Guidance is an overused term


1The irony of fate is that the »classics« are in principle well known, but in reality they are poorly understood. Weber's theory of bureaucracy offers a striking example of this phenomenon in our eyes. At first sight it is familiar to every self-respecting sociologist; but it is still a long way from being understood. Behind this apparent familiarity with a central component of Weber's work, there is often a fundamental lack of understanding of its scope and what it is actually about.

2 Undoubtedly one must be aware that the sole consideration of Chapter III of the first half-volume of economy and society1 is not sufficient to be able to grasp Max Weber's attitude towards bureaucracy in all its complexity. In contrast to the English-speaking, even the Italian or Spanish audience, the French-speaking reader unfortunately does not yet have a complete translation of this major work, especially Chapter IX (Sociology of Domination) of the second half volume, which Weber dedicated to bureaucracy2 and which, insofar as it was written earlier, represents an indispensable counterpoint to the text from the first part. Whatever priority you give it, an analysis of all relevant passages economyand society must by reading the strictly political writings of Max Weber (Collected Political Writings) be supplemented, in particular the long and for our project particularly productive text "Parliament and Government in the reorganized Germany" 3; after all, the im Association for social policy Debates on bureaucracy, and especially Weber's contribution, should not be disregarded.4 Perhaps the following remarks help to soften the possible harshness of our judgment expressed at the beginning: A possible misjudgment of Weber's thinking in this area is more due to a lack Reading that is mostly due to ignorance of the German language, because of a lack of understanding. And only those who have penetrated Max Weber's texts in their full range are spared from such a misjudgment, i.e. the real Weber specialists, to whom we unfortunately cannot count ourselves.

3 Such assertions certainly contain an ounce of truth, so that one can justifiably ask oneself whether what has been called Weber's bureaucracy concept for the sake of convenience can be reduced to a single theory, or whether it rather includes two or more - and This is precisely in view of the heterogeneity of the writings in which Max Weber dealt with this subject more or less in detail. However, this question is too complex for an immediate answer to be given here. First of all we want to go into the actual core of Weber's conception, from which one has tried to artificially isolate the "ideal type" of the bureaucracy, as well as the disputed interpretations, if it is not simply a matter of misinterpretation, which he sometimes said Has given cause. We therefore start with the most well-known aspects, because precisely these have not always been the best understood aspects.


4It should first be remembered that the perspective taken by Weber demands that the investigation of administration should not be separated from that of rule. Any administration must be treated on the basis of the type of rule with which it is most closely related. In Weber's words: “Every rule expresses itself and functions as an administration. Every administration somehow needs domination […]. «5 There is no exception to this principle for the bureaucracy. In its pure form it is known to be the most suitable form of administration for the exercise of legal or, if you will, rational-legal rule. Its main characteristics can only be understood with reference to this specific type of rule.

5This macrosociological Dimension is often ignored. In Weber's line of thought, it enters into a connection with a peculiar series of pairs of opposites and contrasts: Just as legal rule forms at the same time an opposition to traditional and charismatic rule, the bureaucracy in its opposition to the patriarchal structures on the one hand and in essential points to patrimonial administration on the other hand: As an "everyday structure" 6 it only represents a different form of exercise of power comparison with the premodern or at least not modern administrative means, so Weber's assumption, the analysis takes on its full significance and scope. Therefore, if not on universal history, then at least on his tremendous historical erudition to underpin the conceptual distinctions he made through illustrations borrowed from various societies, times and places. If one abstracts from this socio-historical perspective, which so many superficial commentators tend to do, one inevitably loses sight of what Weber was really about.

6The investigations into bureaucracy fit naturally into Weber's reflections on modernity, which was primarily close to his heart. You make your own contribution to the explanation of »the special peculiarity of Occidental Rationalism ”.7 All the more so since there are bureaucratic structures in modern political institutions such as economic organizations. On the one hand, they enter into a close relationship with the state as an "authority", but it is becoming increasingly clear that they are also becoming an integral part of the capitalist economic enterprise. They go beyond the demarcation between the public and the private sphere. Of more fundamental importance is that the development of modern "forms of association" according to Weber "is absolutely identical with the development and steady increase of the bureaucratic Administration «.8 The bureaucracy increasingly penetrates into the most varied of areas when the prerequisites for mass administration and procurement of bulk goods, which are characteristic of modernity, are given.

