'Politik als Beruf,' Gesammelte Politische Schriften(Muenchen, l921), pp. 396-450. Originally a speech at MunichUniversity, 1918, published in 1919 by Duncker & Humblodt,Munich.
This lecture, which I give at your request, will necessarilydisappoint you in a number of ways. You will naturally expect meto take a position on actual problems of the day. But that willbe the case only in a purely formal way and toward the end, whenI shall raise certain questions concerning the significance ofpolitical action in the whole way of life. In today's lecture,all questions that refer to what policy and what content oneshould give one's political activity must be eliminated. For suchquestions have nothing to do with the general question of whatpolitics as a vocation means and what it can mean. Now to oursubject matter.
What do we understand by politics? The concept is extremelybroad and comprises any kind of independent leadershipin action. One speaks of the currency policy of the banks, of thediscounting policy of the Reichsbank, of the strike policy of atrade union; one may speak of the educational policy of amunicipality or a township, of the policy of the president of avoluntary association, and, finally, even of the policy of aprudent wife who seeks to guide her husband. Tonight, ourreflections are, of course, not based upon such a broad concept.We wish to understand by politics only the leadership, or theinfluencing of the leadership, of a politicalassociation, hence today, of a state.
But what is a 'political' association from the sociologicalpoint of view? What is a 'state'? Sociologically, the statecannot be defined in terms of its ends. There is scarcely anytask that some political association has not taken in hand, andthere is no task that one could say has always been exclusive andpeculiar to those associations which are designated as politicalones: today the state, or historically, those associations whichhave been the predecessors of the modern state. Ultimately, onecan define the modern state sociologically only in terms of thespecific means peculiar to it, as to every political association,namely, the use of physical force.
'Every state is founded on force,' said Trotsky atBrest-Litovsk. That is indeed right. If no social institutionsexisted which knew the use of violence, then the concept of'state' would be eliminated, and a condition would emerge thatcould be designated as 'anarchy,' in the specific sense of thisword. Of course, force is certainly not the normal or the onlymeans of the state--nobody says that--but force is a meansspecific to the state. Today the relation between the state andviolence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the mostvaried institutions--beginning with the sib--have known the useof physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we have to saythat a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopolyof the legitimate use of physical force within a giventerritory. Note that 'territory' is one of the characteristics ofthe state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to usephysical force is ascribed to other institutions or toindividuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. Thestate is considered the sole source of the 'right' to useviolence. Hence, 'politics' for us means striving to share poweror striving to influence the distribution of power, either amongstates or among groups within a state.
This corresponds essentially to ordinary usage. When aquestion is said to be a 'political' question, when a cabinetminister or an official is said to be a 'political' official, orwhen a decision is said to be 'politically' determined, what isalways meant is that interests in the distribution, maintenance,or transfer of power are decisive for answering the questions anddetermining the decision or the official's sphere of activity. Hewho is active in politics strives for power either as a means inserving other aims, ideal or egoistic, or as 'power for power'ssake,' that is, in order to enjoy the prestige-feeling that powergives.
Like the political institutions historically preceding it, thestate is a relation of men dominating men, a relation supportedby means of legitimate (i.e. considered to be legitimate)violence. If the state is to exist, the dominated must obey theauthority claimed by the powers that be. When and why do menobey? Upon what inner justifications and upon what external meansdoes this domination rest?
To begin with, in principle, there are three innerjustifications, hence basic legitimations of domination.
First, the authority of the 'eternal yesterday,' i.e. of themores sanctified through the unimaginably ancient recognition andhabitual orientation to conform. This is 'traditional' dominationexercised by the patriarch and the patrimonial prince of yore.
There is the authority of the extraordinary and personal giftof grace (charisma), the absolutely personal devotion andpersonal confidence in revelation, heroism, or other qualities ofindividual leadership. This is 'charismatic' domination, asexercised by the prophet or--in the field of politics--by theelected war lord, the plebiscitarian ruler, the great demagogue,or the political party leader.
Finally, there is domination by virtue of 'legality,' byvirtue of the belief in the validity of legal statute andfunctional 'competence' based on rationally created rules.In this case, obedience is expected in discharging statutoryobligations. This is domination as exercised by the modern'servant of the state' and by all those bearers of power who inthis respect resemble him.
It is understood that, in reality, obedience is determined byhighly robust motives of fear and hope--fear of the vengeance ofmagical powers or of the power-holder, hope for reward in thisworld or in the beyond-- and besides all this, by interests ofthe most varied sort. Of this we shall speak presently. However,in asking for the 'legitimations' of this obedience, one meetswith these three 'pure' types: 'traditional,' 'charismatic,' and'legal.'
These conceptions of legitimacy and their inner justificationsare of very great significance for the structure of domination.To be sure, the pure types are rarely found in reality. But todaywe cannot deal with the highly complex variants, transitions, andcombinations of these pure types, which problems belong to'political science.' Here we are interested above all in thesecond of these types: domination by virtue of the devotion ofthose who obey the purely personal 'charisma' of the 'leader.'For this is the root of the idea of a calling in itshighest expression.
Devotion to the charisma of the prophet, or the leader in war,or to the great demagogue in the ecclesia or inparliament, means that the leader is personally recognized as theinnerly 'called' leader of men. Men do not obey him by virtue oftradition or statute, but because they believe in him. If he ismore than a narrow and vain upstart of the moment, the leaderlives for his cause and 'strives for his work.'1 Thedevotion of his disciples, his followers, his personal partyfriends is oriented to his person and to its qualities.
Charismatic leadership has emerged in all places and in allhistorical epochs. Most importantly in the past, it has emergedin the two figures of the magician and the prophet on the onehand, and in the elected war lord, the gang leader and condotierreon the other hand. Political leadership in the form ofthe free 'demagogue' who grew from the soil of the city state isof greater concern to us; like the city state, the demagogue ispeculiar to the Occident and especially to Mediterranean culture.Furthermore, political leadership in the form of theparliamentary 'party leader' has grown on the soil of theconstitutional state, which is also indigenous only to theOccident.
These politicians by virtue of a 'calling,' in the mostgenuine sense of the word, are of course nowhere the onlydecisive figures in the cross-currents of the political strugglefor power. The sort of auxiliary means that are at their disposalis also highly decisive. How do the politically dominant powersmanage to maintain their domination? The question pertains to anykind of domination, hence also to political domination in all itsforms, traditional as well as legal and charismatic.
Organized domination, which calls for continuousadministration, requires that human conduct be conditioned toobedience towards those masters who claim to be the bearers oflegitimate power. On the other hand, by virtue of this obedience,organized domination requires the control of those material goodswhich in a given case are necessary for the use of physicalviolence. Thus, organized domination requires control of thepersonal executive staff and the material implements ofadministration.
The administrative staff, which externally represents theorganization of political domination, is, of course, like anyother organization, bound by obedience to the power-holder andnot alone by the concept of legitimacy, of which we have justspoken. There are two other means, both of which appeal topersonal interests: material reward and social honor. The fiefsof vassals, the prebends of patrimonial officials, the salariesof modern civil servants, the honor of knights, the privileges ofestates, and the honor of the civil servant comprise theirrespective wages. The fear of losing them is the final anddecisive basis for solidarity between the executive staff and thepower-holder. There is honor and booty for the followers in war;for the demagogue's following, there are 'spoils'--that is,exploitation of the dominated through the monopolization ofoffice--and there are politically determined profits and premiumsof vanity. All of these rewards are also derived from thedomination exercised by a charismatic leader.
To maintain a dominion by force, certain material goods arerequired, just as with an economic organization. All states maybe classified according to whether they rest on the principlethat the staff of men themselves own the administrative means, orwhether the staff is 'separated' from these means ofadministration. This distinction holds in the same sense in whichtoday we say that the salaried employee and the proletarian inthe capitalistic enterprise are 'separated' from the materialmeans of production. The power-holder must be able to count onthe obedience of the staff members, officials, or whoever elsethey may be. The administrative means may consist of money,building, war material, vehicles, horses, or whatnot. Thequestion is whether or not the power-holder himself directs andorganizes the administration while delegating executive power topersonal servants, hired officials, or personal favorites andconfidants, who are non-owners, i.e. who do not use the materialmeans of administration in their own right but are directed bythe lord. The distinction runs through all administrativeorganizations of the past.
These political associations in which the material means ofadministration are autonomously controlled, wholly or partly, bythe dependent administrative staff may be called associationsorganized in 'estates.' The vassal in the feudalassociation, for instance, paid out of his own pocket for theadministration and judicature of the district enfeoffed to him.He supplied his own equipment and provisions for war, and hissub-vassals did likewise. Of course, this had consequences forthe lord's position of power, which only rested upon a relationof personal faith and upon the fact that the legitimacy of hispossession of the fief and the social honor of the vassal werederived from the overlord.
However, everywhere, reaching back to the earliest politicalformations, we also find the lord himself directing theadministration. He seeks to take the administration into his ownhands by having men personally dependent upon him: slaves,household officials, attendants, personal 'favorites,' andprebendaries enfeoffed in kind or in money from his magazines. Heseeks to defray the expenses from his own pocket, from therevenues of his patrimonium; and he seeks to create an army whichis dependent upon him personally because it is equipped andprovisioned out of his granaries, magazines, and armories. In theassociation of 'estates,' the lord rules with the aid of anautonomous 'aristocracy' and hence shares his domination with it;the lord who personally administers is supported either bymembers of his household or by plebeians. These are propertylessstrata having no social honor of their own; materially, they arecompletely chained to him and are not backed up by any competingpower of their own. All forms of patriarchal and patrimonialdomination, Sultanist despotism, and bureaucratic states belongto this latter type. The bureaucratic state order is especiallyimportant; in its most rational development, it is preciselycharacteristic of the modern state.
Everywhere the development of the modern state is initiatedthrough the action of the prince. He paves the way for theexpropriation of the autonomous and 'private' bearers ofexecutive power who stand beside him, of those who in their ownright possess the means of administration, warfare, and financialorganization, as well as politically usable goods of all sorts.The whole process is a complete parallel to the development ofthe capitalist enterprise through gradual expropriation of theindependent producers. In the end, the modern state controls thetotal means of political organization, which actually cometogether under a single head. No single official personally ownsthe money he pays out, or the buildings, stores, tools, and warmachines he controls. In the contemporary 'state'--and this isessential for the concept of state--the 'separation' of theadministrative staff, of the administrative officials, and of theworkers from the material means of administrative organization iscompleted. Here the most modern development begins, and we seewith our own eyes the attempt to inaugurate the expropriation ofthis expropriator of the political means, and therewith ofpolitical power.
The revolution [of Germany, 1918] has accomplished, at leastin so far as leaders have taken the place of the statutoryauthorities, this much: the leaders, through usurpation orelection, have attained control over the political staff and theapparatus of material goods; and they deduce their legitimacy--nomatter with what right--from the will of the governed. Whetherthe leaders, on the basis of this at least apparent success, canrightfully entertain the hope of also carrying through theexpropriation within the capitalist enterprises is a differentquestion. The direction of capitalist enterprises, despitefar-reaching analogies, follows quite different laws than thoseof political administration.
Today we do not take a stand on this question. I state onlythe purely conceptual aspect for our consideration: themodern state is a compulsory association which organizesdomination. It has been successful in seeking to monopolize thelegitimate use of physical force as a means of domination withina territory. To this end the state has combined the materialmeans of organization in the hands of its leaders, and it hasexpropriated all autonomous functionaries of estates who formerlycontrolled these means in their own right. The state has takentheir positions and now stands in the top place.
During this process of political expropriation, which hasoccurred with varying success in all countries on earth,'professional politicians' in another sense have emerged. Theyarose first in the service of a prince. They have been men who,unlike the charismatic leader, have not wished to be lordsthemselves, but who have entered the service ofpolitical lords. In the struggle of expropriation, they placedthemselves at the princes' disposal and by managing the princes'politics they earned, on the one hand, a living and, on the otherhand, an ideal content of life. Again, it is only in theOccident that we find this kind of professional politician in theservice of powers other than the princes. In the past, they havebeen the most important power instrument of the prince and hisinstrument of political expropriation.
Before discussing 'professional politicians' in detail, let usclarify in all its aspects the state of affairs their existencepresents. Politics, just as economic pursuits, may be a man'savocation or his vocation. One may engage in politics, and henceseek to influence the distribution of power within and betweenpolitical structures, as an 'occasional' politician. We are all'occasional' politicians when we cast our ballot or consummate asimilar expression of intention, such as applauding or protestingin a 'political' meeting, or delivering a 'political' speech,etc. The whole relation of many people to politics is restrictedto this. Politics as an avocation is today practiced by all thoseparty agents and heads of voluntary political associations who,as a rule, are politically active only in case of need and forwhom politics is, neither materially nor ideally, 'their life' inthe first place. The same holds for those members of statecounsels and similar deliberative bodies that function only whensummoned. It also holds for rather broad strata of our members ofparliament who are politically active only during sessions. Inthe past, such strata were found especially among the estates.Proprietors of military implements in their own right, orproprietors of goods important for the administration, orproprietors of personal prerogatives may be called 'estates.' Alarge portion of them were far from giving their lives wholly, ormerely preferentially, or more than occasionally, to the serviceof politics. Rather, they exploited their prerogatives in theinterest of gaining rent or even profits; and they became activein the service of political associations only when the overlordof their status-equals especially demanded it. It was notdifferent in the case of some of the auxiliary forces which theprince drew into the struggle for the creation of a politicalorganization to be exclusively at his disposal. This was thenature of the Rate von Haus aus [councilors] and, stillfurther back, of a considerable part of the councilors assemblingin the 'Curia' and other deliberating bodies of the princes. Butthese merely occasional auxiliary forces engaging in politics onthe side were naturally not sufficient for the prince. Ofnecessity, the prince sought to create a staff of helpersdedicated wholly and exclusively to serving him, hence makingthis their major vocation. The structure of the emerging dynasticpolitical organization, and not only this but the wholearticulation of the culture, depended to a considerable degreeupon the question of where the prince recruited agents.
