Workshop reading 1, is excerpted from the title essay of Kenneth B. Clark's The Pathos of Power. Harper & Row, New York, 1974; pp. 169-174.
The Green-Rainbow Party in Massachusetts seeking state power, consistently, and every year increasing the opportunities for its accomplishment, its candidates for that power will require a consciousness of its nature if they are to succeed in the exercise of that power for ends that are not understood in the current system. Clark's essay also helps to illuminate what is happening in Washington at this time.
The dilemmas of power are such that large numbers of the people whose support we seek belong to a group that rejects the use of state power altogether, and the GRP agenda cannot succeed without their support. The only way of gaining the support of those who agree with much of our analysis will be our ability to exercise political power in ways that are very different from those of the duopoly parties.
* * *
SOCIAL POWER: A STRUGGLE FOR INTEGRATION
FOR ORGANISMIC AND SOCIAL SYSTEMS
There is the tendency among many of us who are concerned with studying more systematically the crucial role of social power in human affairs to present our case as if power is the only significant motivational force and as if it can operate in isolation from the total complexity of structure and integrated functions of organismic and social systems.
A realistic view of social power requires that it be seen as a pervasive and integrative force, operating in relationship to other forces in the dynamic constellation of human personality.
Personality is here defined in a characteristic way in which the individual human organism mobilizes and uses its available resources in its struggle for survival, satisfaction, status, meaning and moral integrity. This definition suggests a hierarchy of motivation in which power or status needs lie between the more primitive drives toward survival and sensual satisfactions and the uniquely human motives of quest for meaning and moral integrity, Power may, therefore, operate toward either end of the continuum to reinforce or make dominant either the primitive or the human. Power may make stark and rigid, or determine fixation or regression; and it may determine the pattern of relationship among the motivational levels. It can intensify, obscure, or contaminate one or more motives in the dynamic system of personality. Power and status needs can determine whether other needs will be gratified in animalistic, egocentric, or non-adaptive ways or in human, empathic, and socially constructive channels.
This is the dilemma of power whence the pathos of power arises.
THE CONTEMPORARY CRISIS OF
THE PATHOS OF POWER
Power cannot be exercised without inducing reaction or counter-reaction. Social power almost always involves confrontations and conflicts, and these lead usually to accommodation, with or without residual resentment, or to acute defiance, sporadic counter-reaction, or prolonged and smoldering resistance. And this, in turn, leads back to conflict—this is the psychodynamic base for the cycle of power.
The rewards of power are transitory; and the gratifications of power and status needs are frequently non-adaptive and self-defeating. Power exhibits the symptoms of non-adaptive pathos and futility:
1. When the exercise of power does not increase, or when it interferes with,
the chances of gratifying the more basic needs of survival and satisfaction.
2. When the exercise of power is ambiguous, random, arbitrary, regressive,
disproportionately intense, and rigid in spite of consequences.
3. When the exercise of power becomes so functionally autonomous and
extreme in intensity that it subverts and perverts the critical, rational, and moral
capacities of individuals and groups.
4. When the attainment of the symbols of power or the unchallenged actuality
of power results in a sense of futility and ennui and the dissipation of the desire
or the capacity to use power constructively or creatively.
The continuation, intensification, and cumulative effect of any combination of these symptoms is a major threat to the organism or the social system. This crisis betrays the fact that the power system has become self-directing and is no longer controlled by the organism and social system to serve their adaptive needs. The survival of the system would then seem to depend upon its capacity to redirect power drives and channel their energy toward constructive ends within the imperative period of time.
Certainly the normal brain has the necessary survival alert systems that ordinarily can be engaged to prevent the organism from pursuing rigidly the paths of self-destruction. Whether the human brain can resolve the contemporary survival crisis of social power positively and constructively is in doubt. It is a mocking fact that the human brain can rationalize intellectually and morally in support of a non-adaptive, ultimately destructive use of social power. It can invent ideational, delusional realities that provide the crutches for the fragile human ego. It can justify human pomp and pretense while non-rational forces propel man toward disaster. But the human brain is also the only source of positive alternatives—alternatives to personal anxieties, humiliations, intergroup tensions, violence; alternatives to suicide, homicide, and the barbarities of war.
Contemporary man’s technological mastery of matter and energy, with the related ultimate thermonuclear weaponry, confronts us with this fact: it is now possible to destroy the human species through the nonadaptive use of human intelligence and the destructive, pathetic use of social power. This threat is so ultimate and so urgent that human beings seek to deny or repress it. But it does exist. And it must be coped with if human beings are to function without the gnawing and debilitating anxieties inherent in the imminence of extinction.
The survival crisis requires immediate mobilization of all that is positive within man to provide us with the time to prevent man from destroying the human species—the time to evolve and to develop a more stable organismic base for the rational and moral exercise of social power.
Workshop Reading 2, taken from an internet source: http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/DSS/Weber/BUREAU.HTML is an English translation of the German, Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, part III, chap. 6, pp. 650-78. published in 1922 of Weber's research is sufficiently familiar to anyone who studied modern sociology.
Here it is presented for reference to discussion of the role of bureaucracy in government, especially municipal and state government. Complexities of urban life require an ever increasing amount of specialized knowledge and training in managing everyday affairs, and fulfilling obligations that we have learned to expect of government. Skilled and unskilled laborers may actually do the work, but decision as to what, where, when and how is referred to experts who are expected to give advice about courses of action to all branches of elected and appointed powers: legislative, executive and judicial. The characteristics of this bureaucracy, that any elected official will encounter are set forth in the following text.
Green theory seems some what deficient in addressing the problem of bureaucracy and the obvious conflict with values associated with the ecological need for grassroots democracy. How can the institutional interests of a necessarily entrenched modern democratic state bureaucracy fare under the changing social needs and demands of the governed. What can serve democratic government better is a question for political theory. What concerns the GRP member elected to public office is how does she deal with trained expertise of the bureaucrat who tells her that the suggested course of action will upset 'the way we do things around here.' Also how does one deal with managers (or mayors) who are always willing to hire a consultant, especially one who might seek further consulting jobs from the jurisdiction.
The creation of autonomous authorities under law is a related matter.
~ Elie Yarden
* * *
I: Characteristics of Bureaucracy
MODERN officialdom functions in the following specific manner:
I. There is the principle of fixed and official jurisdictional areas, which are generally ordered by rules, that is, by laws or administrative regulations.
1. The regular activities required for the purposes of the bureaucratically governed structure are distributed in a fixed way as official duties.
2. The authority to give the commands required for the discharge of these duties is distributed in a stable way and is strictly delimited by rules concerning the coercive means, physical, sacerdotal, or otherwise, which may be placed at the disposal of officials.
3. Methodical provision is made for the regular and continuous fulfillment of these duties and for the execution of the corresponding rights; only persons who have the generally regulated qualifications to serve are employed.
In public and lawful government these three elements constitute 'bureaucratic authority.' In private economic domination, they constitute bureaucratic 'management.' Bureaucracy, thus understood, is fully developed in political and ecclesiastical communities only in the modern state, and, in the private economy, only in the most advanced institutions of capitalism. Permanent and public office authority, with fixed jurisdiction, is not the historical rule but rather the exception.
This is so even in large political structures such as those of the ancient Orient, the Germanic and Mongolian empires of conquest, or of many feudal structures of state. In all these cases, the ruler executes the most important measures through personal trustees, table-companions, or court-servants. Their commissions and authority are not precisely delimited and are temporarily called into being for each case.
II. The principles of office hierarchy and of levels of graded authority mean a firmly ordered system of super- and subordination in which there is a supervision of the lower offices by the higher ones. Such a system offers the governed the possibility of appealing the decision of a lower office to its higher authority, in a definitely regulated manner. With the full development of the bureaucratic type, the office hierarchy is monocratically organized. The principle of hierarchical office authority is found in all bureaucratic structures: in state and ecclesiastical structures as well as in large party organizations and private enterprises. It does not matter for the character of bureaucracy whether its authority is called 'private' or 'public.'
When the principle of jurisdictional 'competency' is fully carried through, hierarchical subordination--at least in public office--does not mean that the 'higher' authority is simply authorized to take over the business of the 'lower.' Indeed, the opposite is the rule. Once established and having fulfilled its task, an office tends to continue in existence and be held by another incumbent.
III. The management of the modern office is based upon written documents ('the files'), which are preserved in their original or draught form. There is, therefore, a staff of subaltern officials and scribes of all sorts. The body of officials actively engaged in a 'public' office, along with the respective apparatus of material implements and the files, make up a 'bureau.' In private enterprise, 'the bureau' is often called 'the office.'
In principle, the modern organization of the civil service separates the bureau from the private domicile of the official, and, in general, bureaucracy segregates official activity as something distinct from the sphere of private life. Public monies and equipment are divorced from the private property of the official. This condition is everywhere the product of a long development. Nowadays, it is found in public as well as in private enterprises; in the latter, the principle extends even to the leading entrepreneur. In principle, the executive office is separated from the household, business from private correspondence, and business assets from private fortunes. The more consistently the modern type of business management has been carried through the more are these separations the case. The beginnings of this process are to be found as early as the Middle Ages.
It is the peculiarity of the modern entrepreneur that he conducts himself as the 'first official' of his enterprise, in the very same way in which the ruler of a specifically modern bureaucratic state spoke of himself as 'the first servant' of the state. The idea that the bureau activities of the state are intrinsically different in character from the management of private economic offices is a continental European notion and, by way of contrast, is totally foreign to the American way.
IV. Office management, at least all specialized office management-- and such management is distinctly modern--usually presupposes thorough and expert training. This increasingly holds for the modern executive and employee of private enterprises, in the same manner as it holds for the state official.
V. When the office is fully developed, official activity demands the full working capacity of the official, irrespective of the fact that his obligatory time in the bureau may be firmly delimited. In the normal case, this is only the product of a long development, in the public as well as in the private office. Formerly, in all cases, the normal state of affairs was reversed: official business was discharged as a secondary activity.
VI. The management of the office follows general rules, which are more or less stable, more or less exhaustive, and which can be learned. Knowledge of these rules represents a special technical learning which the officials possess. It involves jurisprudence, or administrative or business management.
The reduction of modern office management to rules is deeply embedded in its very nature. The theory of modern public administration, for instance, assumes that the authority to order certain matters by decree--which has been legally granted to public authorities--does not entitle the bureau to regulate the matter by commands given for each case, but only to regulate the matter abstractly. This stands in extreme contrast to the regulation of all relationships through individual privileges and bestowals of favor, which is absolutely dominant in patrimonialism, at least in so far as such relationships are not fixed by sacred tradition.
Workshop Reading 3, taken from an internet source.
Among the founders of the GPUS, there was a strong awareness of the problems in the decision to further the Green agenda seeking power in a democratic state from the only legitimate source of power in such a polity, the willingness of its population to elect its candidates to public office. Someplace, one of these founders, John Rensenbrink who will give the keynote speech, of the 2014 Massachusetts State Convention of the Green-Rainbow Party suggested that one classic worth reading (studying) was the text of a speech to the Free Students Union, given toward the end of December,1918. titled "Politik als Beruf" published from a stenographic transcript by Duncker & Humboldt Munich in 1919. The translators of the text that follows; Hans H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, is the one that I first read as a student at the Univ. of Chicago shortly after it appeared in print. 'Politics as a Vocation' is not only wonderful for the precision of its definitions, but even more so for the portrayal of the hazards -- moral and other -- of politics as a career. I consider it essential reading for any one seeking my vote.
My only further comment here is that this is both a seminal and a historical statement. It was given by one of the first of the anti-positivist sociologists, a researcher who was a participant in the world he studied, influenced by the thinking of Marx, and an important teacher. The talk was given shortly after revolution of workers and soldier that allowed a newly installed government to sign the Armistice of November 11, (The Emperor Wilhelm's flight to safety in Holland, happened the day before.) and months before the outbreak of the Communist revolution that took power in Bavaria. The prescience and care under the circumstances are indeed remarkable.