7Weber is therefore investigating the reasons for their success. From a sociological perspective, the bureaucracy is a highly significant form of expression of the rationalization process9 as Weber understands it, namely the increasing encroachment of a process based on the methodical application of rules and procedures formal Rationalization that ensures predictability and predictability. The modern monocratically organized bureaucracy proves to be the preferred instrument of legal rule, insofar as it is also based on obedience to general principles and not to persons. It only thrives on the basis of written legal principles. And it is becoming an increasingly indispensable tool of the capitalist business enterprise, in terms of bookkeeping as well as predictability. As Weber himself emphatically emphasizes, the calculable rules of bureaucracy are optimally adapted to the peculiarities of the modern technical and economic world. In his own words, "it requires precisely this 'predictability' of success." 10 The rules by which the bureaucrat acts in the exercise of his office are therefore "discursively analyzable [...]" and it is precisely on this fact that the is based The “specifically rational” character of the bureaucracy as well as the form of rule closely related to it.11 Weber also by no means hesitates to speak of the “bureaucratic rationalization” which revolutionizes “from the outside”, “things and orders first, then from there the people «, in contrast to the charisma, which» ›from within‹ [revolutionizes] people and [...] seeks to shape things and orders according to his revolutionary will ". 12

8 This rationality, Weber continues, goes hand in hand with knowledge, more precisely with knowledge-based practice.13 The acquisition of such knowledge includes a professional qualification determined by an examination and certified by a diploma, according to which the employment takes place and at which, corresponding to the ideal type who is recognized as an "official". If one adds that this specialist knowledge of the modern civil servant, in accordance with a further characteristic of this ideal type, is exercised within a strictly limited area of ​​responsibility, then it is hardly surprising that Weber repeatedly concludes that the bureaucracy is "technically superior" over any other form of organization, at least when it does it takes on the fully developed form of a monocratic bureaucracy, which is characterized by a unity of command. According to Weber's surprising formulation, “a fully developed bureaucratic mechanism […] relates to these [the other forms of organization; A. d. ] Just like a machine for the non-mechanical ways of producing goods. ”14 It is therefore difficult to follow Martin Albrow's assertion, who in his defense of Weber against one of the most frequently put forward allegations asserts the question of the The efficiency (or the efficiency) of the bureaucracy is alien to Weber's theory.15 Weber did indeed explicitly link its technical perfection to the idea of ​​the "maximum level of performance." 16 But this observation must be supplemented by the following three remarks - and with it something at the same time be toned down. First of all, Weber's reasoning is more complex than it is commonly condensed. As Albrow emphasizes, the subject of formal rationality cannot simply be reduced to the aspect of efficiency. But the development of formal rationality leads to a higher degree of efficiency, which Albrow - and he is wrong - does not want to admit. Then this judgment cannot be detached from the context in which it was formulated. It gains its full meaning only when it is differentiated from non-modern administrations of a patrimonial character or too completely premodern Administrations, such as that of dignitaries. Of course, the scope of this statement is overstrained if one does not consider the comprehensive socio-historical comparison undertaken by Weber. One can see in this an example of the inadequate consideration of the direction of view on which his utterances are based. After all, Weber is careful not to claim that the bureaucracy is suitable for all kinds of tasks. In most cases he does not limit himself to mentioning their technical superiority, but also adds - and this specification is anything but incidental - that this superiority is "purely technical."