A staff was also necessary for those political associationswhose members constituted themselves politically as (so-called)'free' communes under the complete abolition or the far-goingrestriction of princely power.
They were 'free' not in the sense of freedom from dominationby force, but in the sense that princely power legitimized bytradition (mostly religiously sanctified) as the exclusive sourceof all authority was absent. These communities have theirhistorical home in the Occident. Their nucleus was the city as abody politic, the form in which the city first emerged in theMediterranean culture area. In all these cases, what did thepoliticians who made politics their major vocation look like?
There are two ways of making politics one's vocation: Eitherone lives 'for' politics or one lives 'off' politics. By no meansis this contrast an exclusive one. The rule is, rather, that mandoes both, at least in thought, and certainly he also does bothin practice. He who lives 'for' politics makes politics his life,in an internal sense. Either he enjoys the naked possession ofthe power he exerts, or he nourishes his inner balance andself-feeling by the consciousness that his life has meaningin the service of a 'cause.' In this internal sense, everysincere man who lives for a cause also lives off this cause. Thedistinction hence refers to a much more substantial aspect of thematter, namely, to the economic. He who strives to make politicsa permanent source of income lives 'off' politics as avocation, whereas he who does not do this lives 'for' politics.Under the dominance of the private property order, some--if youwish--very trivial preconditions must exist in order for a personto be able to live 'for' politics in this economic sense. Undernormal conditions, the politician must be economicallyindependent of the income politics can bring him. This means,quite simply, that the politician must be wealthy or must have apersonal position in life which yields a sufficient income
This is the case, at least in normal circumstances. The warlord's following is just as little concerned about the conditionsof a normal economy as is the street crowd following of therevolutionary hero. Both live off booty, plunder, confiscations,contributions, and the imposition of worthless and compulsorymeans of tender, which in essence amounts to the same thing. Butnecessarily, these are extraordinary phenomena. In everydayeconomic life, only some wealth serves the purpose of making aman economically independent. Yet this alone does not suffice.The professional politician must also be economically'dispensable,' that is, his income must not depend upon the factthat he constantly and personally places his ability and thinkingentirely, or at least by far predominantly, in the service ofeconomic acquisition. In the most unconditional way, the rentieris dispensable in this sense. Hence, he is a man who receivescompletely unearned income. He may be the territorial lord of thepast or the large landowner and aristocrat of the present whoreceives ground rent. In Antiquity and the Middle Ages they whoreceived slave or serf rents or in modern times rents from sharesor bonds or similar sources--these are rentiers.
Neither the worker nor--and this has to be noted well--theentrepreneur, especially the modern, large-scale entrepreneur, iseconomically dispensable in this sense. For it is precisely theentrepreneur who is tied to his enterprise and is therefore notdispensable. This holds for the entrepreneur in industry far morethan for the entrepreneur in agriculture, considering theseasonal character of agriculture. In the main, it is verydifficult for the entrepreneur to be represented in hisenterprise by someone else, even temporarily. He is as littledispensable as is the medical doctor, and the more eminent andbusy he is the less dispensable he is. For purely organizationalreasons, it is easier for the lawyer to be dispensable; andtherefore the lawyer has played an incomparably greater, andoften even a dominant, role as a professional politician. Weshall not continue in this classification; rather let us clarifysome of its ramifications.
The leadership of a state or of a party by men who (in theeconomic sense of the word) live exclusively for politics and notoff politics means necessarily a 'plutocratic' recruitment of theleading political strata. To be sure, this does not mean thatsuch plutocratic leadership signifies at the same time that thepolitically dominant strata will not also seek to live 'off'politics, and hence that the dominant stratum will not usuallyexploit their political domination in their own economicinterest. All that is unquestionable, of course. There has neverbeen such a stratum that has not somehow lived 'off' politics.Only this is meant: that the professional politician need notseek remuneration directly for his political work, whereas everypolitician without means must absolutely claim this. On the otherhand, we do not mean to say that the propertyless politician willpursue private economic advantages through politics, exclusively,or even predominantly. Nor do we mean that he will not think, inthe first place, of 'the subject matter.' Nothing would be moreincorrect. According to all experience, a care for the economic'security' of his existence is consciously or unconsciously acardinal point in the whole life orientation of the wealthy man.A quite reckless and unreserved political idealism is found ifnot exclusively at least predominantly among those strata who byvirtue of their propertylessness stand entirely outside of thestrata who are interested in maintaining the economic order of agiven society. This holds especially for extraordinary and hencerevolutionary epochs. A non-plutocratic recruitment of interestedpoliticians, of leadership and following, is geared to theself-understood precondition that regular and reliable incomewill accrue to those who manage politics.
Either politics can be conducted 'honorifically' and then, asone usually says, by 'independent,' that is, by wealthy, men, andespecially by rentiers. Or, political leadership is madeaccessible to propertyless men who must then be rewarded. Theprofessional politician who lives 'off' politics may be a pure'prebendary' or a salaried 'official.' Then the politicianreceives either income from fees and perquisites for specificservices--tips and bribes are only an irregular and formallyillegal variant of this category of income--or a fixed income inkind, a money salary, or both. He may assume the character of an'entrepreneur,' like the condottiere or the holder of afarmed-out or purchased office, or like the American boss whoconsiders his costs a capital investment which he brings tofruition through exploitation of his influence. Again, he mayreceive a fixed wage, like a journalist, a party secretary, amodern cabinet minister, or a political official. Feudal fiefs,land grants, and prebends of all sorts have been typical, in thepast. With the development of the money economy, perquisites andprebends especially are the typical rewards for the following ofprinces, victorious conquerors, or successful party chiefs. Forloyal services today, party leaders give offices of all sorts--inparties, newspapers, co-operative societies, health insurance,municipalities, as well as in the state. All partystruggles are struggles for the patronage of office, as well asstruggles for objective goals.
In Germany, all struggles between the proponents of local andof central government are focused upon the question of whichpowers shall control the patronage of office, whether they are ofBerlin, Munich, Karlsruhe, or Dresden. Setbacks in participatingin offices are felt more severely by parties than is actionagainst their objective goals. In France, a turnover of prefectsbecause of party politics has always been considered a greatertransformation and has always caused a greater uproar than amodification in the government's program--the latter almosthaving the significance of mere verbiage. Some parties,especially those in America since the disappearance of the oldconflicts concerning the interpretation of the constitution, havebecome pure patronage parties handing out jobs and changing theirmaterial program according to the chances of grabbing votes.
In Spain, up to recent years, the two great parties, in aconventionally fixed manner, took turns in office by means of'elections,' fabricated from above, in order to provide theirfollowers with offices. In the Spanish colonial territories, inthe so-called 'elections,' as well as in the so-called'revolutions,' what was at stake was always the statebread-basket from which the victors wished to be fed.
In Switzerland, the parties peacefully divided the officesamong themselves proportionately, and some of our 'revolutionary'constitutional drafts, for instance the first draft of theBadenian constitution, sought to extend this system toministerial positions. Thus, the state and state offices wereconsidered as pure institutions for the provision of spoilsmen.
Above all, the Catholic Center party was enthusiastically forthis draft. In Badenia, the party, as part of the party platform,made the distribution of offices proportional to confessions andhence without regard to achievement. This tendency becomesstronger for all parties when the number of offices increase as aresult of general bureaucratization and when the demand foroffices increases because they represent specifically securelivelihoods. For their followings, the parties become more andmore a means to the end of being provided for in this manner.
The development of modern officialdom into a highly qualified,professional labor force, specialized in expertness through longyears of preparatory training, stands opposed to all thesearrangements. Modern bureaucracy in the interest of integrity hasdeveloped a high sense of status honor; without this sense thedanger of an awful corruption and a vulgar Philistinism threatensfatally. And without such integrity, even the purely technicalfunctions of the state apparatus would be endangered. Thesignificance of the state apparatus for the economy has beensteadily rising, especially with increasing socialization, andits significance will be further augmented.
In the United States, amateur administration through bootypoliticians in accordance with the outcome of presidentialelections resulted in the exchange of hundreds of thousands ofofficials, even down to the mail carrier. The administration knewnothing of the professional civil servant-for-life, but thisamateur administration has long since been punctured by the CivilService Reform. Purely technical, irrefrageable needs of theadministration have determined this development.
In Europe, expert officialdom, based on the division of labor,has emerged in a gradual development of half a thousand years.The Italian cities and seigniories were the beginning, among themonarchies, and the states of the Norman conquerors. But thedecisive step was taken in connection with the administration ofthe finances of the prince. With the administrative reforms ofEmperor Max, it can be seen how hard it was for the officials todepose successfully of the prince in this field, even under thepressure of extreme emergency and of Turkish rule. The sphere offinance could afford least of all a ruler's dilettantism--a rulerwho at that time was still above all a knight. The development ofwar technique called forth the expert and specialized officer;the differentiation of legal procedure called forth the trainedjurist. In these three areas--finance, war, and law--expertofficialdom in the more advanced states was definitely triumphantduring the sixteenth century. With the ascendancy of princelyabsolutism over the estates, there was simultaneously a gradualabdication of the prince's autocratic rule in favor of an expertofficialdom. These very officials had only facilitated theprince's victory over the estates.
The development of the 'leading politicians' was realizedalong with the ascendancy of the specially trained officialdom,even if in far less noticeable transitions. Of course, suchreally decisive advisers of the princes have existed at all timesand all over the world. In the Orient, the need for relieving theSultan as far as possible from personal responsibility for thesuccess of the government has created the typical figure of the'Grand Vizier.' In the Occident, influenced above all by thereports of the Venetian legates, diplomacy first became a consciouslycultivated art in the age of Charles V, in Machiavelli's time.The reports of the Venetian legates were read with passionatezeal in expert diplomatic circles. The adepts of this art, whowere in the main educated humanistically, treated one another astrained initiates, similar to the humanist Chinese statesmen inthe last period of the 'warring states. The necessity of aformally unified guidance of the whole policy, including that ofhome affairs, by a leading statesman finally and compellinglyarose only through constitutional development. Of course,individual personalities, such as advisers of the princes, orrather, in fact, leaders, had again and again existed beforethen. But the organization of administrative agencies even in themost advanced states first proceeded along other avenues. Topcollegial administrative agencies had emerged. In theory, and toa gradually decreasing extent in fact, they met under thepersonal chairmanship of the prince who rendered the decision.This collegial system led to memoranda, counter-memoranda, andreasoned votes of the majority and the minority. In addition tothe official and highest authorities, the prince surroundedhimself with purely personal confidants--the 'cabinet'--andthrough them rendered his decisions, after considering theresolutions of the state counsel, or whatever else the higheststate agency was called. The prince, coming more and more intothe position of a dilettante, sought to extricate himself fromthe unavoidably increasing weight of the expertly trainedofficials through the collegial system and the cabinet. He soughtto retain the highest leadership in his own hands. This latentstruggle between expert officialdom and autocratic rule existedeverywhere. Only in the face of parliaments and the poweraspirations of party leaders did the situation change. Verydifferent conditions led to the externally identical result,though to be sure with certain differences. Wherever thedynasties retained actual power in their hands--as was especiallythe case in Germany--the interests of the prince were joined withthose of officialdom against parliament and its claimsfor power. The officials were also interested in having leadingpositions, that is, ministerial positions, occupied by their ownranks, thus making these positions an object of the officialcareer. The monarch, on his part, was interested in being able toappoint the ministers from the ranks of devoted officialsaccording to his own discretion. Both parties, however, wereinterested in seeing the political leadership confront parliamentin a unified and solidary fashion, and hence in seeing thecollegial system replaced by a single cabinet head. Furthermore,in order to be removed in a purely formal way from the struggleof parties and from party attacks, the monarch needed a singlepersonality to cover him and to assume responsibility, that is,to answer to parliament and to negotiate with the parties. Allthese interests worked together and in the same direction: aminister emerged to direct the officialdom in a unified way.