If not now, whenever you get the chance.
~ Elie Yarden
* * *
This lecture, which I give at your request, will necessarily disappoint you in a number of ways. You will
naturally expect me to take a position on actual problems of the day. But that will be the case only in a
purely formal way and toward the end, when I shall raise certain questions concerning the significance of
political action in the whole way of life. In today's lecture, all questions that refer to what policy and what
content one should give one's political activity must be eliminated. For such questions have nothing to do
with the general question of what politics as a vocation means and what it can mean. Now to our subject
What do we understand by politics? The concept is extremely broad and comprises any kind of independent
leadership in action. One speaks of the currency policy of the banks, of the discounting policy of the
Reichsbank, of the strike policy of a trade union; one may speak of the educational policy of a municipality
or a township, of the policy of the president of a voluntary association, and, finally, even of the policy of a
prudent wife who seeks to guide her husband. Tonight, our reflections are, of course, not based upon such a
broad concept. We wish to understand by politics only the leadership, or the influencing of the leadership,
of a political association, hence today, of a state.
But what is a 'political' association from the sociological point of view? What is a 'state'? Sociologically,
the state cannot be defined in terms of its ends. There is scarcely any task that some political association
has not taken in hand, and there is no task that one could say has always been exclusive and peculiar to
those associations which are designated as political ones: today the state, or historically, those associations
which have been the predecessors of the modern state. Ultimately, one can define the modern state
sociologically only in terms of the specific means peculiar to it, as to every political association, namely,
the use of physical force.
'Every state is founded on force,' said Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk. That is indeed right. If no social institutions
existed which knew the use of violence, then the concept of 'state' would be eliminated, and a condition
would emerge that could be designated as 'anarchy,' in the specific sense of this word. Of course, force is
certainly not the normal or the only means of the state--nobody says that--but force is a means specific to
the state. Today the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the
most varied institutions--beginning with the sib--have known the use of physical force as quite normal.
Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly
of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Note that 'territory' is one of the
characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to
other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered
the sole source of the 'right' to use violence. Hence, 'politics' for us means striving to share power or
striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state.
This corresponds essentially to ordinary usage. When a question is said to be a 'political' question, when a
cabinet minister or an official is said to be a 'political' official, or when a decision is said to be 'politically'
determined, what is always meant is that interests in the distribution, maintenance, or transfer of power are
decisive for answering the questions and determining the decision or the official's sphere of activity. He
who is active in politics strives for power either as a means in serving other aims, ideal or egoistic, or as
'power for power's sake,' that is, in order to enjoy the prestige-feeling that power gives.
Like the political institutions historically preceding it, the state is a relation of men dominating men, a
relation supported by means of legitimate (i.e. considered to be legitimate) violence. If the state is to exist,
the dominated must obey the authority claimed by the powers that be. When and why do men obey? Upon
what inner justifications and upon what external means does this domination rest?
To begin with, in principle, there are three inner justifications, hence basic legitimations of domination.
First, the authority of the 'eternal yesterday,' i.e. of the mores sanctified through the unimaginably ancient
recognition and habitual orientation to conform. This is 'traditional' domination exercised by the patriarch
and the patrimonial prince of yore.
There is the authority of the extraordinary and personal gift of grace (charisma), the absolutely personal
devotion and personal confidence in revelation, heroism, or other qualities of individual leadership. This is
'charismatic' domination, as exercised by the prophet or--in the field of politics--by the elected war lord, the
plebiscitarian ruler, the great demagogue, or the political party leader.
Finally, there is domination by virtue of 'legality,' by virtue of the belief in the validity of legal statute and
functional 'competence' based on rationally created rules. In this case, obedience is expected in discharging
statutory obligations. This is domination as exercised by the modern 'servant of the state' and by all those
bearers of power who in this respect resemble him.
It is understood that, in reality, obedience is determined by highly robust motives of fear and hope--fear of
the vengeance of magical powers or of the power-holder, hope for reward in this world or in the beyond--
and besides all this, by interests of the most varied sort. Of this we shall speak presently. However, in
asking for the 'legitimations' of this obedience, one meets with these three 'pure' types: 'traditional,'
'charismatic,' and 'legal.'
These conceptions of legitimacy and their inner justifications are of very great significance for the structure
of domination. To be sure, the pure types are rarely found in reality. But today we cannot deal with the
highly complex variant, transitions, and combinations of these pure types, which problems belong to
'political science.' Here we are interested above all in the second of these types: domination by virtue of the
devotion of those who obey the purely personal 'charisma' of the 'leader.' For this is the root of the idea of a
calling in its highest expression.
Devotion to the charisma of the prophet, or the leader in war, or to the great demagogue in the ecclesia or
in parliament, means that the leader is personally recognized as the innerly 'called' leader of men. Men do
not obey him by virtue of tradition or statute, but because they believe in him. If he is more than a narrow
and vain upstart of the moment, the leader lives for his cause and 'strives for his work.' The devotion of his
disciples, his followers, his personal party friends is oriented to his person and to its qualities.
Charismatic leadership has emerged in all places and in all historical epochs. Most importantly in the past,
it has emerged in the two figures of the magician and the prophet on the one hand, and in the elected war
lord, the gang leader and condotierre on the other hand. Political leadership in the form of the free
'demagogue' who grew from the soil of the city state is of greater concern to us; like the city state, the
demagogue is peculiar to the Occident and especially to Mediterranean culture. Furthermore, political
leadership in the form of the parliamentary 'party leader' has grown on the soil of the constitutional state,
which is also indigenous only to the Occident.
These politicians by virtue of a 'calling,' in the most genuine sense of the word, are of course nowhere the
only decisive figures in the cross-currents of the political struggle for power. The sort of auxiliary means
that are at their disposal is also highly decisive. How do the politically dominant powers manage to
maintain their domination? The question pertains to any kind of domination, hence also to political
domination in all its forms, traditional as well as legal and charismatic.
Organized domination, which calls for continuous administration, requires that human conduct be
conditioned to obedience towards those masters who claim to be the bearers of legitimate power. On the
other hand, by virtue of this obedience, organized domination requires the control of those material goods
which in a given case are necessary for the use of physical violence. Thus, organized domination requires
control of the personal executive staff and the material implements of administration.
The administrative staff, which externally represents the organization of political domination, is, of course,
like any other organization, bound by obedience to the power-holder and not alone by the concept of
legitimacy, of which we have just spoken. There are two other means, both of which appeal to personal
interests: material reward and social honor. The fiefs of vassals, the prebends of patrimonial officials, the
salaries of modern civil servants, the honor of knights, the privileges of estates, and the honor of the civil
servant comprise their respective wages. The fear of losing them is the final and decisive basis for
solidarity between the executive staff and the power-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 of office--and there are politically determined profits and premiums of vanity. All of these
rewards are also derived from the domination exercised by a charismatic leader.
To maintain a dominion by force, certain material goods are required, just as with an economic
organization. All states may be classified according to whether they rest on the principle that the staff of
men themselves own the administrative means, or whether the staff is 'separated' from these means of
administration. This distinction holds in the same sense in which today we say that the salaried employee
and the proletarian in the capitalistic enterprise are 'separated' from the material means of production. The
power-holder must be able to count on the obedience of the staff members, officials, or whoever else they
may be. The administrative means may consist of money, building, war material, vehicles, horses, or
whatnot. The question is whether or not the power-holder himself directs and organizes the administration
while delegating executive power to personal servants, hired officials, or personal favorites and confidants,
who are non-owners, i.e. who do not use the material means of administration in their own right but are
directed by the lord. The distinction runs through all administrative organizations of the past.
These political associations in which the material means of administration are autonomously controlled,
wholly or partly, by the dependent administrative staff may be called associations organized in 'estates.'
The vassal in the feudal association, for instance, paid out of his own pocket for the administration and
judicature of the district enfeoffed to him. He supplied his own equipment and provisions for war, and his
subvassals did likewise. Of course, this had consequences for the lord's position of power, which only
rested upon a relation of personal faith and upon the fact that the legitimacy of his possession of the fief
and the social honor of the vassal were derived from the overlord.
However, everywhere, reaching back to the earliest political formations, we also find the lord himself
directing the administration. He seeks to take the administration into his own hands by having men
personally dependent upon him: slaves, household officials, attendants, personal 'favorites,' and
prebendaries enfeoffed in kind or in money from his magazines. He seeks to defray the expenses from his
own pocket, from the revenues of his patrimonium; and he seeks to create an army which is dependent
upon him personally because it is equipped and provisioned out of his granaries, magazines, and armories.
In the association of 'estates,' the lord rules with the aid of an autonomous 'aristocracy' and hence shares his
domination with it; the lord who personally administers is supported either by members of his household or
by plebeians. These are propertyless strata having no social honor of their own; materially, they are
completely chained to him and are not backed up by any competing power of their own. All forms of
patriarchal and patrimonial domination, Sultanist despotism, and bureaucratic states belong to this latter
type. The bureaucratic state order is especially important; m its most rational development, it is precisely
characteristic of the modern state.
Everywhere the development of the modern state is initiated through the action of the prince. He paves the
way for the expropriation of the autonomous and 'private' bearers of executive power who stand beside
him, of those who in their own right possess the means of administration, warfare, and financial
organization, as well as politically usable goods of all sorts. The whole process is a complete parallel to the
development of the capitalist enterprise through gradual expropriation of the independent producers. In the
end, the modern state controls the total means of political organization, which actually come together under
a single head. No single official personally owns the money he pays out, or the buildings, stores, tools, and
war machines he controls. In the contemporary 'state'--and this is essential for the concept of state--the
'separation' of the administrative staff, of the administrative officials, and of the workers from the material
means of administrative organization is completed. Here the most modern development begins, and we see
with our own eyes the attempt to inaugurate the expropriation of this expropriator of the political means,
and therewith of political power.
The revolution [of Germany, 1918] has accomplished, at least in so far as leaders have taken the place of
the statutory authorities, this much: the leaders, through usurpation or election, have attained control over
the political staff and the apparatus of material goods; and they deduce their legitimacy--no matter with
what right--from the will of the governed. Whether the leaders, on the basis of this at least apparent
success, can rightfully entertain the hope of also carrying through the expropriation within the capitalist
enterprises is a different question. The direction of capitalist enterprises, despite far-reaching analogies,
follows quite different laws than those of political administration.
Today we do not take a stand on this question. I state only the purely conceptual aspect for our
consideration: the modern state is a compulsory association which organizes domination. It has been
successful in seeking to monopolize the legitimate use of physical force as a means of domination within a
territory. To this end the state has combined the material means of organization in the hands of its leaders,
and it has expropriated all autonomous functionaries of estates who formerly controlled these means in
their own right. The state has taken their positions and now stands in the top place.
During this process of political expropriation, which has occurred with varying success in all countries on
earth, 'professional politicians' in another sense have emerged. They arose first in the service of a prince.
They have been men who, unlike the charismatic leader, have not wished to be lords themselves, but who
have entered the service of political lords In the struggle of expropriation, they placed themselves at the
princes; disposal and by managing the princes' politics they earned, on the one hand, a living and, on the
other hand, an ideal content of life. Again it is only in the Occident that we find this kind of professional
politician in the service of powers other than the princes. In the past, they have been the most important
power instrument of the prince and his instrument of political expropriation.