It is now clear to what extent it is a fallacy to portray Weber, as it sometimes happens, as a staunch advocate of bureaucracy. And one almost caricatures his thinking when he is classified alongside Ford and Fayol among the unconditional supporters of modernity in industry and administration, as administrative scientists and even sociologists have sometimes done. He has also been criticized, somewhat strange, for having relied on the "timeless" principles of administrative efficiency, 18 while on various occasions he has pointed out that the bureaucracy is "a late product of development everywhere." Investigation of this or that special case to infer the inaccuracy of the description derived from the ideal type, while the latter was precisely not formed for this essentially descriptive use. As shown, he serves to emphasize the contrasts and uses a »one-sided increaseone or some Viewpoints "ahead, which are taken to be the decisive criteria for differentiation, an enhancement which, of course, gives it a uniformity that" is nowhere empirically found in reality. "

10This distortion of Weber's thinking, which is almost a caricature, is not to be found in the critical studies of some well-known organizational sociologists. But despite the sophistication that they sometimes display, they often more or less miss what is special about Weber's argument. The discussion led by Peter Blau is quite instructive in this regard.21 In order to avoid the ambiguities that he believes to be associated with the formulation of ideal types, he proposes to distill a set of hypotheses relating to factors for administrative efficiency from Weber's conceptual structure. He then wants to test this for each individual hypothesis and for all of them together in empirical studies on different types of organization. It is now up to the researcher, following an example cited by Blau himself22, to compare the effects of a rigid hierarchy in organizations as diverse as an army or a hospital. The heuristic One need not at all doubt the outcome of such an approach; it can be said, however, with the same emphasis that it is hardly in the spirit of Weber's theory of bureaucracy fair becomes. The perspective taken by Blau means a restriction of the field of comparison: it tempts one to undertake a comparative analysis of a whole series of bureaucratic organizations within the framework of a very specific type of society, modern society, while Weber is concerned with the new, the special to highlight the bureaucracy as a form of administration typically associated with modernity through a confrontation with the forms of administration of traditional and premodern societies, which, however much they differ from one another and as much as they come close to bureaucracy in some points, never show all of their properties. So blue places one synchronous Framework of investigation in the place of one according to its essence diachronous oriented comparison and thus, as Dennis Wrong rightly emphasized23, robs Weber's conception of its socio-historical dimension - we are almost tempted to say: its socio-historical basis. Precisely for this reason, the issue of efficiency is dealt with from a different perspective: where Weber emphasizes the "superiority" of the bureaucracy in comparison to earlier forms of administration, which make it indispensable under the conditions of modern mass goods production and administration, blue is the judge Interest in the variable - and thus relative - performance of this or that bureaucratic feature, depending on the task and type of organization, and that in a world in which the bureaucracy finally turns out to be the Form of administration has prevailed. There is a shift in interest from one to the other; Blau translates Weber's concept into the language of organizational sociologists.24 It should therefore come as no surprise that in the course of this translation certain significant dimensions of Weber's representation are underexposed, even completely faded out. In his enumeration of the salient features of the bureaucracy in condensed form, as expected, Blau insists on the distribution of tasks and technical responsibilities within the organization, the hierarchical command structure, the existence of general regulations for decision-making, as well as the writing down of rules the actions resulting from the application of the same, the impersonal guidance of the actions of officials and the professional qualifications which open up full-time employment and a career for the latter. Of course, he does not say a single word about the radical separation of civil servants and administrative resources, which precludes any appropriation of official posts

According to Weber, this is one of the essential differences between an actually bureaucratic administration and a patrimonial administration. This can certainly also include a certain degree of distribution of tasks and rationalization and, through such a development, approximate the type of pure administration. However, "the patrimonial office [...] lacks above all the bureaucratic separation of the" private "sphere and the" official "sphere" 26, and that is exactly what makes the immovable difference between the two types, even if the historical-social reality of course does not always exist offers such contrasting images. Weber also attaches great importance to the fact that the separation of office and the resources required for it on the one hand, and private property on the other hand, can only be the “product of a long development” 27 everywhere, thus taking up a topic that is familiar to him.It also appears to him to be of the same nature as the modern world: As a distinguishing criterion for any form of bureaucracy, it is not only used in public administration and the management of commercial enterprises, but also expresses in a specific form the fate shared by all of them, who carry out their professional activity in a hierarchical organization: »the› separation ‹of the worker from the material resources«, which can be found in the economy, in the army up to the research laboratories and public administration and which »the modern [...] State enterprise and the capitalist private sector [...] together"Is, represents a" decisive "structuring principle of Occidental societies.28 That sounds like Max Weber's answer to Marx: The expropriation of the worker from the means of production is only a special case of a more general phenomenon, and there is no reason to prefer it to treat. One must even add that for Weber the person of the bureaucrat is more typical of this process, which is so closely connected to modernity, and which puts an end to the appropriation of the official bodies and the sources of income connected with them. For this reason, and insofar as the bureaucracy primarily, if not exclusively, refers to the rational-legal rule associated with the state, one might be tempted to argue with Anthony Giddens that Weber, following a line of thought opposite to that of Marx, a » Generalization from politics to economics. ”29 One could conclude from this that by neglecting the separation of public officials and administrative means introduced by the bureaucracy, blue is in fact escaping the“ spirit ”of Weber's argument.