Where parliament gained supremacy over the monarch--as inEngland--the development of parliamentary power worked even morestrongly in the direction of a unification of the stateapparatus. In England, the 'cabinet,' with the single head ofParliament as its 'leader,' developed as a committee of the partywhich at the time controlled the majority. This party power wasignored by official law but, in fact, it alone was politicallydecisive. The official collegial bodies as such were not organsof the actual ruling power, the party, and hence could not be thebearers of real government. The ruling party required anever-ready organization composed only of its actually leadingmen, who would confidentially discuss matters in order tomaintain power within and be capable of engaging in grandpolitics outside. The cabinet is simply this organization.However, in relation to the public, especially the parliamentarypublic, the party needed a leader responsible for alldecisions--the cabinet head. The English system has been takenover on the Continent in the form of parliamentary ministries. InAmerica alone, and in the democracies influenced by America, aquite heterogeneous system was placed into opposition with thissystem. The American system placed the directly and popularlyelected leader of the victorious party at the head of theapparatus of officials appointed by him and bound him to theconsent of 'parliament' only in budgetary and legislativematters.
The development of politics into an organization whichdemanded training in the struggle for power, and in the methodsof this struggle as developed by modern party policies,determined the separation of public functionaries into twocategories, which, however, are by no means rigidly butnevertheless distinctly separated. These categories are'administrative' officials on the one hand, and 'political'officials on the other. The 'political' officials, in the genuinesense of the word, can regularly and externally be recognized bythe fact that they can be transferred any time at will, that theycan be dismissed, or at least temporarily withdrawn. They arelike the French prefects and the comparable officials of othercountries, and this is in sharp contrast to the 'independence' ofofficials with judicial functions. In England, officials who,according to fixed convention, retire from office when there is achange in the parliamentary majority, and hence a change in thecabinet, belong to this category. There are usually among themsome whose competence includes the management of the general'inner administration.' The political element consists, aboveall, in the task of maintaining 'law and order' in the country,hence maintaining the existing power relations. In Prussia theseofficials, in accordance with Puttkamer's decree and in order toavoid censure, were obliged to 'represent the policy of thegovernment.' And, like the prefects in France, they were used asan official apparatus for influencing elections. Most of the'political' officials of the German system--in contrast to othercountries--were equally qualified in so far as access to theseoffices required a university education, special examinations,and special preparatory service. In Germany, only the heads ofthe political apparatus, the ministers, lack this specificcharacteristic of modern civil service. Even under the oldregime, one could be the Prussian minister of education withoutever having attended an institution of higher learning; whereasone could become Vortragender Rat, 2 inprinciple, only on the basis of a prescribed examination. Thespecialist and trained Dezernent 3 and VortragenderRat were of course infinitely better informed about the realtechnical problems of the division than was their respectivechief--for instance, under Althoff in the Prussian ministry ofeducation. In England it was not different. Consequently, in allroutine demands the divisional head was more powerful than theminister, which was not without reason. The minister was simplythe representative of the political power constellation; he hadto represent these powerful political staffs and he had to takemeasure of the proposals of his subordinate expert officials orgive them directive orders of a political nature.
After all, things in a private economic enterprise are quitesimilar: the real 'sovereign,' the assembled shareholders, isjust as little influential in the business management as is a'people' ruled by expert officials. And the personages who decidethe policy of the enterprise, the bank-controlled 'directorate,'give only directive economic orders and select persons for themanagement without themselves being capable of technicallydirecting the enterprise. Thus the present structure of therevolutionary state signifies nothing new in principle. It placespower over the administration into the hands of absolutedilettantes, who, by virtue of their control of the machine-guns,would like to use expert officials only as executive heads andhands. The difficulties of the present system lie elsewhere thanhere, but today these difficulties shall not concern us. Weshall, rather, ask for the typical peculiarity of theprofessional politicians, of the 'leaders' as well as theirfollowings. Their nature has changed and today varies greatlyfrom one case to another.
We have seen that in the past 'professional politicians'developed through the struggle of the princes with the estatesand that they served the princes. Let us briefly review the majortypes of these professional politicians.
Confronting the estates, the prince found support inpolitically exploitable strata outside of the order of theestates. Among the latter, there was, first, the clergy inWestern and Eastern India, in Buddhist China and Japan, and inLamaist Mongolia, just as in the Christian territories of theMiddle Ages. The clergy were technically useful because they wereliterate. The importation of Brahmins, Buddhist priests, Lamas,and the employment of bishops and priests as politicalcounselors, occurred with an eye to obtaining administrativeforces who could read and write and who could be used in thestruggle of the emperor, prince, or Khan against the aristocracy.Unlike the vassal who confronted his overlord, the cleric,especially the celibate cleric, stood outside the machinery ofnormal political and economic interests and was not tempted bythe struggle for political power, for himself or for hisdescendants. By virtue of his own status, the cleric was'separated' from the managerial implements of princelyadministration.
The humanistically educated literati comprised a second suchstratum. There was a time when one learned to produce Latinspeeches and Greek verses in order to become a political adviserto a prince and, above all things, to become a memorialist. Thiswas the time of the first flowering of the humanist schools andof the princely foundations of professorships for 'poetics.' Thiswas for us a transitory epoch, which has had a quite persistentinfluence upon our educational system, yet no deeper resultspolitically. In East Asia, it has been different. The Chinesemandarin is, or rather originally was, what the humanist of ourRenaissance period approximately was: a literator humanisticallytrained and tested in the language monuments of the remote past.When you read the diaries of Li Hung Chang you will find that heis most proud of having composed poems and of being a goodcalligrapher. This stratum, with its conventions developed andmodeled after Chinese Antiquity, has determined the whole destinyof China; and perhaps our fate would have been similar if thehumanists in their time had had the slightest chance of gaining asimilar influence.
The third stratum was the court nobility. After the princeshad succeeded in expropriating political power from the nobilityas an estate, they drew the nobles to the court and used them intheir political and diplomatic service. The transformation of oureducational system in the seventeenth century was partlydetermined by the fact that court nobles as professionalpoliticians displaced the humanist literati and entered theservice of the princes.
The fourth category was a specifically English institution. Apatrician stratum developed there which was comprised of thepetty nobility and the urban rentiers; technically they arecalled the 'gentry.' The English gentry represents a stratum thatthe prince originally attracted in order to counter the barons.The prince placed the stratum in possession of the offices of'self-government,' and later he himself became increasinglydependent upon them. The gentry maintained the possession of alloffices of local administration by taking them over withoutcompensation in the interest of their own social power. Thegentry has saved England from the bureaucratization which hasbeen the fate of all continental states.
A fifth stratum, the university-trained jurist, is peculiar tothe Occident, especially to the European continent, and has beenof decisive significance for the Continent's whole politicalstructure. The tremendous after-effect of Roman law, astransformed by the late Roman bureaucratic state, stands out innothing more clearly than the fact that everywhere the revolutionof political management in the direction of the evolving rationalstate has been borne by trained jurists. This also occurred inEngland, although there the great national guilds of juristshindered the reception of Roman law. There is no analogy to thisprocess to be found in any area of the world.
All beginnings of rational juristic thinking in the IndianMimamsa School and all further cultivation of the ancientjuristic thinking in Islam have been unable to prevent the ideaof rational law from being overgrown by theological forms ofthought. Above all, legal trial procedure has not been fullyrationalized in the cases of India and of Islamism. Suchrationalization has been brought about on the Continent onlythrough the borrowing of ancient Roman jurisprudence by theItalian jurists. Roman jurisprudence is the product of apolitical structure arising from the city state to worlddomination--a product of quite unique nature. The ususmodernus of the late medieval pandect jurists and canonistswas blended with theories of natural law, which were born fromjuristic and Christian thought and which were later secularized.This juristic rationalism has had its great representatives amongthe Italian Podesta, the French crown jurists (who created theformal means for the undermining of the rule of seigneurs byroyal power), among the canonists and the theologians of theecclesiastic councils (thinking in terms of natural law), amongthe court jurists and academic judges of the continental princes,among the Netherland teachers of natural law and themonarchomachists, among the English crown and parliamentaryjurists, among the noblesse de robe of the FrenchParliament, and finally, among the lawyers of the age of theFrench Revolution.
Without this juristic rationalism, the rise of the absolutestate is just as little imaginable as is the Revolution. If youlook through the remonstrances of the French Parliaments orthrough the cahiers of the French Estates-General from thesixteenth century to the year 1789, you will find everywhere thespirit of the jurists. And if you go over the occupationalcomposition of the members of the French Assembly, you will findthere--although the members of the Assembly were elected throughequal franchise--a single proletarian, very few bourgeoisenterprisers, but jurists of all sorts, en masse.Without them, the specific mentality that inspired these radicalintellectuals and their projects would be quite inconceivable.Since the French Revolution, the modern lawyer and moderndemocracy absolutely belong together. And lawyers, in our senseof an independent status group, also exist only in the Occident.They have developed since the Middle Ages from the Fursprechof the formalistic Germanic legal procedure under the impact ofthe rationalization of the trial.
The significance of the lawyer in Occidental politics sincethe rise of parties is not accidental. The management of politicsthrough parties simply means management through interest groups.We shall soon see what that means. The craft of the trainedlawyer is to plead effectively the cause of interested clients.In this, the lawyer is superior to any 'official,' as thesuperiority of enemy propaganda [Allied propaganda 1914-18] couldteach us. Certainly he can advocate and win a cause supported bylogically weak arguments and one which, in this sense, is a'weak' cause. Yet he wins it because technically he makes a'strong case' for it. But only the lawyer successfully pleads acause that can be supported by logically strong arguments, thushandling a 'good' cause 'well.' All too often the civil servantas a politician turns a cause that is good in every sense into a'weak' cause, through technically 'weak' pleading. This is whatwe have had to experience. To an outstanding degree, politicstoday is in fact conducted in public by means of the spoken orwritten word. To weigh the effect of the word properly fallswithin the range of the lawyer's tasks; but not at all into thatof the civil servant. The latter is no demagogue, nor is it hispurpose to be one. If he nevertheless tries to become ademagogue, he usually becomes a very poor one.
According to his proper vocation, the genuine official--andthis is decisive for the evaluation of our former regime--willnot engage in politics. Rather, he should engage in impartial'administration.' This also holds for the so called 'political'administrator, at least officially, in so far as the raisond'etat, that is, the vital interests of the ruling order,are not in question. Sine ira et studio, 'without scornand bias,' he shall administer his office. Hence, he shall not doprecisely what the politician, the leader as well as hisfollowing, must always and necessarily do, namely, fight.
To take a stand, to be passionate--ira et studium--isthe politician's element, and above all the element of thepolitical leader. His conduct is subject to quite adifferent, indeed, exactly the opposite, principle ofresponsibility from that of the civil servant. The honor of thecivil servant is vested in his ability to execute conscientiouslythe order of the superior authorities, exactly as if the orderagreed with his own conviction. This holds even if the orderappears wrong to him and if, despite the civil servant'sremonstrances, the authority insists on the order. Without thismoral discipline and self-denial, in the highest sense, the wholeapparatus would fall to pieces. The honor of the politicalleader, of the leading statesman, however, lies precisely in anexclusive personal responsibility for what he does, aresponsibility he cannot and must not reject or transfer. It isin the nature of officials of high moral standing to be poorpoliticians, and above all, in the political sense of the word,to be irresponsible politicians. In this sense, they arepoliticians of low moral standing, such as we unfortunately havehad again and again in leading positions. This is what we havecalled Beamtenherrschaft [civil-service rule], and trulyno spot soils the honor of our officialdom if we reveal what ispolitically wrong with the system from the standpoint of success.But let us return once more to the types of political figures.
Since the time of the constitutional state, and definitelysince democracy has been established, the 'demagogue' has beenthe typical political leader in the Occident. The distastefulflavor of the word must not make us forget that not Cleon butPericles was the first to bear the name of demagogue. In contrastto the offices of ancient democracy that were filled by lot,Pericles led the sovereign Ecclesia of the demos ofAthens as a supreme strategist holding the only elective officeor without holding any office at all. Modern demagoguery alsomakes use of oratory, even to a tremendous extent, if oneconsiders the election speeches a modern candidate has todeliver. But the use of the printed word is more enduring. Thepolitical publicist, and above all the journalist, is nowadaysthe most important representative of the demagogic species.
Within the limits of this lecture, it is quite impossible evento sketch the sociology of modern political journalism, which inevery respect constitutes a chapter in itself. Certainly, only afew things concerning it are in place here. In common with alldemagogues and, by the way, with the lawyer (and the artist), thejournalist shares the fate of lacking a fixed socialclassification. At least, this is the case on the Continent, incontrast to the English, and, by the way, also to formerconditions in Prussia. The journalist belongs to a sort of pariahcaste, which is always estimated by 'society' in terms of itsethically lowest representative. Hence, the strangest notionsabout journalists and their work are abroad. Not everybodyrealizes that a really good journalistic accomplishment requiresat least as much 'genius' 4 as any scholarlyaccomplishment, especially because of the necessity of producingat once and 'on order,' and because of the necessity of beingeffective, to be sure, under quite different conditions ofproduction. It is almost never acknowledged that theresponsibility of the journalist is far greater, and that thesense of responsibility of every honorable journalist is, on theaverage, not a bit lower than that of the scholar, but rather, asthe war has shown, higher. This is because, in the very nature ofthe case, irresponsible journalistic accomplishments and theiroften terrible effects are remembered.
