenth century the technocratic Beamte officialdom took over these three areas [e.g., finance, war, and law] in the better-developed states. Ironically, the absolute power of the feudal princes relative to the Stände, resulted in the gradual assignment of autocratic power to the same professional and highly specialized Beamte who made this victory over the knightly Stände possible.
Thus, the development of “the executive politician” takes place simultaneously with the rising of the professionally trained and educated Beamte officialdom. Even then the development of the “professional politicians” often went unnoticed because segues between Beamte and politicians were often imperceptible.
The Chief Advisor
Everywhere in the world, Advisors to feudal princes existed from a very early time. For example, in the Orient, typically the figure of the “grand vizier” emerged because the Sultan needed to be relieved from personal responsibility for the successes of the government. But it was in the Occident where diplomacy was first consciously cultivated as an art. This happened mostly under the influence of diplomatic circles whose members eagerly led the Venetian Embassy during the time of Machiavelli [1469–1527]. These specialists of diplomacy were mostly humanistically educated people who looked at each other and treated each other as an educated
Stand. They primarily influenced diplomacy during the period of The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V [1500–1558]. This primarily influenced Occidental diplomacy. This art also resembled the humanistically-trained Chinese statesmen of the last Warring States Period [907– 960 AD].
The necessity for a executive (premier) to head the entire politics for a country, including the internal politics, emerged only after constitutional rule came into existence. Until then, such individual personalities had existed as princely advisors or indeed, in fact those advisors were the leaders of the feudal princes [even though the prince himself was nominally “in-charge”]. But during the beginning stages of the governmental commissions, they took a different path, even in the most developed states.
Collegiality among the holders of the highest administrative offices developed instead. In theory and in fact, the administrative officers held meetings under the personal leadership of the feudal prince himself who made the decisions. But gradually these meetings [led by the Prince] occurred with decreasing frequency. Such a collegial system produced expertise and competing opinions that reflected majorities as well as minorities. In this world, the feudal prince himself increasingly became a dilettante due to the inevitably growing importance of the well-schooled expert Beamte. The prince tried to escape from the seemingly growing expertise of the Beamte, and maintain control in his own hands by establishing a “cabinet” and staffing it with his personal intimates, and giving to them the power to ratify the decisions of the “state council,” or whatever the highest governmental office was called. This quiet but latent struggle for power between the well-schooled expert Beamte and the autocratic rulers occurred everywhere. This situation also changed the nature of the parliaments and the power aspirations of their party leaders, and the varied conditions produced outwardly a similar result. Nevertheless, there were certain differences.
Thus, where the interests of the feudal princes were solidly united with the interests of the Beamte officialdom—namely in Germany—the princely dynasties had real power to take positions against parliament and its demands for power.
Thus, it was in the interests of the Beamte to fill leadership positions, namely ministerial positions, from their own ranks. Thus, these positions became objects for the advancement of the Beamte themselves. But in such circumstances, the monarch was also interested in appointing ministers at his own discretion from among the ranks of loyal Beamte. However, both parts [monarch and Beamte] would face the parliament as a united front. This meant that a system of collegial ministers were replaced by a “Prime Minister,” that is the chief of the cabinet.
Furthermore, the monarch had the need of a single personality to negotiate with the parties and to answer and confront the parliament. This made it possible for the monarch to stay at least formally out of party fights and attacks.
All of these interests interacted and pushed matters in the same direction, and therefore the development of a position of a leading “Permanent Secretary” from the Beamte emerged. Wherever the power of Parliament gained the upper hand over the monarchy (e.g., in England), unification of the elements of government occurred. In these situations, a Cabinet [in England] developed that was led by one unifying leader of the Parliament. This Cabinet came into existence as a committee, even though it was not mentioned in the official laws, but, in fact, was the politically decisive ruling power of the party holding the majority.
Thus, the official corporate collegial bodies [like Parliament] as such, were not organs of the truly ruling power, the party. Therefore, these organizations were in reality not the bearers of governmental authority [and did not truly create the government, the parties did].
In fact, in addition to the officially collegial Parliamentary body, a ruling party requires a powerful institution that is assembled only by its own leading figures and deliberates confidentially. This maximizes power on the inside, while pursuing big policy issues in public.
The party also needed a political body that is the cabinet. But even more so, the party needs a political Leader [Führer] who is responsible for all the decisions facing the general public and specifically the parliament. This would be the head of the cabinet (e.g., Prime Minster). This English system was then adopted on the continent in the form of parliamentary ministries.
Notably different is the heterogeneous system found only in the United States, and the democracies influenced by the United States. In The United States, the chosen ‘Leader’ [Führer] of the winning party, by direct election becomes the chief executive, and head of the ‘Beamte apparatus’ which is appointed by him, the President. Only in questions of budget and legislation, does he need the approval of Parliament.
The development of turning politics into “business operations” as was done by the modern party system, required training in the battle for power and its methods. This caused the separation of public officials into two subtle but distinct categories.
These categories are technocratic Beamte on the one hand and political Beamte on the other.
Political Beamte and Technocratic Beamte
Political Beamte in the literal sense are recognized by the fact that they are can be transferred and replaced at the discretion of those who hire them. They can be replaced “at will.” This is, for example, true for the French Prefects and similar Beamte of other countries. The independence of the Beamte who [typically] have judicial-type function stand in stark contrast to them. Fixed conventions have it that in England, the political Beamte [and also the Cabinet] must resign from office after a change of the Parliamentary majority—that means all the members of the cabinet need to vacate their positions. This applies especially to the group of Beamte whose competencies include “general and internal administrative tasks.” The task of these Beamte is to maintain order in the country, meaning the maintenance of the existing power relationships.
Beamte in Prussia had the duty, according to the “Puttkamer Erlass” [reform of the Prussian Civil Service Law in 1886], to represent the politics of the government, just as the prefects did in France. Thus, they were used just like the Prefects in France to influence election results. Most political Beamte shared the same quality training to become modern specialized Beamte, just like the German system and contrary to other countries—because they had to complete an academic study, an examination in an area of specialization, and a required internship as a prerequisite to obtain an Amt. In Germany, only the chiefs of the political apparatus, that is the ministers themselves, lack the specific qualifications of a professional. The highly specialized Beamte must complete the formal academic studies specific to the area of specialization. For example, it was possible to become Prussian Minister of Culture under the old regime [i.e., before 1871] without having attended a higher educational institutions while one could only become Permanent Secretary after having passed the prescribed exams. Therefore, the professionally schooled and trained Department Head and Permanent Secretary, for example in the Prussian Ministry of Education under [the great reformer Friedrich] Althoff [1839–1908], was naturally way better informed about the actual technical issues of the department than his chief.
This was not different in England. As a consequence, the Permanent Secretary [in England] was more powerful when it came to everyday routines and actions of the Ministry [than was the Minister]. This was not by itself out of place.
Rather, the Minister simply was the representative of a constellation of political power. The Minister represented the political standards which he used to evaluate the proposals by his specialist Beamte or to give them the appropriate political directives to his Beamte.
This is very similar to the situation in a private business.
Here too, the actual “Sovereign,” which is the shareholder’s meeting, lacks influence— just like the [“sovereign”] people—who are governed by a specialist “Beamte” Stand. Likewise, this is true for the leading persons of a business (i.e. the supervisory board, which is dominated by banks). This board only provides [general] policy directives and selects staff for the administration. The members of the supervisory board itself are, in fact, not capable of managing the business on a day-to-day basis. In this respect, even the structure of the present revolutionary states do not provide room for any fundamental innovation. In such states, the power over the administration is given to absolute dilletantes because they have power through machine guns.
They want to use only use the heads and hands of the technocratic Beamte to execute their will.
The difficulties of this present system lie elsewhere, but this shall not be the question for us today.
Characteristics of Political Professionals, Their Leaders and Their Followers
Rather let’s ask about what is the typical character of professional politicians as well as their Leader [Führer]and their followers. The typical characteristics have changed and, in fact, are very different today.
The Main Type of Professional Politician
As we have seen, professional politicians emerged in the past during the fight of the feudal princes against the “Stände” [who created the Parliaments]. The professional politician served the feudal princes in their struggles against Parliamentary power. In this context, we want to briefly look at the main types of professional politicians. [They come from outside the formallegal Stände and include the clerics, writers, court nobility, the gentry of England, and the “jurists.”]
In the fight against the “Stände,” the feudal princes leaned on these politically exploitable groups, which did not have the characteristics [and power] of the “Stände.”
To these groups belonged [the clerics] of the Indian sub-continent as well as mainland Southeast
Asia, in Buddhist China and Japan, Lamaist Mongolia, as well as in the Christian areas of the Medieval Ages. These clerics were chosen [by the feudal princes] for practical reasons (i.e. their ability to write).
In all places, the importance of Brahmans, Buddhist priests, and Lamas, and the use of bishops and priests as political consultants, took place because literate administrative employees were needed. They were needed in the emperor’s, or the feudal prince’s, or the Khan’s struggles against the aristocratic nobles.
The clerics, and in particular the celibate clerics, stood outside the dynamics of natural political and economic interests. Specifically, they were not tempted to seek political power in order to pass it onto their descendants as the vassals were. The clerics were isolated from the means of production owned by the administrative apparatus of the feudal princes by the unique Stand-like nature [of his profession].
Writers Trained in Humanistic Traditions
Another non-Stand group the feudal princes sought skilled support from were the writers educated in the humanistic tradition. Thus, there was a time when people learned to write speeches in Latin and verses in Greek for the sole purpose to become a political consultant, and above all, a writer of political memorandums for a feudal prince.
This was the golden time of the humanistic schools and the time when the endowed professorships for poetics were established by the feudal princes in Germany. It was an era that passed quickly but had a lasting effect on our school and education system. Politically, however, it had no lasting effects or deeper consequences. This was different in East Asia. The Mandarin originally was to China, what the Humanist was to the Occidental Renaissance: a literary figure, educated in the humanities and literary traditions of the distant past. Thus, if you read the diaries of Li-Hung-Tschang [1823–1901], you will find that he gloried most in his ability as a poet and calligrapher.
This group, with its conventions based in Chinese Antiquity, determined the fate of China. Our fate might have been similar to that of China, if, at that time, the Humanists would have had the slightest chance to prevail and win acceptance.
The Court Nobility
The third group, or Stand, was the court nobility. After the princes had succeeded to expropriate the nobility from the political powers based in their Stand, the feudal princes called them into their court and assigned them to political and diplomatic services. The change in our [German] educational system during the seventeenth century was therefore partly caused by the fact that, instead of literary figures, professional politicians of noble origin were used in service to feudal princes.
The English Gentry
The fourth group was a typically English category. It included the minor nobility the Rentner, and the patricians who lived in the cities. In England, they were known as “the gentry.” Originally, the feudal princes used this group in their struggles against the barons and placed them in “self-government” positions in the Amt. Later though, the feudal princes became increasingly dependent on the support of the gentry.
The gentry kept every office of the local administration under their control but without pay, primarily because they wanted to increase their own social power. Therefore, it was the gentry who saved England from bureaucratization, which was the fate of every continental state.
The fifth category, the Jurists, emerged in the Occident, specifically on the European continent. This group was crucial to the Occident’s overall political structure and included the universityeducated lawyers.
The huge after effect of the Roman laws, as it was transformed by the late Roman states, can be seen clearly in the fact that the modus operandi of the political apparatus was revolutionized toward a rational state and sustained by university-trained lawyers. This [same] revolution also took place and can be seen in England where the great national legal guilds hindered the reception of Roman law [after the 17th century when Roman Law was revived in most of Europe]. An analogy to this cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
But, neither the approaches of rational juristic thinking of the Indian Mimamsa School, nor the maintenance of antique juristic thinking in Islam, have been able to prevent the suppression of rational jurisprudence by theological forms of thinking. Because of such theological thinking, all of the legal procedures [also in England] were never fully rationalized.
The adoption of the fully rationalized legal proceedings of the antique Roman forms of jurisprudence was only realized via Italian judges, which was itself a unique product of a political entity which itself was of unique political characteristic (Rome). The Italian judges adopted the Usus modernus from the Pandekten and canonists of the late Middle Ages and the natural law theories born from the legal and Christian way of thinking which were later secularized.
This juristic rationalism had several great representatives. Among these were the Italian Podestà, the royal French jurists who created the formal means for the royal power to undermine the Seigneurs, the canonists and the theologians who believed in the natural law of the Great Councils, the jurists and scholarly judges in service of continental feudal princes, the Dutch theories of natural justice, and the Monarchomachs, the English attorneys of the crown and
Parliament, the Noblesse de Robe of the French parliaments, and finally today’s advocates in the
Without juristic rationalism, the emergence of an absolute state is as unthinkable as a revolution.
So, ironically, when you take a look at the rebukes and protestations of French Parliaments, or if you look at the Cahiers/political reports of French Estates-General since the sixteenth century until 1789, you will always and everywhere encounter the spirit of jurists. And when you study the professions the juristic members of the French Conventions belonged to, you will find—although they were under the same election laws—that there was only one proletarian and very few bourgeois entrepreneurs. But in contrast, there was a large quantity [of] different kinds of lawyers elected. [So] it is the unique spirit of the legal profession, the spirit of the jurist, which also drives the radical intellectuals and is manifested in their proposals. Without this spirit of the jurists, modern democracy would be unthinkable.
Ever since then, modern attorneys and modern democracy simply belong together. But lawyers in terms of an independent Stand only existed in the Occident and only since Medieval times. Here they evolved under the influence of legal rationalization out of the role of the “spokesman” or “intercessor” in formal Germanic legal proceedings. So it is no coincidence that the relevance of attorneys increased within Occidental politics as political parties began to emerge. Politics conducted by political parties simply means the pursuit of interests.
We will investigate the implications of this connection between political parties and
Political Parties and the Pursuit of Interests (Advocacy and Propaganda)
It is the trade of an educated attorney to pursue the interest for his constituencies effectively.
