Violence and Politics: Reconsidering Weber’s ‘Politics as a Vocation’

Jack BARBALET*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Today, more than ever, consideration of politics requires reflection on the role of violence and the ethical conduct of leaders. These and associated issues are central in Weber’s ‘Politics as a vocation’, published 100 years ago. While frequently cited, Weber’s definitions of politics and the state, and his understanding of the vocation of politics, are seldom subject to close examination. In the present article Weber’s treatment of the state and politics in terms of the means of violence is shown to be inadequate and misleading. The extra-territoriality of the modern state, necessary in war-making and international intrigue, is continuous with its means of violence, but curiously ignored in ‘Politics as a vocation’. Finally, Weber’s account of morality in the political vocation is shown to have high polemical resonance but low analytic value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-70
Number of pages15
JournalSociology
Volume55
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • extra-territoriality
  • political morality
  • state/politics distinction
  • taxation
  • vocation

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