Nobody believes that the discretion of any able journalistranks above the average of other people, and yet that is thecase. The quite incomparably graver temptations, and the otherconditions that accompany journalistic work at the present time,produce those results which have conditioned the public to regardthe press with a mixture of disdain and pitiful cowardice. Todaywe cannot discuss what is to be done. Here we are interested inthe question of the occupational destiny of the politicaljournalist and of his chance to attain a position of politicalleadership. Thus far, the journalist has had favorable chancesonly in the Social Democratic party. Within the party, editorialpositions have been predominantly in the nature of officialpositions, but editorial positions have not been the basis forpositions of leadership.
In the bourgeois parties, on the whole, the chances for ascentto political power along this avenue have rather become worse, ascompared with those of the previous generation. Naturally everypolitician of consequence has needed influence over the press andhence has needed relations with the press. But that party leaderswould emerge from the ranks of the press has been an absoluteexception and one should not have expected it. The reason forthis lies in the strongly increased 'indispensability' of thejournalist, above all, of the propertyless and henceprofessionally bound journalist, an indispensability which isdetermined by the tremendously increased intensity and tempo ofjournalistic operations. The necessity of gaining one'slivelihood by the writing of daily or at least weekly articles islike lead on the feet of the politicians. I know of cases inwhich natural leaders have been permanently paralyzed in theirascent to power, externally and above all internally, by thiscompulsion. The relations of the press to the ruling powers inthe state and in the parties, under the old regime [of theKaiser], were as detrimental as they could be to the level ofjournalism; but that is a chapter in itself. These conditionswere different in the countries of our opponents [the Allies].But there also, and for all modern states, apparently thejournalist worker gains less and less as the capitalist lord ofthe press, of the sort of 'Lord' Northcliffe, for instance, gainsmore and more political influence.
Thus far, however, our great capitalist newspaper concerns,which attained control, especially over the 'chain newspapers,'with 'want ads,' have been regularly and typically the breedersof political indifference. For no profits could be made in anindependent policy; especially no profitable benevolence of thepolitically dominant powers could be obtained. The advertisingbusiness is also the avenue along which, during the war, theattempt was made to influence the press politically in a grandstyle--an attempt which apparently it is regarded as desirable tocontinue now. Although one may expect the great papers to escapethis pressure, the situation of the small ones will be far moredifficult. In any case, for the time being, the journalist careeris not among us, a normal avenue for the ascent of politicalleaders, whatever attraction journalism may otherwise have andwhatever measure of influence, range of activity, and especiallypolitical responsibility it may yield. One has to wait and see.Perhaps journalism does not have this function any longer, orperhaps journalism does not yet have it. Whether the renunciationof the principle of anonymity would mean a change in this isdifficult to say. Some journalists--not all--believe in droppingprincipled anonymity. What we have experienced during the war inthe German press, and in the 'management' of newspapers byespecially hired personages and talented writers who alwaysexpressly figured under their names, has unfortunately shown, insome of the better known cases, that an increased awareness ofresponsibility is not so certain to be bred as might be believed.Some of the papers were, without regard to party, precisely thenotoriously worst boulevard sheets; by dropping anonymity theystrove for and attained greater sales. The publishers as well asthe journalists of sensationalism have gained fortunes butcertainly not honor. Nothing is here being said against theprinciple of promoting sales; the question is indeed an intricateone, and the phenomenon of irresponsible sensationalism does nothold in general. But thus far, sensationalism has not been theroad to genuine leadership or to the responsible management ofpolitics. How conditions will further develop remains to be seen.Yet the journalist career remains under all circumstances one ofthe most important avenues of professional political activity. Itis not a road for everybody, least of all for weak characters,especially for people who can maintain their inner balance onlywith a secure status position. If the life of a young scholar isa gamble, still he is walled in by firm status conventions, whichprevent him from slipping. But the journalist's life is anabsolute gamble in every respect and under conditions that testone's inner security in a way that scarcely occurs in any othersituation. The often bitter experiences in occupational life areperhaps not even the worst. The inner demands that are directedprecisely at the successful journalist are especially difficult.It is, indeed, no small matter to frequent the salons of thepowerful on this earth on a seemingly equal footing and often tobe flattered by all because one is feared, yet knowing all thetime that having hardly closed the door the host has perhaps tojustify before his guests his association with the 'scavengersfrom the press.' Moreover, it is no small matter that one mustexpress oneself promptly and convincingly about this and that, onall conceivable problems of life--whatever the 'market' happensto demand--and this without becoming absolutely shallow and aboveall without losing one's dignity by baring oneself, a thing whichhas merciless results. It is not astonishing that there are manyjournalists who have become human failures and worth less men.Rather, it is astonishing that, despite all this, this verystratum includes such a great number of valuable and quitegenuine men, a fact that outsiders would not so easily guess.
If the journalist as a type of professional politician harksback to a rather considerable past, the figure of the partyofficial belongs only to the development of the last decades and,in part, only to recent years. In order to comprehend theposition of this figure in historical evolution, we shall have toturn to a consideration of parties and party organizations.
In all political associations which are somehow extensive,that is, associations going beyond the sphere and range of thetasks of small rural districts where power-holders areperiodically elected, political organization is necessarilymanaged by men interested in the management of politics. This isto say that a relatively small number of men are primarilyinterested in political life and hence interested in sharingpolitical power. They provide themselves with a following throughfree recruitment, present themselves or their proteges ascandidates for election, collect the financial means, and go outfor vote-grabbing. It is unimaginable how in large associationselections could function at all without this managerial pattern.In practice this means the division of the citizens with theright to vote into politically active and politically passiveelements. This difference is based on voluntary attitudes, henceit cannot be abolished through measures like obligatory voting,or 'occupational status group' representation, or similarmeasures that are expressly or actually directed against thisstate of affairs and the rule of professional politicians. Theactive leadership and their freely recruited following are thenecessary elements in the life of any party. The following, andthrough it the passive electorate, are necessary for the electionof the leader. But the structure of parties varies. For instance,the 'parties' of the medieval cities, such as those of the Guelfsand the Ghibellines, were purely personal followings. If oneconsiders various things about these medieval parties, one isreminded of Bolshevism and its Soviets. Consider the Statutadella perta Guelfa, the confiscations of the Nobili'sestates--which originally meant all those families who lived achivalrous life and who thus qualified for fiefs--consider theexclusion from office-holding and the denial of the right tovote, the inter-local party committees, the strictly militaryorganizations and the premiums for informers. Then considerBolshevism with its strictly sieved military and, in Russiaespecially, informer organizations, the disarmament and denial ofthe political rights of the 'bourgeois,' that is, of theentrepreneur, trader, rentier, clergyman, descendants of thedynasty, police agents, as well as the confiscation policy.
This analogy is still more striking when one considers that,on the one hand, the military organization of the medieval partyconstituted a pure army of knights organized on the basis of theregistered feudal estates and that nobles occupied almost allleading positions, and, on the other hand, that the Soviets havepreserved, or rather reintroduced, the highly paid enterpriser,the group wage, the Taylor system, military and work-shopdiscipline, and a search for foreign capital. Hence, in a word,the Soviets have had to accept again absolutely all thethings that Bolshevism had been fighting as bourgeois classinstitutions. They have had to do this in order to keep the stateand the economy going at all. Moreover, the Soviets havereinstituted the agents of the former Ochrana [Tsarist SecretPolice] as the main instrument of their state power. But here wedo not have to deal with such organizations for violence, butrather with professional politicians who strive for power throughsober and 'peaceful' party campaigns in the market of electionvotes.
Parties, in the sense usual with us, were at first, forinstance in England, pure followings of the aristocracy. If, forany reason whatever, a peer changed his party, everybodydependent upon him likewise changed. Up to the Reform Bill [of1832], the great noble families and, last but not least, the kingcontrolled the patronage of an immense number of electionboroughs. Close to these aristocratic parties were the parties ofnotables, which develop everywhere with the rising power of thebourgeois. Under the spiritual leadership of the typicalintellectual strata of the Occident, the propertied and culturedcircles differentiated themselves into parties and followed them.These parties were formed partly according to class interest,partly according to family traditions, and partly for ideologicalreasons. Clergymen, teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors,apothecaries, prosperous farmers, manufacturers--in England thewhole stratum that considered itself as belonging to the class ofgentlemen--formed, at first, occasional associations at mostlocal political clubs. In times of unrest the petty bourgeoisieraised its voice, and once in a while the proletariat, if leadersarose who, however, as a rule did not stem from their midst. Inthis phase, parties organized as permanent associations betweenlocalities do not yet exist in the open country. Only theparliamentary delegates create the cohesion; and the localnotables are decisive for the selection of candidates. Theelection programs originate partly in the election appeals of thecandidates and partly in the meetings of the notables; or, theyoriginate as resolutions of the parliamentary party. Leadershipof the clubs is an avocation and an honorific pursuit, asdemanded by the occasion.
Where clubs are absent (as is mostly the case), the quiteformless management of politics in normal times lies in the handsof the few people constantly interested in it. Only thejournalist is a paid professional politician; only the managementof the newspaper is a continuous political organization. Besidesthe newspaper, there is only the parliamentary session. Theparliamentary delegates and the parliamentary party leaders knowto which local notables one turns if a political action seemsdesirable. But permanent associations of the parties exist onlyin the large cities with moderate contributions of the membersand periodical conferences and public meetings where the delegategives account of the parliamentary activities. The party is aliveonly during election periods.
The members of parliament are interested in the possibility ofinterlocal electoral compromises, in vigorous and unifiedprograms endorsed by broad circles and in a unified agitationthroughout the country. In general these interests form thedriving force of a party organization which becomes more and morestrict. In principle, however, the nature of a party apparatus asan association of notables remains unchanged. This is so, eventhough a network of local party affiliations and agents is spreadover the whole country, including middle-sized cities. A memberof the parliamentary party acts as the leader of the centralparty office and maintains constant correspondence with the localorganizations. Outside of the central bureau, paid officials arestill absent; thoroughly 'respectable' people head the localorganizations for the sake of the deference which they enjoyanyway. They form the extra-parliamentary 'notables' who exertinfluence alongside the stratum of political notables who happento sit in parliament. However, the party correspondence, editedby the party, increasingly provides intellectual nourishment forthe press and for the local meetings. Regular contributions ofthe members become indispensable; a part of these must cover theexpenses of headquarters.
Not so long ago most of the German party organizations werestill in this stage of development. In France, the first stage ofparty development was, at least in part, still predominant, andthe organization of the members of parliament was quite unstable.In the open country, we find a small number of local notables andprograms drafted by the candidates or set up for them by theirpatrons in specific campaigns for office. To be sure, theseplatforms constitute more or less local adaptations to theresolutions and programs of the members of parliament. Thissystem was only partially punctured. The number of full-timeprofessional politicians was small, consisting in the main of theelected deputies, the few employees of headquarters, and thejournalists. In France, the system has also included those jobhunters who held 'political office' or, at the moment, strove forone. Politics was formally and by far predominantly an avocation.The number of delegates qualifying for ministerial office wasalso very restricted and, because of their position as notables,so was the number of election candidates.
However, the number of those who indirectly had a stake in themanagement of politics, especially a material one, was verylarge. For all administrative measures of a ministerialdepartment, and especially all decisions in matters of personnel,were made partly with a view to their influence upon electoralchances. The realization of each and every kind of wish wassought through the local delegate's mediation. For better or forworse the minister had to lend his ear to this delegate,especially if the delegate belonged to the minister's majority.Hence everybody strove for such influence. The single deputycontrolled the patronage of office and, in general, any kind ofpatronage in his election district. In order to be re-elected thedeputy, in turn, maintained connections with the local notables.
Now then, the most modern forms of party organizations standin sharp contrast to this idyllic state in which circles ofnotables and, above all, members of parliament rule. These modernforms are the children of democracy, of mass franchise, of thenecessity to woo and organize the masses, and develop the utmostunity of direction and the strictest discipline. The rule ofnotables and guidance by members of parliament ceases.'Professional' politicians outside the parliaments takethe organization in hand. They do so either as'entrepreneurs'--the American boss and the English election agentare, in fact, such entrepreneurs--or as officials with a fixedsalary. Formally, a fargoing democratization takes place. Theparliamentary party no longer creates the authoritative programs,and the local notables no longer decide the selection ofcandidates. Rather assemblies of the organized party membersselect the candidates and delegate members to the assemblies of ahigher order. Possibly there are several such conventions leadingup to the national convention of the party. Naturally poweractually rests in the hands of those who, within theorganization, handle the work continuously. Otherwise,power rests in the hands of those on whom the organization in itsprocesses depends financially or personally--for instance, on theMaecenases or the directors of powerful political clubs ofinterested persons (Tammany Hall). It is decisive that this wholeapparatus of people--characteristically called a 'machine' inAnglo-Saxon countries or rather those who direct the machine,keep the members of the parliament in check. They are in aposition to impose their will to a rather far-reaching extent,and that is of special significance for the selection of theparty leader. The man whom the machine follows now becomes theleader, even over the head of the parliamentary party. In otherwords, the creation of such machines signifies the advent of plebiscitariandemocracy.