Before discussing 'professional politicians' in detail, let us clarify in all its aspects the state of affairs their
existence presents. Politics, just as economic pursuits, may be a man's avocation or his vocation. One may
engage in politics, and hence seek to influence the distribution of power within and between political
structures, as an 'occasional' politician. We are all 'occasional' politicians when we cast our ballot or
consummate a similar expression of intention, such as applauding or protesting in a 'political' meeting, or
delivering a 'political' speech, etc. The whole relation of many people to politics is restricted to this. Politics
as an avocation is today practiced by all those party agents and heads of voluntary political associations
who, as a rule, are politically active only in case of need and for whom politics is, neither materially nor
ideally, 'their life' in the first place. The same holds for those members of state counsels and similar
deliberative bodies that function only when summoned. It also holds for rather broad strata of our members
of parliament who are politically active only during sessions. In the past, such strata were found especially
among the estates. Proprietors of military implements in their own right, or proprietors of goods important
for the administration, or proprietors of personal prerogatives may be called 'estates.' A large portion of
them were far from giving their lives wholly, or merely preferentially, or more than occasionally, to the
service of politics. Rather, they exploited their prerogatives in the interest of gaining rent or even profits;
and they became active in the service of political associations only when the overlord of their status-equals
especially demanded it. It was not different in the case of some of the auxiliary forces which the prince
drew into the struggle for the creation of a political organization to be exclusively at his disposal. This was
the nature of the Rate von Haus aus [councilors] and, still further back, of a considerable part of the
councilors assembling in the 'Curia' and other deliberating bodies of the princes. But these merely
occasional auxiliary forces engaging in politics on the side were naturally not sufficient for the prince. Of
necessity, the prince sought to create a staff of helpers dedicated wholly and exclusively to serving him,
hence making this their major vocation. The structure of the emerging dynastic political organization, and
not only this but the whole articulation of the culture, depended to a considerable degree upon the question
of where the prince recruited agents.
A staff was also necessary for those political associations whose members constituted themselves
politically as (so-called) 'free' communes under the complete abolition or the far-going restriction of
They were 'free' not in the sense of freedom from domination by force, but in the sense that princely power
legitimized by tradition (mostly religiously sanctified) as the exclusive source of all authority was absent.
These communities have their historical home in the Occident. Their nucleus was the city as a body politic,
the form in which the city first emerged in the Mediterranean culture area. In all these cases, what did the
politicians who made politics their major vocation look like?
There are two ways of making politics one's vocation: Either one lives 'for' politics or one lives 'off'
politics. By no means is this contrast an exclusive one. The rule is, rather, that man does both, at least in
thought, and certainly he also does both in practice. He who lives 'for' politics makes politics his life, in an
internal sense. Either he enjoys the naked possession of the power he exerts, or he nourishes his inner
balance and self-feeling by the consciousness that his life has meaning in the service of a 'cause.' In this
internal sense, every sincere man who lives for a cause also lives off this cause. The distinction hence refers
to a much more substantial aspect of the matter, namely, to the economic. He who strives to make politics a
permanent source of income lives 'off' politics as a vocation, whereas he who does not do this lives 'for'
politics. Under the dominance of the private property order, some--if you wish-- very trivial preconditions
must exist in order for a person to be able to live 'for' politics in this economic sense. Under normal
conditions, the politician must be economically independent of the income politics can bring him. This
means, quite simply, that the politician must be wealthy or must have a personal position in life which
yields a sufficient income.
This is the case, at least in normal circumstances. The war lord's following is just as little concerned about
the conditions of a normal economy as is the street crowd following of the revolutionary hero. Both live off
booty, plunder, confiscations, contributions, and the imposition of worthless and compulsory means of
tender, which in essence amounts to the same thing. But necessarily, these are extraordinary phenomena. In
everyday economic life, only some wealth serves the purpose of making a man 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 fact that he constantly and personally places his ability and thinking
entirely, or at least by far predominantly, in the service of economic acquisition. In the most unconditional
way, the rentier is dispensable in this sense. Hence, he is a man who receives completely unearned income.
He may be the territorial lord of the past or the large landowner and aristocrat of the present who receives
ground rent. In Antiquity and the Middle Ages they who received slave or serf rents or in modern times
rents from shares or bonds or similar sources--these are rentiers.
Neither the worker nor--and this has to be noted well--the entrepreneur, especially the modern, large-scale
entrepreneur, is economically dispensable in this sense. For it is precisely the entrepreneur who is tied to
his enterprise and is therefore not dispensable. This holds for the entrepreneur in industry far more than for
the entrepreneur in agriculture, considering the seasonal character of agriculture. In the main, it is very
difficult for the entrepreneur to be represented in his enterprise by someone else, even temporarily. He is as
little dispensable as is the medical doctor, and the more eminent and busy he is the less dispensable he is.
For purely organizational reasons, it is easier for the lawyer to be dispensable; and therefore the lawyer has
played an incomparably greater, and often even a dominant, role as a professional politician. We shall not
continue in this classification; rather let us clarify some of its ramifications.
The leadership of a state or of a party by men who (in the economic sense of the word) live exclusively for
politics and not off politics means necessarily a 'plutocratic' recruitment of the leading political strata. To
be sure, this does not mean that such plutocratic leadership signifies at the same time that the politically
dominant strata will not also seek to live 'off' politics, and hence that the dominant stratum will not usually
exploit their political domination in their own economic interest. All that is unquestionable, of course.
There has never been such a stratum that has not somehow lived 'off' politics. Only this is meant: that the
professional politician need not seek remuneration directly for his political work, whereas every politician
without means must absolutely claim this. On the other hand, we do not mean to say that the propertyless
politician will pursue private economic advantages through politics, exclusively, or even predominantly.
Nor do we mean that he will not think, in the first place, of 'the subject matter.' Nothing would be more
incorrect. According to all experience, a care for the economic 'security' of his existence is consciously or
unconsciously a cardinal point in the whole life orientation of the wealthy man. A quite reckless and
unreserved political idealism is found if not exclusively at least predominantly among those strata who by
virtue of their propertylessness stand entirely outside of the strata who are interested in maintaining the
economic order of a given society. This holds especially for extraordinary and hence revolutionary epochs.
A non-plutocratic recruitment of interested politicians, of leadership and following, is geared to the selfunderstood
precondition that regular and reliable income will accrue to those who manage politics.
Either politics can be conducted 'honorifically' and then, as one usually says, by 'independent,' that is, by
wealthy, men, and especially by rentiers. Or, political leadership is made accessible to propertyless men
who must then be rewarded. The professional politician who lives 'off' politics may be a pure 'prebendary'
or a salaried 'official.' Then the politician receives either income from fees and perquisites for specific
services--tips and bribes are only an irregular and formally illegal variant of this category of income-- or a
fixed income in kind, a money salary, or both. He may assume the character of an 'entrepreneur,' like the
condottiere or the holder of a farmed-- out or purchased office, or like the American boss who considers his
costs a capital investment which he brings to fruition through exploitation of his influence. Again, he may
receive a fixed wage, like a journalist, a party secretary, a modern cabinet minister, or a political official.
Feudal fiefs, land grants, and prebends of all sorts have been typical, in the past. With the development of
the money economy, perquisites and prebends especially are the typical rewards for the following of
princes, victorious conquerors, or successful party chiefs. For loyal services today, party leaders give
offices of all sorts --in parties, newspapers, co-operative societies, health insurance, municipalities, as well
as in the state. All party struggles are struggles for the patronage of office, as well as struggles for objective
In Germany, all struggles between the proponents of local and of central government are focused upon the
question of which powers shall control the patronage of office, whether they are of Berlin, Munich,
Karlsruhe, or Dresden. Setbacks in participating in offices are felt more severely by parties than is action
against their objective goals. In France, a turnover of prefects because of party politics has always been
considered a greater transformation and has always caused a greater uproar than a modification in the
government's program--the latter almost having the significance of mere verbiage. Some parties, especially
those in America since the disappearance of the old conflicts concerning the interpretation of the
constitution, have become pure patronage parties handing out jobs and changing their material program
according to the chances of grabbing votes.
In Spain, up to recent years, the two great parties, in a conventionally fixed manner, took turns in office by
means of 'elections,' fabricated from above, in order to provide their followers with offices. In the Spanish
colonial territories, in the so-called 'elections,' as well as in the so-called 'revolutions,' what was at stake
was always the state bread-basket from which the victors wished to be fed.
In Switzerland, the parties peacefully divided the offices among themselves proportionately, and some of
our 'revolutionary' constitutional drafts, for instance the first draft of the Badenian constitution, sought to
extend this system to ministerial positions. Thus, the state and state offices were considered as pure
institutions for the provision of spoilsmen.
Above all, the Catholic Center party was enthusiastically for this draft. In Badenia, the party, as part of the
party platform, made the distribution of offices proportional to confessions and hence without regard to
achievement. This tendency becomes stronger for all parties when the number of offices increase as a result
of general bureaucratization and when the demand for offices increases because they represent specifically
secure livelihoods. For their followings, the parties become more and more 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 long years of preparatory training, stands opposed to all these arrangements. Modern
bureaucracy in the interest of integrity has developed a high sense of status honor; without this sense the
danger of an awful corruption and a vulgar Philistinism threatens fatally. And without such integrity, even
the purely technical functions of the state apparatus would be endangered. The significance of the state
apparatus for the economy has been steadily rising, especially with increasing socialization, and its
significance will be further augmented.
In the United States, amateur administration through booty politicians in accordance with the outcome of
presidential elections resulted in the exchange of hundreds of thousands of officials, even down to the mail
carrier. The administration knew nothing of the professional civil-servant-for-life, but this amateur
administration has long since been punctured by the Civil Service Reform. Purely technical, irrefragable
needs of the administration 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 the monarchies, and the
states of the Norman conquerors. But the decisive step was taken in connection with the administration of
the finances of the prince. With the administrative reforms of Emperor Max, it can be seen how hard it was
for the officials to depose successfully of the prince in this field, even under the pressure of extreme
emergency and of Turkish rule. The sphere of finance could afford least of all a ruler's dilettantism--a ruler
who at that time was still above all a knight. The development of war technique called forth the expert and
specialized officer; the differentiation of legal procedure called forth the trained jurist. In these three areas--
finance, war, and law--expert officialdom in the more advanced states was definitely triumphant during the
sixteenth century. With the ascendancy of princely absolutism over the estates, there was simultaneously a
gradual abdication of the prince's autocratic rule in favor of an expert officialdom. These very officials had
only facilitated the prince's victory over the estates.
The development of the 'leading politicians' was realized along with the ascendancy of the specially trained
officialdom, even if in far less noticeable transitions. Of course, such really decisive advisers of the princes
have existed at all times and all over the world. In the Orient, the need for relieving the Sultan as far as
possible from personal responsibility for the success of the government has created the typical figure of the
'Grand Vizier.' In the Occident, influenced above all by the reports of the Venetian legates, diplomacy first
became a consciously cultivated art in the age of Charles V, in Machiavelli's time. The reports of the
Venetian legates were read with passionate zeal in expert diplomatic circles. The adepts of this art, who
were in the main educated humanistically, treated one another as trained initiates, similar to the humanist
Chinese statesmen in the last period of the 'warring states. The necessity of a formally unified guidance of
the whole policy, including that of home affairs, by a leading statesman finally and compellingly arose only
through constitutional development. Of course, individual personalities, such as advisers of the princes, or
rather, in fact, leaders, had again and again existed before then. But the organization of administrative
agencies even in the most advanced states first proceeded along other avenues. Top collegial administrative
agencies had emerged. In theory, and to a gradually decreasing extent in fact, they met under the personal
chairmanship of the prince who rendered the decision. This collegial system led to memoranda, countermemoranda, and reasoned votes of the majority and the minority. In addition to the official and highest
authorities, the prince surrounded himself with purely personal confidants--the 'cabinet'--and through them
rendered his decisions, after considering the resolutions of the state counsel, or whatever else the highest
state agency was called. The prince, coming more and more into the position of a dilettante, sought to
extricate himself from the unavoidably increasing weight of the expertly trained officials through the
collegial system and the cabinet. He sought to retain the highest leadership in his own hands. This latent
struggle between expert officialdom and autocratic rule existed everywhere. Only in the face of parliaments
and the power aspirations of party leaders did the situation change. Very different conditions led to the
externally identical result, though to be sure with certain differences. Wherever the dynasties retained
actual power in their hands--as was especially the case in Germany--the interests of the prince were joined
with those of officialdom against parliament and its claims for power. The officials were also interested in
having leading position, that is, ministerial positions, occupied by their own ranks, thus making these
positions an object of the official career. The monarch, on his part, was interested in being able to appoint
the ministers from the ranks of devoted officials according to his own discretion. Both parties, however,
were interested in seeing the political leadership confront parliament in a unified and solidary fashion, and
hence in seeing the collegial system replaced by a single cabinet head. Furthermore, in order to be removed
in a purely formal way from the struggle of parties and from party attacks, the monarch needed a single
personality to cover him and to assume responsibility, that is, to answer to parliament and to negotiate with
the parties. All these interests worked together and in the same direction: a minister emerged to direct the
officialdom in a unified way.