In this field, the attorney is superior to any Beamte. This is what the supremacy of the enemy [Allied] propaganda has taught us [during World War I].
The effective attorney can argue a matter that is only poorly supported with logical arguments. In other words, he is able to argue a weak case in a technically effective fashion. But also, only an attorney can effectively create and support the type of strong argument which makes the case for a legal victory, by using logically strong arguments which bring a “good” result.
In contrast, all too often the Beamte in the role of a politician turns a good cause into a poor cause because of poor leadership skills.
We [Germans] had to live through this problem in the past [when Beamte were entrusted with generating propaganda for the war effort].
[One has to realize that today] politics is to a large measure shaped by the means of the publicly spoken and written word. To weigh the impact of these words is the lawyer’s field of duty and responsibility. It is not the duty of the technocratic Beamte, who is not a demagogue, nor should he be, and if he tends to become one anyway, he will turn out to be a lousy one. A “true” Beamte, and this distinction is crucial for assessing our former government [that of the Kaiser], should not act as a politician by profession, he should be an administrative officer. Most importantly, he should manage his tasks in an objective fashion. This applies also to the “political” Beamte at least officially. An exception is made [only] when the essential interests of the state, and the survival of the existing ruling order is threatened.
The Beamte should preside over his Amt “sine ira et studio,” that is “without scorn or
In fact, the Beamte should in no case do the very thing that defines a politician, and The
Leader [Führer] and his followers: fighting.
Because partisanship, battle, and passion—ira et studium—is the essence of a politician.
And above all, such scorn and passion are the basic tool of Leaders [Führer].
The Types of Politicians, Parties, and Political Responsibility
The Leader’s [Führer] actions are based on an entirely different principle. In fact The Leader’s [Führer] actions are a based on the opposite principle to those of the civil servant [Beamte], that of the principle of responsibility [Verantwortung].
The honor of the Beamte comes from the ability to carry out any order—regardless of his own opinion—with the same diligence, as if he is fully supportive of the order. Without this higher sense of moral discipline, renunciation, and self-denial the entire organization would collapse. The honor of the political Leader [Führer], in other words the leading statesman, in contrast is solely responsible for his own actions, and cannot and may not pass it on to others.
Specifically, Beamte who personally ascribe to a morally high value system become unpalatable and morally inferior when they act as politicians, because they act without responsibility, not calculating the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, we have had the kinds of Beamte time and time again in leading positions. This we call “the rulership of the Beamte.” However, the honor of our Beamte-ship will not be tarnished if we expose the political wrongs of the system, particularly when it is asserted from the standpoint of successful policy.
But let’s return again to discuss the different types of political players: the Demagogic
Politician, Political Journalists, and the Party Functionary.
The Demagogic Politician
The “Demagogue” is, since the invention of the constitutionally-based state, and completely since the invention of democracy, the typical leading politician within the Occident. The bitter aftertaste the word “Demagogue” leaves reminds us to forget that [the honorable politician] Kleon was not the first to bear the name “Demagogue” [in Ancient Greece]; rather, it was [the vain] Pericles. Pericles ruled the sovereign Ekklesia, the People’s Assembly of Athens. He held the only Amt the citizens voted for, the Amt of the leading strategist. This was very different from the other ancient democracies which used to cast lots to fill their Amt offices.
Modern demagogues use speeches [in the same fashion Pericles did]: in rather large quantities, particularly if one thinks of all the election speeches a modern candidate must deliver.
However, far more often, the modern demagogue uses the printed word because it has a more sustained impact.
The Political Journalist
Thus, the political publicist and, above all, the journalist are today’s most important representatives for this kind [of politician]. It is not possible to give a comprehensive description of the sociology of modern political journalism during this lecture, because that is another chapter. But indeed right now, only some of it is relevant for us in this context. The journalist shares with all political demagogs and advocates (and artists) the same fate: they all lack a fixed social classification [they are not represented by a Stand].
The journalist belongs to a kind of pariah caste who are always classified in a socially low standing because of their unethical representatives.
Therefore, the most peculiar ideas about journalists and their work are commonly found. Not everyone is aware of the fact that high quality journalistic performance requires the same efforts and capacity as any academic work, particularly since a journalist has to produce on command and on the spot that which can be used immediately and effectively, even when the conditions for which it was produced have changed.
That the journalist carries a much greater liability than a scholar, and that the sense of responsibility of every honorable journalist is on average not less than that of scholars, is almost never recognized and appreciated. On the contrary, war taught us that the honorable journalist has a great sense of responsibility. But the work of the irresponsible journalist naturally sticks in the mind of the people because of the terrible and long-term effects.
Ironically, nobody believes that the discretion of capable journalists is somehow on average higher than the discretion of other people. Nevertheless, it is true. It is the incomparably severe temptations this profession encounters, and the conditions which journalistic work causes, which today leads to the public consequently coming to look at and judge the press with a mixture of disdain and pathetic cowardice.
But, today we cannot discuss what should be done about this. What interests us here is the question of the journalists’ professional future in regard to politics (i.e., their chance to rise into political leadership positions). Indeed, until now, only the Social Democratic Party offers favorable chances. However, within the party, the editorial positions mostly had the character of a Beamte—nowhere is there an entry-level position to a position of political leadership.
In general, within the bourgeois parties, the chances for advancing to political power following the pathway decreased, compared to the chances of previous generation. Of course, every politician of importance did need a relationship with and the influence of the press. Nevertheless, the party leader coming from the ranks of the press was definitely not something to be anticipated, and definitely an exception. In fact, the journalist has become less and less available and able to leave his work because of the enormously increased intensity of their work, and particularly the pressure of writing under the pressure of deadlines. This is especially a hindrance for journalists who do not have independent means, and therefore depend on their profession for income.
The necessity to earn money by writing articles on a daily or at least weekly is like a millstone around the politicians’ neck. I personally know people who are natural leaders who were downright paralyzed physically and especially mentally in their pursuit of power positions. It is another story altogether to explain why the relationship between the press and the state’s ruling powers on the one hand, and the parties under the old regime [i.e., that of Kaiser Wilhelm II] on the other, were as detrimental as possible to the standards of journalism. These conditions were quite different in the states of our adversaries [during the recent war]. However, it seems that in these countries and in every modern state, the “journalistic worker” loses out and the capitalistic press magnate gains more political influence. A good example is that of “Lord” Northcliffe.
In Germany, however, until now the big capitalistic newspaper corporations, mostly appropriated the papers with “little advertisements,” like the so-called newspaper, The Generalanzeiger, leading typically to breeders of political indifference. After all, you cannot make money with independent politics. Especially, you cannot get the goodwill of the ruling powers, which are particularly useful to business.
During the war, advertisement became the means by which to influence the press on a grand scale. And now it seems the newspapers will continue on this path of funding themselves through advertisement.
Even though the larger presses will evade this fate (i.e. negative reputation and low social status), the situation for smaller newspapers is much more difficult. Nevertheless, here in Germany, a journalistic career is not a customary path to becoming a political leader, at least not at this time and day. No matter how appealing a journalistic path seems to be and how much influence and possibilities it provides for showing political responsibility, one will have to wait and see if this might change.
It’s hard to say, if abolition of the principle of anonymity in journalistic writing, which is widely supported among journalists, would change any of this. What we have experienced with the German press during the war from the “leadership” of newspapers, who hire gifted writers as “celebrities” who always explicitly wrote under their own byline, showed that in some famous incidents no elevated sense of responsibility was cultivated as one would have hoped for. The worst sort of tabloids tried to gain the highest sales possible which they surely did [by using sensationalism, and they certainly were successful!].
Thus, these well-regarded gentlemen, the celebrity publisher as well as the sensation journalists, gained wealth—but certainly not honor. Saying this, I still do not want to trash the general principal; the question is, in fact, very complicated and such phenomena in journalism are also not generalizable. However, so far, political journalism has neither been the path toward true Political Leadership [Führertum] nor the development of a responsible political organization. It remains to be seen how the situations will develop further. Nevertheless, the journalistic career remains under all circumstances one of the most important avenues by which professional political activities are conducted.
But journalism is not a path for everyone; least of all for weak characters, and especially not for people who can maintain their identity only in a secure “Stand-like” situations. In contrast, even though the life of a young scholar is also hazardous, there are strong Stand-like structures built all around him to protect a career from derailing. The life of a journalist is, in fact, extraordinarily hazardous in every way. In fact, his inner personal and psychological security is put to a test by situational conditions like no other profession.
The often times bitter experiences during the professional life of the journalist may not even be the biggest hazard. So therefore, especially, the successful journalists are confronted with extraordinarily difficult demands which test their inner strength.
It is by no means easy for a journalist to socialize in the parlors of the world’s powerful, seemingly on equal terms—where he is often flattered and pandered to because he is feared. But the journalist knows that the owner of the house will have to justify himself to his guests as soon as he leaves, and may apologize for the association with the “naughty pressboy.” It is also not a simple trifling matter for a journalist to talk instantly and convincingly about all and everything, whatever is current and the market demands, without falling into the trap only using platitudes, and specifically not to fall into the undignified trap of self-exposure with its merciless consequences.
Thus, it is not surprising that there are many journalists whose true humanity is derailed. But despite everything, there are a large number of valuable and fully authentic humans [who still sustain an ethical compass], who are included in their professional circles. This is not obvious to outsiders.
While the journalist, as a type of a professional politician can look back on a strong tradition, the figure of a “Party Functionary” as a type of professional politician has only developed during the last decades and, in places, only during the last few years. So in order to understand the party functionary as a type of professional politician as a historical development, we have to look closer at the party system and the organization of the party.
Every larger and comprehensive political association that has to deal with a bigger scope of functions than the smaller rural cantons [in Switzerland], the establishment of a political apparatus with periodic elections of power bearers is necessary. This means that a relatively small number of people who are primarily interested in sharing power, establish allegiances by advertising freely. They present themselves or their protégés as their candidates for election, collect money, and fish for votes. It is incomprehensible how elections in large associations can be properly carried out without such a party-based apparatus.
In practice, having a party apparatus means that the citizens who are entitled to vote are divided into politically active and politically passive citizens. Since this division is based on the citizens’ free choices, this division cannot be eliminated by any kind of regulation or law, such as compulsory voting or representation through professional Stand-like associations. Ironically, membership in professional Stand-like associations, or similar measures, which are either formally or practically directed against the “Herrschaft” of the professional politicians [is one way to organize such “volunteerism” for the parties].
Leadership and Followership: The Origins of Political Parties
Leadership and followership as active elements for [the spread of] propaganda are necessary elements in the life of every party. [This is because] the followers, and through them the politically passive voters, are needed for the election of the the Leader [Führer].
However, structures for parties vary widely.
Guelphs and Bolsheviks
For example, the “Parties” of the medieval cities, like the Guelphs and Ghibellines, were based on purely personal allegiances. Indeed if one examines the Italian Statuto della perta Guelfa, which permitted the confiscation of the feudal holdings of the Italian nobility, one is reminded of Bolshevism and its Soviets [in 1917–1918] and their confiscations.
To the Italian nobility belonged all families who lived chivalrously and were granted fiefs. Under the Statuto della pesta Guelfa they were excluded from any Amt, and their right to vote revoked. In addition, their inter-local party committees, that is the organization that was funding the military and their systems of payments to police snitches, reminds us of both the carefully screened military and secret police organizations in Russia. It further reminds us of the disarmament of the bourgeois, and the revocation of the political rights of entrepreneurs, teachers, rentiers, clerics, descendants of dynasties, and police agents.
It is important to recognize that, on the one hand, the military organization of the [Medieval Italian] party was an army of noble knights whose nobility strictly formed according to the a civil register, and that the nobles occupied almost all leading positions. The Soviets, on the other hand, maintained the highly paid salaried entrepreneurs, the piece wage, the Taylor system [in factory organization], the military, and workplace discipline or reintroduced them again. The Soviets also searched for foreign investment capital. In other words, the Bolsheviks necessarily reintroduced absolutely all things they had identified as bourgeois institutions in order to maintain the state and economy. This comparison seems even more striking when considering that the Bolsheviks even revived the agents of the old Okhrana (secret police) as their main instrument of state power.
But here [in Germany] we don’t have to be concerned about such violent, oppressive, and forcible organizations; rather, we have to deal with professional politicians who continue to seek power through level-headed and “peaceful” propaganda by the parties in “Vote Market.”
Parties in England and Elsewhere in Europe
Nevertheless, even political parties as we [the Germans] know them in the usual sense, were at first, for example in England, typically comprised of aristocratic entourages. Consequently, with every switch of party membership by a Peer, all of his followers switched to the opposition party. The large noble families, including the king, had the patronage appointments for a gazillion electoral districts until the reform bills [eliminated this mode of patronage]. The parties of the
Honoratioren then developed with the rising power of the bourgeoisie. In this way, the circles of
“Bildung and property” [Education and Property] under the leadership of the typical intellectual “Stand” of the Occident, were divided into parties—partly by class interest, partly because by the family tradition, and partly for mere ideological reasons, depending who was leading the party.
At first, clerics, teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, wealthy farmers and factory owners in England where the groups who identified themselves as “gentlemen,” and initially formed casual associations which at best were just local political “clubs.” In times of crisis the petty bourgeoisie, and occasionally the proletarians, raised their voice when they had a charismatic Leader [Führer], who, however, most often did not come from within this social strata. At this stage, regionally or nationally organized parties do not exist in the countryside, at least not as permanent organizations. Only the parliamentarians were able to produce this solidarity. And so it was the local Honoratioren who were crucial for the selection of candidates.