The party following, above all the party official and partyentrepreneur, naturally expect personal compensation from thevictory of their leader--that is, offices or other advantages. Itis decisive that they expect such advantages from their leaderand not merely from the individual member of parliament. Theyexpect that the demagogic effect of the leader's personalityduring the election fight of the party will increase votes andmandates and thereby power, and, thereby, as far as possible,will extend opportunities to their followers to find thecompensation for which they hope. Ideally, one of theirmainsprings is the satisfaction of working with loyal personaldevotion for a man, and not merely for an abstract program of aparty consisting of mediocrities. In this respect, the'charismatic' element of all leadership is at work in the partysystem.
In very different degrees this system made headway, althoughit was in constant, latent struggle with local notables and themembers of parliament who wrangled for influence. This was thecase in the bourgeois parties, first, in the United States, and,then, in the Social Democratic party, especially of Germany.Constant setbacks occur as soon as no generally recognized leaderexists, and, even when he is found, concessions of all sorts mustbe made to the vanity and the personal interest of the partynotables. The machine may also be brought under the domination ofthe party officials in whose hands the regular business rests.According to the view of some Social Democratic circles, theirparty had succumbed to this 'bureaucratization.' But 'officials'submit relatively easily to a leader's personality if it has astrong demagogic appeal. The material and the ideal interests ofthe officials are intimately connected with the effects of partypower which are expected from the leader's appeal, and besides,inwardly it is per se more satisfying to work for aleader. The ascent of leaders is far more difficult where thenotables, along with the officials, control the party, as isusually the case in the bourgeois parties. For ideally thenotables make 'their way of life' out of the petty chairmanshipsor committee memberships they hold. Resentment against thedemagogue as a homo novus, the conviction of thesuperiority of political party 'experience' (which, as a matterof fact, actually is of considerable importance), and theideological concern for the crumbling of the old partytraditions--these factors determine the conduct of the notables.They can count on all the traditionalist elements within theparty. Above all, the rural but also the petty bourgeois voterlooks for the name of the notable familiar to him. He distruststhe man who is unknown to him. However, once this man has becomesuccessful, he clings to him the more unwaveringly. Let us nowconsider, by some major examples, the struggle of the twostructural forms--of the notables and of the party--andespecially let us consider the ascendancy of the plebiscitarianform as described by Ostrogorsky.
First England: there until 1868 the party organization wasalmost purely an organization of notables. The Tories in thecountry found support, for instance, from the Anglican parson,and from the schoolmaster, and above all from the large landlordsof the respective county. The Whigs found support mostly fromsuch people as the nonconformist preacher (when there was one),the postmaster, the blacksmith, the tailor, the ropemaker--thatis, from such artisans who could disseminate political influencebecause they could chat with people most frequently. In the citythe parties differed, partly according to economics, partlyaccording to religion, and partly simply according to the partyopinions handed down in the families. But always the notableswere the pillars of the political organization.
Above all these arrangements stood Parliament, the partieswith the cabinet, and the 'leader,' who was the chairman of thecouncil of ministers or the leader of the opposition. This leaderhad beside him the 'whip'--the most important professionalpolitician of the party organization. Patronage of office wasvested in the hands of the 'whip'; thus the job hunter had toturn to him and he arranged an understanding with the deputies ofthe individual election boroughs. A stratum of professionalpoliticians gradually began to develop in the boroughs. At firstthe locally recruited agents were not paid; they occupiedapproximately the same position as our Vertrauensmanner.5 However, along with them, a capitalistentrepreneurial type developed in the boroughs. This was the'election agent,' whose existence was unavoidable under England'smodern legislation which guaranteed fair elections.
This legislation aimed at controlling the campaign costs ofelections and sought to check the power of money by making itobligatory for the candidate to state the costs of his campaign.For in England, the candidate, besides straining his voice--farmore so than was formerly the case with us [in Germany]--enjoyedstretching his purse. The election agent made the candidate pay alump sum, which usually meant a good deal for the agent. In thedistribution of power in Parliament and the country between the'leader' and the party notables, the leader in England used tohold a very eminent position. This position was based on thecompelling fact of making possible a grand, and thereby steady,political strategy. Nevertheless the influence of theparliamentary party and of party notables was still considerable.
That is about what the old party organization looked like. Itwas half an affair of notables and half an entrepreneurialorganization with salaried employees. Since 1868, however, the'caucus' system developed, first for local elections inBirmingham, then all over the country. A nonconformist parson andalong with him Joseph Chamberlain brought this system to life.The occasion for this development was the democratization of thefranchise. In order to win the masses it became necessary to callinto being a tremendous apparatus of apparently democraticassociations. An electoral association had to be formed in everycity district to help keep the organization incessantly in motionand to bureaucratize everything rigidly. Hence, hired and paidofficials of the local electoral committees increasednumerically; and, on the whole, perhaps 10 per cent of the voterswere organized in these local committees. The elected partymanagers had the right to co-opt others and were the formalbearers of party politics. The driving force was the localcircle, which was, above all, composed of those interested inmunicipal politics--from which the fattest material opportunitiesalways spring. These local circles were also first to call uponthe world of finance. This newly emerging machine, which was nolonger led by members of Parliament, very soon had to strugglewith the previous power-holders, above all, with the 'whip.'Being supported by locally interested persons, the machine cameout of the fight so victoriously that the whip had to submit andcompromise with the machine. The result was a centralization ofall power in the hands of the few and, ultimately, of the oneperson who stood at the top of the party. The whole system hadarisen in the Liberal party in connection with Gladstone's ascentto power. What brought this machine to such swift triumph overthe notables was the fascination of Gladstone's 'grand' demagogy,the firm belief of the masses in the ethical substance of hispolicy, and, above all, their belief in the ethical character ofhis personality. It soon became obvious that a Caesaristplebiscitarian element in politics--the dictator of thebattlefield of elections--had appeared on the plain. In 1877 thecaucus became active for the first time in national elections,and with brilliant success, for the result was Disraeli's fall atthe height of his great achievements. In 1866, the machine wasalready so completely oriented to the charismatic personalitythat when the question of home rule was raised the wholeapparatus from top to bottom did not question whether it actuallystood on Gladstone's ground; it simply, on his word, fell in linewith him: they said, Gladstone right or wrong, we follow him. Andthus the machine deserted its own creator, Chamberlain.
Such machinery requires a considerable personnel. In Englandthere are about 2,000 persons who live directly off partypolitics. To be sure, those who are active in politics purely asjob seekers or as interested persons are far more numerous,especially in municipal politics. In addition to economicopportunities, for the useful caucus politician, there are theopportunities to satisfy his vanity. To become 'J.P.' or even'M.P.' is, of course, in line with the greatest (and normal)ambition; and such people, who are of demonstrably good breeding,that is, 'gentlemen,' attain their goal. The highest goal is, ofcourse, a peerage, especially for the great financial Maecenases.About 50 per cent of the finances of the party depend oncontributions of donors who remained anonymous.
Now then, what has been the effect of this whole system?Nowadays the members of Parliament, with the exception of the fewcabinet members (and a few insurgents), are normally nothingbetter than well-disciplined 'yes' men. With us, in theReichstag, one used at least to take care of one's privatecorrespondence on his desk, thus indicating that one was activein the weal of the country. Such gestures are not demanded inEngland; the member of Parliament must only vote, not commitparty treason. He must appear when the whips call him, and dowhat the cabinet or the leader of the opposition orders. Thecaucus machine in the open country is almost completelyunprincipled if a strong leader exists who has the machineabsolutely in hand. Therewith the plebiscitarian dictatoractually stands above Parliament. He brings the masses behind himby means of the machine and the members of Parliament are for himmerely political spoilsmen enrolled in his following.
How does the selection of these strong leaders take place?First, in terms of what ability are they selected? Next to thequalities of will--decisive all over the world--naturally theforce of demagogic speech is - above all decisive. Its characterhas changed since the time speakers like Cobden addressedthemselves to the intellect, and Gladstone who mastered thetechnique of apparently 'letting sober facts speak forthemselves.' At the present time often purely emotional means areused--the means the Salvation Army also exploits in order to setthe masses in motion. One may call the existing state of affairsa 'dictatorship resting on the exploitation of massemotionality.' Yet, the highly developed system of committee workin the English Parliament makes it possible and compelling forevery politician who counts on a share in leadership to cooperatein committee work. All important ministers of recent decades havethis very real and effective work-training as a background. Thepractice of committee reports and public criticism of thesedeliberations is a condition for training, for really selectingleaders and eliminating mere demagogues.
Thus it is in England. The caucus system there, however, hasbeen a weak form, compared with the American party organization,which brought the plebiscitarian principle to an especially earlyand an especially pure expression.
According to Washington's idea, America was to be acommonwealth administered by 'gentlemen.' In his time, inAmerica, a gentleman was also a landlord, or a man with a collegeeducation--this was the case at first. In the beginning, whenparties began to organize, the members of the House ofRepresentatives claimed to be leaders, just as in England at thetime when notables ruled. The party organization was quite looseand continued to be until 1824. In some communities, where moderndevelopment first took place, the party machine was in the makingeven before the eighteen-twenties. But when Andrew Jackson wasfirst elected President--the election of the western farmers'candidate --the old traditions were overthrown. Formal partyleadership by leading members of Congress came to an end soonafter 1840, when the great parliamentarians, Calhoun and Webster,retired from political life because Congress had lost almost allof its power to the party machine in the open country. That theplebiscitarian 'machine' has developed so early in America is dueto the fact that there, and there alone, the executive--this iswhat mattered --the chief of office-patronage, was a Presidentelected by plebiscite. By virtue of the 'separation of powers' hewas almost independent of parliament in his conduct of office.Hence, as the price of victory, the true booty object of theoffice-prebend was held out precisely at the presidentialelection. Through Andrew Jackson the 'spoils system' was quitesystematically raised to a principle and the conclusions weredrawn.
What does this spoils system, the turning over of federaloffices to the following of the victorious candidate, mean forthe party formations of today? It means that quite unprincipledparties oppose one another; they are purely organizations of jobhunters drafting their changing platforms according to thechances of vote-grabbing, changing their colors to a degreewhich, despite all analogies, is not yet to be found elsewhere.The parties are simply and absolutely fashioned for the electioncampaign that is most important for office patronage: the fightfor the presidency and for the governorships of the separatestates. Platforms and candidates are selected at the nationalconventions of the parties without intervention by congressmen.Hence they emerge from party conventions, the delegates of whichare formally, very democratically elected. These delegates aredetermined by meetings of other delegates, who, in turn, owetheir mandate to the 'primaries,' the assembling of the directvoters of the party. In the primaries the delegates are alreadyelected in the name of the candidate for the nation's leadership.Within the parties the most embittered fight rages about thequestion of 'nomination.' After all, 300,000 to 400,000 officialappointments lie in the hands of the President, appointmentswhich are executed by him only with the approval of the senatorsfrom the separate states. Hence the senators are powerfulpoliticians. By comparison, however, the House of Representativesis, politically, quite impotent, because patronage of office isremoved from it and because the cabinet members, simplyassistants to the President, can conduct office apart from theconfidence or lack of confidence of the people. The President,who is legitimatized by the people, confronts everybody, evenCongress; this is a result of 'the separation of powers.'
In America, the spoils system, supported in this fashion, hasbeen technically possible because American culture with its youthcould afford purely dilettante management. With 300,000 to400,000 such party men who have no qualifications to their creditother than the fact of having performed good services for theirparty, this state of affairs of course could not exist withoutenormous evils. A corruption and wastefulness second to nonecould be tolerated only by a country with as yet unlimitedeconomic opportunities.
Now then, the boss is the figure who appears in the picture ofthis system of the plebiscitarian party machine. Who is the boss?He is a political capitalist entrepreneur who on his own accountand at his own risk provides votes. He may have established hisfirst relations as a lawyer or a saloonkeeper or as a proprietorof similar establishments, or perhaps as a creditor. From here hespins his threads out until he is able to 'control' a certainnumber of votes. When he has come this far he establishes contactwith the neighboring bosses, and through zeal, skill, and aboveall discretion, he attracts the attention of those who havealready further advanced in the career, and then he climbs. Theboss is indispensable to the organization of the party and theorganization is centralized in his hands. He substantiallyprovides the financial means. How does he get them ? Well, partlyby the contributions of the members, and especially by taxing thesalaries of those officials who came into office through him andhis party. Furthermore, there are bribes and tips. He who wishesto trespass with impunity one of the many laws needs the boss'sconnivance and must pay for it; or else he will get into trouble.But this alone is not enough to accumulate the necessary capitalfor political enterprises. The boss is indispensable as thedirect recipient of the money of great financial magnates, whowould not entrust their money for election purposes to a paidparty official, or to anyone else giving public account of hisaffairs. The boss, with his judicious discretion in financialmatters, is the natural man for those capitalist circles whofinance the election. The typical boss is an absolutely soberman. He does not seek social honor; the 'professional' isdespised in 'respectable society.' He seeks power alone, power asa source of money, but also power for power's sake. In contrastto the English leader, the American boss works in the dark. He isnot heard speaking in public; he suggests to the speakers whatthey must say in expedient fashion. He himself, however, keepssilent. As a rule he accepts no office, except that of senator.For, since the senators, by virtue of the Constitution,participate in office patronage, the leading bosses often sit inperson in this body. The distribution of offices is carried out,in the first place, according to services done for the party.But, also, auctioning offices on financial bids often occurs andthere are certain rates for individual offices; hence, a systemof selling offices exists which, after all, has often been knownalso to the monarchies, the church-state included, of theseventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The boss has no firm political 'principles'; he is completelyunprincipled in attitude and asks merely: What will capturevotes? Frequently he is a rather poorly educated man. But as arule he leads an inoffensive and correct private life. In hispolitical morals, however, he naturally adjusts to the averageethical standards of political conduct, as a great many of usalso may have done during the hoarding period in the field ofeconomic ethics. 6 That as a 'professional' politicianthe boss is socially despised does not worry him. That hepersonally does not attain high federal offices, and does notwish to do so, has the frequent advantage that extra-partyintellects, thus notables, may come into candidacy when thebosses believe they will have great appeal value at the polls.Hence the same old party notables do not run again and again, asis the case in Germany. Thus the structure of these unprincipledparties with their socially despised power-holders has aided ablemen to attain the presidency--men who with us never would havecome to the top. To be sure, the bosses resist an outsider whomight jeopardize their sources of money and power. Yet in thecompetitive struggle to win the favor of the voters, the bossesfrequently have had to condescend and accept candidates known tobe opponents of corruption.
