The aim of this chapter is to argue that charisma is a collective representation, and that charismatic authority is a social status that derives more from the “recognition” of the followers than from the “magnetism” of the leaders. I contend further that a close reading of Max Weber shows that he, too, saw charisma in this light.
I develop my argument by a close reading of many of the most relevant texts on the subject. This includes not only the renowned texts on this subject by Max Weber, but also many books and articles that interpret or criticize Weber’s views.
I pay exceptionally close attention to key arguments and texts, several of which have been overlooked in the past.
Writers for whom charisma is personal magnetism tend to assume that charismatic rule is natural and that the full realization of democratic norms is unlikely. Authority, in this view, emanates from rulers unbound by popular constraint. I argue that, in fact, authority draws both its mandate and its energy from the public, and that rulers depend on the loyalty of their subjects, which is never assured. So charismatic claimants are dependent on popular choice, not vice versa.
I advocate a “culturalist” interpretation of Weber, which runs counter to the dominant “personalist” account. Conventional interpreters, under the sway of theology or mass psychology, misread Weber as a romantic, for whom charisma is primal and undemocratic rule is destiny. This essay offers a counter-reading.
Max Weber called the maxim “Time is Money” the surest, simplest expression of the spirit of capitalism. Coined in 1748 by Benjamin Franklin, this modern proverb now has a…
Max Weber called the maxim “Time is Money” the surest, simplest expression of the spirit of capitalism. Coined in 1748 by Benjamin Franklin, this modern proverb now has a life of its own. In this paper, I examine the worldwide diffusion and sociocultural history of this paradigmatic expression. The intent is to explore the ways in which ideas of time and money appear in sedimented form in popular sayings.
My approach is sociological in orientation and multidisciplinary in method. Drawing upon the works of Max Weber, Antonio Gramsci, Wolfgang Mieder, and Dean Wolfe Manders, I explore the global spread of Ben Franklin’s famed adage in three ways: (1) via evidence from the field of “paremiology” – that is, the study of proverbs; (2) via online searches for the phrase “Time is Money” in 30-plus languages; and (3) via evidence from sociological and historical research.
The conviction that “Time is Money” has won global assent on an ever-expanding basis for more than 250 years now. In recent years, this phrase has reverberated to the far corners of the world in literally dozens of languages – above all, in the languages of Eastern Europe and East Asia.
Methodologically, this study unites several different ways of exploring the globalization of the capitalist spirit. The main substantive implication is that, as capitalism goes global, so too does the capitalist spirit. Evidence from popular sayings gives us a new foothold for insight into questions of this kind.
Officially, of course, the world is now post-imperial. The Q’ing and Ottoman empires fell on the eve of World War I, and the last Leviathans of Europe's imperial past, the…
Officially, of course, the world is now post-imperial. The Q’ing and Ottoman empires fell on the eve of World War I, and the last Leviathans of Europe's imperial past, the Austro-Hungarian and Tsarist empires, lumbered into the grave soon after. Tocsins of liberation were sounded on all sides, in the name of democracy (Wilson) and socialism (Lenin). Later attempts to remake and proclaim empires – above all, Hitler's annunciation of a “Third Reich” – now seem surreal, aberrant, and dystopian. The Soviet Union, the heir to the Tsarist empire, found it prudent to call itself a “federation of socialist republics.” Mao's China followed suit. Now, only a truly perverse, contrarian regime would fail to deploy the rhetoric of democracy.
No interpreter of Marx's Capital has been as highly esteemed by Marx or as little noticed as Nikolai Ivanovich Sieber. Yet Sieber's contribution has been overlooked by…
No interpreter of Marx's Capital has been as highly esteemed by Marx or as little noticed as Nikolai Ivanovich Sieber. Yet Sieber's contribution has been overlooked by almost all of the participants in the innumerable debates sparked by Capital. This is not only a failure of exegesis, but significant as well, since Sieber's work, in fact, is a valuable coda to Capital. Several aspects of Marx's theory which remain obscure to many critics can be better grasped in the light of Sieber's exposition.
For the Frankfurt School, what most decisively distinguished critical from traditional theory was that critical theorists refused to celebrate the working class…
For the Frankfurt School, what most decisively distinguished critical from traditional theory was that critical theorists refused to celebrate the working class uncritically. The early critical theorists accepted the premise that the working class is the most likely agent of social transformation, but unlike orthodox Marxists (and even such mavericks as their forerunner Georg Lukács) they did not assume that workers are progressive by nature. In other words, they disputed the metaphysic of the charismatic proletariat, a class “destined” for transcendence and glory. This essay sketches the emergence of this perspective in the early writings of Herbert Marcuse. Initially a partisan of the Lukáscian view, which he spiced with Heideggerian accents, Marcuse broke with transcendentalism when he repudiated existentialism and political theology. He concluded that relying on any kind of charismatic savior, whether a class or a leader, is an abdication of sociological realism and political responsibility. Reaching this conclusion placed Marcuse in agreement with Max Horkheimer, and enabled him to assist Horkheimer in the elaboration of the founding principles of critical theory. The ultimate results of this collaboration included the formulation of a new critical research agenda, which placed inquiry into the roots of authority on a new foundation. By means of critical inquiry into personal “authoritarianism,” the Frankfurt theorists were able to shed new light on political authority. This remains a seminal contribution and continues to animate a major contemporary research tradition.