The election programs developed partly out of the propaganda that came directly out of the candidates mouth, and partly they were modeled after the resolutions from the congress of the Honoratioren, but even they were modeled after the rulings of the party running the parliament. In normal times, the management of such clubs, or where these clubs didn’t exist— as it is the normal case in all informal operations of politics—was done on a part-time or voluntary basis by people who had permanent political interests. As a result, politics becomes advocacy work. Therefore, during “normal times,” only the journalist is a paid professional politician, and only the newspaper company is an ongoing and independent political apparatus. Beside the newspapers, only the Parliament when it is in session constitutes a continuous political organization. Nevertheless, the parliamentarians and parliamentary party leaders know which local Honoratioren to contact if a political action is desired.
However, permanent party associations exist only in the big cities. They have moderate membership fees, periodic meetings where the public gathers and where the delegates give a statement of accounts. [For such associations] life only exists during election times. The parliamentarians’ have an interest in regional and unified election programs that are nationwide and acceptable to the majority of the country’s population. This is the force driving efforts to streamline and unify the parties. This unified program produces a more efficient and powerful propaganda program for agitation within the country.
However, if a network of local parties is also established in all medium-sized cities across the nation, and if at the same time, a network of “grand old men” is established with whom a leader of the central party’s bureau keeps in constant contact, then in principle, the character of a party apparatus as a Honoratioren organization remains unchanged.
Also, paid party functionaries are still missing outside of the central bureau of the
Instead, “esteemed” people lead such local political organizations because they are valued in the community. These are the non-parliamentary “Honoratioren” who exert influence in addition to the political Honoratioren Stände who are the representatives in parliament. Nevertheless, the information for the press and the local assemblies is increasingly provided by the published correspondence of the party. In such a context, regular membership fees become indispensable, and a small portion of these fees serve the monetary needs of the party headquarters. Not so long ago, most German party organizations found themselves in this situation.
At the same time in France, the development [of parties] was still partly in the first stage. A very unstable merger between the parliamentarians occurred, and in the countryside, a small number of Honoratioren ran the parties. Political programs were established by candidates, or in individual cases when the candidate applied for a position, the programs were established for them by their patrons. This though was done more or less in compliance with the local decisions and programs of the parliamentarians.
[In France] this stage has in fact only partially broken down.
The numbers of full-time politicians in France was [accordingly] low and essentially consisted of elected representatives, a few employees of the headquarters, and journalists. It further included the “job seekers,” who already held a “political Amt,” or were seeking such an
Amt. In other words, formal politics in France offered only part-time work. Even the number of “ministerial” representatives was strongly restricted [in France] as were the numbers of electoral candidates because of the Honoratioren character of the available positions.
Nevertheless, the number of people who were indirectly interested in political activities was very large because they had a material interest. That is, because all measures of a ministry, and especially the handling of personnel questions, were made with a question in mind about how it would influence chances to win an election. Typically, each and every kind of personnel request was pushed via the mediation of the local representative to whom the minister listened, if the local representative belonged to the Minister’s majority party.
In other words, individual deputies [in France] controlled the patronage of the offices [Ämte], and, as a matter of fact, had patronage over all matters of his electoral district. Therefore, each deputy kept in contact with the local Honoratioren regarding such matters so that he would be re-elected.
Leadership and Followership: Modern Forms of Organized Parties
In stark contrast to the idyllic state of Herrschaft by the Honoratioren “Stand,” and especially that of the parliamentarians, stand the most modern forms of party organizations. These modern parties can be regarded as “offsprings of democracy,” and the rights of the masses to vote. By the same token, they are offsprings of the need for mass propaganda and organization of the masses.
The development of unity is pivotal in the leadership of the party, along with strict discipline. Under such circumstances, the Herrschaft of the Honoratioren, which was directed by the parliamentarians, came to an end [and instead] the political apparatus was taken over by professional politicians outside the parliaments.
The professional politicians run the political apparatus either as entrepreneurs, like the American boss, or as an “election agent” like the British, or as salaried party functionary. Both on the surface and formally, such arrangements appear to herald an extensive democratization process. The parliamentary faction no longer creates significant programs; furthermore, the local Honoratioren can no longer nominate candidates, rather the assemblies of the organized party members select the candidates and delegate members to attend regional and national meetings. Party delegates are able to participate in meeting at different levels. The highest of these meetings is the general “Party Days” or Party Conventions which are general party congresses.
But as a matter of fact, the real power naturally belongs to those persons who run the dayto-day business of a party organization. Real power belongs to people on which the organization depends on in peculiar ways, be it a personal, or be it pecuniary. An example of such dependency is provided by the tycoons and leaders of politically powerful interest clubs like Tammany Hall [in New York]. The crucial point is that entire human apparatus, “The Political Machine”—as it is typically enough called in the Anglo-Saxon countries—or rather the people who lead this machine apparatus, can checkmate the parliamentarians and, for the most part, force their own agenda. This is especially relevant for the selection of the party leadership.
The person who can make “The Machine” work will be made The Leader [Führer], even if it is against the will of the parliament. In other words, the advent of an electoral democracy begins with the creation of such a “Machine.”
Naturally, the entourage, and especially the “party-functionary” and party-entrepreneurs, expect to be personally rewarded with Ämter or other benefits after their Leader’s [Führer] electoral victory.
It is crucial that they receive such rewards from The Leader [Führer] personally and not only from individual parliamentarians. This is because the demagogic effect of The Leader’s
[Führer] personality affects the votes and mandates during the election campaign positively. They expect an increase of power, and wish for higher chances of rewards and improved chances to be paid extra. For a devout and trusting person, it is also important not simply to just work for an abstract program of a mediocre party. For such a person, the charismatic element of every Leader [Führer-ship] is the main motivating force that satisfies their idealism.
The form of organization [that is The Machine] evolved in the context of a constant and latent struggle between the interests of the local Honoratioren and the parliamentarians to sustain their own influence.
The Machine first developed in the parties of the bourgeois [e.g., the Democrats and
Republicans] in the United States and later in the Social Democratic Party, especially in
Germany. But constant setbacks occur as soon as there is no generally accepted Leader [Führer]. Furthermore, even with a Leader [Führer] present, concessions still needed to be made to the vanity and special interests of the Party’s Honoratioren.
But most of all, The Machine can comes under the domination [Herrschaft] of party functionaries who handle the party’s day-to-day work.
In the view of some Social Democratic circles, their party fell into [a trap of] bureaucratization.
However, party functionaries submit rather easily to a strongly demagogic Leader
[Führer] since their material and idealistic interests are intimately linked to The Leader’s [Führer] impact on the party’s power. Furthermore, working for a True Leader [Führer] is emotionally more satisfying.
The rise of a Leader [Führer] is more difficult where The Honoratioren share the influence of the party with the party functionaries such as in the parties of the bourgeois. This is because the itty-bitty positions on committees on the executive board have become the “ideal life” for the Honoratioren and the party functionaries. The actions of the Honoratioren and party functionaries are spurred by resentment against the demagogue as a homo novos [or “new man”] and reflect the superiority of the party’s political experiences—which are indeed of considerable importance—so that their actions are determined by the ideologically-driven concerns that the old party traditions break. Nevertheless, within the party, the Honoratioren still possess the traditional elements [which they embody]. This traditional element is important especially in the rural areas, but also the petit bourgeois voter, who rely on the name of the long-known and trusted Honoratiorien names. They mistrust the unknown new man. But once The Name has been successful, they will invariably attach themselves to him.
Let’s look at some primary examples that show the struggle between these two structures, and specifically the rise of the ‘plebiscitary form,’ as [the Russian political scientist] Moise
Ostrogorski [1854–1921] delineates it.
The Example of England
So, let’s look first to England.
There, the party organization was almost completely built of Honoratioren until 1868. In the countryside, the Tories relied on the Anglican priest, the schoolmaster, and above all, on the estate owners of the counties in question. The Whigs on the other hand, mostly relied on people such as the nonconformist preacher, if there was one present, the postman, the blacksmith, the tailor, or the rope maker. In sum, they relied on those craftsmen who were capable of gaining political influence because it was easy for anybody to chat with them.
In the English city, the parties divided partly along economic, religious, or family-based party lines.
But in all cases, the Honoratioren were the trustees of the political organizations. Nevertheless, in England, the parliament and the parties, including the cabinet and its “leader,” who was the chair of the council of ministers or chair of the opposition above the Honoratioren. This leader had next to himself the most important professional politicians of the party organization, the “Whip.” The patronage within the government offices was in the hands of the “Whip.” Therefore, the place hunters had to seek out The Whip for employment. The Whip then consulted with the deputies of the election districts.
When candidates began hiring local election agents in the election districts, a strata of professional politicians slowly began to develop. At first, those local agents were unpaid and their position was similar to our German “Vertrauensmänner” [that is, they were personal political consultants who could be trusted with confidential information]. Alongside this party structure, a capitalist entrepreneurial-character developed in the election districts: The “Election Agent.” In modern England, where by law the purity of the election tally was guaranteed, his existence was inevitable.
The purpose of this legislation was to control the election costs and to counteract the power of money by obliging the candidate to indicate how much the election had cost him. One has to understand that the candidates had not only the strain of, but also the pleasure of pulling out their own wallet, and this happened more often in England than it did in the past here in Germany. As for the Election Agents, they claimed a lump sum from the candidates and typically drove quite a good bargain for themselves.
In the distribution of power between party Honoratioren, in parliament as well as nationally, the party leader always played an important part because it was the party leader’s position that created and enabled broad policy. Nevertheless, the influence of the parliamentarians and the party Honoratioren was still considerable. The old party organization [in England] was organized like this: half was based on the work of Honoratioren, while the other half already had the structure of a business organization and was based on the work of employees.
Since 1868, a caucus-system has developed in England. At first, it was used for local elections in Birmingham, but later it was used nationwide. A nonconformist cleric, Joseph Chamberlain, started this system to democratize the electoral laws.
To mobilize and win the masses, it then became necessary to start an enormous organization of associations that appeared to be democratic. That also meant to form an electoral association in every town, to keep the party business running as it bureaucratizes and streamlines the whole structure. This was accomplished by employing election committees in which about 10 percent of the voters were organized as members by salaried party functionaries, and by local elected chief agents who were the official representatives of the party politics. The driving forces were the local stakeholders, particularly the ones who were interested in local politics. They also were the ones who provided financial resources, and thus were the source of the greatest material prospects.
This newly developing “Machine,” which was no longer run by the parliament soon fought with the previous power brokers [the parliamentary leaders] and, in particular, with the Whip. However, supported by the local stakeholders, the bureaucratic apparatus emerged victorious from this struggle, so that the Whip deferred and allied with the new party apparatus.
The net result [in England] was a centralization of power in the hands of the few people at the top, and ultimately in the hand of the one person leading the party. This held particularly true for the Liberal Party, because this system emerged in connection with Gladstone’s rise to power [in the 1860s]. The fascinating thing about Gladstone’s great “demagogy ” was that the masses sustained strong beliefs in the ethical content of his politics and specifically in his character. This belief of the masses helped this Machine bring him victory and quickly overcome the Honoratioren. A new Caesaristic-plebiscitary character strode into the politic scene—the Dictator of the electoral battlefield, Gladstone himself!
This new element expressed itself soon after.
For example, in the 1877 public election, the caucus operated for the first time and with great success. The result was Disraeli’s downfall during a time when he experienced his greatest successes. This happened because, by 1866, the whole “Machine” was already so entirely focused on the charisma of the one person [Gladstone] that when the [Irish] Home-Rule question was revived, the entire apparatus just responded, ‘Whatever he wills, we’ll follow him’. Thus,
[everyone belonging to this Machine] and did not ask whether they factually believed in Gladstone’s policies. By responding in this fashion, they effectively deserted [Joseph]
Chamberlain the organization’s own creator.
Such a political machine needs a substantial body of personnel to function, and there are at least two thousand people in England that directly lived off the parties’ politics. Of course, even more numerous were those who played a part in politics for the sole purpose of obtaining positions or/and influencing politics, especially within local politics.
For a viable Caucus Politician, economic prospects are available and especially to those to enhance their vanity. Becoming “Justice of the Peace (JP)” or even “Member of Parliament (MP)” naturally are the highest goals of common ambition. And it will be bestowed upon people who feature an adequate upbringing and therefore can be called “gentlemen.” But the highest honor in store was the position of a “Peer” [in the House of Lords], especially for tycoons. [One has to keep in mind that] 50 percent of the parties’ finances were based on anonymous donations
So what impact did this have on the whole system?
Well, this system means that today all English parliamentarians, with exception of a few members of the cabinet and a few loners, are nothing more than a well-habitualized and disciplined herd of cattle, voting as they are told.
In our own German Reichstag, people at least pretended to work for the well being of the country by handling private correspondence on their desks. But not even such empty gestures are demanded in England. The Member of Parliament just has to vote in the way not to let his party down. He has to partake in the meetings whenever The Whip calls, and do and vote as the cabinet or the leader of the opposition demands.
If a strong Leader [Führer] exists, the “Caucus Machine” throughout the countryside will be completely in the hands of this Leader [Führer]. It almost has no rational opinion, but the caucus machine will not even be aware of this fact!
The Plebiscitary Dictator in English Politics
Therefore, above the English Parliament stands, in fact, an elected plebiscitary dictator. The dictator uses the “Machine” to unit the masses behind him, while the parliamentarians are mere political hacks who belong to his entourage.
Nevertheless, how does the process of selection of this Leader [Führer] work?
First of all, which abilities does a Leader [Führer] display?
Naturally, the crucial qualification, besides the global importance and qualities of his intention, is his power of the demagogic speech.
Of course, the nature of this type of speech has changed over time. For example,
[William] Cobden appealed to reason [in his speeches about free trade in the 1840s] while Gladstone [in the 1860s] used the rhetorical tactic of “letting the facts speak for themselves,” until today when pure emotional rhetoric is frequently used to get the masses set in motion in the same fashion Salvation Army does. The current state of affairs [in January 1919 in Munich, Berlin, and elsewhere where various revolutionary councils are emerging] could be called a dictatorship based on “the emotional exploitation of the masses. However, [this is not possible in England where] the highly entangled systems of committee work in the English Parliament enables and forces every politician participating in the work of the committees, even ones who also participate in governance [that has the effect of temporizing such emotional exploitation.