Moreover, one runs the risk of the ideal type absolutely to be interpreted if it is separated from the historical background from which it was formed and formulated. According to Weber's methodology, the only admissible use of the ideal type is the method of Distance. It consists in determining how close or how far the observed reality is to the ideal type, which in a sense serves as a yardstick. It invites the researcher to think in terms of 'more or less': the assertions he makes are consequently of a conditional character - or should be. Weber uses precisely formulations of this kind in a passage from the second part of economy and society back, which one can rightly call central:

»The bureaucracy in its full development is in a specific sense also under the principle of› sine ira ac studio ‹. It develops its specific character which capitalism welcomes the more perfect the more they 'dehumanize', the more perfectThat means here that she has the specific quality which she is praised as a virtue: the elimination of love, hate and all purely personal, generally all irrational elements of feeling that are beyond calculation, succeed in doing official business. Instead of the master of the older orders, moved by personal sympathy, favor, grace, gratitude, modern culture demands for the external apparatus that supports it, the more complicated and specialized she will, the more the humanly uninvolved, therefore strictly ›factual‹ Professional. All of this is provided by the bureaucratic structure [...]. «30

A whole way of thinking emerges in the few sentences. Weber would like through the Contrasting of tradition and modernity tendency point out. Bureaucratization is seen as a process, and this process itself is closely related to the degree of penetration of modern culture. The ideal type serves to grasp a fundamental tendency of modernity and not to establish timeless truths.

13If Weber defines a "pure" case, that is, to a certain extent, a borderline case, then this corresponds exactly to his plan: He draws attention to a central dimension of Western civilization and thus offers at best an asymptotic idea of ​​reality, so to speak. The methodological expressiveness of the ideal type would be injustice if one wanted to make the - naive - accusation that Weber misjudged the more or less pronounced discrepancy between the actual practices and the formal organizational chart. Weber experts like Bendix and key representatives of organizational sociology like Blau can agree on this. It is of course not a question of defending Weber's statements against any criticism, but rather of formulating or reformulating them adequately. Blau considers the accusation that Weber was not aware of the gap between informal practices and formal procedures to be unfounded, but he states that Weber's theory does not take into account the social organization of such deviations, that is, the central "discovery" from the Organizational sociology developed out of this.31 Parsons again emphasizes in the introduction to the first part of, which he (together with AM Henderson) translated economy and societythat Weber, regardless of the emphasis he placed on the connection between bureaucracy and knowledge, did not give the less rigid, knowledge-based organization any space alongside the strict administrative hierarchy, and thus also the importance more profession-specific Has not recognized authority as something different from bureaucratic authority. 32


14Even if the brilliant studies of the 1940s and 1950s (from Merton to Selznick and Blau) on the dysfunctionalities of the bureaucracy were primarily concerned with making corrections to a "model" that was perceived as Weberian through and through, one should not believe it 'Weber would not have foreseen this. For him, these dysfunctionalities were located on a different and, as we shall see, primarily political level. It would also have been surprising had an author who devoted so much care to tracing the "paradox of consequences" not paid attention to them in the particular case of bureaucracy. Indeed, in Weber's investigations on this subject, there is this sensitivity for the plurality, even ambivalence of consequences, which is so typical for him, which is why he also draws attention to what can be called the "dilemmas of bureaucracy"