Where parliament gained supremacy over the monarch--as in England --the development of parliamentary
power worked even more strongly in the direction of a unification of the state apparatus. In England, the
'cabinet,' with the single head of Parliament as its 'leader,' developed as a committee of the party which at
the time controlled the majority. This party power was ignored by official law but, in fact, it alone was
politically decisive. The official collegial bodies as such were not organs of the actual ruling power, the
party, and hence could not be the bearers of real government. The ruling party required an ever-ready
organization composed only of its actually leading men, who would confidentially discuss matters in order
to maintain power within and be capable of engaging in grand politics outside. The cabinet is simply this
organization. However, in relation to the public, especially the parliamentary public, the party needed a
leader responsible for all decisions--the cabinet head. The English system has been taken over on the
Continent in the form of parliamentary ministries. In America alone, and in the democracies influenced by
America, a quite heterogeneous system was placed into opposition with this system. The American system
placed the directly and popularly elected leader of the victorious party at the head of the apparatus of
officials appointed by him and bound him to the consent of 'parliament' only in budgetary and legislative
The development of politics into an organization which demanded training in the struggle for power, and in
the methods of this struggle as developed by modern party policies, determined the separation of public
functionaries into two categories, which, however, are by no means rigidly but nevertheless distinctly
separated. These categories are 'administrative' officials on the one hand, and 'political' officials on the
other. The 'political' officials, in the genuine sense of the word, can regularly and externally be recognized
by the fact that they can be transferred any time at will, that they can be dismissed, or at least temporarily
withdrawn. They are like the French prefects and the comparable officials of other countries, and this is in
sharp contrast to the 'independence' of officials with judicial functions. In England, officials who, according
to fixed convention, retire from office when there is a change in the parliamentary majority, and hence a
change in the cabinet, belong to this category. There are usually among them some whose competence
includes the management of the general 'inner administration.' The political element consists, above all, in
the task of maintaining 'law and order' in the country, hence maintaining the existing power relations. In
Prussia these officials, in accordance with Puttkamer's decree and in order to avoid censure, were obliged to
'represent the policy of the government.' And, like the prefects in France, they were used as an official
apparatus for influencing elections. Most of the 'political' officials of the German system--in contrast to
other countries--were equally qualified in so far as access to these offices required a university education,
special examinations, and special preparatory service. In Germany, only the heads of the political
apparatus, the ministers, lack this specific characteristic of modern civil service. Even under the old regime,
one could be the Prussian minister of education without ever having attended an institution of higher
learning; whereas one could become Vortragender Rat, in principle, only on the basis of a prescribed
examination. The specialist and trained Dezernent and Vortragender Rat were of course infinitely better
informed about the real technical problems of the division than was their respective chief--for instance,
under Altho in the Prussian ministry of education. In England it was not different. Consequently, in all
routine demands the divisional head was more powerful than the minister, which was not without reason.
The minister was simply the representative of the political power constellation; he had to represent these
powerful political staffs and he had to take measure of the proposals of his subordinate expert officials or
give them directive orders of a political nature.
After all, things in a private economic enterprise are quite similar: the real 'sovereign,' the assembled
shareholders, is just as little influential in the business management as is a 'people' ruled by expert officials.
And the personages who decide the policy of the enterprise, the bank-controlled 'directorate,' give only
directive economic orders and select persons for the management without themselves being capable of
technically directing the enterprise. Thus the present structure of the revolutionary state signifies nothing
new in principle. It places power over the administration into the hands of absolute dilettantes, who, by
virtue of their control of the machine-guns, would like to use expert officials only as executive heads and
hands. The difficulties of the present system lie elsewhere than here, but today these difficulties shall not
concern us. We shall, rather, ask for the typical peculiarity of the professional politicians, of the 'leaders' as
well as their followings. Their nature has changed and today varies greatly from one case to another.
We have seen that in the past 'professional politicians' developed through the struggle of the princes with
the estates and that they served the princes. Let us briefly review the major types of these professional
Confronting the estates, the prince found support in politically exploitable strata outside of the order of the
estates. Among the latter, there was, first, the clergy in Western and Eastern India, in Buddhist China and
Japan, and in Lamaist Mongolia, just as in the Christian territories of the Middle Ages. The clergy were
technically useful because they were literate. The importation of Brahmins, Buddhist priests, Lamas, and
the employment of bishops and priests as political counselors, occurred with an eye to obtaining
administrative forces who could read and write and who could be used in the struggle 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 of normal political and economic interests and was not
tempted by the struggle for political power, for himself or for his descendants. By virtue of his own status,
the cleric was 'separated' from the managerial implements of princely administration.
The humanistically educated literati comprised a second such stratum. There was a time when one learned
to produce Latin speeches and Greek verses in order to become a political adviser to a prince and, above all
things, to become a memorialist. This was the time of the first flowering of the humanist schools and of the
princely foundations of professorships for 'poetics.' This was for us a transitory epoch, which has had a
quite persistent influence upon our educational system, yet no deeper results politically. In East Asia, it has
been different. The Chinese mandarin is, or rather originally was, what the humanist of our Renaissance
period approximately was: a literator humanistically trained and tested in the language monuments of the
remote past. When you read the diaries of Li Hung Chang you will find that he is most proud of having
composed poems and of being a good calligrapher. This stratum, with its conventions developed and
modeled after Chinese Antiquity, has determined the whole destiny of China; and perhaps our fate would
have been similar if the humanists in their time had the slightest chance of gaining a similar influence.
The third stratum was the court nobility. After the princes had succeeded in expropriating political power
from the nobility as an estate, they drew the nobles to the court and used them in their political and
diplomatic service. The transformation of our educational system in the seventeenth century was partly
determined by the fact that court nobles as professional politicians displaced the humanist literati and
entered the service of the princes.
The fourth category was a specifically English institution. A patrician stratum developed there which was
comprised of the petty nobility and the urban rentiers; technically they are called the 'gentry.' The English
gentry represents a stratum that the 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
increasingly dependent upon them. The gentry maintained the possession of all offices of local
administration by taking them over without compensation in the interest of their own social power. The
gentry has saved England from the bureaucratization which has been the fate of all continental states.
A fifth stratum, the university-trained jurist, is peculiar to the Occident, especially to the European
continent, and has been of decisive significance for the Continent's whole political structure. The
tremendous after-effect of Roman law, as transformed by the late Roman bureaucratic state, stands out in
nothing more clearly than the fact that everywhere the revolution of political management in the direction
of the evolving rational state has been borne by trained jurists. This also occurred in England, although
there the great national guilds of jurists hindered the reception of Roman law. There is no analogy to this
process to be found in any area of the world.
All beginnings of rational juristic thinking in the Indian Mimamsa School and all further cultivation of the
ancient juristic thinking in Islam have been unable to prevent the idea of rational law from being overgrown
by theological forms of thought. Above all, legal trial procedure has not been fully rationalized in the cases
of India and of Islamism. Such rationalization has been brought about on the Continent only through the
borrowing of ancient Roman jurisprudence by the Italian jurists. Roman jurisprudence is the product of a
political structure arising from the city state to world domination--a product of quite unique nature. The
usus modernus of the late medieval pandect jurists and canonists was blended with theories of natural law,
which were born from juristic and Christian thought and which were later secularized. This juristic
rationalism has had its great representatives among the Italian Podesta, the French crown jurists (who
created the formal means for the undermining of the rule of seigneurs by royal power), among the canonists
and the theologians of the ecclesiastic councils (thinking in terms of natural law), among the court jurists
and academic judges of the continental princes, among the Netherland teachers of natural law and the
monarchomachists, among the English crown and parliamentary jurists, among the noblesse de robe of the
French Parliament, and finally, among the lawyers of the age of the French Revolution.
Without this juristic rationalism, the rise of the absolute state is just as little imaginable as is the
Revolution. If you look through the remonstrances of the French Parliaments or through the cahiers of the
French Estates-General from the sixteenth century to the year 1789, you will find everywhere the spirit of
the jurists. And if you go over the occupational composition of the members of the French Assembly, you
will find there--although the members of the Assembly were elected through equal franchise--a single
proletarian, very few bourgeois enterprisers, but jurists of all sorts, en masse. Without them, the specific
mentality that inspired these radical intellectuals and their projects would be quite inconceivable. Since the
French Revolution, the modern lawyer and modern democracy absolutely belong together. And lawyers, in
our sense of an independent status group, also exist only in the Occident. They have developed since the
Middle Ages from the Fursprech of the formalistic Germanic legal procedure under the impact of the
rationalization of the trial.
The significance of the lawyer in Occidental politics since the rise of parties is not accidental. The
management of politics through parties simply means management through interest groups. We shall soon
see what that means. The craft of the trained lawyer is to plead effectively the cause of interested clients. In
this, the lawyer is superior to any 'official,' as the superiority of enemy propaganda [Allied propaganda
1914-18] could teach us. Certainly he can advocate and win a cause supported by logically 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 a cause that can be supported by logically strong arguments,
thus handling a 'good' cause 'well.' All too often the civil servant as a politician turns a cause that is good in
every sense into a 'weak' cause, through technically 'weak' pleading. This is what we have had to
experience. To an outstanding degree, politics today is in fact conducted in public by means of the spoken
or written word. To weigh the effect of the word properly falls within the range of the lawyer's tasks; but
not at all into that of the civil servant. The latter is no demagogue, nor is it his purpose to be one. If he
nevertheless tries to become a demagogue, he usually becomes a very poor one.
According to his proper vocation, the genuine official--and this is decisive for the evaluation of our former
regime--will not 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 raison d'etat, that is, the vital
interests of the ruling order, are not in question. Sine ira et studio, 'without scorn and bias,' he shall
administer his office. Hence, he shall not do precisely what the politician, the leader as well as his
following, must always and necessarily do, namely, fight.
To take a stand, to be passionate--ira et studium --is the politician's element, and above all the element of
the political leader. His conduct is subject to quite a different, indeed, exactly the opposite, principle of
responsibility from that of the civil servant. The honor of the civil servant is vested in his ability to execute
conscientiously the order of the superior authorities, exactly as if the order agreed with his own conviction.
This holds even if the order appears wrong to him and if, despite the civil servant's remonstrances, the
authority insists on the order. Without this moral discipline and self-denial, in the highest sense, the whole
apparatus would fall to pieces. The honor of the political leader, of the leading statesman, however, lies
precisely in an exclusive personal responsibility for what he does, a responsibility he cannot and must not
reject or transfer. It is in the nature of officials of high moral standing to be poor politicians, and above all,
in the political sense of the word, to be irresponsible politicians. In this sense, they are politicians of low
moral standing, such as we unfortunately have had again and again in leading positions. This is what we
have called Beamtenherrschaft [civil-service rule], and truly no spot soils the honor of our officialdom if
we reveal what is politically 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 definitely since
democracy has been established, the 'demagogue' has been the typical political leader in the Occident. The
distasteful flavor of the word must not make us forget that not Cleon but Pericles was the first to bear the
name of demagogue. In contrast to the offices of ancient democracy that were filled by lot, Pericles led the
sovereign Ecclesia of the demos of Athens as a supreme strategist holding the only elective office or
without holding any office at all. Modern demagoguery also makes use of oratory, even to a tremendous
extent, if one considers the election speeches a modern candidate has to deliver. But the use of the printed
word is more enduring. The political publicist, and above all the journalist, is nowadays the most important
representative of the demagogic species.