Every important Minister of the last decades has been through this practical and effective work training. The praxis that all reports of the committees is publically critiqued, had the effect that this “kind of schooling” made it impossible for a pure demagogue to get to power.
This can be seen in England.
But the English caucus-system was really a toothless form compared to the organization of the American parties who, very early on, developed very pure forms of direct plebiscitary principles.
The Example of the United States
According to [George] Washington’s idea, America should be a “community” governed by “gentlemen.” Even in America at that time, a gentleman was defined as a “manorial lord” or someone who had a college education [of the style found in the academies like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and William and Mary Colleges in the eighteenth century].
In the beginning, this was the case.
Thus, when the parties first emerged, the Members of Congress claimed the right to be leaders like in England during the rule of the feudal Honoratioren. The party organization at that time was still very informal until about 1824, when some municipalities became the cradle for modern development, the “Party Machine.” This started before the 1820s.
But it was the election of President Andrew Jackson, the candidate of the western farmers, in the 1820s that upset the old traditions, and thus parliamentary-based leadership of the great party heads came to a formal end in 1840. In the 1840s, the great parliamentarians like Calhoun and Webster also retired from their political careers and, at that time, the parliament lost virtually all power and influence to the new Party Machines throughout the whole country.
The reason for the early development of the plebiscitary “Machine” in America is the fact that the head of the Executive, and this is crucial, is the head of the Amt patronage. Due to the separation of powers between the executive and the parliament, the President is nominated by plebiscite independently of each other. Therefore, a real rich booty in the form of Amt patronage and sinecures is the wage of victory for the winner of the presidential elections in The United States. Andrew Jackson drew the logical consequences of this system and systematically developed the “spoils system” to a high level.
How does this spoils system influence today’s party building when every federal Amt will be given to the followers of the victorious candidate?
The result is that often only unethical parties without moral convictions seek office. After all, the parties are basically just job-hunting agencies that adjust and change their programs for the sake of winning elections. This is true to a certain extent everywhere [i.e., also outside the United States], but nowhere else to that extreme. [In the United States], the parties are altogether set up for the most important election campaign, which is the most crucial: the Presidential election of the Union, as well as the individual state governors [who control the appointments to many positions]. Programs and candidates are selected in the parties’ “National Conventions,” but without intervention by members of the Parliament [Congress]. The party convention consists of members who were democratically selected through a formal democratic selection process, while the delegation members themselves have been selected in “Primaries.”
Primaries, in turn, already settle on the name of the candidate who will formally lead the government if that party wins. Parallel, bitter disputes inside every party take place regarding the question of who will be nominated for this lead position. After all, the appointment of between 300 thousand and 400 thousand Beamte lie in the hands of the President.
But these appointments can only be made in consultation with the senators from the states, since their consent is needed for the appointments.
Therefore, the senators are powerful politicians.
The House of Representatives in comparison has relatively little political power because it does not possess the patronage of the Beamte [as the Senate does]. Ministers [who are confirmed by the Senate] on the other hand, are also thus the people’s representatives and able to rule their Ministries regardless of a president’s trust or mistrust. This is a consequence of the division of power.
A spoils system like this was (technically) possible only in America, because the young American culture is able to endure economic management by dilettantes. After all, only a country with unlimited economic opportunities was able to endure 300 thousand to 400 thousand party hacks, who had no other qualifications than the fact that they had done a good job for their party—but one has to realize that this caused unbelievable evil conditions of corruption and unprecedented wastefulness.
With the system of the “vote generating party machine,” a new figure emerged on the screen: “The Boss.”
“The Boss” in US American Politics
What exactly is an [American] “Boss” in the realm of politics?
A Boss is a political entrepreneur who thinks like a capitalist and risks political capital in order to collect votes in a fashion which feathers his own nest. “The Boss” may have established his relationships and contacts while working as a lawyer, barkeeper, lender, or similar businesses. From such a starting position, “the potential Boss” starts to weave a net and pull strings until he controls a certain number of votes.
When the Boss-figure reaches this level, networking with other bosses is the obvious next step. Other successful and powerful figures who have already advanced in their careers will notice the new Boss because of traits like enthusiasm, skillfulness, and especially his discretion, and now the new Boss-figure will advance. The Boss is indispensable for the party’s organization, and the organization of the party is centralized in his hands. The Boss procures [as a consequence] significant financial means.
How is he able to attract this funding?
Well, partly by membership fees, but especially by taxation of the salaries of the Beamte who landed their positions through The Boss’s, and his party’s, influence peddling.
But also, through bribes and gratuities.
Whoever wants to discretely ignore one of the many laws, thus needs The Boss’s indulgence, and this indulgence must be paid for; otherwise, a lot of inconvenience will arise for the lawbreaker.
However, this alone does not generate the necessary operating capital.
The Boss is also indispensable as a direct recipient of money from the big financial tycoons and magnates who [seek to influence governmental policy and elections].
These tycoons and magnates would never entrust money for elections to salaried paid party functionaries or any publicly paid officials. [This is because] The Boss, with the most tactically astute discretion concerning money matters, is naturally the person through whom capitalists will finance the election.
The typical Boss is an absolutely rational, dry, levelheaded, and unemotional person.
The Boss does not strive for social honor, [because] the “professional” is despised by the
[self-described] “high society.”
The Boss exclusively seeks power; power as a source of money, but also power for its own sake.
The Boss works in the shadows, in contrast to the English ‘leader.’
The Boss will not speak in public; he will suggest what the speakers should talk about, but he himself will remain silent. Typically, The Boss does not take an Amt, except that as a U.S.
Since the senators take part in the Amt patronage system by virtue of the U.S.
Constitution, the leading bosses often sit in this political body [i.e., the Senate] in person. First and foremost, the allocation of public offices is a payment for the services done for the Party.
However, the allocation of offices via auctions occurred often, and for some Ämter there were specific “taxes” or, in other words, an Ämter selling system existed, like the monarchies of the 17th and 18th century [in Europe] and the Papal States had known it in many cases.
The Boss does not have any firm political “principles”; in fact, The Boss is completely void of moral convictions [Gesinnung], and he is only interested in the question, What captures votes?
Not uncommonly, The Boss is often an ill-bred person.
However, in his own private life, The Boss maintains an impeccable and proper lifestyle.
But The Boss naturally adjusts his ethics of politics to preexisting standard practices, just like many of us probably did with our economic ethics during recent times of famine when we provided for our needs just like hamsters [stuffing our cheeks with food by whatever means we could acquire it]. Nevertheless, specifically the structure of these parties, devoid of any moral convictions [Gesinnung] and socially despised power brokers who helped competent men become president. No such competent men would have been able to rise through our German system.
Admittedly, The Bosses resist any “Outsiders” who could threaten their sources of money and power.
A highly capitalistic, top-down tightly organized party/business exists [in the United States]. It is supported by tightly organized clubs like Tammany Hall which, like the old ecclesiastical orders, exclusively seek profit by controlling politics, particularly that of the local governments. Political control, especially of local administration, is seen as lucrative objects of booty. This kind of structure for the life of the parties could only develop in the United States because of its highly developed democracy, in a new country on a new territory. This relationship with “new territory” is also the reason why this system is now slowly in decline and will die out.
Not even America can much longer be ruled by dilettantes!
Still, 15 years ago [i.e., about 1904], American workers would answer the question about why they allowed politicians to govern them through people they despised: “We rather have people as Beamte who we spit on, than a Beamte-caste that spits on us.” This was the old position of the American “democracies.” But even at that time, the Socialists did take a different stand when it came to be ruled by dilettantes.
Nevertheless, this situation is no longer tolerated. The administration by dilettantes is no longer adequate, and the Civil Service reform creates increasingly more tenured with the rights to pensions. This means that the American Beamte are trained at universities, and they are becoming as incorruptible, competent, and efficient as the German Beamte. Thus, around 100 thousand office positions are already [in 1919] no longer objects of loot and booty awarded through the election cycle in America. Entry into these positions requires qualification certificates and the positions come with rights to pensions.
This will, over time, destroy the spoils system and in turn, the American party is also going to change. But we do not yet know how.
German Conditions for Political Management
The following are the crucial characteristics of the political apparatus in Germany.
The first characteristic is the powerlessness of parliaments. The consequence was that no person who had leadership qualities would spend any length of time in Parliament. In the event one wanted to enter Parliament, what could one possibly achieve there? Then you would have to wait for a chancellery position to open, and when one opened, you tell the chief of administration: I have a very able man in my electoral district who would be suitable for the position, please take him. And that did happened often. But this was pretty much all that German parliamentarians could achieve to satisfy their instinct to wield power—assuming the parliamentarians even had any such impulses.
The second characteristic of the German political apparatus is the overwhelming importance of the highly educated Beamte who are trained as experts. This second characteristic is caused the first [i.e., parliament’s lack of power]. We, the Germans, were the first in the world with well-educated and expert Beamte officialdom. The importance of this new specialized “Beamte officialdom” meant that not only did they claim the Beamte specialized positions for themselves, but they also claimed the Ministerial positions, thereby effectively blocking the parliamentarians from filling such positions with followers or even themselves. This is illustrated by what happened in the Parliament of Bavaria last year [November 1918]—when the parliamentarization [of ministerial posts] was discussed, the opinion was asserted that talented people will no longer become “Beamte” if the parliamentarians run the Ministries. So, the Beamte administration systematically resisted control by the Parliament [in Bavaria], as it had in the system of Committees in the English Parliament [as described above]. The English Committee system effectively disabled parliamentary power to produce really useful administrative chiefs, with few exceptions, from within their midst.
The third characteristic was that, in contrast to America, in Germany we had political parties which were founded based in moral convictions [Gesinnung], so at least in theory, they claimed that their members were representing particular “world-views” [Weltanschauung]. Thus the two most important parties were Das Zentrum [Catholic] Party on the one side, and the Social Democratic Party on the other side. Both were minority parties with specific views. The leading circles of the Zentrum Party in the Reich never made a secret out of the fact that they were against the parliamentary system because they were afraid of becoming a minority. If they became a minority, they knew that they would face pressures from the government, resulting in more difficulties in placing their job-hunters [Stellenjägern] into permanent Beamte positions. The Social Democrats were principally a minority party, and a hindrance for the parliamentarization because they did not want to stain themselves with the existing order of the political-bourgeois. The fact that both major parties boycotted the parliamentary system made it impossible for parliament to thrive.
What did that make impossible? And, what has, as a result, thereby become of the professional German politicians?
In the end, the professional German politician had little power, no responsibility, and was only able to play a subordinated Honoratioren role. And therefore, the professional politicians are lately inspired again by the idea of typical guild/Stand interests, which instinctively pop up again. But, it was impossible [for the professional politicians] to rise within the circle of the Honoratioren, because for the Honoratioren, these itty-bitty positions are what makes their life. I could name several persons from each party, including those from the Social Democrats, whose political careers were tragedies. The persons concerned had Leadership [Führer] qualities and, therefore, were not tolerated by the Honoratioren.
All of our parties in this fashion became a fraternity of Honoratioren Stände. For example, [August] Bebel was a Leader [Führer] by temperament and the integrity of his character, even though his intellect was rather modest. But the fact is that he was a martyr. He never betrayed the confidence of the masses (in their mind), and this caused the masses to stand behind him and, as a result, there was no power within the party that could have seriously challenged him. But after his death [in 1913] this came to an end, and the domination
[Herrschaft] of the party functionaries began [within the Social Democrats]. Functionaries from the unions, party secretaries, and journalists rose to power, and the instincts of the Beaten ruled the party. As a result, the party became a highly respectable group of functionaries.
Indeed, compared to other countries, especially with respect to open bribery by the union officials in America, one may say that the German Beamte officialdom was exceptionally honorable. However, the consequences which the dominance [Herrschaft] of the functionaries discussed earlier arose in the Party as well.
As for the [German] bourgeois parties, they have become fraternities of Honoratioren since the 1880s. However, occasionally the parties had to draw on intelligent people from outside the party for purposes of advertisement so they could say: “So and so belongs to us.” But at the same time, they made sure that these people did not become candidates for the election. Only when it was unavoidable and the person did not acquiesce to their exclusion, did they put him on the election ballot.
The same spirit existed in the parliament. Our [German] parliamentary parties were and still are like fraternities and guilds. Every speech is thoroughly reviewed, censored, and critiqued by the party before it is given in the plenary session of the Reichstag. One can tell this by how much boredom the speeches produce; indeed, only approved speakers are allowed to have a word on the floor. A more marked difference to the English customs, and the French (though for contrary reasons), are hardly conceivable.
Current Events in Germany
Now [in January 1919] because of the great collapse [following the Armistice of November 1918] that some call a revolution, there may be a transformation going on.
Maybe—but not certainly.
Initially, approaches to the new types of party organization appeared. First, amateur apparatuses emerged which were especially represented by students of the various universities. The students choose a man, in whom they saw Führer qualities and asked to lead them. They told him: “We want to do all the necessary work for you! Lead us!”
Secondly, business-like organizations emerged. It happened that people sought out a man, who seemed to have Führer qualities, and offered to run the election campaign for him in exchange for a fixed sum paid for every vote collected. If you would honestly ask me which of the two organizations I find more reliable in the context of purely technical-political aspects, I think I would prefer the latter because ultimately both were just quickly emerging soap bubbles, which quickly disappeared.
In the meantime, the preexisting [party] organizations restructured themselves, but nevertheless continued working. Their appearance was only symptomatic of the idea that the new apparatus may perhaps appear if only The Leader [Führer] would be available. But yet, the technical peculiarity within the election law of proportional representation eliminated the rise of a Leader [Führer] and, as a result, only a few “little dictators of the streets” rose and perished. But only the followers of the street dictatorships are strictly organized and firmly disciplined; therefore, these small minorities can and do become very powerful.