15The bureaucracy is in a complex interrelationship with democracy. In a sense, it appears “an inevitable by-product of the modern Massesdemocracy «34, initially on the basis of its own functional principles, which imply the application of generally applicable rules to everyone and thereby refrain from privileges and the case-by-case treatment of problems, but also vice versa, because mass democracy tends to hand them over to the state level as well as to that of the political parties eliminates the administration of dignitaries and the supremacy of their local circles.35 The development of bureaucracy and the requirements of democracy, taken together, result in a large expansion of the education system, which is increasingly required to sanction the acquisition of vocational training through a technical examination: via this opening recruiting procedures based on criteria which, with Parsons, could be called universalistic, shows, as Weber has emphasized several times, a »tendency towards Leveling«.36

16However, these consequences are not the only ones to be considered. In the modern world, under the influence of increasing bureaucratisation of administration and capitalism, the educational patent has taken the place of the ancestral test. It therefore becomes the foundation in that moment more esteemed Differences where the prestige it bestows goes hand in hand with the monopoly of socially and economically advantageous positions. In this sense, the bureaucracy is the »bearer of a specifically› class development ‹«, which is responsible for the »formation of a privileged layer in the office«, i. H. in public administration and in private commercial companies. If one takes into account the extension of the examination to all possible areas and also the expenditure of costs and time that this course of education entails, then, according to Weber, one can even arrive at the assessment that such phenomena »the suppression of talent (of the 'charism') in favor of property ”. 37 These mechanisms of the constitution of a social group based on the educational patent, which occupy prestigious and well-paid positions, seemed to him at least sufficiently significant in the society of his time that he wrote that“ the differences in 'education' [ …] Today […] undoubtedly the most important actually standsforming difference ”. 38 The technical examination therefore has effects that are dreaded by democracy, even if in other respects it offers the possibility of unrestricted selection that is not subject to the influence of dignitaries. And it is precisely this fundamental dichotomy that determines the entire relationship between bureaucratization and democracy. To take up Weber's masterly formulation, democracy "inevitably comes into conflict with the bureaucratization tendencies it has generated as a result of its struggle against the rule of dignitaries." 39 There is always a tension between the two appointed Officials predominant concern for one safe Career, regular advancement, and the temptation of the short-term that recurs in a democracy Election of officialswhich is intended to narrow their scope of action.

With this last remark, the somewhat loose formulation of which goes beyond a reading of Weber's ideas that adheres closely to the text, we are already entering entirely into political territory. However, contrary to what one might have expected, Weber did not base his study of the relationship between bureaucracy and political power around the topic of democracy, even if he often comes to meaningful conclusions in this regard. Weber begins with a harsh criticism of what he calls the "official rule," in which the officials occupy the leading positions.40 According to him, this rule prevailed in Germany as a form of government under Wilhelm II after Bismarck eliminated all independent statesmen alongside himself 41 This kind of usurpation of political power by the bureaucracy seemed to him highly consequential, insofar as the official was not prepared for this kind of role. As undeniable as his qualities are, this type of person generally does not have the skills by which the politician is recognized. He does not, as the stereotypical image would otherwise, form the opposition to the bureaucrat like someone who has to perform the "'interesting", special intellectual demands "versus someone who" delves into subordinate everyday work ", but because he is a weaver according to the bearer of personal responsibility. He alone is responsible for his decisions. While the bureaucrat, by virtue of his special code of honor, is obliged to sacrifice his convictions in order to carry out an order, i.e. his "duty of obedience", if his view has not been heard, the political leader must take personal responsibility and be ready for the measures he has taken be able to give up his office if he can no longer assert his ideas in the fields that he considers essential beyond the necessary compromises. The civil servant is therefore destined to stand outside the struggle for his own power, which, on the other hand, is the "vital element of the politician" and leads him into the public arena in order to look for allies and partisans

According to Weber, there is no reason to be surprised if the "rule of officials" was accompanied by disastrous statements and statements, especially - if not exclusively - in the field of foreign policy. The serious mistakes that were of the greatest importance for the formation of the world coalition against Germany are primarily the inability of people to participate Official spirit to be attributed to leading positions and not to actual politicians, to assume the responsibility arising from public statements by Wilhelm II and to draw their conclusions from them, even if it is through their resignation. 43