Within the limits of this lecture, it is quite impossible even to sketch the sociology of modern political
journalism, which in every respect constitutes a chapter in itself. Certainly, only a few things concerning it
are in place here. In common with all demagogues and, by the way, with the lawyer (and the artist), the
journalist shares the fate of lacking a fixed social classification. At least, this is the case on the Continent,
in contrast to the English, and, by the way, also to former conditions in Prussia. The journalist belongs to a
sort of pariah caste, which is always estimated by 'society' in terms of its ethically lowest representative.
Hence, the strangest notions about journalists and their work are abroad. Not everybody realizes that a
really good journalistic accomplishment requires at least as much 'genius' as any scholarly accomplishment,
especially because of the necessity of producing at once and 'on order,' and because of the necessity of
being effective, to be sure, under quite different conditions of production. It is almost never acknowledged
that the responsibility of the journalist is far greater, and that the sense of responsibility of every honorable
journalist is, on the average, not a bit lower than that of the scholar, but rather, as the war has shown,
higher. This is because, in the very nature of the case, irresponsible journalistic accomplishments and their
often terrible effects are remembered.
Nobody believes that the discretion of any able journalist ranks above the average of other people, and yet
that is the case. The quite incomparably graver temptations, and the other conditions that accompany
journalistic work at the present time, produce those results which have conditioned the public to regard the
press with a mixture of disdain and pitiful cowardice. Today we cannot discuss what is to be done. Here we
are interested in the question of the occupational destiny of the political journalist and of his chance to
attain a position of political leadership. Thus far, the journalist has had favorable chances only in the Social
Democratic party. Within the party, editorial positions have been predominantly in the nature of official
positions, but editorial positions have not been the basis for positions of leadership.
In the bourgeois parties, on the whole, the chances for ascent to political power along this avenue have
rather become worse, as compared with those of the previous generation. Naturally every politician of
consequence has needed influence over the press and hence has needed relations with the press. But that
party leaders would emerge from the ranks of the press has been an absolute exception and one should not
have expected it. The reason for this lies in the strongly increased 'indispensability' of the journalist, above
all, of the propertyless and hence professionally bound journalist, an indispensability which is determined
by the tremendously increased intensity and tempo of journalistic operations. The necessity of gaining one's
livelihood by the writing of daily or at least weekly articles is like lead on the feet of the politicians. I know
of cases in which natural leaders have been permanently paralyzed in their ascent to power, externally and
above all internally, by this compulsion. The relations of the press to the ruling powers in the state and in
the parties, under the old regime [of the Kaiser], were as detrimental as they could be to the level of
journalism; but that is a chapter in itself. These conditions were different in the countries of our opponents
[the Allies]. But there also, and for all modern states, apparently the journalist worker gains less and less as
the capitalist lord of the press, of the sort of 'Lord' Northcliffe, for instance, gains more and more political
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 breeders of political indifference.
For no profits could be made in an independent policy; especially no profitable benevolence of the
politically dominant powers could be obtained. The advertising business is also the avenue along which,
during the war, the attempt was made to influence the press politically in a grand style--an attempt which
apparently it is regarded as desirable to continue now. Although one may expect the great papers to escape
this pressure, the situation of the small ones will be far more difficult. In any case, for the time being, the
journalist career is not among us, a normal avenue for the ascent of political leaders, whatever attraction
journalism may otherwise have and whatever measure of influence, range of activity, and especially
political responsibility it may yield. One has to wait and see. Perhaps journalism does not have this function
any longer, or perhaps journalism does not yet have it. Whether the renunciation of the principle of
anonymity would mean a change in this is difficult to say. Some journalists--not all--believe in dropping
principled anonymity. What we have experienced during the war in the German press, and in the
'management' of newspapers by especially hired personages and talented writers who always expressly
figured under their names, has unfortunately shown, in some of the better known cases, that an increased
awareness of responsibility is not so certain to be bred as might be believed. Some of the papers were,
without regard to party, precisely the notoriously worst boulevard sheets; by dropping anonymity they
strove for and attained greater sales. The publishers as well as the journalists of sensationalism have gained
fortunes but certainly not honor. Nothing is here being said against the principle of promoting sales; the
question is indeed an intricate one, and the phenomenon of irresponsible sensationalism does not hold in
general. But thus far, sensationalism has not been the road to genuine leadership or to the responsible
management of politics. How conditions will further develop remains to be seen. Yet the journalist career
remains under all circumstances one of the most important avenues of professional political activity. It is
not a road for everybody, least of all for weak characters, especially for people who can maintain their
inner balance only with a secure status position. If the life of a young scholar is a gamble, still he is walled
in by firm status conventions, which prevent him from slipping. But the journalist's life is an absolute
gamble in every respect and under conditions that test one's inner security in a way that scarcely occurs in
any other situation. The often bitter experiences in occupational life are perhaps not even the worst. The
inner demands that are directed precisely at the successful journalist are especially difficult. It is, indeed, no
small matter to frequent the salons of the powerful on this earth on a seemingly equal footing and often to
be flattered by all because one is feared, yet knowing all the time that having hardly closed the door the
host has perhaps to justify before his guests his association with the 'scavengers from the press.' Moreover,
it is no small matter that one must express oneself promptly and convincingly about this and that, on all
conceivable problems of life--whatever the 'market' happens to demand--and this without becoming
absolutely shallow and above all without losing one's dignity by baring oneself, a thing which has merciless
results. It is not astonishing that there are many journalists who have become human failures and worthless
men. Rather, it is astonishing that, despite all this, this very stratum includes such a great number of
valuable and quite genuine men, a fact that outsiders would not so easily guess.
If the journalist as a type of professional politician harks back to a rather considerable past, the figure of the
party official belongs only to the development of the last decades and, in part, only to recent years. In order
to comprehend the position of this figure in historical evolution, we shall have to turn 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 the tasks of small rural districts where power-holders are periodically elected, political
organization is necessarily managed by men interested in the management of politics. This is to say that a
relatively small number of men are primarily interested in political life and hence interested in sharing
political power. They provide themselves with a following through free recruitment, present themselves or
their proteges as candidates for election, collect the financial means, and go out for vote-grabbing. It is
unimaginable how in large associations elections could function at all without this managerial pattern. In
practice this means the division of the citizens with the right to vote into politically active and politically
passive elements. This difference is based on voluntary attitudes, hence it cannot be abolished through
measures like obligatory voting, or 'occupational status group' representation, or similar measures that are
expressly or actually directed against this state of affairs and the rule of professional politicians. The active
leadership and their freely recruited following are the necessary elements in the life of any party. The
following, and through it the passive electorate, are necessary for the election of the leader. But the
structure of parties varies. For instance, the 'parties' of the medieval cities, such as those of the Guelfs and
the Ghibellines, were purely personal followings. If one considers various things about these medieval
parties, one is reminded of Bolshevism and its Soviets. Consider the Statuta della perta Guelfa, the
confiscations of the Nobili's estates--which originally meant all those families who lived a chivalrous life
and who thus qualified for fiefs--consider the exclusion from office-holding and the denial of the right to
vote, the inter-local party committees, the strictly military organizations and the premiums for informers.
Then consider Bolshevism with its strictly sieved military and, in Russia especially, informer organizations,
the disarmament and denial of the political rights of the 'bourgeois,' that is, of the entrepreneur, trader,
rentier, clergyman, descendants of the dynasty, 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 party constituted a pure army of knights organized on the basis of the registered feudal estates and
that nobles occupied almost all leading positions, and, on the other hand, that the Soviets have preserved, or
rather reintroduced, the highly paid enterpriser, the group wage, the Taylor system, military and workshop
discipline, and a search for foreign capital. Hence, in a word, the Soviets have had to accept again
absolutely all the things that Bolshevism had been fighting as bourgeois class institutions. They have had to
do this in order to keep the state and the economy going at all. Moreover, the Soviets have reinstituted the
agents of the former Ochrana [Tsarist Secret Police] as the main instrument of their state power. But here
we do not have to deal with such organizations for violence, but rather with professional politicians who
strive for power through sober and 'peaceful' party campaigns in the market of election votes.
Parties, in the sense usual with us, were at first, for instance in England, pure followings of the aristocracy.
If, for any reason whatever, a peer changed his party, everybody dependent upon him likewise changed. Up
to the Reform Bill [of 1832], the great noble families and, last but not least, the king controlled the
patronage of an immense number of election boroughs. Close to these aristocratic parties were the parties
of notables, which develop everywhere with the rising power of the bourgeois. Under the spiritual
leadership of the typical intellectual strata of the Occident, the propertied and cultured circles differentiated
themselves into parties and followed them. These parties were formed partly according to class interest,
partly according to family traditions, and partly for ideological reasons. Clergymen, teachers, professors,
lawyers, doctors, apothecaries, prosperous farmers, manufacturers--in England the whole stratum that
considered itself as belonging to the class of gentlemen-- formed, at first, occasional associations at most
local political clubs. In times of unrest the petty bourgeoisie raised its voice, and once in a while the
proletariat, if leaders arose who, however, as a rule did not stem from their midst. In this phase, parties
organized as permanent associations between localities do not yet exist in the open country. Only the
parliamentary delegates create the cohesion; and the local notables are decisive for the selection of
candidates. The election programs originate partly in the election appeals of the candidates and partly in the
meetings of the notables; or, they originate as resolutions of the parliamentary party. Leadership of the
clubs is an avocation and an honorific pursuit, as demanded by the occasion.
Where clubs are absent (as is mostly the case), the quite formless management of politics in normal times
lies in the hands of the few people constantly interested in it. Only the journalist is a paid professional
politician; only the management of the newspaper is a continuous political organization. Besides the
newspaper, there is only the parliamentary session. The parliamentary delegates and the parliamentary
party leaders know to which local notables one turns if a political action seems desirable. But permanent
associations of the parties exist only in the large cities with moderate contributions of the members and
periodical conferences and public meetings where the delegate gives account of the parliamentary
activities. The party is alive only during election periods.
The members of parliament are interested in the possibility of inter-local electoral compromises, in
vigorous and unified programs endorsed by broad circles and in a unified agitation throughout the country.
In general these interests form the driving force of a party organization which becomes more and more
strict. In principle, however, the nature of a party apparatus as an association of notables remains
unchanged. This is so, even though a network of local party affiliations and agents is spread over the whole
country, including middle-sized cities. A member of the parliamentary party acts as the leader of the central
party office and maintains constant correspondence with the local organizations. Outside of the central
bureau, paid officials are still absent; thoroughly 'respectable' people head the local organizations for the
sake of the deference which they enjoy anyway. They form the extra-parliamentary 'notables' who exert
influence alongside the stratum of political notables who happen to sit in parliament. However, the party
correspondence, edited by the party, increasingly provides intellectual nourishment for the press and for the
local meetings. Regular contributions of the members become indispensable; a part of these must cover the
expenses of headquarters.
Not so long ago most of the German party organizations were still in this stage of development. In France,
the first stage of party development was, at least in part, still predominant, and the organization of the
members of parliament was quite unstable. In the open country, we find a small number of local notables
and programs drafted by the candidates or set up for them by their patrons in specific campaigns for office.
To be sure, these platforms constitute more or less local adaptations to the resolutions and programs of the
members of parliament. This system was only partially punctured. The number of full-time professional
politicians was small, consisting in the main of the elected deputies, the few employees of headquarters,
and the journalists. In France, the system has also included those job hunters who held 'political office' or,
at the moment, strove for one. Politics was formally and by far predominantly an avocation. The number of
delegates qualifying for ministerial office was also 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 the management of politics, especially a
material one, was very large. For, all administrative measures of a ministerial department, and especially all
decisions in matters of personnel, were made partly with a view to their influence upon electoral chances.
The realization of each and every kind of wish was sought through the local delegate's mediation. For better
or for worse 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 deputy controlled the patronage
of office and, in general, any kind of patronage in his election district. In order to be re-elected the deputy,
in turn, maintained connections with the local notables.