Let us suppose change would happen. But for this to happen, one must acknowledge what was discussed earlier: The replacement of the leadership of the parties by an elected Leader [Führer] would cause the “ensoulment” of the followers. You might call it their “spiritual proletarianization.” To be useful to a Leader [Führer], the followers must blindly obey, to act like a machine in the American sense. The machine should work and not be disturbed by the vanity of the Honoratioren and their personal pretentions.
For example, Lincoln’s election [in 1860] was only possible because of the character of the party organization as described above. The same happened, as mentioned, in the Caucus that kicked out Gladstone.
That is the price you pay for leadership by a Leader [Führer].
However, in the end though, there is only the choice between a democracy headed by a Leader [Führer], and his machine, or a Leader-less democracy. A Leader-less democracy though means domination [Herrschaft] by “career politicians” who have no calling to politics. Nor do they have the inner charismatic qualities that make a Leader [Führer].
This is what the respective Party factions would usually call the “Lordship of the
Buddies” [Herrschaft des “Klüngels”]
For the time being, we have only such a Herrschaft in Germany.
For the future, the “Lordship of the Buddies” will continue to exist because the upper house of the German Parliament will probably make sure that the power of the Lower House is limited and, therefore, the lower house will be restricted as a place for the selection of a possible Leader [Führer]. Moreover because of proportional representation and electoral laws as they are structured at the moment [in Germany], there is a Leader-less democracy. Not only does this benefit the influence peddling of the Honoratioren who seek positions, but also it gives advocacy groups the possibility to force their Beamte on to future party lists. Thus, they create an apolitical parliament where true charismatic Leader-ship [Führer] has no place.
Only the President of the German Reich could, under such conditions, become a vent for the need for a Leader [Führer], but only if the president is elected directly in a plebiscite and not by parliament.
Leadership [Führertum] especially emerges on the grounds of “job competency” and would be selected for if in large communities—like those in the United States where people want to seriously fight corruption—a popularly elected city “dictator” would appear who had the right to select his own staff.
But for this to occur, a party organization is needed that is specifically tailored to win such kinds of election processes.
The petty bourgeoisie’s hostility to the Leadership of the Parties, including especially the Social Democrats, keeps the future possibilities hidden from us for now. Thus, the possible chances are in the dark.
The Forces Shaping Politics as Vocation: The Ethics of Responsibility
(Verantwortungsethik) and Moral Convictions (Gesinnungsethik)
So today one cannot predict yet how the apparatus “Politics as a Professional Vocation“ [Beruf] will be structured. It is even less predictable how opportunities will become available for politically gifted people to be challenged by satisfying political tasks.
A person who is compelled by his financial situation to “live off“ political activities will typically consider an alternative route to becoming a politician. He will choose journalism or a position as a party functionary as a direct route, or he will choose a position with an interest group; for example, a union, the Chamber of Commerce, Agricultural Grange, craft guild, Board of Trade, Employer’s Association, or suitable positions in local government.
More cannot be said about this “outer side” except that the “party functionary” carry an “odious smell” of being socially declassified, just like the journalists. Being called “journalistic hack” or a “hack speechwriter,” alas, always reverberates in the ears even when not said aloud. Hence, the one who suffers from inner defenselessness against this, or is not in the position to identify responses to defend oneself, should better not strive for such careers. In any case, such careers are a possible route. But they also entail “delicate temptations” in addition to being a path that may bring continual disappointment.
So in spite of this, what inner joy may a career as a politician bring? And which personal characteristics are needed if a person aims at this career?
Well, firstly a career as a politician yields a sense of power. Even in formally modest positions, a politician is aware that they influence the people and that they partake in the exertion of power over them. Finally and most importantly, professional politicians have the feeling that they are lifted above mundane daily routines. This is especially true for the politician who feels that he holds in his own hands the reins of historical destiny.
But he still needs to deal with one more question. Which qualities does he need to live up to the responsibility and obligations that this power imposes on him, no matter how narrowly this power may be defined?
“Steering the Helm of History”
By asking this question, the discussion shifts to the area of ethics. Because it is an ethical question if we ask what human being is allowed the right to put his hands to the spokes on the helm of history?
It can be argued that three qualities are crucial for a politician: passion, responsibility, and a sense of proportion. Passion is used here in the sense of objectivity: passionate commitment to a “cause,” to the god or demon who is the cause’s master.
I do not want to refer to the demeanor in the sense which my deceased friend Georg Simmel used to call an “Infertile Excitation,” which ascribes a specific type of Russian intellectuals (not all of them!), and this Infertile Excitation also plays such an important role even for our intellectuals in this Carnival [in Germany and Russia] and which they proudly adorn with the name “revolution.”
To romanticize “intellectually interesting” for its own sake without any objective sense of responsibility, will come to nothing. It doesn’t matter how genuinely this conviction is felt and how passionate one is about the cause—naked passion is not enough and won’t do. Passion alone does not turn one into a politician unless the passion also leads to responsibility toward the cause, and further only then if responsibility towards the cause becomes the guiding star for action. This requires from a politician a sense of proportion, the capacity to take the realities with an inner calmness and composure, and keep an emotional detachment from facts and people. This is the crucial psychological quality a politician needs. A “loss of distance” is a deadly sin for every politician. If we foster this trait in our junior intellectuals, we condemn them to be incapable of becoming politicians.
The crux of the question is, how can both passion and a good sense of proportion be combined in the character and soul of a politician?
Politics is made with the head, not with the other parts of body, nor the soul.
But nevertheless, the dedication to politics can only be born of and sustained by passion; otherwise, politics just becomes a frivolous intellectual game and not a truly human activity.
The taming of the soul that distinguishes the passionate politician from the political dilettante who is only “jazzed up,” is only possible if the politician is accustomed to evaluating function [and action] with a sense of proportionality and emotional distance.
Thus, the strength of a political personality is primarily defined by these two
[contradictory] qualities [i.e., passion for, and emotional distance from the work of a politician.
Therefore, a politician must overcome his own inner and very trivial human enemy every day and hour: the ordinary vanity a deadly enemy to all objective devotion and to all distance, which in this case means the distance to oneself.
The Problem of Vanity in Politics
Vanity is a very widely spread trait and probably nobody is entirely free of it.
Certainly, among scholars and academic circles it is kind of an occupational disease.
Nevertheless, especially for a scholar, vanity is distasteful when it expresses itself, but it is relatively harmless because it does not disrupt the functioning of academic organizations.
This is completely different in a politician for whom the pursuit of power is a means unto itself.
“The Pursuit of Power” is in fact one of the normal typical qualities of a politician.
“The sin against the Holy Spirit,” which is a deadly sin, in the context of the politician’s professional calling [Beruf], begins when the thirst for power becomes irrational and a matter for pure personal self-intoxication instead of being used exclusively in the service of a cause.
Ultimately, there are just two kinds of “deadly sins” in the field of politics: a lack of objectivity and irresponsibility—often, but not always, identical qualities. It is the vanity, and the need to be seen and to push oneself to the front, that is the primary temptation that leads politicians to committing one or both of these deadly sins.
This need to be seen and push oneself to the front increases because the demagogue is forced to count on personal appeal; thus, the demagogue is always in danger of becoming a mere showman and take responsibility for the consequences of his actions too lightly. He is always at risk for only caring about the impression he makes.
It is his lack of objectivity that pushes him to seek the glamour of power, rather than true power. Further, his irresponsibility makes him enjoy power for its own sake and ignore the purpose of the content.
Power is the inevitable means of all politics, and thus striving for power is one of the driving forces behind all politics. Indeed, there is no more corrupting distortion of political force than the parvenu-like boasting with power, the vain self-reflection in the sensation of power, and any kind of power worship for its own sake.
A simple power-seeking politician who is cultivated and glorified by groups of people in our country may come over as being strong, but in fact, his acts are typically futile and pointless.
In this respect, the critics of power politics are totally right.
We have witnessed the sudden nervous breakdown of the typical bearers of such moral convictions [Gesinnung] and seen what kind of inner weaknesses and helplessnesses are hidden behind their ostentatious and totally meaningless behavior. Such behavior is, in fact, the product of a shallow superficial and pompous smugness toward the sense of human action inspired by moral convictions. Such behavior does not recognize the tragedy that lies within every [human] political action, and that such tragedy is especially intertwined within political acts.
It is a perfectly true, and a fundamental fact of all history (which will not be justified here), that the end results of political measures stand often—no let me reframe this, virtually always—in a totally inadequate relation to their original purpose. One can even assert that in the end results, political measures stand really in a paradoxical relation to their original purpose. Therefore, the purpose for human action, which is service for a cause, must not go missing; how else should political action gain an inner stability?
What kind of cause the politician wants to serve, and for the sake of which he seeks and uses power, is ultimately a matter of faith. This cause may serve national, human, social, ethical or cultural, secular, or ecclesiastical goals. A politician may have a strong faith in “progress,” no matter how progress is interpreted, or he may coolly reject this kind of faith. The politician might claim to be in service of an “idea,” or he may principally refuse being subjected to pragmatic goals of everyday life. Nor may he want to serve these goals. But he always has to have faith in some underlying values.
Otherwise, and this is absolutely unavoidable, the natural curse of meaninglessness dwells otherwise in the greatest political achievements. Having elaborated on this, we have already reached the final problem which we will discuss tonight, the ethos of politics as a cause.
What mission could the politics complete within the entire economy of a moral lifestyle? What is, so to speak, the ethical home in which politics reside?
The “ethical home” of course, is the place where world views collide and where a choice must be made. Let us resolutely address this problem, which has newly been raised again in a way that, in my opinion, is done in an inappropriate way.
The Ethos and Morality of Politics
Let us first get rid of a more trivial kind of distortion.
Initially, ethics might also show itself a morally most fatal role.
Let us look at some examples. You will rarely find a man, who no longer loves a woman and therefore turns to another, will not feel the need to justify himself by arguing: “She was not worth my love, or she disappointed me”—or what other reasons there may be.
The woman has not only to cope with the sober fact that he doesn’t love her anymore, but also with the fact that he makes up a legitimacy for himself in a manner no chivalrous knight would. He sees this made-up legitimacy as his right, and adds insult to injury by blaming the wreckage on her wrongdoing.
The successful erotic competitor proceeds in just the same way; he argues that the adversary has to be the one who is unethical, after all, otherwise he would not have been defeated.
War Guilt, Ethics, and the End of the War
Of course, there is no difference; rather it is taken for granted that the winner claims with an undignified bossiness after any successful war: “I won because I was in the right.”
[This same phenomenon happens] when someone succumbs emotionally under the atrocities of the war and now, instead of plainly stating “It was just too much,” feels the need to legitimate his war fatigue to himself by substituting his feelings [for reason] and assert: “I was not able to take this war any more, because I had to fight for a morally wrong cause.”
The same phenomenon holds true for everybody who is defeated in wartime.
So instead of looking for the “guilty culprit” like nattering washwomen—and especially when it is evident that the structure of society is responsible for the war—every manly and austere attitude [simply] signals to the enemy, “We lost the war—you won the war.”
This has been taken care of! Now, let’s talk about the conclusions which need to be drawn according to the realistic and objective interests involved. And let’s talk about the main issue, especially about the responsibility towards the future, which rests upon the victors’ shoulders. Anything else is undignified, and will only come back to haunt them.
A nation can forgive a violation to its interests but it cannot forgive violation to its honor, especially if it is done with the dogmatism of a Pharisee. Every newly revealed document, even if it is unearthed decades later, will reignite the undignified clamoring, the hatred and the anger, instead of burying The War and its ending at least in a dignified manner. [In fact though] this is only possible through objectivity and knightly chivalry, and most importantly, through dignity.
But this is never possible through a moral “ethic,” which, in truth means nothing but lack of dignity and dishonor for both sides.
So instead of tending to the things that are the politicians’ business which is the future and the responsibility in front of them, politicians occupy themselves with the unanswerable question of “who is responsible for the guilt of the past?”
If there is such a thing as political guilt, then it exists in the context of a preoccupation with the question of responsibility for the past. After all, they not only occupy themselves with the wrong question, they also overlook the unavoidable distortion of the problem by mighty material interests.
The victor’s interest is to gain the highest possible profit (morally and materially), while the defeated hope to gain favors through admission of guilt. If there is anything vile in this world, then it is how such ethics are used.
It is a direct consequence of equating and using “ethic” as a means of “being right.”
The Relationship between Ethics and Politics
So what is the true relationship between ethics and politics?
Some say, they do not have anything in common. But is this true in the end?
Or is the opposite the case? Is there one valid ethic that applies to political as well as any other action?
At times people were convinced that only one assumption is possible ( i.e., one is correct, so the other has to be wrong).
But does this hold true?
Is it possible that one can put together the same set of moral requirements for erotic and business relationships, family and ministerial relations, and for the relationship with your wife, the greengrocer, the son, the competitor, the friend, or the defendant at the same time?
But is it really true that for the ethical demands on politics it does not matter if politics was a specific means? Power, which is always backed by violence?
Is it not obvious that, when Bolshevik and Spartacist ideologues who use the same means of politics, they will bring about the same results as any military dictator? What distinguishes the Herrschaft of the workers council or soldiers council from any other wielders of power of the old regimes, other than the personality of the powerholders and their dilettantism? What distinguishes the polemics used by most of the agents who represent the supposedly new ethic, even against their opponents, from the polemic used by any other demagogue?
“It is their noble intention!” the answer might be.
Very well, then.
But we are speaking of the powerholders’ means. The fighting opponents always claim for themselves the noble intent of their goals, and they claim this with total but subjective truthfulness.
But, “Those that live by the sword die by the sword,” because war is everywhere.
Does that mean the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount?
