WSN 2023/2024 EVENT SERIES: #1 Session

WSN 2023/2024 EVENT SERIES: Max Weber as Political Theorist? Domination, Democracy and Revolution in the late writings (1917–1920)

Across Europe and the United States, but also from India to the Philippines and Brazil we are currently witnessing a massive questioning of representative parliamentary democracy, the electoral system and the liberal elites – among other carrier groups – that support it. Authoritarian models of government and nationalist right-wing political forces are on the rise worldwide. Can we speak of “plebiscitary leadership democracies” or already of “sham democracies”? 

Max Weber used these analytical terms in his critical observation of the upheavals of his time. The First World War, the revolutions of 1917 and 1918 led to a collapse of the orders of life with which he was familiar. As a committed citizen and intellectual, he rose to these new challenges. His late categories represent, in this regard, an attempt to capture the new development through a scientific frame. While many of the texts from 1917–1920 were interventions into “burning issues of the day”, Weber deliberately refrains from using political slogans. In that sense, while their immediate context offers important keys to decipher these writings, they remain a valuable source of insight for political analysis. The conceptual and systematic grasp of “democracy” posed a particular challenge for Weber in his final years. What are the facets of his conceptualization of democracy? Can we use his reflections as tools of analysis in the current crisis scenario? These are the questions that will guide our midnew online debate series starting on November 22nd!

Join us in the first session of the event series «Four theses on ‘Democracy’ in Max Weber’s Late Work» on November 22nd at 18:00 (CET):

According to Max Weber, democracy is supposed to mean… Such a handy definition does not exist in Weber’s late work. Instead, we are confronted with manifold, context-specific, even systematic statements, up to and including the much-discussed (and disturbing) definition he gave in a conversation with General Ludendorff: in a democracy, the people elect a leader and then have to keep their mouths shut. In this session, Edith Hanke will present four aspects of Weber’s understanding of democracy in the form of theses, which will be discussed with Sérgio da Mata and Yves Sintomer. Edith has kindly provided an exhaustive collection of Weber quotations on ‘democracy’ in German and English as a resource for participants, that you can check out here before the event!  

We are looking forward to seeing you in our Zoom session! You are welcome to post this widely and invite everyone – Weber-scholar or otherwise – to join us. 

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