Now then, the most modern forms of party organizations stand in sharp contrast to this idyllic state in
which circles of notables and, above all, members of parliament rule. These modern forms are the children
of democracy, of mass franchise, of the necessity to woo and organize the masses, and develop the utmost
unity of direction and the strictest discipline. The rule of notables and guidance by members of parliament
ceases. 'Professional' politicians outside the parliaments take the organization in hand. They do so either as
'entrepreneurs'--the American boss and the English election agent are, in fact, such entrepreneurs--or as
officials with a fixed salary. Formally, a fargoing democratization takes place. The parliamentary party no
longer creates the authoritative programs, and the local notables no longer decide the selection of
candidates. Rather assemblies of the organized party members select the candidates and delegate members
to the assemblies of a higher order. Possibly there are several such conventions leading up to the national
convention of the party. Naturally power actually rests in the hands of those who, within the organization,
handle the work continuously. Otherwise, power rests in the hands of those on whom the organization in its
processes depends financially or personally--for instance, on the Maecenases or the directors of powerful
political clubs of interested persons (Tammany Hall). It is decisive that this whole apparatus of people--
characteristically called a 'machine' in Anglo-Saxon countries--or rather those who direct the machine, keep
the members of the parliament in check. They are in a position to impose their will to a rather far-reaching
extent, and that is of special significance for the selection of the party leader. The man whom the machine
follows now becomes the leader, even over the head of the parliamentary party. In other words, the creation
of such machines signifies the advent of plebiscitarian democracy.
The party following, above all the party official and party entrepreneur, naturally expect personal
compensation from the victory of their leader--that is, offices or other advantages. It is decisive that they
expect such advantages from their leader and not merely from the individual member of parliament. They
expect that the demagogic effect of the leader's personality during the election fight of the party will
increase votes and mandates and thereby power, and, thereby, as far as possible, will extend opportunities
to their followers to find the compensation for which they hope. Ideally, one of their mainsprings is the
satisfaction of working with loyal personal devotion for a man, and not merely for an abstract program of a
party consisting of mediocrities. In this respect, the 'charismatic' element of all leadership is at work in the
In very different degrees this system made headway, although it was in constant, latent struggle with local
notables and the members of parliament who wrangled for influence. This was the case 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 leader exists, and, even when he is found,
concessions of all sorts must be made to the vanity and the personal interest of the party notables. The
machine may also be brought under the domination of the party officials in whose hands the regular
business rests. According to the view of some Social Democratic circles, their party had succumbed to this
'bureaucratization.' But 'officials' submit relatively easily to a leader's personality if it has a strong
demagogic appeal. The material and the ideal interests of the officials are intimately connected with the
effects of party power which are expected from the leader's appeal, and besides, inwardly it is per se more
satisfying to work for a leader. The ascent of leaders is far more difficult where the notables, along with the
officials, control the party, as is usually the case in the bourgeois parties. For ideally the notables make
'their way of life' out of the petty chairmanships or committee memberships they hold. Resentment against
the demagogue as a homo novus, the conviction of the superiority of political party 'experience' (which, as a
matter of fact, actually is of considerable importance), and the ideological concern for the crumbling of the
old party traditions--these factors determine the conduct of the notables. They can count on all the
traditionalist elements within the party. Above all, the rural but also the petty bourgeois voter looks for the
name of the notable familiar to him. He distrusts the man who is unknown to him. However, once this man
has become successful, he clings to him the more unwaveringly. Let us now consider, by some major
examples, the struggle of the two structural forms --of the notables and of the party--and especially let us
consider the ascendancy of the plebiscitarian form as described by Ostrogorsky.
First England: there until 1868 the party organization was almost purely an organization of notables. The
Tories in the country found support, for instance, from the Anglican parson, and from the schoolmaster,
and above all from the large landlords of the respective county. The Whigs found support mostly from such
people as the nonconformist preacher (when there was one), the postmaster, the blacksmith, the tailor, the
rope-maker--that is, from such artisans who could disseminate political influence because they could chat
with people most frequently. In the city the parties differed, partly according to economics, partly
according to religion, and partly simply according to the party opinions handed down in the families. But
always the notables were the pillars of the political organization.
Above all these arrangements stood Parliament, the parties with the cabinet, and the 'leader,' who was the
chairman of the council of ministers or the leader of the opposition. This leader had beside him the 'whip'--
the most important professional politician of the party organization. Patronage of office was vested in the
hands of the 'whip'; thus the job hunter had to turn to him and he arranged an understanding with the
deputies of the individual election boroughs. A stratum of professional politicians gradually began to
develop in the boroughs. At first the locally recruited agents were not paid; they occupied approximately
the same position as our Vertrauensmanner. However, along with them a capitalist entrepreneurial type
developed in the boroughs. This was the 'election agent,' whose existence was unavoidable under England's
modern legislation which guaranteed fair elections.
This legislation aimed at controlling the campaign costs of elections and sought to check the power of
money by making it obligatory for the candidate to state the costs of his campaign. For in England, the
candidate, besides straining his voice--far more so than was formerly the case with us [in Germany]--
enjoyed stretching his purse. The election agent made the candidate pay a lump sum, which usually meant a
good deal for the agent. In the distribution of power in Parliament and the country between the 'leader' and
the party notables, the leader in England used to hold a very eminent position. This position was based on
the compelling fact of making possible a grand, and thereby steady, political strategy. Nevertheless the
influence of the parliamentary party and of party notables was still considerable.
That is about what the old party organization looked like. It was half an affair of notables and half an
entrepreneurial organization with salaried employees. Since 1808, however, the 'caucus' system developed,
first for local elections in Birmingham, then all over the country. A nonconformist person and along with
him Joseph Chamberlain brought this system to life. The occasion for this development was the
democratization of the franchise. In order to win the masses it became necessary to call into being a
tremendous apparatus of apparently democratic associations. An electoral association had to be formed in
every city district to help keep the organization incessantly in motion and to bureaucratize everything
rigidly. Hence, hired and paid officials of the local electoral committees increased numerically; and, on the
whole, perhaps 10 per cent of the voters were organized in these local committees. The elected party
managers had the right to co-opt others and were the formal bearers of party politics. The driving force was
the local circle, which was, above all, composed of those interested in municipal politics--from which the
fattest material opportunities always spring. These local circles were also first to call upon the world of
finance. This newly emerging machine, which was no longer led by members of Parliament, very soon had
to struggle with the previous power-holders, above all, with the 'whip.' Being supported by locally
interested persons, the machine came out of the fight so victoriously that the whip had to submit and
compromise with the machine. The result was a centralization of all power in the hands of the few and,
ultimately, of the one person who stood at the top of the party. The whole system had arisen in the Liberal
party in connection with Gladstone's ascent to power. What brought this machine to such swift triumph
over the notables was the fascination of Gladstone's 'grand' demagogy, the firm belief of the masses in the
ethical substance of his policy, and, above all, their belief in the ethical character of his personality. It soon
became obvious that a Caesarist plebiscitarian element in politics--the dictator of the battlefield of
elections--had appeared on the plain. In 1877 the caucus became active for the first time in national
elections, and with brilliant success, for the result was Disraeli's fall at the height of his great achievements.
In 1866, the machine was already so completely oriented to the charismatic personality that when the
question of home rule was raised the whole apparatus from top to bottom did not question whether it
actually stood on Gladstone's ground; it simply, on his word, fell in line with him: they said, Gladstone
right or wrong, we follow him. And thus the machine deserted its own creator, Chamberlain.
Such machinery requires a considerable personnel. In England there are about 2,000 persons who live
directly off party politics. To be sure, those who are active in politics purely as job seekers or as interested
persons are far more numerous, especially in municipal politics. In addition to economic opportunities, for
the useful caucus politician, there are the opportunities 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, of course, a peerage, especially for
the great financial Maecenases. About 50 per cent of the finances of the party depend on contributions 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 few cabinet members (and a few insurgents), are normally nothing better than well-
disciplined 'yes' men. With us, in the Reichstag, one used at least to take care of one's private
correspondence on his desk, thus indicating that one was active in the weal of the country. Such gestures
are not demanded in England; the member of Parliament must only vote, not commit party treason. He
must appear when the whips call him, and do what the cabinet or the leader of the opposition orders. The
caucus machine in the open country is almost completely unprincipled if a strong leader exists who has the
machine absolutely in hand. Therewith the plebiscitarian dictator actually stands above Parliament. He
brings the masses behind him by means of the machine and the members of Parliament are for him merely
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 the qualities of will-- decisive all over the world--naturally the force of demagogic speech is above
all decisive. Its character has changed since the time speakers like Cobden addressed themselves to the
intellect, and Gladstone who mastered the technique of apparently 'letting sober facts speak for themselves.'
At the present time often purely emotional means are used--the means the Salvation Army also exploits in
order to set the masses in motion. One may call the existing state of affairs a 'dictatorship resting on the
exploitation of mass emotionality.' Yet, the highly developed system of committee work in the English
Parliament makes it possible and compelling for every politician who counts on a share in leadership to
cooperate in committee work. All important ministers of recent decades have this very real and effective
work-training as a background. The practice of committee reports and public criticism of these
deliberations is a condition for training, for really selecting leaders and eliminating mere demagogues.
Thus it is in England. The caucus system there, however, has been a weak form, compared with the
American party organization, which brought the plebiscitarian principle to an especially early and an
especially pure expression.
According to Washington's idea, America was to be a commonwealth administered by 'gentlemen.' In his
time, in America, a gentleman was also a landlord, or a man with a college education--this was the case at
first. In the beginning, when parties began to organize, the members of the House of Representatives
claimed to be leaders, just as in England at the time when notables ruled. The party organization was quite
loose and continued to be until 1824. In some communities, where modern development first took place,
the party machine was in the making even before the eighteen-twenties. But when Andrew Jackson was
first elected President--the election of the western farmers' candidate--the old traditions were overthrown.
Formal party leadership by leading members of Congress came to an end soon after 1840, when the great
parliamentarians, Calhoun and Webster, retired from political life because Congress had lost almost all of
its power to the party machine in the open country. That the plebiscitarian 'machine' has developed so early
in America is due to the fact that there, and there alone, the executive--this is what mattered--the chief of
office-patronage, was a President elected by plebiscite. By virtue of the 'separation of powers' he was
almost independent of parliament in his conduct of office. Hence, as the price of victory, the true booty
object of the office-prebend was held out precisely at the presidential election. Through Andrew Jackson
the 'spoils system' was quite systematically raised to a principle and the conclusions were drawn.
What does this spoils system, the turning over of federal offices to the following of the victorious
candidate, mean for the party formations of today? It means that quite unprincipled parties oppose one
another; they are purely organizations of job hunters drafting their changing platforms according to the
chances of vote-grabbing, changing their colors to a degree which, despite all analogies, is not yet to be
found elsewhere. The parties are simply and absolutely fashioned for the election campaign that is most
important for office patronage: the fight for the presidency and for the governorships of the separate states.
Platforms and candidates are selected at the national conventions of the parties without intervention by
congressmen. Hence they emerge from party conventions, the delegates of which are formally, very
democratically elected. These delegates are determined by meetings of other delegates, who, in turn, owe
their mandate to the 'primaries,' the assembling of the direct voters of the party. In the primaries the
delegates are already elected in the name of the candidate for the nation's leadership. Within the parties the
most embittered fight rages about the question of 'nomination.' After all, 300,000 to 400,000 official
appointments lie in the hands of the President, appointments which are executed by him only with the
approval of the senators from the separate states. Hence the senators are powerful politicians. By
comparison, however, the House of Representatives is, politically, quite impotent, because patronage of
office is removed from it and because the cabinet members, simply assistants to the President, can conduct
office apart from the confidence or lack of confidence of the people. The President, who is legitimized by
the people, confronts everybody, even Congress; this is a result of 'the separation of powers.'