The Sermon on the Mount refers to the absolute ethic of the Gospel. This is a more serious matter than those who like to quote these commandments today believe, and are not to be taken lightly.
Such ethics are similar to what is said about causality in science: the Ethics of the Sermon on the Mount [and causality in science] are not like a hackney carriage you can stop at will to get in or off [by simply telling the driver]. But rather the ethics of The Sermon on the Mount is about all or nothing. That’s the meaning if something other than trivialities shall result.
For example, the rich youth: “he went away sad, because he was extremely rich.”
The commandment of the Gospel is unconditional and clear: Give away what you own— absolutely everything!
But a politician will retort: From a social point of view, the Gospel’s command is senseless and unacceptable, as long as this command is not forced onto everybody; [and the only way for it to apply to everybody is to exert force]. This means: taxation, customs checkpoints, confiscations—frankly speaking, coercion and order for everyone.
The nature of an ethical command is that it doesn’t contemplate consequences.
Or, for example “turn to him the other cheek also!”
[This command is to be understood] unconditionally and without asking why the other one is allowed to smite, strike, or hit.
This is an ethic of indignity—except for a saint.
That’s the key—The Leader [Führer] has to be a saint, at least that should be his intent. He has to live like Jesus, the Apostles, St. Francis of Assisi, or people like them. Only then is this kind of ethic meaningful and an expression of dignity.
Otherwise, forget it! [Without this context, this kind of ethic does not make sense].
If this is so, this transcendental acosmic ethic of love consequently calls for not resisting evil with violence. The opposite holds true for the politician. For him, the command applies “you shall resist evil with force [Gewalt]”—otherwise you are responsible for evil when it gets out of hand.
A person who wants to act accordingly to the ethic of the Gospel, should not join the “yellow unions” and participate in strikes, because strikes are coercive. First and foremost, however, he should not talk “revolution.” Because the ethic [of love] does certainly not teach that civil war is the only legitimate war.
The pacifist who acts accordingly to the Gospel and refuses to carry, or even throws away weapons, is described as having an ethical obligation to end the war, and ultimately for ending war for good.
But, the politician retorts: The only secure way of discrediting war for the foreseeable future would be a “status quo” peace.
Then, the nations would have asked: What has the war been good for?
[As a result], the war would have been reduced to absurdity, which is now not possible.
But for the winners of the war, at least for some of them, the war certainly paid off in terms of political influence. This interest in political influence was responsible for the fact that any resistance was made impossible for us [the Germans]. Now the peace will be discredited and not the war after the time of war-fatigue has passed. And this is the time of consequence for the ethics of moral conviction [Gesinnungsethik], which is an absolute ethic.
Finally, we come to the “duty to truthfulness,” which is indispensable for “absolute ethics.”
Therefore based on this absolute ethic, one person concluded to publish all documents, especially those that incriminated our own country, and especially the one-sided publications, which confessed guilt unconditionally and without regard for the consequences. The problem is that the politician will find, if this confession is successful, the truth is not promoted but obscured by misuse and the unleashing of passion. He will find that only an all-around systematic assessment by neutrals could come to fruition. Any other approach taken by the nation may produce consequences which are irreversible and irreparable for decades to come.
But an absolute ethic is not concerned with the consequences it may cause.
This is the crucial point.
Political Ethics and the Anticipation of Consequences
We have to understand that every ethically-oriented action can be divided into two entirely different, irresolvably opposed maxims: an ethical action can be based on an “ethic of moral convictions” that does not contemplate the consequences of the actions based on the decision [Gesinnungsethik], or it can be based on ethics of responsibility, in which consequences for the ordered actions are anticipated and full responsibility is taken [Verantwortungsethik].
This does not mean the ethics of moral convictions is identical with irresponsibility, and that the ethics of responsibility is void of ideology. None of this is true, and no one can say that. However, it is an abysmal contrast, if one acts on the ethics of moral convictions; religiously speaking, this means: “The disciple of Christ does the right thing but the outcome is left to the discretion of God.” Or one acts on the ethics of responsibility; this means that one is responsible for the foreseeable consequences of one’s actions.
For example, you might present to a syndicalist, who acts according to the ethics of moral convictions [Gesinnungsethik] in a very pragmatic and convincing fashion, that the consequences of his actions are going to increase the exploitation of his class [and] will hinder its rise.
Nevertheless, this reasoning will make no impression at all on the syndicalist.
[The convention with this type of reasoning] is that the consequences of such an act resulting from a purely ideological conviction are evil, so this cannot be blamed on the one who is acting; rather, the world is to be blamed for the evil consequences, the stupidity of the other people, or it must be the will of God who created them that way.
On the other hand, the politician who believes in and acts on the ethics of responsibility
[Verantwortungsethik], expects these normal defects of men. He knows that he has, like Fichte [the German idealist philosopher] said correctly, no right to assume kindness and perfection in man. And he thinks that he has no right to blame the foreseeable consequences of his own actions on others.
He will take responsibility for his actions and its consequences. But the politician who ascribes to the ethics of moral conviction feels only “responsible” for preventing the flame of true belief from being extinguished, for example, the protests against the injustice of the social order. Thus, to constantly fuel the flame of belief is the purpose of his actions. If one wants to evaluate these actions in the light of their success, they are totally irrational, but these actions can only have, and should only have, “exemplary value.”
However, even with this [assertion,] the problem has not been solved.
Every ethic in the world has to grapple with the fact of collateral damage. In reality, the fact is that a good and right outcome is in many cases chained to dangerous and ethically questionable means. One has also to accept the possibility or even probability of unintended consequences. Furthermore, no ethic in the world can make the call when and to what extent the morally good purpose justifies the morally dangerous means, thereby sanctifying mediocre successes because “the ends justify the means.”
For politics, the crucial means is coercive power, which inherently implies a tension between means and purpose from an ethical point of view. How great this tension is can be seen in the example of the revolutionary socialists (Zimmerwalder school of thought) who, as everyone knows, are committed to the following principle already during the war:
If we have the choice to choose between either a few more years of war, and then a revolution, or peace right now and no revolution, we would choose a few more years of war! [This is a good example of the ethically questionable assumption that “The ends justify the means.”]
The next question we have to ask is, “What would the results of such a [Zimmerwalder] revolution be?” Every scientifically schooled socialist would answer the question in this fashion: The revolution would not produce an economy that could be called socialistic, but [just] another bourgeois economy would emerge, which might only be able to eliminate the leftover feudal elements and dynastic remains.
Imagine listeners, for this modest result, they would accept “a few more years of war”!
We surely should conclude that this kind of evil means needs to be rejected, even if we carry substantial socialist convictions.
The case is the same with the Bolshviks and Spartacists and, as a matter of fact, with any form of revolutionary socialism. And it is downright silly and ridiculous when the “power politicians” of the old regime are criticized and morally rejected for applying the same means, even though it should have been their goals, which should have been rejected and justifiably so. Sanctifying the means by its purpose seems the pivotal point at which ethics of moral conviction [Gesinnungsethik] have to fail.
And indeed the ethics of moral conviction [Gesinnungsethik] have logically only one option: to reject any action that uses ethically dangerous means. This is the only logical consequence.
But in the real world, we experience over and over again the “politician of ideological convictions whose beliefs are based on moral convictions [Gesinnungspolitiker],” but suddenly and inevitably turns into a millenarian prophet. For example, we see those who have just preached “love instead of violence,” in the next moment, they call out for violence. They are calling for the “last violence,” which will then lead to the final destruction of all violence—just like our militaries told their soldiers at the beginning of every military offensive: they promised it would be the last. The offensive would bring the victory and final peace. The person who believes in this ethic of moral conviction [Gesinnungsethiker] cannot endure the ethical irrationality of the world. He is strictly a “rationalist” who believes in an ethic that has no transcendent dimensions.
Those who know Doestoevsky will remember the scene with the Grand Inquisitor. There the problem is described in detail. The example shows that it is not possible to ethically discredit ethics of moral conviction [Geinnungsethik] and ethics of responsibility
[Verantwortungsethik] or bring them together under one hat, because the question remains: which purpose should sanctify which means? [Another way to frame this question is to ask] whether one should give this principle a chance at all, or if one should make any concessions based on it.
The respected colleague, F. W. Förster [1869–1966], who I personally have high esteem for because of the unquestionable sincerity of his convictions but who I certainly rejected as a politician, asserts in his book a simple thesis about how to get around this [ethical] difficulty.
Förster writes: “Of goodness can only come good, but evil follows from evil.” Based on this assertion, the whole set of problems does not exist. But it is amazing that such a thesis could still see the light of the world 2,500 years after the [Holy Hindu] Upanishads asserted the same. Not only the whole course of world history, but also every wholehearted examination of everyday experiences reveals that the opposite is true. Indeed, the development of all the religions in the world is based on the assumption (i.e., that the opposite is true).
The ancient unanswered question about theocracy deals with this: How does it come, that a “Higher Power,” which is presented as both all-powerful and benevolent, can create such an irrational world of undeserved suffering, of unpunished injustice, and incorrigible stupidity? This Higher Power can only be one or the other, or alternatively completely different calculations of compensation and retribution principles rule life. Such principles may be interpreted metaphysically or they evade our interpretation forever.
This ancient and unanswered question, that is, experience of the world’s irrationality, has been the driving force for the development of all religions. The Indian Karma doctrine, Persian dualism, Original Sin, predestination, as well as the Deus absconditus (Hidden God), all these developed out of this experience with irrationality. Even the ancient Christian knew full well that demons reign in the world, and that whoever engages in politics, engages with power and violence [Gewalt] as a means, and therefore necessarily makes a pact with diabolical powers. And moreover, he knows that this holds true for his actions, that only good can come from good and evil from evil. But often, the contrary is true. He who does not realize this is indeed like a child in politics.
The religious ethic did, in effect, resign us to the fact that we [as people] find ourselves in varied and different walks of life; and therefore, we also submit to and are put under different laws [depending on what we were born into]. The religious ethics also develop different mechanisms to deal with this fact.
For example, the Hellenic polytheism sacrificed to Aphrodite, to Hera, to Dionysus, as well as Apollo, even though they knew that the gods were always in conflict with each other.
The Hindus ordered life by the work they do. Every work group becomes the subject matter to special ethical laws, a “Dharma,” and thereby separated forever into caste system with a well-developed fixed status hierarchy. Nobody who was born into this system had a way out, except through rebirth into the next life. This separated the people and put them into specific groups defined by their spiritual status, which reflected the varying proximity to the highest “spiritual good.”
Thus, it was possible to develop and perfect a Dharma code for every single caste from the ascetic and Brahmans, to the rogues and prostitutes, by using inherent legality for every type of professional work [Beruf].
Even war and politics is subsumed into this caste system. In the Bhagavadgita, you can see how war was integrated into the entirety of the caste code, especially in the discussion between Krishna and Arjuna.
There it says, “Do what is necessary.” That means do the “work” following the Dharma of the war caste, do your duty, and follow the regulations. In this kind of belief, the work of war does not damage religious salvation; rather, it serves salvation.
In [this cosmology] and in case of a heroic death, the Indian warrior was assured to get to Indra’s heaven, like the Germanic warrior was assured entry to Valhalla [home of the fallen warrior.]
Nevertheless, but notably so, the Indian warrior would have spurned Nirvana as much as the Germanic warrior would have spurned the Christian paradise with its choirs of angels. This kind of specialization in ethics made it possible for the Indian system to create its own political laws by following the nature of its own inherent and autonomous laws of politics. It was only this specificity that made this radical treatment of this royal art possible. The truly radical Macchiavelianism, in the popular sense of the word, had already been represented in the Indian literature, in the Kautilya Arthashastra. And in comparison with the Indian version, Macchiavelli’s prince is harmless, even benign.
Within the Catholic ethics, to which Professor Förster relates to closely, exist a specialized form of ethics, the “consilia evangelica,” which is an ethic that specifically applies to those gifted with a charismatic holy life. In the “consilia evangelica,” the monk who is not allowed to shed blood or make money, stands next to the pious knight and citizen of whom one is allowed to do the one thing, and another one is allowed to do something else, similar to the Indian system. But the difference between the two ethical systems is that gradation of the hierarchal system of ethics found in India, and its integration into a systematic body of doctrines of salvation, was less consequent in the Christian tradition than in the Indian. This was not only possible, but it had to be this way, because of the premises of the Christian belief.
For example, the depravity of the world by the Original Sin, made it possible to incorporate violence into ethics as a disciplinary means against sin, and against heretics who endangered their own souls and those of others. Within the pure moral convictions
[gesinnungsethischen] and transcendental postulations of the Sermon on the Mount, and based in religious natural law, was an absolute demand that sustained their revolutionary power. As a result, almost during all times of social upheaval, law as a fundamental and inexorable force resurfaced. These beliefs in particular created radical-pacifistic sects. One of them set up an experiment in Pennsylvania. They organized a state without explicit structures for external violence. Tragically, the pacifist Quakers were not allowed to bear arms to defend their “ideal” pacifistic state when the American War of Independence broke out [in 1775].
In contrast, middle-of-the-road Protestantism legitimized the state as such; in other words, it legitimated the means of violence. It further recognized the state as a godly institution with absolute authority and, specifically, the authoritarian governance. In this way, Luther relieved the people from their personal “ethic of responsibility” for war, and shifted this ethical responsibility to “the authorities.” This meant that for the people to obey the authorities in all matters, except that of faith, they would never become guilty [in the eyes of God] by obeying the government.
In contrast, Calvinism recognized the use of violence [Gewalt] as a means to defend its belief, thus the Holy War was, from the beginning, an element of life as it was also in Islam from the start.