Thus there exists a strong capitalist party machine, strictlyand thoroughly organized from top to bottom, and supported byclubs of extraordinary stability. These clubs, such as TammanyHall, are like Knight orders. They seek profits solely throughpolitical control, especially of the municipal government, whichis the most important object of booty. This structure of partylife was made possible by the high degree of democracy in theUnited States--a 'New Country.' This connection, in turn, is thebasis for the fact that the system is gradually dying out.America can no longer be governed only by dilettantes. Scarcelyfifteen years ago, when American workers were asked why theyallowed themselves to be governed by politicians whom theyadmitted they despised, the answer was: 'We prefer having peoplein office whom we can spit upon, rather than a caste of officialswho spit upon us, as is the case with you.' This was the oldpoint of view of American 'democracy.' Even then, the socialistshad entirely different ideas and now the situation is no longerbearable. The dilettante administration does not suffice and theCivil Service Reform establishes an ever-increasing number ofpositions for life with pension rights. The reform works out insuch a way that university-trained officials, just asincorruptible and quite as capable as our officials, get intooffice. Even now about 100,000 offices have ceased being objectsof booty to be turned over after elections. Rather, the officesqualify their holders for pensions, and are based upon testedqualifications. The spoils system will thus gradually recede intothe background and the nature of party leadership is then likelyto be transformed also but as yet, we do not know in what way.
In Germany, until now, the decisive conditions of politicalmanagement have been in essence as follows:
First, the parliaments have been impotent. The result has beenthat no man with the qualities of a leader would enter Parliamentpermanently. If one wished to enter Parliament, what could oneachieve there? When a chancellery position was open, one couldtell the administrative chief: 'I have a very able man in myelection district who would be suitable; take him.' And he wouldhave concurred with pleasure; but that was about all that aGerman member of Parliament could do to satisfy his instincts forpower--if he possessed any.
To this must be added the tremendous importance of the trainedexpert officialdom in Germany. This factor determined theimpotence of Parliament. Our officialdom was second to none inthe world. This importance of the officialdom was accompanied bythe fact that the officials claimed not only official positionsbut also cabinet positions for themselves. In the Bavarian statelegislature, when the introduction of parliamentary governmentwas debated last year, it was said that if members of thelegislature were to be placed in cabinet positions talentedpeople would no longer seek official careers. Moreover, thecivil-service administration systematically escaped such controlas is signified by the English committee discussions. Theadministration thus made it impossible for parliaments--with afew exceptions--to train really useful administrative chiefs fromtheir own ranks.
A third factor is that in Germany, in contrast to America, wehave had parties with principled political views who havemaintained that their members, at least subjectively, representedbona-fide Weltanschauungen. Now then, the two mostimportant of these parties, the Catholic Centre Party and theSocial Democratic party, have, from their inceptions, beenminority parties and have meant to be minority parties. Theleading circles of the Centre party in the Reich have neverconcealed their opposition to parliamentarian democracy, becauseof fear of remaining in the minority and thus facing greatdifficulties in placing their job hunters in office as they havedone by exerting pressure on the government. The SocialDemocratic party was a principled minority party and a handicapto the introduction of parliamentary government because the partydid not wish to stain itself by participating in the existingbourgeois political order. The fact that both parties dissociatedthemselves from the parliamentary system made parliamentarygovernment impossible.
Considering all this, what then became of the professionalpoliticians in Germany? They have had no power, noresponsibility, and could play only a rather subordinate role asnotables. In consequence, they have been animated anew by theguild instincts, which are typical everywhere. It has beenimpossible for a man who was not of their hue to climb high inthe circle of those notables who made their petty positions theirlives. I could mention many names from every party, the SocialDemocratic party, of course, not excepted, that spell tragediesof political careers because the persons had leadershipqualities, and precisely because of these qualities were nottolerated by the notables. All our parties have taken this courseof development and have become guilds of notables. Bebel, forinstance, was still a leader through temperament and purity ofcharacter, however modest his intellect. The fact that he was amartyr, that he never betrayed confidence in the eyes of themasses, resulted in his having the masses absolutely behind him.There was no power in the party that could have seriouslychallenged him. Such leadership came to an end, after his death,and the rule of officials began. Trade-union officials, partysecretaries, and journalists came to the top. The instincts ofofficialdom dominated the party--a highly respectableofficialdom, of rare respectability one may say, compared toconditions in other countries, especially the often corruptibletrade-union officials in America. But the results of control byofficialdom, which we discussed above, also began in the party.
Since the eighteen-eighties the bourgeois parties havecompletely become guilds of notables. To be sure, occasionallythe parties had to draw on extra-party intellects for advertisingpurposes, so that they could say, 'We have such and such names.'So far as possible, they avoided letting these names run forelection; only when it was unavoidable and the person insistedcould he run for election. The same spirit prevailed inParliament. Our parliamentary parties were and are guilds. Everyspeech delivered from the floor of the Reichstag is thoroughlycensored in the party before it is delivered. This is obviousfrom their unheard-of boredom. Only he who is summoned to speakcan have the word. One can hardly conceive of a stronger contrastto the English, and also--for quite opposite reasons--the Frenchusage.
Now, in consequence of the enormous collapse, which iscustomarily called the Revolution, perhaps a transformation isunder way. Perhaps--but not for certain. In the beginning therewere new kinds of party apparatuses emerging. First, there wereamateur apparatuses. They are especially often represented bystudents of the various universities, who tell a man to whom theyascribe leadership qualities: we want to do the necessary workfor you; carry it out. Secondly, there are apparatuses ofbusinessmen. It happened that men to whom leadership qualitieswere ascribed were approached by people willing to take over thepropaganda, at fixed rates for every vote. If you were to ask mehonestly which of these two apparatuses I think the morereliable, from the purely technical-political point of view, Ibelieve I would prefer the latter. But both apparatuses werefast-emerging bubbles, which swiftly vanished again. The existingapparatuses transformed themselves, but they continued to work.The phenomena are only symptoms of the fact that new apparatuseswould come about if there were only leaders. But even thetechnical peculiarity of proportionate representation precludedtheir ascendancy. Only a few dictators of the street crowds aroseand fell again. And only the following of a mob dictatorship isorganized in a strictly disciplined fashion: whence the power ofthese vanishing minorities.
Let us assume that all this were to change; then, after whathas been said above, it has to be clearly realized that theplebiscitarian leadership of parties entails the 'soullessness'of the following, their intellectual proletarianization, onemight say. In order to be a useful apparatus, a machine in theAmerican sense--undisturbed either by the vanity of notables orpretensions to independent views--the following of such a leadermust obey him blindly. Lincoln's election was possible onlythrough this character of party organization, and with Gladstone,as mentioned before, the same happened in the caucus. This issimply the price paid for guidance by leaders. However, there isonly the choice between leadership democracy with a 'machine' andleaderless democracy, namely, the rule of professionalpoliticians without a calling, without the inner charismaticqualities that make a leader, and this means what the partyinsurgents in the situation usually designate as 'the rule of theclique.' For the time being, we in Germany have only the latter.For the future, the permanence of this situation, at least in theReich, is primarily facilitated by the fact that the Bundesrat7 will rise again and will of necessity restrict thepower of the Reichstag and therewith its significance as aselective agency of leaders. Moreover, in its present form,proportional representation is a typical phenomenon of leaderlessdemocracy. This is the case not only because it facilitates thehorse-trading of the notables for placement on the ticket, butalso because in the future it will give organized interest groupsthe possibility of compelling parties to include their officialsin the list of candidates, thus creating an unpoliticalParliament in which genuine leadership finds no place. Only thePresident of the Reich could become the safety-valve of thedemand for leadership if he were elected in a plebiscitarian wayand not by Parliament. Leadership on the basis of proved workcould emerge and selection could take place, especially if, ingreat municipalities, the plebiscitarian city-manager were toappear on the scene with the right to organize his bureausindependently. Such is the case in the U.S.A. whenever one wishesto tackle corruption seriously. It requires a party organizationfashioned for such elections. But the very petty-bourgeoishostility of all parties to leaders, the Social Democratic partycertainly included, leaves the future formation of parties andall these chances still completely in the dark.
Therefore, today, one cannot yet see in any way how themanagement of politics as a 'vocation' will shape itself. Evenless can one see along what avenue opportunities are opening towhich political talents can be put for satisfactory politicaltasks. He who by his material circumstances is compelled to live'off' politics will almost always have to consider thealternative positions of the journalist or the party official asthe typical direct avenues. Or, he must consider a position asrepresentative of interest groups--such as a trade union, achamber of commerce, a farm bureau, 8 a craftassociation, 9 a labor board, an employer'sassociation, et cetera, or else a suitable municipal position.Nothing more than this can be said about this external aspect: incommon with the journalist, the party official bears the odium ofbeing declasse. 'Wage writer' or 'wage speaker' willunfortunately always resound in his ears, even though the wordsremain unexpressed. He who is inwardly defenseless and unable tofind the proper answer for himself had better stay away from thiscareer. For in any case, besides grave temptations, it is anavenue that may constantly lead to disappointments. Now then,what inner enjoyments can this career offer and what personalconditions are presupposed for one who enters this avenue?
Well, first of all the career of politics grants a feeling ofpower. The knowledge of influencing men, of participating inpower over them, and above all, the feeling of holding in one'shands a nerve fiber of historically important events can elevatethe professional politician above everyday routine even when heis placed in formally modest positions. But now the question forhim is: Through what qualities can I hope to do justice to thispower (however narrowly circumscribed it may be in the individualcase) ? How can he hope to do justice to the responsibility thatpower imposes upon him? With this we enter the field of ethicalquestions, for that is where the problem belongs: What kind of aman must one be if he is to be allowed to put his hand on thewheel of history?
One can say that three pre-eminent qualities are decisive forthe politician: passion, a feeling of responsibility, and a senseof proportion.
This means passion in the sense of matter-of-factness,of passionate devotion to a 'cause,' to the god or demon who isits overlord. It is not passion in the sense of that innerbearing which my late friend, Georg Simmel, used to designate as'sterile excitation,' and which was peculiar especially to acertain type of Russian intellectual (by no means all of them!).It is an excitation that plays so great a part with ourintellectuals in this carnival we decorate with the proud name of'revolution.' It is a 'romanticism of the intellectuallyinteresting,' running into emptiness devoid of all feeling ofobjective responsibility.
To be sure, mere passion, however genuinely felt, is notenough. It does not make a politician, unless passion as devotionto a 'cause' also makes responsibility to this cause the guidingstar of action. And for this, a sense of proportion is needed.This is the decisive psychological quality of the politician: hisability to let realities work upon him with inner concentrationand calmness. Hence his distance to things and men.'Lack of distance' per se is one of the deadly sins ofevery politician. It is one of those qualities the breeding ofwhich will condemn the progeny of our intellectuals to politicalincapacity. For the problem is simply how can warm passion and acool sense of proportion be forged together in one and the samesoul? Politics is made with the head, not with other parts of thebody or soul. And yet devotion to politics, if it is not to befrivolous intellectual play but rather genuinely human conduct,can be born and nourished from passion alone. However, that firmtaming of the soul, which distinguishes the passionate politicianand differentiates him from the 'sterilely excited' and merepolitical dilettante, is possible only through habituation todetachment in every sense of the word. The 'strength' of apolitical 'personality' means, in the first place, the possessionof these qualities of passion, responsibility, and proportion.
Therefore, daily and hourly, the politician inwardly has toovercome a quite trivial and all-too-human enemy: a quite vulgarvanity, the deadly enemy of all matter of-fact devotion to acause, and of all distance, in this case, of distance towardsone's self.