In America, the spoils system, supported in this fashion, has been technically possible because American
culture with its youth could afford purely dilettante management. With 300,000 to 400,000 such party men
who have no qualifications to their credit other than the fact of having performed good services for their
party, this state of affairs of course could not exist without enormous evils. A corruption and wastefulness
second to none could be tolerated only by a country with as yet unlimited economic opportunities.
Now then, the boss is the figure who appears in the picture of this system of the plebiscitarian party
machine. Who is the boss? He is a political capitalist entrepreneur who on his own account and at his own
risk provides votes. He may have established his first relations as a lawyer or a saloon-keeper or as a
proprietor of similar establishments, or perhaps as a creditor. From here he spins his threads out until he is
able to 'control' a certain number of votes. When he has come this far he establishes contact with the
neighboring bosses, and through zeal, skill, and above all discretion, he attracts the attention of those who
have already further advanced in the career, and then he climbs. The boss is indispensable to the
organization of the party and the organization is centralized in his hands. He substantially provides the
financial means. How does he get them ? Well, partly by the contributions of the members, and especially
by taxing the salaries of those officials who came into office through him and his party. Furthermore, there
are bribes and tips. He who wishes to trespass with impunity one of the many laws needs the boss's
connivance and must pay for it; or else he will get into trouble. But this alone is not enough to accumulate
the necessary capital for political enterprises. The boss is indispensable as the direct recipient of the money
of great financial magnates, who would not entrust their money for election purposes to a paid party
official, or to anyone else giving public account of his affairs. The boss, with his judicious discretion in
financial matters, is the natural man for those capitalist circles who finance the election. The typical boss is
an absolutely sober man. He does not seek social honor; the 'professional' is despised in 'respectable
society.' He seeks power alone, power as a source of money, but also power for power's sake. In contrast to
the English leader, the American boss works in the dark. He is not heard speaking in public; he suggests to
the speakers what they must say in expedient fashion. He himself, however, keeps silent. 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 in person 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 and there are certain rates for individual offices; hence, a system of selling offices exists
which, after all, has often been known also to the monarchies, the church-state included, of the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries.
The boss has no firm political 'principles'; he is completely unprincipled in attitude and asks merely: What
will capture votes? Frequently he is a rather poorly educated man. But as a rule he leads an inoffensive and
correct private life. In his political morals, however, he naturally adjusts to the average ethical standards of
political conduct, as a great many of us also may have done during the hoarding period in the field of
economic ethics. That as a 'professional' politician the boss is socially despised does not worry him. That he
personally does not attain high federal offices, and does not wish to do so, has the frequent advantage that
extra-party intellects, thus notables, may come into candidacy when the bosses believe they will have great
appeal value at the polls. Hence the same old party notables do not run again and again, as is the case in
Germany. Thus the structure of these unprincipled parties with their socially despised power-holders has
aided able men to attain the presidency --men who with us never would have come to the top. To be sure,
the bosses resist an outsider who might jeopardize their sources of money and power. Yet in the
competitive struggle to win the favor of the voters, the bosses frequently have had to condescend and
accept candidates known to be opponents of corruption.
Thus there exists a strong capitalist party machine, strictly and thoroughly organized from top to bottom,
and supported by clubs of extraordinary stability. These clubs, such as Tammany Hall, are like Knight
orders. They seek profits solely through political control, especially of the municipal government, which is
the most important object of booty. This structure of party life was made possible by the high degree of
democracy in the United States--a 'New Country.' This connection, in turn, is the basis for the fact that the
system is gradually dying out. America can no longer be governed only by dilettantes. Scarcely fifteen
years ago, when American workers were asked why they allowed themselves to be governed by politicians
whom they admitted they despised, the answer was: 'We prefer having people in office whom we can spit
upon, rather than a caste of officials who spit upon us, as is the case with you.' This was the old point of
view of American 'democracy.' Even then, the socialists had entirely different ideas and now the situation is
no longer bearable. The dilettante administration does not suffice and the Civil Service Reform establishes
an ever-increasing number of positions for life with pension rights. The reform works out in such a way
that university-trained officials, just as incorruptible and quite as capable as our officials, get into office.
Even now about 100,000 offices have ceased being objects of booty to be turned over after elections.
Rather, the offices qualify their holders for pensions, and are based upon tested qualifications. The spoils
system will thus gradually recede into the background and the nature of party leadership is then likely to be
transformed also--but as yet, we do not know in what way.
In Germany, until now, the decisive conditions of political management have been in essence as follows:
First, the parliaments have been impotent. The result has been that no man with the qualities of a leader
would enter Parliament permanently. If one wished to enter Parliament, what could one achieve there?
When a chancellery position was open, one could tell the administrative chief: 'I have a very able man in
my election district who would be suitable; take him.' And he would have concurred with pleasure- but that
was about all that a German member of Parliament could do to satisfy his instincts for power--if he
To this must be added the tremendous importance of the trained expert officialdom in Germany. This factor
determined the impotence of . Parliament. Our officialdom was second to none in the world. This
importance of the officialdom was accompanied by the fact that the officials claimed not only official
positions but also cabinet positions for themselves. In the Bavarian state legislature, when the introduction
of parliamentary government was debated last year, it was said that if members of the legislature were to be
placed in cabinet positions talented people would no longer seek official careers. Moreover, the civil19
service administration systematically escaped such control as is signified by the English committee
discussions. The administration thus made it impossible for parliaments--with a few exceptions--to train
really useful administrative chiefs from their own ranks.
A third factor is that in Germany, in contrast to America, we have had parties with principled political
views who have maintained that their members, at least subjectively, represented bona-fide
Weltanschauungen. Now then, the two most important of these parties, the Catholic Centre Party and the
Social Democratic party, have, from their inceptions, been minority parties and have meant to be minority
parties. The leading circles of the Centre party in the Reich have never concealed their opposition to
parliamentarian democracy, because of fear of remaining in the minority and thus facing great difficulties
in placing their job hunters in office as they have done by exerting pressure on the government. The Social
Democratic party was a principled minority party and a handicap to the introduction of parliamentary
government because the party did not wish to stain itself by participating in the existing bourgeois political
order. The fact that both parties dissociated themselves from the parliamentary system made parliamentary
Considering all this, what then became of the professional politicians in Germany? They have had no
power, no responsibility, and could play only a rather subordinate role as notables. In consequence, they
have been animated anew by the guild instincts, which are typical everywhere. It has been impossible for a
man who was not of their hue to climb high in the circle of those notables who made their petty positions
their lives. I could mention many names from every party, the Social Democratic party, of course, not
excepted, that spell tragedies of political careers because the persons had leadership qualities, and precisely
because of these qualities were not tolerated by the notables. All our parties have taken this course of
development and have become guilds of notables. Bebel, for instance, was still a leader through
temperament and purity of character, however modest his intellect. The fact that he was a martyr, that he
never betrayed confidence in the eyes of the masses, resulted in his having the masses absolutely behind
him. There was no power in the party that could have seriously challenged him. Such leadership came to an
end, after his death, and the rule of officials began. Trade-union officials, party secretaries, and journalists
came to the top. The instincts of officialdom dominated the party--a highly respectable officialdom, of rare
respectability one may say, compared to conditions in other countries, especially the often corruptible
trade-union officials in America. But the results of control by officialdom, which we discussed above, also
began in the party.
Since the eighteen-eighties the bourgeois parties have completely become guilds of notables. To be sure,
occasionally the parties had to draw on extra-party intellects for advertising purposes, so that they could
say, 'We have such and such names.' So far as possible, they avoided letting these names run for election;
only when it was unavoidable and the person insisted could he run for election. The same spirit prevailed in
Parliament. Our parliamentary parties were and are guilds. Every speech delivered from the floor of the
Reichstag is thoroughly censored in the party before it is delivered. This is obvious from their unheard-of
boredom. Only he who is summoned to speak can have the word. One can hardly conceive of a stronger
contrast to the English, and also--for quite opposite reasons--the French usage.
Now, in consequence of the enormous collapse, which is customarily called the Revolution, perhaps a
transformation is under way. Perhaps-- but not for certain. In the beginning there were new kinds of party
apparatuses emerging. First, there were amateur apparatuses. They are especially often represented by
students of the various universities, who tell a man to whom they ascribe leadership qualities: we want to
do the necessary work for you; carry it out. Secondly, there are apparatuses of businessmen. It happened
that men to whom leadership qualities were ascribed were approached by people willing to take over the
propaganda, at fixed rates for every vote. If you were to ask me honestly which of these two apparatuses I
think the more reliable, from the purely technical-political point of view, I believe I would prefer the latter.
But both apparatuses were fast-emerging bubbles, which swiftly vanished again. The existing apparatuses
transformed themselves, but they continued to work. The phenomena are only symptoms of the fact that
new apparatuses would come about if there were only leaders. But even the technical peculiarity of
proportionate representation precluded their ascendancy. Only a few dictators of the street crowds arose
and fell again. And only the following of a mob dictatorship is organized in a strictly disciplined fashion:
whence the power of these vanishing minorities.
Let us assume that all this were to change; then, after what has been said above, it has to be clearly realized
that the plebiscitarian leadership of parties entails the 'soullessness' of the following, their intellectual
proletarianization, one might say. In order to be a useful apparatus, a machine in the American sense--
undisturbed either by the vanity of notables or pretensions to independent views--the following of such a
leader must obey him blindly. Lincoln's election was possible only through this character of party
organization, and with Gladstone, as mentioned before, the same happened in the caucus. This is simply the
price paid for guidance by leaders. However, there is only the choice between leadership democracy with a
'machine' and leaderless democracy, namely, the rule of professional politicians without a calling, without
the inner charismatic qualities that make a leader, and this means what the party insurgents in the situation
usually designate as 'the rule of the clique.' For the time being, we in Germany have only the latter. For the
future, the permanence of this situation, at least in the Reich, is primarily facilitated by the fact that the
Bundesrat will rise again and will of necessity restrict the power of the Reichstag and therewith its
significance as a selective agency of leaders. Moreover, in its present form, proportional representation is a
typical phenomenon of leaderless democracy. This is the case not only because it facilitates the horsetrading
of the notables for placement on the ticket, but also because in the future it will give organized
interest groups the possibility of compelling parties to include their officials in the list of candidates, thus
creating an unpolitical Parliament in which genuine leadership finds no place. Only the President of the
Reich could become the safety-valve of the demand for leadership if he were elected in a plebiscitarian way
and not by Parliament. Leadership on the basis of proved work could emerge and selection could take
place, especially if, in great municipalities, the plebiscitarian city-manager were to appear on the scene with
the right to organize his bureaus independently. Such is the case in the U.S.A. whenever one wishes to
tackle corruption seriously. It requires a party organization fashioned for such elections. But the very pettybourgeois
hostility of all parties to leaders, the Social Democratic party certainly included, leaves the future
formation of parties and all these chances still completely in the dark.
Therefore, today, one cannot yet see in any way how the management of politics as a 'vocation' will shape
itself. Even less can one see along what avenue opportunities are opening to which political talents can be
put for satisfactory political tasks. He who by his material circumstances is compelled to live 'of politics
will almost always have to consider the alternative positions of the journalist or the party official as the
typical direct avenues. Or, he must consider a position as representative of interest groups--such as a trade
union, a chamber of commerce, a farm bureau, a craft association, a labor board, an employer's association,
et cetera, or else a suitable municipal position. Nothing more than this can be said about this external
aspect: in common with the journalist, the party official bears the odium of being declasse. 'Wage writer' or
'wage speaker' will unfortunately always resound in his ears, even though the words remain unexpressed.
He who is inwardly defenseless and unable to find the proper answer for himself had better stay away from
this career. For in any case, besides grave temptations, it is an avenue that may constantly lead to
disappointments. Now then, what inner enjoyments can this career offer and what personal conditions are
presupposed for one who enters this avenue?