This shows that it was not modern disbelief which was not [simply] born from an altruistic hero worship of the Renaissance which raised the problem of political ethics. All religions have struggled [with such ethical questions], with highly varied results. And after all what we have discussed, it could not have been otherwise, because the specific use of legitimated violence in the hand of human organizations is, by its very nature, what causes the specific features of all ethical problems found in politics. Whoever makes a pact with the means of violence for whichever purpose, and every politician does so, is completely and utterly at the mercy of violence’s consequences. This applies particularly, and to a large extent, to the “Holy” Warrior, be he a warrior of a religious or the revolutionary kind.
Let us look at the present for an example!
Anybody who wants to establish “absolute justice” on earth by the means of violence needs followers, a human “apparatus.” He has to hold out to these followers the prospect of inner [psychological] and outer [material] rewards. They can be of heavenly or earthly nature, otherwise the apparatus does not work.
Let’s look at the inner rewards first.
In case of modern class warfare [such as that of the Bolsheviks and Sparticists], it brings satisfaction of hate and vengefulness. This happens especially where it feeds on resentments and serves the need for pseudo-ethical dogmatism, and the need to slander and denounce rivals and opponents.
The outer rewards may include the following: Adventures, victory, booty, power and sinecures.
The Leader’s [Führer] success totally depends on the functioning of his machine.
Therefore, The Leader [Führer] is dependent on the motives of his apparatus and not just on his own personal motives. Hence, The Leader [Führer] depends on the permanent funding for his followers incentives, whether it be the funding for the Red Guard or informers and agitators whom The Leader [Führer] depends on for his power.
Under these conditions, the effect of his work does not only lie in his hands, but is determined by the prevailing common motives for his followers’ actions. The motivations for their actions can be reined in, in an ethical sense, as long as they are honestly believed by at least a portion of the followers of The Leader [Führer] as a person. On this earth, there never will be a majority who will share such an honest belief.
But then this belief in The Führer, even if it is subjectively honest, is in most cases only an ethical legitimation for an addiction to vengeance, power, booty, and sinecure. We are not going to be deceived by this, because the materialistic interpretation of history is not just any “band wagon,” and does not refrain from analyzing the supporters of the revolution. One also has to reckon that after the revolution, which was an emotionally charged time, follows “mundane” everyday life. The Savior Hero, and especially the belief itself vanished, or what is even more effective the Hero and the Gospel become part of a conventional slogan used by technocratic and dim-witted people. This kind of development proceeds quickly during religious wars because they are usually headed and inspired by the “true” Leaders [Führers]: The Prophets of the Revolution!
The prerequisite for success of any Leader [Führer] apparatus is a process of emptying and objectifying the cause, a process in which the followers are re-created as soulless proletarians. This is necessary in the interest of discipline. Therefore, the followers of a “Faith Warrior” who has taken on governance often degenerate quickly into a common social stratum of people with mundane sinecure privileges.
The Practitioner of Politics as Vocation
Thus, every person who wants to become a politician, and especially a professional politician, has to be aware of the ethical paradoxes and his responsibilities for what and who he can become in the context of these pressures. I want to point out again, that every politician engages with diabolical powers, which lurk in every kind of violence.
The grand virtuosos of earthly human love and benevolence (they may have come from
Nazareth or Assisi or from Indian royal castles) did not work with political means of power.
Their kingdoms “were not from this world” but, nevertheless, they affected this world. Therefore, figures like Platon Karataev and the “the saints” are still the most adequate representatives (or even clones) [of such earthly human love and great mercy and goodness.]
Politics and Salvation
If you look for salvation of your soul and that of others, you should not do this by means of politics. Politics has to solve completely different tasks, tasks that are only solvable with the coercive power [Gewalt].
But the genius, or if you want to call it the demon of politics, lives together with the god of love, and also with the Christian God in his ecclesiastical form; there is an inner tension, which can, at any, time explode into an irresolvable conflict.
Even in times when governance lay in the hands of the church, people were aware of this.
In the days of church rule, the church’s interaction had a much greater power over the people than the “cold approval” of the Kantian ethical judgment (to borrow the words of Fichte).
An interdiction by the church always jeopardized the people’s salvation of their souls. But nevertheless, the citizens of Florence fought against the Papal States.
If I am not mistaken, in Macchiavelli’s Florentine states, there is a nice recollection of such a situation described. One of the heroes in the story praises the people of the town for whom the greatness of the hometown was more important than the salvation of their own soul.
[Along these lines today] you would substitute “hometown,” or “fatherland” (which may not be for everyone an unambiguous value in our days) with “the future of Socialism,” or “the future of the international establishment of peace.” Then you would frame the problem today as it presents itself today.
Even today, this threatens the “Salvation of the Soul” since political action only works with violent means and appeals to ethics of responsibility [Verantwortungsethik].
Nevertheless, if the “Salvation of the Soul” is chased only and totally through the ethic of moral conviction [Gesinnungsethik], when this happens, the ethic of moral convictions [Gesinnungsethik] may be discredited for generations to come; this is because the responsibility for the consequences was missing.
Thus and further throughout this process, the diabolical powers which are at play remain unrecognized by the person who is acting. But these diabolical powers are remorseless and create consequences for the person’s actions and their soul. And he himself is abandoned to these diabolical powers even if he does not recognize them. “The devil is indeed old.”
Neither the years, nor the age is meant by this expression. The meaning is more down this line: “so grow old to understand that devil—become wise!”
Now, I never put up much with people who wanted to get the better of me in discussions by simply showing the date on their birth certificate. But the mere fact that some spring chicken aged 20, and that I am more than 50-years-old, could not make me believe that this alone is a heady achievement, in front of which I should express mortal awe.
It is not our chronological age that makes us. Not at all—it is a trained ruthless look at the realities of life, and the ability to cope with them, and endure them with a tempered inner strength, that comes only with age that counts.
Politics Are Not Made by the Head Alone
Verily, verily, I say unto you: politics are made by using your head, but surely not only.
In this respect, people who believe in the ethics of moral convictions [Gesinnungsethik] definitely understand this issue.
In the end, nobody has the right to lay down the law whether one should act solely as somebody who upholds an ethic of moral conviction, nor solely as someone who upholds an ethic of responsibility, or even perhaps identify when you should use one or the other.
But there is one remark I would like to make: At this time and day of pure excitement and passion—even though not all excitement is caused by true convictions—politicians on an outrageous scale run wild with slogans like:
It is the world, it is dumb, stupid and mean! It is not me! I am not responsible for the consequences. The consequences are the responsibility of others for whom I work. But I will eradicate their stupidity, arrogance, and nastiness!
To put it bluntly, I ask myself firstly, are such people truly serious about any ethical and moral convictions? I am convinced that in nine out of ten cases, they are windbags puffed up with hot air about themselves. They are not in touch with reality, and they do not feel the burden they need to shoulder—they just intoxicate themselves with romantic sensations.
As a human being, I am not at all interested in this kind of romanticism, and it does not impress me at all.
On the other hand, it is tremendously touching, even shocking, when a mature person, whether he is young or old, is heavily burdened by the responsibility for the consequences his actions may cause. But nevertheless, he acts with an ethic of responsibility and at some point will conclude: “Here I stand, I can do no other.”
Such is what touches us at the innermost core as something truly human.
This should be possible to occur for any of us at one point in our lives, unless we are already “dead on the inside.” In this respect, the ethic of moral convictions [Gesinnungsethik] and ethic of responsibility [Verantwortungsethik] are not complete opposites. They rather complement each other because together they constitute a true human being, and the one who is able to have politics as a vocation.
Well, honored audience, let’s talk about this again in ten years [in 1929].
Regrettably, and for many reasons, I fear that by then, and for many reasons, the reactionary times will have set in. And it is very likely that nothing or little of what you and I have wished and worked for [today] will have come true. Maybe there will be, at least on the surface, a little something what we have hoped for, have come true. Nevertheless, it is an inner burden to know that this is very likely to come true, but knowing this does not shatter me. At that time, I would like to see what has happened and come of those of you who look at themselves as true politicians who already believe in an ethic of moral convictions [Gesinnungsethik] and therefore participate in the frenzy which leads to this revolution. I would like to know what this will have done to the “inside” of you.
A Gloomy Prediction for the Future
Well, it would be so wonderful if things we could turn out like in Shakespeare’s 102nd Sonnet:
Once upon a time spring was green and our love was new,
Every day I was singing like a nightingale in the height of Summer,
During the latter days the sound is fading.
But it will not turn out that way! The summer’s riches are not ahead of us; but the polar nights with an icy darkness and harshness, no matter what group will successfully seize power at present.
Thus, because where there is nothing left, not only the Kaiser [Wilhelm II] loses his rights, but also the proletarians will have also lost rights. Who among you for whom Spring seems to bloom profusely right now will still be alive when this night is finally passing?
And what will have become of all of you spiritually?
Will you become an embittered or a sour Philistine who has given up on the higher things of life and so simply and apathetically accepted the fate of the world, and your own job in it? Or did you take a third option, which is not an unusual or rare option, taken by people who have “the gift” for “self-persecution,” which is very fashionable these days, that is, to withdraw from the reality of this world and into a mystical world?
For every one of these examples, I will draw the following conclusion: Those people were never able to live on their own in the reality of the world and the demands of everyday life.
They may have thought they had the calling to politics, but objectively and factually, they have never had the calling to politics in the true inner sense of the meaning.
It would have been better for them to simply practice brotherhood in an unpretentiously human-to-human fashion and, as part of that, just earn a daily living.
Politics is like slowly but forcefully drilling holes in hardwood boards, and that with passion and, at the same time, with a sense of proportion.
I have to freely admit, and historical experiences throughout the history of the world show, that people cannot be reaching successfully for what is possible, unless one also reaches for the impossible.
But the only one who can do this must be a Leader [Führer] and not only that, he also must be in every literal sense of the word, a hero.
And even those who are neither [Leader] Führer nor hero must brace themselves already now with a steadfast heart that can cope with the collapse of all hope. Otherwise, they will not succeed to important things, which are already possible today.
Only the person who is sure that he will not despair when the world, from his standpoint of view, is too simpleminded and wicked to accept what he has to offer, and only the person is able to say “In Spite of it All!” has a calling for the profession of Politics!
 Gewalt in German means “administrative force,” or perhaps “administrative violence.” Key to the word is that Gewalt always implies a potential for violence. Embedded in the word is an assumption that administration is not only a technical exercise, but also a willingness to be violent. This content is very important as Weber uses the term in this essay (see Dirk Baeker , “A Note on Max Weber’s Unfinished Theory of Economy and Society,” Economic Sociology: The European Electronic Newsletter 8, http://www.heterodoxnews.com/htnf/htn41/econ_soc_8–2.pdf#page=27, for a discussion of the difficulties of translating Gewalt into English). Ultimately, this discussion refers back to Thomas Hobbes’s sixteenth-century writings about the relationship between the individual, the sovereign, and the need for an overarching authority to regulate conflict between private individuals. Or as Weber puts it, “single persons have the right to physical force only to the extent the state permits it. The state is seen [today] as the sole grantor of the ‘right’ to physical force.”
 Leon Trotsky, who was a social theorist in his own right, negotiated the peace of Brest-Litovisk in early 1918 on behalf of the Bolshevik Party that had recently come to power in Russia. He negotiated an end to the war in the east that included very favorable terms for Germany, which temporarily gained powers in territories of western Russia. Trotsky’s views were described in the January 17, 1918, edition of the Frankfurter Zeitung (see Max Weber , “Politik als Beruf,” in Gesamtausgabe Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, Teilband  , ed. Wolfgang J. Mommsen and Wolfgang Schluchter, with Birgitt Morgenbrod, p. 158 fn 1). <AQ: Please provide footnote number.>
 January 1919, during the post–World War I tumult in Germany, when various factions were vying violently for power in Berlin, Munich, and elsewhere. Weber is referring to the German Revolution that was ongoing at the time of his speech. Indeed, Berlin had experienced the execution of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht on January 15, 1919, just 13 days before Weber delivered this speech in Munich on January 28.
 Weber is using language similar to Lincoln’s Gettysburg address—however, the structure Weber sees is different. Lincoln writes of the government being “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Weber writes that government is “by the people, and over the people.” Weber writes that “A state, …has a rulership [Herrschaft] relationship of the people and over the people.” Weber’s vision of sovereignty is more similar to that of Hobbes than Lincoln.
 Weber is using the word “demagogue” in a neutral or even positive fashion, in the tradition of the Greek Demagog. A demagog in this sense is a person who is persuasive with speech and words.
 Weber is using the word “demagogue” in the sense of the ancient Greeks who did not consider the term to be negative, but reflected a politician who was well spoken and able to wield power through the power of words.
 Weber (1992:161 fn 4) points out that this is a reference to Thus Spake Zarathustra by Nietszsche.
 A reference to Marx, see Weber (1992:164, fn. 6).
 “Expropriation of the expropriators” refers to the seizure of the traditional rights of nobility to personal liens, sinecures, booty, etc., and its transformation into a free-floating and somewhat inchoate—but modern—form of power. Also a reference to Marx (see Weber 1992:166, fn. 7).
 Weber is describing the centralization of power as a “right to rule” shift from dispersed feudal lords to a bureaucracy organized from the center.
 Weber is speaking of a time before the nation-state emerged (i.e., the time of “political expropriation”) before political power had yet to be consolidated—this was the time that the first career politicians emerged, first to serve the feudal princes, and second to serve the political bureaucracy.
 Weber is writing about Italian city-states and Hanseatic states of the medieval era.
 A reference to the revolutionaries in the streets of Germany like Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, and others at the time that Weber was writing, in 1919.
 In modern German, the word Rentner commonly means a pensioner. As he points out here, Weber has a broader understanding of the meaning of the word and uses it to refer to those who have independent income of whatever source, who are not dependent on a wage for their livelihood and social status. A rough equivalent is the English/French “rentier.”
 A reference to nineteenth-century French reforms. See Livingstone in Weber 2004:43, n. 11. <AQ: This reference in the Bibliography shows Livingstone as the translator. Please check if this has to be changed as “Weber, Max (2004 [1917 and 1919]). The Vocation Lectures, translated by Rodney Livingstone.> Livingstone wrote the footnote. How do I indicate that?