The effects of such rule were all the more harmful as it was exercised without any real counterbalance44 not only by the Reich Chancellor and the ministers, but also by the Emperor himself. One should not be blinded by the appearance of the "personal regiment" of Wilhelm II or the even more autocratic rule of the Russian tsar. "Even the absolute monarch [...] is powerless against superior bureaucratic expertise." 45 In contrast to the constitutional monarch, whom the parliamentary system in no way prevents from doing a certain amount of positive systematic work in the service of his country (Kingdom of influence), the sovereign, whose legally recognized crown prerogatives tempt him to personal ambitions (Kingdom of prerogatives), tends to show a "dilettantism" without serious consequences for the actual functioning of a modern state.46

In all its sharpness, this formulation makes tangible the vehemence of Weber's criticism of German imperial politics and, as the previous reference shows, also of the tsar's autocracy. An observation of more general sociological significance can be inferred from his statement. The "rule of officials" is not limited to the easy-to-identify case of the occupation of leading positions in the state by members of the bureaucracy; it occurs equally every time the weakness of the actual political leadership leaves the officials to decide on the guidelines.47 This is particularly the case when Parliament is powerless against the bureaucracy due to a lack of access to relevant information. That is why Weber placed so much emphasis on equipping the future parliament of the reorganized Germany with an effective right of inquiry.

The risk of becoming dependent on the bureaucracy increases if it can expand its position of power. To the superiority of the Specialist In relation to the amateur and especially the dilettante, she also practices secrecy. The bureaucratic administration tends to exclude the public from the matters dealt with48 and thus saves costs caused by criticism. If, in Weber's eyes, this practice is entirely legitimate in certain areas of the state's foreign relations or the economy, it surpasses what justified objectively motivated secrecy. Here "the pure power interest of the bureaucracy as such acts" .49

According to Weber, this kind of usurpation of power by the bureaucracy is not easy to oppose, since it is not only a distinctive feature of the present period, but also has a significant future. In the modern world, which is characterized by a rational way of life, its expansion - which has already been pointed out - is simply inescapable. Such a development could have terrible consequences, as its historical forerunners show: every time a bureaucratic administration such as in China or ancient Egypt came to de facto sole rule, it has not »disappeared again […], except with the complete one Downfall of the whole culture that carried it «. And yet it was only a matter of "patrimonial bureaucracies" that lacked what makes the superiority of the modern bureaucracy, namely "the rational professional specialization and training".50 History teaches us that" once a bureaucracy has been fully implemented [...] is one of the most difficult social structures to destroy. "51 And if so, then create the bureaucratization of the administration in its strictly rational form, as it does peculiar to Western societies, it is all the more practical unbreakable Form of the administrative structure.

The future could even show itself in a particularly gloomy light and ultimately result in hopeless submission to bureaucratization. The prophecy turns into a nightmare when Weber talks about "that bondage of the future" - the joint work of the bureaucracy and the "dead machine" - "into which people might one day, like the fellahs in the ancient Egyptian state will be forced to submit impotently when a purely technically good, that is to say: a rational administration and supply of civil servants, is the last and only value which should decide on the way in which their affairs are to be managed. "52

This is certainly just a possible development, as Weber himself admits. History may well take a different course. However, the threat posed by an unchecked and uncontrolled expansion of the power of the bureaucracy must be taken seriously. The actual questions that arise are: »How is it in the face of this overwhelming tendency towards bureaucratization? still possible, any Remains of an in any To save the sense of ›individualistic‹ freedom of movement? «And in the realm of politics: How can the overwhelming power of the bureaucracy be kept in check?

25So the future does not appear to Weber too brightly, and so one is tempted to link this pessimistic worldview with the difficult phase towards the end of the First World War. 54 In reality, there are these oppressive thoughts about the chances of the permanent preservation of "Freedom" and "democracy" - both were anything but guaranteed by economic development - in a similar formulation already in the first text on the Russian Revolution of 1905.55 Precisely this concern about the salvation of freedom in the broadest sense is expressed in a pathetic way in his contribution to the conference of Association for social policy 1909 in Vienna. And of paramount importance in our context, this salvation involves resisting the total grip of the bureaucracy.

