Politics as a Vocation
This essay bases its focus on the relationship between ethics and politics and attempts to explain the right way in which politics should be carried out. Many political scientists with time have determined that the balance between these two factors is always hard to maintain. Weber notices that the thought of politics is intrinsically related to power and dominance (Weber, Owen, Strong, & Livingstone, 2004). Therefore, according to him, politics cannot exist without power and force.
Max Weber starts the lecture by explaining the meaning of politics by first discussing the environment in which it thrives and the state. According to Weber, the state is the primary source of the right to use violence since the state is founded by force. Therefore, he concludes that politics means trying hard to share power or trying hard to influence power distribution, among either the states or groups within a state. In other words, the state is a relation of men controlling men by a means of legitimate violence. A question arises as to the ways in which dominance is maintained in politically dominant powers. He explains that organized domination will automatically call for continuous administration. This necessitates that human demeanour be conditioned to obedience to those in power (Swedberg, 2005). Furthermore, if needs control over the material possessions necessary for the use of physical violence. In short, it requires control over the executive staff and material things of administration. All states need to be classified as whether the staff own the administrative means or are separated from it. He further explains that there are two ways in which to make politics a vocation: one can live for it or off it. You make it your life internally, because either you enjoy power or you serve a cause (Weber et al., 2004). By living off it, you endeavour to make it a lasting source of income.
Max discusses some kind of authorities. First is the authority of the eternal yesterday, which he explains as those who consecrated through unimaginably primeval recognition to conform. This comprises of the monarchy and other leadership titles that pass through lineage. Additionally, he notes the subsistence of authority of the extraordinary and the personal gift of grace, also known as charisma. Max depicts this kind of authority as a person who has absolute personal commitment and personal poise in revelation, heroism, or any other qualities of individual leadership. Lastly, he expounds on the existence of the supremacy by virtue of ‘legality’, belief virtue in legitimacy of legal statute and the competence based on logically created rules (Swedberg, 2005). This shows that obedience is needed to discharge statutory obligations.
Politician politics have come about because of these authorities. According to the grapevine, these men have been entrenched in service to royalties portrayed as those, not similar to charismatic leaders, who let down the chance to become leaders. By doing this, they have not only placed themselves at sovereignty’s disposal. In addition, by managing their politics have made them earn a way of living as well as content in life. Furthermore, he notes the importance to have checks and balance in vocation politics. He expounds on the importance of an occasional politician. According to Weber, we all are occasional politicians when we cast ballots or applaud or protest in a political gathering or read political speech. Weber states that politics as a vocation is practiced daily by party agents and heads who have voluntary political alliances. This is mainly because as a rule, they have to be politically active as a need.
Development of politics to an organization demanded training in the struggle for power. The methods for this tussle as developed by current party policies led to the division of the public functionalities into two groups, administrative officials and the political officials. Weber further notes the imperative nature in the division of public functionalities. Administrative officials are termed by Weber as the staff. They are necessary for those political associations whose members refer to themselves as free communes under the entire abolition of princely power. This staff is bound by compliance by the power holder and not legitimacy alone. Political officials are those that can be transferred at any time willfully, and can be dismissed withdrawn. Cabinet ministers are not in much control of their areas than the division heads. This is because the division heads are long term administrative politicians. A minister is a representative of a political alliance or constellation. These individuals are elected officials where decision-making and leadership is needed. These people must have passion, a sense of proportion, responsibility, matter- of- factness and passionate devotion to all that that the work involves.
Weber explains political journalism and the different kinds of party organization. He begins with the feudal parties of the middle ages, through the growth of the English and American party systems and finally to Germany. Weber shows the ability of the political journalism to draw social consciousness. He adds that nobody believes that judgment of any journalist ranks above the average of the other people, which is the case (Schneller, 2005. This discussion leads him into explaining the importance of ethics in the area of political journalism. In Germany for example, he asks what has become of the professional politicians in Germany. The politicians have no power, responsibility and play the role of notables. As a result, they have been animated afresh by guild instincts that are everywhere. Since the 1880s, the parties have become guilds of notables and speeches are censored in a party before being delivered. This creates boredom, as even one cannot speak if not summoned, not to mention the usage of French.
There is a famous disparity between the ethic of ends and the ethic of responsibility. The ethic of ends is not a well-chosen term and should instead be referred to as the absolute ethic. This term is fair enough for an ethical system that consists of rules that need to be followed in any case regardless of the consequences. In other words, rules that make an act conforming to them even if it has detrimental consequences. This definition does not explain the ethic to an end as an end is consequence sought. It is clear that there is difficulty in some situations whereby all actions ward off the bad consequences. This means that the forbidden action is allowed to happen. On the other hand, if exceptions were made so that no ethical prohibition is absolute, this would mean that one could avoid seriously bad consequences by doing the prohibited (Dreijmanis & Weber, 2008). However, Weber does not seem if he thought through this probability. The ethic of responsibility means that the person does not feel in a position to burden people with the results of his own actions, as long as he is able to foresee them. This leader takes into account the needs and grievances of the people he serves and always keeps his intention good for the people. However, the two ethics can work in tandem since when put together they constitute the dependable human being capable of having a vocation for politics.
Weber defines a professional politician as one who is active in the political endeavour for power either as a way of serving other aims, ideals or just to enjoy the prestige feeling that arises when in power. He further explains the importance of passion, duty and a sense of proportion. These, he terms them as the three qualities of a good politician. Moreover, the politician must combat vanity to be devoted to his cause. When a politician lacks objectivity and is irresponsible, these are the two major sins in politics. Importantly, a politician should be bound by ethics (Morgan, 2005). A person who believes in the ethic of responsibility takes into account the needs of the average deficiencies in people. He will keep his intentions good no matter what it is as long as he serves right.
Weber even quotes a sonnet from Shakespeare that beautifully defines politics: “Politics means a slow, powerful drilling through hard boards, with a mixture of passion and a sense of proportion. It is absolutely true, and an entire historical experience confirms it, that what is possible could never have been achieved unless people had tried again and again to achieve the impossible in this world” (Weber et al., 2004).
He affirms that politics is a strong and a slow boring of hardboards, that it takes passion and perspective as is evident in historic experiences. The men could not have achieved the possible unless overtime, they reached out for the impossible. However, to do this, a man must be a leader but more of a hero. Those who are neither leaders nor heroes must be ready to arm themselves with the steadfastness of the heart that is an assurance of crumbling hope. This is very important or else the men will never get to achieve the possible today (Dreijmanis & Weber, 2008). Conversely, a man who has a calling for politics is sure that they will never crumble even when the world from his point of view is too base for what he is offering. He is the only one who can forge ahead and say “in spite of all.”