 Weber is referring to, first, the internal politics of Spain during the nineteenth century and then to the liberated former colonies of Spain in Middle America, South America, and the Caribbean, like Columbia, Venezuela, and Cuba (see Weber 1992:174, fn. 15–16).
 The German Centre Party, which was founded in 1870, and a key representative in Parliament during before World War I and during the Weimar Republic.
 Holy Roman emperor known as “the last knight.” During Kaiser Maximillian’s reign, administrative and legal reforms resulted in the modernization of government in Central Europe.
 Weber is making a distinction between the government offices that came directly under the executive authority of the central government, which reported to the feudal prince, and the independent commissions composed of several members who emerged to undertake administrative tasks.
 Political Beamte are administrators appointed by the central government to administer services and serve at the will of those who appoint them. Technocratic Beamte have schooling qualifications in legal, military, financial, and other technical fields, and have judicial-like functions that require independence (and protection) from more political decisions.
 Vortragender Rat.
 Apparently a reference to places such as Bavaria, Berlin, Kiel, and other cities during the German Revolution of 1918–1919.
 This is apparently a reference to William Francis Mannix, Memoirs of Li Hung Chang (Boston, MA; New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1913; reprinted, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1923; with “The story of a literary forgery,” by Ralph D. Paine). In other words, the reference Weber uses was shown to be a forgery after he delivered “Politics as Vocation.” Nevertheless, the point Weber makes about the importance of calligraphy and poetry to the educated Mandarin Stand is a good one.
 A Sanskrit word meaning “investigation” about the nature of Dharma. Mimamsa is very concerned with philology and shows how to reason about the nature of language. This type of reasoning seems to be what Weber is referring to. <AQ: Is the addition right?>Yes.
 Usus modernus refers to the science and practical implications of the Roman-canon law that was adopted in continental Europe (and by implication, its colonies) between 1500 and 1900.
 The legal digest later created by Justinian in AD 53–533. This was received in Germany as Usus Modernus Pandekten, beginning in the sixteenth century and underpinned German law until the adoption of civil law around 1800.
 Monarchomachs proposed a legal theory, which questioned the divine rights of Kings in the sixteenth century; the theory justified tyrannocide.
 Weber is comparing the effectiveness of the propaganda produced by what would later be known as “public relations” experts in the United States (those whose professions are the manipulation of public opinion), to what Weber considered to be the comparatively bland admonishments to patriotism produced by German Beamte during World War I. In our view, Weber is overestimating the influence of “attorneys” in this particular case. Still, his main point about the use of attorneys to shape opinion and affect public policy remains valid today.
 Weber uses the word Advokat here, which earlier he uses to refer to schooled Advokat who are part of the lawyer Stand. Here he seems to switch gears and use the term as the type of advocate who emerged from outside the Stand to advise political figures in the shaping of public opinion.
This “profession” of the advocate Weber refers to here was first developed during World War I in Great Britain and the United States where figures from outside the civil services advised President Wilson on how to shape public opinion via propaganda/advertising. The best-known effort was by Edward Bernays and Walter Lippman via the Committee on Public Information who convinced the
American public that World War I was being fought to “protect democracy.”
 Weber explicitly calls journalists a “pariah caste.” This is very strong language, particularly given his definition of the term in “Classes, Stände, Parties,” see p. XXX. <AQ: Please add page no.>at proofreading.
 Weber refers to Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, Viscount Northcliffe (1865–1922). He launched and owned a wide range of newspapers, among them the notorious Daily Mail, and was ennobled later in his life for leading the British propaganda effort during World War I. Under Northcliffe’s leadership, the newspapers became enmeshed in British politics, in much the same way that William Randolph Hearst did in the United States.
 In this section, Weber is referring to the belief that the British and American press had been particularly effective during the war by whipping up a war frenzy. This was done in the context of an increased reliance for funding on companies that were profiting from the war. Weber is asserting that this is the reason why the editorial biases of the British (and American) papers demonized German war aims, ultimately creating the context for what Weber viewed as the silliness of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and the vindictiveness of the terms that would be imposed on Germany at the Versailles negotiations which, in January 1919, had just gotten underway, without Germany’s participation. Weber follows up more on these points later in this text.
 The Guelfs held power in Italian City States in the twelfth century and were involved in dividing up power between the Pope in Rome and the Roman Holy empire. It is not clear which statute Weber refers to here. However, much of the law that emerged out of the split had to do with determining whether the Pope or the Holy Roman Emperor had the power to award lands, titles, and other property. In this process, the rights to grant church office remained with the Pope, while secular titles, including rights to peasants and lands for the aristocracy, came under the authority of the Emperor.
 Weber is apparently comparing the party organization of the medieval era Guelfs and Ghibblines, to the Bolshevik organization, which emerged after the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.
 A reference to the American management theoretician, Frederick Taylor.
 The Czar in 1881 founded the Okhrana secret police to monitor the activities of radicals in Russia and throughout Europe, including the Bolsheviks. Weber apparently finds some irony in the fact that after seizing power in 1917, the Bolsheviks quickly reestablished the Okhrana to monitor their own political opponents (see Weber 1992, p. 198, n 64).
 The Reform Bill includes the British parliamentary bills that became acts in 1832, 1867, and 1884–85, and that expanded the electorate for the House of Commons and rationalized the representation of that body. The first Reform Bill primarily served to transfer voting privileges from the small boroughs controlled by the nobility and gentry to the heavily populated industrial towns. The two subsequent bills provided a more democratic representation by expanding voting privileges from the upper levels of property holders to less wealthy and broader segments of the population.
 Tammany Hall was the club that dominated New York City politics via the Democratic Party in the nineteenth until the early twentieth century.
 Weber uses the English word “leader.”
 Under English law, each candidate must have an election agent who handles expenditures for the candidate and reports them to the state. Election agents also oversee the counting of votes. In small constituencies, the candidate can be their own election agent. In larger constituencies, this is a profession.
 The clergyman alluded to was apparently George Dawson (1821–1876). Joseph Chamberlain was a wealthy screw manufacturer, member of the radical wing of the Liberal Party, and later mayor of Birmingham and member of Parliament. He is regarded as one of the most important British Parliamentarians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, having helped create the Liberal Party. He was later eclipsed by the charisma of Gladstone, as Weber describes later. Joseph Chamberlain never became prime minister (though his son Neville Chamberlain did, and another son, Austen Chamberlain, became foreign minister and won the Nobel Peace Prize).
 See how Weber develops the example of Bismarck in Germany in a similar fashion, pp. XXX-XXX in “Bureaucracy.” <AQ: Please update page range.>proofreading
 In the United States, members of Congress can call themselves “Honorable.”
 In describing selection of a Führer, Weber uses “Auslese,” which refers to the type of careful “selection” made by vintners while picking grapes for fine wine production. <AQ: Please check if this should be Führer.>Yes.
 British manufacturer, involved with the radical and liberals as a member of Parliament in the 1830s and 1840s. He is known as for his theories of international relations.
 It is difficult to understand exactly what Weber means in this section, but the central point is that party delegates were not selected by parliamentarians in the United States, but by conventions who were selected by various means. Weber seems to be referring to the system of primaries that began to happen in a few states by the time he was writing this in 1919. However, in most states, delegate selection to national conventions continued to be by caucuses and other mechanisms in the various states.
 This is a reference to the capacity of the Senate to offer “advice and consent” to presidential appointments. In the late nineteenth century, as Weber points out, this included several hundred thousand appointments. This number began to decline in the late nineteenth century with civil service reforms. Today (2013), there are still about eight thousand presidential appointments to high government offices, which the winning candidate appoints directly, and six thousand to seven thousand positions requiring Senate approval that are subject to the pressures that Weber describes here. These positions include all of the most senior offices in various governmental ministries. This is a far greater number than is found in European democracies, and many of the conditions that Weber described in 1919 still apply to the United States situation.
 Weber’s point about the US system of division of powers is not clearly made here. <AQ: Either US or American.>
 Toward the end of World War I, urban Germans would go into the countryside to stock up on basic foodstuffs, a process known colloquially as “Hamstering.”
 August Bebel (1840–1913), a German Marxist politician who was a founder of the Social Democratic Party in Germany.
 Weber is referring to leaders who asserted power in Russia after 1917, and the leaders who rose on the streets of Germany in 1918–1919 like Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in Berlin.
 See Goldman (1992:205–216) for a critique of how Weber presents Gladstone’s charisma, and Weber’s use of Gladstone as an example. <AQ: Please provide reference details for Goldman 1992.>Fixd in bib.
 This is a reference not only to Simmel, but also to Goethe’s Die Aufgeregtheit—a derogatory term for revolutionary fervor of the French Revolution.
 This is a reference to the release of documents about war guilt by Kurt Eisner, the minister president of Bavaria, on November 23, 1918.
 Again, Weber in this section is commenting on the recent conclusion of World War I in general and, in particular, on Allied insistence that Germany accept responsibility for starting the war and Bavarian president Kurt Eisner’s release of secret correspondence from 1914 pointing to this conclusion, without a reciprocal release by the victorious Allied powers.
 Weber is referring to Jesus’s sermon on the mount as told in the Book of Matthew where he preaches absolute ethic as a challenge to his followers to be perfect in the same way that God is perfect—in other words, to deliver absolutely equal justice (i.e., those who live by the sword die by the sword). Weber is pointing out that, for the politician, such an absolute ethic is not possible given the nature of the profession.
 Matthew 19:16–22. Jesus tells the rich young man who claims to have kept all the Commandments that what he has done is not yet enough: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
 Matthew 5:39. “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
 Weber uses the word “acosmic” to describe how difficult it is to achieve the sainthood of Jesus or St.
Francis. It refers to a Hindu doctrine that sees the presence of the universe as illusory.
 Unions organized by the company.
 This reference is a discussion by Weber of the peace negotiations between the victorious Allies and Germany, which were ongoing at the time Weber was speaking and writing in early 1919. Particularly sensitive for Germany was the “guilt clause” in the proposed treaty—this is what Weber is referring to here.
 A reference to Weber’s nemesis, the recently elected President of Bavaria, Kurt Eisner, who released papers from the Bavarian archives describing Germany’s role in the run-up to World War I, “without regard for the consequences” for Germany’s bargaining position in the peace negotiations, which were ongoing at the time Weber spoke.
 Beginning in 1915 in Zimmerwald, Switzerland, leading European socialists began to meet to decide what policies they should have regarding the war between the capitalist powers. These meetings led to splits in the international socialist movements between “neutralists” who wanted peace, and radical leftists who saw the war as a necessary prelude to the coming revolution.
 Weber seems to be referring to an ethic that is rooted only in modern materialism, without transcendental conditions, and therefore emptied of any abstract moral convictions. He is using the adjective kosmischethisher here, which refers to Indian traditions of transcendentalism. The usage critiques the rationalism of both Marxist and liberal materialism.
 The Grand Inquisitor in Brothers Karamazov taunts Christ, who has returned to earth and been convicted by the Holy Inquisition in fifteenth-century Spain. Weber is referring to how the devil explains to Christ that he should have accepted the temptation if he was to follow his human nature. In other words, the devil is asserting that to be truly human, Christ would need to deny the capability to transcend. Weber is asserting that this impossible ethical task is what the rationalists are trying to achieve.
 F. W. Förster was a philosopher, sociologist, and academic who opposed the militarization of Germany during World War I and actively assigned blame for the war to German militarism. For this, he was expelled from his university position for two semesters. During the lead up to World War II, he publically asserted similar positions, and spent much of his time during and after the World War II in exile in France, Switzerland, Portugal, and the United States. Förster was a controversial figure in Germany in 1919 when Weber expressed both his admiration for him and critiqued his ideas.
 Hindu holy texts that form the basis for Hinduism. Weber seems to think that the evidence of the recent war, as well as the wars of the previous 2,500 years, demonstrates the opposite: that good can come from evil, and evil from good.
 Weber seems to be saying that only by having a specific set of ethics to which ethical warriors (and politicians) practicing the “royal art” were responsible, does governance and politics become possible. Politics would not be possible if politicians were held to the ethical standards of other professions where the use of violence, war, and coercion are unethical. Under such circumstances, the fallen warrior practicing the royal art seeks the company of other warriors, not the angels who have lived by another ethic.
 Supposedly referring to the Chandragupta time in 394 BC–298 BC.
 This is a reference to Luther’s “Two Kingdoms” doctrine, which he preached in Marburg on October 3, 1529, and referred to Romans 13 of the New Testament of the Christian Bible.
<EXT>Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.... For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.... Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.... This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. <EXT>
 That is the Marxist beliefs of the Sparticists, Bolsheviks, and others.
 A peasant character in Doestoevsky, who lives for the present, forgetting the past, and without reference to the future.
 Weber is presumably referring to the wartime German nationalism regarding the fatherland, the victorious Bolsheviks in Russia, and the victors of World War I, perhaps especially the idealistic US president Woodrow Wilson, who believed in the future of international peace via institutions like the proposed League of Nations, and which Weber considered to be “Dummheit” (idiocy). (See Weber’s speech in Munich on November 4, 1918.)
 These are references to Goethe’s play “Faust.”
 This is a reference to Martin Luther who used these words at his trial at the Diet of Worms in 1521 when he defended his 95 theses.
 We have translated this Sonnet from Weber’s German back into English. The original Sonnet is a bit different, and is as follows:
Our love was new and then but in the spring
When I was wont to greet it with my lays,
As Philomel in summer’s front doth sing
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days.
 See Peter Baehr (2002:186–187), for a discussion of whether this sentence refers to the immediate problems presented to Germany by the conditions of the Allies at Versailles, or a more apocalyptic statement. Weber’s meaning is difficult to fathom from the German, but in the context of what else Weber writes, we think that Baehr is probably right.