26Weber was, of course, dealing with the actual topic of the debates - this conference of the Association for social policy dealt with the economic undertakings of the municipalities - and thus beyond the reservations he had about municipal services. After an initial attack on the bureaucracy by his brother Alfred, he turned to an even more caustic criticism of it. Above all, he asserted - to take up some oft-quoted suggestions: “The central question [today] is not how we can further promote and accelerate this [bureaucratic development], but what we do with this machinery to oppose to keep a remnant of humanity free from this division of the soul, from this sole rule of bureaucratic ideals of life. "56 This time Weber envisages the increase in bureaucracy from a cultural point of view with regard to its consequences for mentalities; and on this ground he also assesses their effects as fatal. The bureaucracy thus harbors a twofold danger, for politics as well as for culture.

It is perhaps worth pointing out, by the way, that the statements of the Weber brothers, but especially those of Max, received violent reactions within the Association for social policy evoked. The differences of opinion were most pronounced with respect to the previous generation, the Schmollers, Wagner and the "Kathedersozialisten," since Weber was not content with simply challenging the leading role of the bureaucracy in the political field, but rather denying it the prominent position it held - and in particular the Prussian bureaucracy - tended to be raised above political contradictions and conflicts of interest. 57

28Weber disagreed with those in favor of - generally limited - state or local intervention, but he was even more hostile to any attempt to introduce socialism on a large scale. This would draw “a tremendous one increase the importance of specialist bureaucracy ”, whose power would then probably no longer know any reins and barriers. For Weber, the bureaucracy must be subject to control, both in economic life and in politics: The »senior Geist "is embodied on the one hand by the entrepreneur, on the other hand by the politician, who has a comparable responsibility in their respective field of activity.58 In addition, capitalism resulted in the development of an internal bureaucracy and is therefore due to the coexistence of two types of bureaucracy recognize the private and the public. The abolition of the former would inevitably result in the exclusive rule of the latter. "The private and public bureaucracies that are now working alongside and, at least as far as possible, against each other, that is, at least still keeping each other in check, would have melted into a single hierarchy." To base the conditions of modern life on his bureaucratically organized party, which serves him as a basis for mobilizing voters and at the same time as a springboard for satisfying his ambitions for power.

The problems raised by the expansion of the bureaucracy, which Weber judged to be inevitable, are not insoluble, provided that it is subject to effective and not only formal violence that does not arise from itself and that it is also subject to a certain countervailing power. In the non-bureaucratic authority - that of the entrepreneur or the political leader - leadership qualities and a sense of personal responsibility must come together, without which any control the bureaucracy proved null and void. With the great importance that he gives to such a Counterweight attaches, Weber takes up a classic theme of constitutional and democratic theory; he treats it, of course, in a completely different spirit and with undeniable originality. Indeed, it establishes the principle that one of the most effective means of combating the excesses of bureaucracy in a world where bureaucracy is growing is to make the various bureaucracies work against each other. It certainly has its good points that the public bureaucracies have to cope with the private bureaucracies, that the state bureaucracy is confronted with that of the ruling party - or at least it should be - and that the rival party bureaucracies compete for supremacy Elections must take place. Even if you do not really have this goal, serve the competition between the bureaucracies the maintenance of freedom. 60