Vanity is a very widespread quality and perhaps nobody isentirely free from it. In academic and scholarly circles, vanityis a sort of occupational disease, but precisely with thescholar, vanity--however disagreeably it may express itself--isrelatively harmless; in the sense that as a rule it does notdisturb scientific enterprise. With the politician the case isquite different. He works with the striving for power as anunavoidable means. Therefore, 'power instinct,' as is usuallysaid, belongs indeed to his normal qualities. The sin against thelofty spirit of his vocation, however, begins where this strivingfor power ceases to be objective and becomes purelypersonal self-intoxication, instead of exclusively entering theservice of 'the cause.' For ultimately there are only two kindsof deadly sins in the field of politics: lack of objectivityand--often but not always identical with it--irresponsibility.Vanity, the need personally to stand in the foreground as clearlyas possible, strongly tempts the politician to commit one or bothof these sins. This is more truly the case as the demagogue iscompelled to count upon 'effect.' He therefore is constantly indanger of becoming an actor as well as taking lightly theresponsibility for the outcome of his actions and of beingconcerned merely with the 'impression' he makes. His lack ofobjectivity tempts him to strive for the glamorous semblance ofpower rather than for actual power. His irresponsibility,however, suggests that he enjoy power merely for power's sakewithout a substantive purpose. Although, or rather just because,power is the unavoidable means, and striving for power is one ofthe driving forces of all politics, there is no more harmfuldistortion of political force than the parvenu-like braggart withpower, and the vain self-reflection in the feeling of power, andin general every worship of power per se. The mere'power politician' may get strong effects, but actually his workleads nowhere and is senseless. (Among us, too, an ardentlypromoted cult seeks to glorify him.) In this, the critics of'power politics' are absolutely right. From the sudden innercollapse of typical representatives of this mentality, we can seewhat inner weakness and impotence hides behind this boastful butentirely empty gesture. It is a product of a shoddy andsuperficially blase attitude towards the meaning of humanconduct; and it has no relation whatsoever to the knowledge oftragedy with which all action, but especially political action,is truly interwoven.
The final result of political action often, no, evenregularly, stands in completely inadequate and often evenparadoxical relation to its original meaning. This is fundamentalto all history, a point not to be proved in detail here. Butbecause of this fact, the serving of a cause must not be absentif action is to have inner strength. Exactly what the cause, inthe service of which the politician strives for power and usespower, looks like is a matter of faith. The politician may servenational, humanitarian, social, ethical, cultural, worldly, orreligious ends. The politician may be sustained by a strongbelief in 'progress'--no matter in which sense--or he may coollyreject this kind of belief. He may claim to stand in the serviceof an 'idea' or, rejecting this in principle, he may want toserve external ends of everyday life. However, some kind of faithmust always exist. Otherwise, it is absolutely true that thecurse of the creature's worthlessness overshadows even theexternally strongest political successes.
With the statement above we are already engaged in discussingthe last problem that concerns us tonight: the ethos ofpolitics as a 'cause.' What calling can politics fulfil quiteindependently of its goals within the total ethical economy ofhuman conduct--which is, so to speak, the ethical locus wherepolitics is at home? Here, to be sure, ultimate Weltanschauungenclash, world views among which in the end one has to make achoice. Let us resolutely tackle this problem, which recently hasbeen opened again, in my view in a very wrong way.
But first, let us free ourselves from a quite trivialfalsification: namely, that ethics may first appear in a morallyhighly compromised role. Let us consider examples. Rarely willyou find that a man whose love turns from one woman to anotherfeels no need to legitimate this before himself by saying: shewas not worthy of my love, or, she has disappointed me, orwhatever other like 'reasons' exist. This is an attitude that,with a profound lack of chivalry, adds a fancied 'legitimacy' tothe plain fact that he no longer loves her and that the woman hasto bear it. By virtue of this 'legitimation,' the man claims aright for himself and besides causing the misfortune seeks to puther in the wrong. The successful amatory competitor proceedsexactly in the same way: namely, the opponent must be lessworthy, otherwise he would not have lost out. It is no different,of course, if after a victorious war the victor in undignifiedself-righteousness claims, 'I have won because I was right.' Or,if somebody under the frightfulness of war collapsespsychologically, and instead of simply saying it was just toomuch, he feels the need of legitimizing his war weariness tohimself by substituting the feeling, 'I could not bear it becauseI had to fight for a morally bad cause.' And likewise with thedefeated in war. Instead of searching like old women for the'guilty one' after the war--in a situation in which the structureof society produced the war--everyone with a manly and controlledattitude would tell the enemy, 'We lost the war. You have won it.That is now all over. Now let us discuss what conclusions must bedrawn according to the objective interests that cameinto play and what is the main thing in view of theresponsibility towards the future which above allburdens the victor.' Anything else is undignified and will becomea boomerang. A nation forgives if its interests have beendamaged, but no nation forgives if its honor has been offended,especially by a bigoted self-righteousness. Every new documentthat comes to light after decades revives the undignifiedlamentations, the hatred and scorn, instead of allowing the warat its end to be buried, at least morally. This is possible onlythrough objectivity and chivalry and above all only throughdignity. But never is it possible through an 'ethic,' which intruth signifies a lack of dignity on both sides. Instead of beingconcerned about what the politician is interested in, the futureand the responsibility towards the future, this ethic isconcerned about politically sterile questions of past guilt,which are not to be settled politically. To act in this way ispolitically guilty, if such guilt exists at all. And it overlooksthe unavoidable falsification of the whole problem, through verymaterial interests: namely, the victor's interest in the greatestpossible moral and material gain; the hopes of the defeated totrade in advantages through confessions of guilt. If anything is'vulgar,' then, this is, and it is the result of this fashion ofexploiting 'ethics' as a means of 'being in the right.'
Now then, what relations do ethics and politics actually have?Have the two nothing whatever to do with one another, as hasoccasionally been said? Or, is the reverse true: that the ethicof political conduct is identical with that of any other conduct? Occasionally an exclusive choice has been believed to existbetween the two propositions--either the one or the otherproposition must be correct. But is it true that any ethic of theworld could establish commandments of identical content forerotic, business, familial, and official relations; for therelations to one's wife, to the greengrocer, the son, thecompetitor, the friend, the defendant? Should it really matter solittle for the ethical demands on politics that politics operateswith very special means, namely, power backed up by violence?Do we not see that the Bolshevik and the Spartacist ideologistsbring about exactly the same results as any militaristic dictatorjust because they use this political means? In what but thepersons of the power-holders and their dilettantism does the ruleof the workers' and soldiers' councils differ from the rule ofany power-holder of the old regime? In what way does the polemicof most representatives of the presumably new ethic differ fromthat of the opponents which they criticized, or the ethic of anyother demagogues ? In their noble intention, people will say.Good! But it is the means about which we speak here, and theadversaries, in complete subjective sincerity, claim, in the verysame way, that their ultimate intentions are of lofty character.'All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword' andfighting is everywhere fighting. Hence, the ethic of the Sermonon the Mount.
By the Sermon on the Mount, we mean the absolute ethic of thegospel, which is a more serious matter than those who are fond ofquoting these commandments today believe. This ethic is no jokingmatter. The same holds for this ethic as has been said ofcausality in science: it is not a cab, which one can have stoppedat one's pleasure; it is all or nothing. This is precisely themeaning of the gospel, if trivialities are not to result. Hence,for instance, it was said of the wealthy young man, 'He went awaysorrowful: for he had great possessions.' The evangelistcommandment, however, is unconditional and unambiguous: give whatthou hast--absolutely everything. The politician will say thatthis is a socially senseless imposition as long as it is notcarried out everywhere. Thus the politician upholds taxation,confiscatory taxation, out-right confiscation; in a word,compulsion and regulation for all. The ethical commandment,however, is not at all concerned about that, and this unconcernis its essence. Or, take the example, 'turn the other cheek':This command is unconditional and does not question the source ofthe other's authority to strike. Except for a saint it is anethic of indignity. This is it: one must be saintly ineverything; at least in intention, one must live like Jesus, theapostles, St. Francis, and their like. Then this ethicmakes sense and expresses a kind of dignity; otherwise it doesnot. For if it is said, in line with the acosmic ethic of love,'Resist not him that is evil with force,' for the politician thereverse proposition holds, 'thou shalt resist evil byforce,' or else you are responsible for the evil winning out. Hewho wishes to follow the ethic of the gospel should abstain fromstrikes, for strikes mean compulsion; he may join the companyunions. Above all things, he should not talk of 'revolution.'After all, the ethic of the gospel does not wish to teach thatcivil war is the only legitimate war. The pacifist who followsthe gospel will refuse to bear arms or will throw them down; inGermany this was the recommended ethical duty to end the war andtherewith all wars. The politician would say the only sure meansto discredit the war for all foreseeable time would have been a statusquo peace. Then the nations would have questioned, what wasthis war for? And then the war would have been argued adabsurdum, which is now impossible. For the victors, at leastfor part of them, the war will have been politically profitable.And the responsibility for this rests on behavior that made allresistance impossible for us. Now, as a result of the ethics ofabsolutism, when the period of exhaustion will have passed, thepeace will be discredited, not the war.
Finally, let us consider the duty of truthfulness. For theabsolute ethic it holds unconditionally. Hence the conclusion wasreached to publish all documents, especially those placing blameon one's own country. On the basis of these one-sidedpublications the confessions of guilt followed--and they wereone-sided, unconditional, and without regard to consequences. Thepolitician will find that as a result truth will not be furtheredbut certainly obscured through abuse and unleashing of passion;only an all-round methodical investigation by non-partisans couldbear fruit; any other procedure may have consequences for anation that cannot be remedied for decades. But the absoluteethic just does not ask for 'consequences.' That is thedecisive point.
We must be clear about the fact that all ethically orientedconduct may be guided by one of two fundamentally differing andirreconcilably opposed maxims: conduct can be oriented to an'ethic of ultimate ends' or to an 'ethic of responsibility.' Thisis not to say that an ethic of ultimate ends is identical withirresponsibility, or that an ethic of responsibility is identicalwith unprincipled opportunism. Naturally nobody says that.However, there is an abysmal contrast between conduct thatfollows the maxim of an ethic of ultimate ends--that is, inreligious terms, 'The Christian does rightly and leaves theresults with the Lord'--and conduct that follows the maxim of anethic of responsibility, in which case one has to give an accountof the foreseeable results of one's action.
You may demonstrate to a convinced syndicalist, believing inan ethic of ultimate ends, that his action will result inincreasing the opportunities of reaction, in increasing theoppression of his class, and obstructing its ascent--and you willnot make the slightest impression upon him. If an action of goodintent leads to bad results, then, in the actor's eyes, not hebut the world, or the stupidity of other men, or God's will whomade them thus, is responsible for the evil. However a man whobelieves in an ethic of responsibility takes account of preciselythe average deficiencies of people; as Fichte has correctly said,he does not even have the right to presuppose their goodness andperfection. He does not feel in a position to burden others withthe results of his own actions so far as he was able to foreseethem; he will say: these results are ascribed to my action. Thebeliever in an ethic of ultimate ends feels 'responsible' onlyfor seeing to it that the flame of pure intentions is notquelched: for example, the flame of protesting against theinjustice of the social order. To rekindle the flame ever anew isthe purpose of his quite irrational deeds, judged in view oftheir possible success. They are acts that can and shall haveonly exemplary value.
But even herewith the problem is not yet exhausted. No ethicsin the world can dodge the fact that in numerous instances theattainment of 'good' ends is bound to the fact that one must bewilling to pay the price of using morally dubious means or atleast dangerous ones --and facing the possibility or even theprobability of evil ramifications. From no ethics in the worldcan it be concluded when and to what extent the ethically goodpurpose 'justifies' the ethically dangerous means andramifications.
The decisive means for politics is violence. You may see theextent of the tension between means and ends, when viewedethically, from the following: as is generally known, even duringthe war the revolutionary socialists (Zimmerwald faction)professed a principle that one might strikingly formulate: 'If weface the choice either of some more years of war and thenrevolution, or peace now and no revolution, we choose--some moreyears of war!' Upon the further question: 'What can thisrevolution bring about?' every scientifically trained socialistwould have had the answer: One cannot speak of a transition to aneconomy that in our sense could be called socialist; a bourgeoiseconomy will re-emerge, merely stripped of the feudal elementsand the dynastic vestiges. For this very modest result, they arewilling to face 'some more years of war.' One may well say thateven with a very robust socialist conviction one might reject apurpose that demands such means. With Bolshevism and Spartacism,and, in general, with any kind of revolutionary socialism, it isprecisely the same thing. It is of course utterly ridiculous ifthe power politicians of the old regime are morally denounced fortheir use of the same means, however justified the rejection oftheir aims may be.
The ethic of ultimate ends apparently must go to pieces on theproblem of the justification of means by ends. As a matter offact, logically it has only the possibility of rejecting allaction that employs morally dangerous means--in theory! In theworld of realities, as a rule, we encounter the ever-renewedexperience that the adherent of an ethic of ultimate endssuddenly turns into a chiliastic prophet. Those, for example, whohave just preached 'love against violence' now call for the useof force for the last violent deed, which would thenlead to a state of affairs in which all violence isannihilated. In the same manner, our officers told the soldiersbefore every offensive: 'This will be the last one; this one willbring victory and therewith peace.' The proponent of an ethic ofabsolute ends cannot stand up under the ethical irrationality ofthe world. He is a cosmic-ethical 'rationalist.' Those of you whoknow Dostoievski will remember the scene of the 'GrandInquisitor,' where the problem is poignantly unfolded. If onemakes any concessions at all to the principle that the endjustifies the means, it is not possible to bring an ethic ofultimate ends and an ethic of responsibility under one roof or todecree ethically which end should justify which means.
My colleague, Mr. F. W. Forster, whom personally I highlyesteem for his undoubted sincerity, but whom I rejectunreservedly as a politician, believes it is possible to getaround this difficulty by the simple thesis: 'from good comesonly good; but from evil only evil follows.' In that case thiswhole complex of questions would not exist. But it is ratherastonishing that such a thesis could come to light two thousandfive hundred years after the Upanishads. Not only the wholecourse of world history, but every frank examination of everydayexperience points to the very opposite. The development ofreligions all over the world is determined by the fact that theopposite is true. The age-old problem of theodicy consists of thevery question of how it is that a power which is said to be atonce omnipotent and kind could have created such an irrationalworld of undeserved suffering, unpunished injustice, and hopelessstupidity. Either this power is not omnipotent or not kind, or,entirely different principles of compensation and reward governour life--principles we may interpret metaphysically, or evenprinciples that forever escape our comprehension.
This problem--the experience of the irrationality of theworld--has been the driving force of all religious evolution. TheIndian doctrine of karma, Persian dualism, the doctrine oforiginal sin, predestination and the deus absconditus,all these have grown out of this experience. Also the earlyChristians knew full well the world is governed by demons andthat he who lets himself in for politics, that is, for power andforce as means, contracts with diabolical powers and for hisaction it is not true that good can follow only from good andevil only from evil, but that often the opposite is true. Anyonewho fails to see this is, indeed, a political infant.
We are placed into various life-spheres, each of which isgoverned by different laws. Religious ethics have settled withthis fact in different ways. Hellenic polytheism made sacrificesto Aphrodite and Hera alike, to Dionysus and to Apollo, and knewthese gods were frequently in conflict with one another. TheHindu order of life made each of the different occupations anobject of a specific ethical code, a Dharma, and foreversegregated one from the other as castes, thereby placing theminto a fixed hierarchy of rank. For the man born into it, therewas no escape from it, lest he be twice-born in another life. Theoccupations were thus placed at varying distances from thehighest religious goods of salvation. In this way, the casteorder allowed for the possibility of fashioning the Dharma ofeach single caste, from those of the ascetics and Brahmins tothose of the rogues and harlots, in accordance with the immanentand autonomous laws of their respective occupations. War andpolitics were also included. You will find war integrated intothe totality of life-spheres in the Bhagavad-Gita, inthe conversation between Krishna and Arduna. 'Do what must bedone,' i.e. do that work which, according to the Dharma of thewarrior caste and its rules, is obligatory and which, accordingto the purpose of the war, is objectively necessary. Hinduismbelieves that such conduct does not damage religious salvationbut, rather, promotes it. When he faced the hero's death, theIndian warrior was always sure of Indra's heaven, just as was theTeuton warrior of Valhalla. The Indian hero would have despisedNirvana just as much as the Teuton would have sneered at theChristian paradise with its angels' choirs. This specializationof ethics allowed for the Indian ethic's quite unbroken treatmentof politics by following politics' own laws and even radicallyenhancing this royal art.
A really radical 'Machiavellianism,' in the popular sense ofthis word, is classically represented in Indian literature, inthe Kautaliya Arthasastra (long before Christ, allegedlydating from Chandragupta's time). In contrast with this documentMachiavelli's Principe is harmless. As is known inCatholic ethics--to which otherwise Professor Forster standsclose--the consilia evangelica are a special ethic forthose endowed with the charisma of a holy life. There stands themonk who must not shed blood or strive for gain, and beside himstand the pious knight and the burgher, who are allowed to do so,the one to shed blood, the other to pursue gain. The gradation ofethics and its organic integration into the doctrine of salvationis less consistent than in India. According to thepresuppositions of Christian faith, this could and had to be thecase. The wickedness of the world stemming from original sinallowed with relative ease the integration of violence intoethics as a disciplinary means against sin and against theheretics who endangered the soul. However, the demands of theSermon on the Mount, an acosmic ethic of ultimate ends, implied anatural law of absolute imperatives based upon religion. Theseabsolute imperatives retained their revolutionizing force andthey came upon the scene with elemental vigor during almost allperiods of social upheaval. They produced especially the radicalpacifist sects, one of which in Pennsylvania experimented inestablishing a polity that renounced violence towards theoutside. This experiment took a tragic course, inasmuch as withthe outbreak of the War of Independence the Quakers could notstand up arms-in-hand for their ideals, which were those of thewar.
Normally, Protestantism, however, absolutely legitimated thestate as a divine institution and hence violence as a means.Protestantism, especially, legitimated the authoritarian state.Luther relieved the individual of the ethical responsibility forwar and transferred it to the authorities. To obey theauthorities in matters other than those of faith could neverconstitute guilt. Calvinism in turn knew principled violence as ameans of defending the faith; thus Calvinism knew the crusade,which was for Islam an element of life from the beginning. Onesees that it is by no means a modern disbelief born from the heroworship of the Renaissance which poses the problem of politicalethics. All religions have wrestled with it, with highlydiffering success, and after what has been said it could not beotherwise. It is the specific means of legitimate violence assuch in the hand of human associations which determines thepeculiarity of all ethical problems of politics.
Whosoever contracts with violent means for whatever ends--andevery politician does--is exposed to its specific consequences.This holds especially for the crusader, religious andrevolutionary alike. Let us confidently take the present as anexample. He who wants to establish absolute justice on earth byforce requires a following, a human 'machine.' He must hold outthe necessary internal and external premiums, heavenly or worldlyreward, to this 'machine' or else the machine will not function.Under the conditions of the modern class struggle, the internalpremiums consist of the satisfying of hatred and the craving forrevenge; above all, resentment and the need for pseudo-ethicalself-right-eousness: the opponents must be slandered and accusedof heresy. The external rewards are adventure, victory, booty,power, and spoils. The leader and his success are completelydependent upon the functioning of his machine and hence not onhis own motives. Therefore he also depends upon whether or notthe premiums can be permanently granted to thefollowing, that is, to the Red Guard, the informers, theagitators, whom he needs. What he actually attains under theconditions of his work is therefore not in his hand, but isprescribed to him by the following's motives, which, if viewedethically, are predominantly base. The following can be harnessedonly so long as an honest belief in his person and his causeinspires at least part of the following, probably never on eartheven the majority. This belief, even when subjectively sincere,is in a very great number of cases really no more than an ethical'legitimation' of cravings for revenge, power, booty, and spoils.We shall not be deceived about this by verbiage; the materialistinterpretation of history is no cab to be taken at will; it doesnot stop short of the promoters of revolutions. Emotionalrevolutionism is followed by the traditionalist routine ofeveryday life; the crusading leader and the faith itself fadeaway, or, what is even more effective, the faith becomes part ofthe conventional phraseology of political Philistines andbanausic technicians. This development is especially rapid withstruggles of faith because they are usually led or inspired bygenuine leaders, that is, prophets of revolution. For here, aswith every leader's machine, one of the conditions for success isthe depersonalization and routinization, in short, the psychicproletarianization, in the interests of discipline. After comingto power the following of a crusader usually degenerates veryeasily into a quite common stratum of spoilsmen.
Whoever wants to engage in politics at all, and especially inpolitics as a vocation, has to realize these ethical paradoxes.He must know that he is responsible for what may become ofhimself under the impact of these paradoxes. I repeat, he letshimself in for the diabolic forces lurking in all violence. Thegreat virtuosi of acosmic love of humanity and goodness,whether stemming from Nazareth or Assisi or from Indian royalcastles, have not operated with the political means of violence.Their kingdom was 'not of this world' and yet they worked andstill work in this world. The figures of Platon Karatajev and thesaints of Dostoievski still remain their most adequatereconstructions. He who seeks the salvation of the soul, of hisown and of others, should not seek it along the avenue ofpolitics, for the quite different tasks of politics can only besolved by violence. The genius or demon of politics lives in aninner tension with the god of love, as well as with the ChristianGod as expressed by the church. This tension can at any time leadto an irreconcilable conflict. Men knew this even in the times ofchurch rule. Time and again the papal interdict was placed uponFlorence and at the time it meant a far more robust power for menand their salvation of soul than (to speak with Fichte) the 'coolapprobation' of the Kantian ethical judgment. The burghers,however, fought the church-state. And it is with reference tosuch situations that Machiavelli in a beautiful passage, if I amnot mistaken, of the History of Florence, has one of hisheroes praise those citizens who deemed the greatness of theirnative city higher than the salvation of their souls.
If one says 'the future of socialism' or 'internationalpeace,' instead of native city or 'fatherland' (which at presentmay be a dubious value to some), then you face the problem as itstands now. Everything that is striven for through politicalaction operating with violent means and following an ethic ofresponsibility endangers the 'salvation of the soul.' If,however, one chases after the ultimate good in a war of beliefs,following a pure ethic of absolute ends, then the goals may bedamaged and discredited for generations, because responsibilityfor consequences is lacking, and two diabolic forces which enterthe play remain unknown to the actor. These are inexorable andproduce consequences for his action and even for his inner self,to which he must helplessly submit, unless he perceives them. Thesentence: 'The devil is old; grow old to understand him!' doesnot refer to age in terms of chronological years. I have neverpermitted myself to lose out in a discussion through a referenceto a date registered on a birth certificate; but the mere factthat someone is twenty years of age and that I am over fifty isno cause for me to think that this alone is an achievement beforewhich I am overawed. Age is not decisive; what is decisive is thetrained relentlessness in viewing the realities of life, and theability to face such realities and to measure up to theminwardly.
Surely, politics is made with the head, but it is certainlynot made with the head alone. In this the proponents of an ethicof ultimate ends are right. One cannot prescribe to anyonewhether he should follow an ethic of absolute ends or an ethic ofresponsibility, or when the one and when the other. One can sayonly this much: If in these times, which, in your opinion, arenot times of 'sterile' excitation--excitation is not, after all,genuine passion--if now suddenly the Weltanschauungs-politicianscrop up en masse and pass the watchword, 'The world isstupid and base, not I,' 'The responsibility for the consequencesdoes not fall upon me but upon the others whom I serve and whosestupidity or baseness I shall eradicate,' then I declare franklythat I would first inquire into the degree of inner poise backingthis ethic of ultimate ends. I am under the impression that innine out of ten cases I deal with windbags who do not fullyrealize what they take upon themselves but who intoxicatethemselves with romantic sensations. From a human point of viewthis is not very interesting to me, nor does it move meprofoundly. However, it is immensely moving when a matureman--no matter whether old or young in years--is aware of aresponsibility for the consequences of his conduct and reallyfeels such responsibility with heart and soul. He then acts byfollowing an ethic of responsibility and somewhere he reaches thepoint where he says: 'Here I stand; I can do no other.' That issomething genuinely human and moving. And every one of us who isnot spiritually dead must realize the possibility of findinghimself at some time in that position. In so far as this is true,an ethic of ultimate ends and an ethic of responsibility are notabsolute contrasts but rather supplements, which only in unisonconstitute a genuine man--a man who can have the 'calling forpolitics.'
Now then, ladies and gentlemen, let us debate this matter oncemore ten years from now. Unfortunately, for a whole series ofreasons, I fear that by then the period of reaction will havelong since broken over us. It is very probable that little ofwhat many of you, and (I candidly confess) I too, have wished andhoped for will be fulfilled; little-perhaps not exactly nothing,but what to us at least seems little. This will not crush me, butsurely it is an inner burden to realize it. Then, I wish I couldsee what has become of those of you who now feel yourselves to begenuinely 'principled' politicians and who share in theintoxication signified by this revolution. It would be nice ifmatters turned out in such a way that Shakespeare's Sonnet 102should hold true:
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.
But such is not the case. Not summer's bloom lies ahead of us,but rather a polar night of icy darkness and hardness, no matterwhich group may triumph externally now. Where there is nothing,not only the Kaiser but also the proletarian has lost his rights.When this night shall have slowly receded, who of those for whomspring apparently has bloomed so luxuriously will be alive? Andwhat will have become of all of you by then ? Will you be bitteror banausic ? Will you simply and dully accept world andoccupation? Or will the third and by no means the least frequentpossibility be your lot: mystic flight from reality for those whoare gifted for it, or--as is both frequent and unpleasant--forthose who belabor themselves to follow this fashion? In every oneof such cases, I shall draw the conclusion that they have notmeasured up to their own doings. They have not measured up to theworld as it really is in its everyday routine. Objectively andactually, they have not experienced the vocation for politics inits deepest meaning, which they thought they had. They would havedone better in simply cultivating plain brotherliness in personalrelations. And for the rest--they should have gone soberly abouttheir daily work.
Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takesboth passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experienceconfirms the truth--that man would not have attained the possibleunless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. Butto do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but ahero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even thosewho are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with thatsteadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of allhopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be ableto attain even that which is possible today. Only he has thecalling for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble whenthe world from his point of view is too stupid or too base forwhat he wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this cansay 'In spite of all!' has the calling for politics.
From H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (Translated and edited), FromMax Weber: Essays in Sociology, pp. 77-128, New York:Oxford University Press, 1946.
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