So for Weber there are definitely different types - at least relative - remedies against bureaucratization. And these deserve to be enumerated one after the other, just as one so often wanted to pay attention only to the sharp criticism of the bureaucracy contained in his political investigations. From the end of the sixties, and certainly partly under the influence of radical thinkers, Anglo-Saxon sociologists had a contrary, but no less one-sided picture than the previous one, which made Weber no longer a staunch supporter, but an unconditional critic of the bureaucracy One therefore overlooked the emphasis with which Weber repeatedly pointed to their technical superiority, as well as the importance he attached to a stable and loyal civil service for the functioning of a modern political order. Nevertheless, the pessimistic attitude that appears in Weber's outlook for the future can only be astonishing. He had strong fears that once economic development had stalled, in which he firmly believed, a bureaucratically governed and increasingly sclerotic order would be established.62 These pathos-made predictions were not confirmed. Far from leaving the field to a stationary economy, capitalism experienced a new bloom, and that in forms that are certainly no longer those of corporate capitalism. And to come back to our actual topic again, there is no way one can unilateral Observe the tendency towards bureaucratisation. As Eisenstadt emphasizes, bureaucratisation and de-bureaucratisation processes can definitely go hand in hand. One can very well come across cases in which "bureaucratisation and de-bureaucratisation tendencies overlap." 63 Under these conditions there is not one, but several types of bureaucratisation. The bureaucratic organization does not necessarily have the monolithic character that Weber usually assumes, which in turn can strengthen the resilience of the actors. After all, due to somewhat far-fetched historical comparisons with ancient Egypt or imperial Rome, Weber went so far as to endow it with a robust resilience that it does not always have. Thus the tsarist bureaucracy collapsed under the revolutionary attacks of the Bolsheviks, even if this statement alone, as Pipes64 believed, does not suffice to completely refute Weber's analysis, as we will try to show in another chapter.65 One may certainly - with the thinkers of any provenance - to view his denunciation of the undivided rule of a state bureaucracy as extremely captivating, but "he [...]", to use Jürgen Kocka's formulation, "should have pursued the possibility that freedom and organization, dynamism and bureaucracy were not in such necessary opposition stand as he thought. «66

The effects of bureaucracy, as well as the relationship between bureaucracy and politics, are undoubtedly more complex than Weber assumed, and that should not go unmentioned. But these reservations should in no way detract from the actual size of the company. As we have seen, it is simply incorrect to accuse him of advocating an idealized conception of bureaucratic organization. As we understand it, it would be all too simplistic to criticize him for an uncontrolled use of the ideal type, which would have led him to project simple ideal-type constructions onto historical phenomena. The real essence and scope of his political analysis cannot be measured by the breadth of predictions, some of which, as we have pointed out, are more illustrative than accurate. It seems equally unjust to us to accuse him of simply extrapolating in an inadmissible manner their merits, but also their limitations and weaknesses, on the basis of a special case, namely the Prussian bureaucracy. Weber was perhaps not always cautious enough about that, but in his eyes the characteristics of the Prussian administration were constitutive properties from modernity: the purely technical superiority of the bureaucracy, the generalization of this rational form of organization, the dangers it harbors for responsible political leadership as well as for cultural autonomy. The experience that one had with it in Germany would be anything but a special case, but in yours Exemplariness of interest. It also does not seem right to assume with Bendix that Weber was inclined to "apply his world-historical perspectives to the political problems of Wilhelmine Germany" 67, while he assumed the Prussian bureaucracy - which was most developed at the time - to be generally applicable model to elaborate, on the basis of which some central tendencies of modernity should be explained, admittedly at the risk of making too hasty predictions about the course of world history.


In his writings Weber does indeed provide us with a comprehensive view, indeed in a certain sense also an overall view of the bureaucracy. However, this view is not sufficiently self-contained to be summarized in a single theory, but it can be broken down into individual, separate, admittedly complementary components. Weber's thinking is characterized - and that is one of its merits - that it is not satisfied with a one-sided view. The technical superiority of the bureaucracy in no way gives it the right to pretend to be the guardian of the common good. Their performance in the administrative field goes hand in hand with a kind of irresponsibility in that of politics or, if you will, with a fundamental inability to assume political responsibility in the strict sense of the word. Their practice offers the immense advantage of being based on knowledge, but the expansion of bureaucracy in turn leads to over-specialization. The continuity and regularity of the activities of the state and of the large economic units contrasts, so to speak, with the risk that "order" will rise to its highest value. Some will see it as an unmistakable sign of the "antinomic structure of Max Weber's thought" 68 or at least of his deeply ambivalent attitude towards the bureaucracy. But perhaps it is also permissible to turn the formulation around and come to the conclusion that Weber's exceptionally astute analyzes help us, us Ambivalences of Modernity to become aware. At a time when the subject of modernity - and the closely related subject of postmodernism - is the subject of more or less superficial debates, Weber, in his refusal to think of complexity from a single point of view, offers us an example of that we should ponder, maybe even a role model.

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