Well, first of all the career of politics grants a feeling of power. The knowledge of influencing men, of
participating in power over them, and above all, the feeling of holding in one's hands a nerve fiber of
historically important events can elevate the professional politician above everyday routine even when he is
placed in formally modest positions. But now the question for him is: Through what qualities can I hope to
do justice to this power (however narrowly circumscribed it may be in the individual case) ? How can he
hope to do justice to the responsibility that power imposes upon him? With this we enter the field of ethical
questions, for that is where the problem belongs: What kind of a man must one be if he is to be allowed to
put his hand on the wheel of history?
One can say that three pre-eminent qualities are decisive for the politician: passion, a feeling of
responsibility, and a sense of proportion.
This means passion in the sense of matter-of-factness, of passionate devotion to a 'cause,' to the god or
demon who is its overlord. It is not passion in the sense of that inner bearing which my late friend, Georg
Simmel, used to designate as 'sterile excitation,' and which was peculiar especially to a certain type of
Russian intellectual (by no means all of them!). It is an excitation that plays so great a part with our
intellectuals in this carnival we decorate with the proud name of 'revolution.' It is a 'romanticism of the
intellectually interesting,' running into emptiness devoid of all feeling of objective responsibility.
To be sure, mere passion, however genuinely felt, is not enough. It does not make a politician, unless
passion as devotion to a 'cause' also makes responsibility to this cause the guiding star of action. And for
this, a sense of proportion is needed. This is the decisive psychological quality of the politician: his ability
to let realities work upon him with inner concentration and calmness. Hence his distance to things and men.
'Lack of distance' per se is one of the deadly sins of every politician. It is one of those qualities the breeding
of which will condemn the progeny of our intellectuals to political incapacity. For the problem is simply
how can warm passion and a cool sense of proportion be forged together in one and the same soul? Politics
is made with the head, not with other parts of the body or soul. And yet devotion to politics, if it is not to be
frivolous intellectual play but rather genuinely human conduct, can be born and nourished from passion
alone. However, that firm taming of the soul, which distinguishes the passionate politician and
differentiates him from the 'sterilely excited' and mere political dilettante, is possible only through
habituation to detachment in every sense of the word. The 'strength' of a political 'personality' means, in the
first place, the possession of these qualities of passion, responsibility, and proportion.
Therefore, daily and hourly, the politician inwardly has to overcome a quite trivial and all-too-human
enemy: a quite vulgar vanity, the deadly enemy of all matter-of-fact devotion to a cause, and of all distance,
in this case, of distance towards one's self.
Vanity is a very widespread quality and perhaps nobody is entirely free from it. In academic and scholarly
circles, vanity is a sort of occupational disease, but precisely with the scholar, vanity--however
disagreeably it may express itself--is relatively harmless; in the sense that as a rule it does not disturb
scientific enterprise. With the politician the case is quite different. He works with the striving for power as
an unavoidable means. Therefore, 'power instinct,' as is usually said, belongs indeed to his normal qualities.
The sin against the lofty spirit of his vocation, however, begins where this striving for power ceases to be
objective and becomes purely personal self-intoxication, instead of exclusively entering the service of 'the
cause.' For ultimately there are only two kinds of deadly sins in the field of politics: lack of objectivity and-
-often but not always identical with it--irresponsibility. Vanity, the need personally to stand in the
foreground as clearly as possible, strongly tempts the politician to commit one or both of these sins. This is
more truly the case as the demagogue is compelled to count upon 'effect.' He therefore is constantly in
danger of becoming an actor as well as taking lightly the responsibility for the outcome of his actions and
of being concerned merely with the 'impression' he makes. His lack of objectivity tempts him to strive for
the glamorous semblance of power rather than for actual power. His irresponsibility, however, suggests that
he enjoy power merely for power's sake without a substantive purpose. Although, or rather just because,
power is the unavoidable means, and striving for power is one of the driving forces of all politics, there is
no more harmful distortion of political force than the parvenu-like braggart with power, and the vain selfreflection
in the feeling of power, and in general every worship of power per se. The mere 'power politician'
may get strong effects, but actually his work leads nowhere and is senseless. (Among us, too, an ardently
promoted cult seeks to glorify him.) In this, the critics of 'power politics' are absolutely right. From the
sudden inner collapse of typical representatives of this mentality, we can see what inner weakness and
impotence hides behind this boastful but entirely empty gesture. It is a product of a shoddy and
superficially blase attitude towards the meaning of human conduct; and it has no relation whatsoever to the
knowledge of tragedy with which all action, but especially political action, is truly interwoven.
The final result of political action often, no, even regularly, stands in completely inadequate and often even
paradoxical relation to its original meaning. This is fundamental to all history, a point not to be proved in
detail here. But because of this fact, the serving of a cause must not be absent if action is to have inner
strength. Exactly what the cause, in the service of which the politician strives for power and uses power,
looks like is a matter of faith. The politician may serve national, humanitarian, social, ethical, cultural,
worldly, or religious ends. The politician may be sustained by a strong belief in 'progress'-- no matter in
which sense--or he may coolly reject this kind of belief. He may claim to stand in the service of an 'idea' or,
rejecting this in principle, he may want to serve external ends of everyday life. However, some kind of faith
must always exist. Otherwise, it is absolutely true that the curse of the creature's worthlessness
overshadows even the externally strongest political successes.
With the statement above we are already engaged in discussing the last problem that concerns us tonight:
the ethos of politics as a 'cause.' What calling can politics fulfill quite independently of its goals within the
total ethical economy of human conduct--which is, so to speak, the ethical locus where politics is at home?
Here, to be sure, ultimate Weltanschauungen clash, world views among which in the end one has to make a
choice. Let us resolutely tackle this problem, which recently has been opened again, in my view in a very
But first, let us free ourselves from a quite trivial falsification: namely, that ethics may first appear in a
morally highly compromised role. Let us consider examples. Rarely will you find that a man whose love
turns from one woman to another feels no need to legitimate this before himself by saying: she was not
worthy of my love, or, she has disappointed me, or whatever other like 'reasons' exist. This is an attitude
that, with a profound lack of chivalry, adds a fancied 'legitimacy' to the plain fact that he no longer loves
her and that the woman has to bear it. By virtue of this 'legitimation,' the man claims a right for himself and
besides causing the misfortune seeks to put her in the wrong. The successful amatory competitor proceeds
exactly in the same way: namely, the opponent must be less worthy, otherwise he would not have lost out.
It is no different, of course, if after a victorious war the victor in undignified self-righteousness claims, 'I
have won because I was right.' Or, if somebody under the frightfulness of war collapses psychologically,
and instead of simply saying it was just too much, he feels the need of legitimizing his war weariness to
himself by substituting the feeling, 'I could not bear it because I had to fight for a morally bad cause.' And
likewise with the defeated in war. Instead of searching like old women for the 'guilty one' after the war--in
a situation in which the structure of society produced the war--everyone with a manly and controlled
attitude would tell the enemy, 'We lost the war. You have won it. That is now all over. Now let us discuss
what conclusions must be drawn according to the objective interests that came into play and what is the
main thing in view of the responsibility towards the future which above all burdens the victor.' Anything
else is undignified and will become a boomerang. A nation forgives if its interests have been damaged, but
no nation forgives if its honor has been offended, especially by a bigoted self-righteousness. Every new
document that comes to light after decades revives the undignified lamentations, the hatred and scorn,
instead of allowing the war at its end to be buried, at least morally. This is possible only through objectivity
and chivalry and above all only through dignity. But never is it possible through an 'ethic,' which in truth
signifies a lack of dignity on both sides. Instead of being concerned about what the politician is interested
in, the future and the responsibility towards the future, this ethic is concerned about politically sterile
questions of past guilt, which are not to be settled politically. To act in this way is politically guilty, if such
guilt exists at all. And it overlooks the unavoidable falsification of the whole problem, through very
material interests: namely, the victor's interest in the greatest possible moral and material gain; the hopes of
the defeated to trade in advantages through confessions of guilt. If anything is 'vulgar,' then, this is, and it is
the result of this fashion of exploiting '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 has occasionally been said? Or, is the reverse true: that the ethic of political conduct is
identical with that of any other conduct ? Occasionally an exclusive choice has been believed to exist
between the two propositions--either the one or the other proposition must be correct. But is it true that any
ethic of the world could establish commandments of identical content for erotic, business, familial, and
official relations; for the relations to one's wife, to the green-grocer, the son, the competitor, the friend, the
defendant? Should it really matter so little for the ethical demands on politics that politics operates with
very special means, namely, power backed up by violence? Do we not see that the Bolshevik and the
Spartacist ideologists bring about exactly the same results as any militaristic dictator just because they use
this political means? In what but the persons of the power-holders and their dilettantism does the rule of the
workers' and soldiers' councils differ from the rule of any power-holder of the old regime? In what way
does the polemic of most representatives of the presumably new ethic differ from that of the opponents
which they criticized, or the ethic of any other demagogues? In their noble intention, people will say.
Good! But it is the means about which we speak here, and the adversaries, in complete subjective sincerity,
claim, in the very same way, that their ultimate intentions are of lofty character. 'All they that take the
sword shall perish with the sword' and fighting is everywhere fighting. Hence, the ethic of the Sermon on
By the Sermon on the Mount, we mean the absolute ethic of the gospel, which is a more serious matter than
those who are fond of quoting these commandments today believe. This ethic is no joking matter. The same
holds for this ethic as has been said of causality in science: it is not a cab, which one can have stopped at
one's pleasure; it is all or nothing. This is precisely the meaning of the gospel, if trivialities are not to result.
Hence, for instance, it was said of the wealthy young man, 'He went away sorrowful: for he had great
possessions.' The evangelist commandment, however, is unconditional and unambiguous: give what thou
hast--absolutely everything. The politician will say that this is a socially senseless imposition as long as it is
not carried out everywhere. Thus the politician upholds taxation, confiscatory taxation, outright
confiscation; in a word, compulsion and regulation for all. The ethical commandment, however, is not at all
concerned about that, and this unconcern is its essence. Or, take the example, 'turn the other cheek': This
command is unconditional and does not question the source of the other's authority to strike. Except for a
saint it is an ethic of indignity. This is it: one must be saintly in everything; at least in intention, one must
live like Jesus, the apostles, St. Francis, and their like. Then this ethic makes sense and expresses a kind of
dignity; otherwise it does not. For if it is said, in line with the acosmic ethic of love, 'Resist not him that is
evil with force,' for the politician the reverse proposition holds, 'thou shalt resist evil by force,' or else you
are responsible for the evil winning out. He who wishes to follow the ethic of the gospel should abstain
from strikes, for strikes mean compulsion; he may join the company unions. Above all things, he should
not talk of 'revolution.' After all, the ethic of the gospel does not wish to teach that civil war is the only
legitimate war. The pacifist who follows the gospel will refuse to bear arms or will throw them down; in
Germany this was the recommended ethical duty to end the war and therewith all wars. The politician
would say the only sure means to discredit the war for all foreseeable time would have been a status quo
peace. Then the nations would have questioned, what was this war for? And then the war would have been
argued ad absurdum, which is now impossible. For the victors, at least for part of them, the war will have
been politically profitable. And the responsibility for this rests on behavior that made all resistance
impossible for us. Now, as a result of the ethics of absolutism, when the period of exhaustion will have
passed, the peace will be discredited, not the war.
Finally, let us consider the duty of truthfulness. For the absolute ethic it holds unconditionally. Hence the
conclusion was reached to publish all documents, especially those placing blame on one's own country. On
the basis of these one-sided publications the confessions of guilt followed --and they were one-sided,
unconditional, and without regard to consequences. The politician will find that as a result truth will not be
furthered but certainly obscured through abuse and unleashing of passion; only an all-round methodical
investigation by non-partisans could bear fruit; any other procedure may have consequences for a nation
that cannot be remedied for decades. But the absolute ethic just does not ask for 'consequences.' That is the
We must be clear about the fact that all ethically oriented conduct may be guided by one of two
fundamentally differing and irreconcilably opposed maxims: conduct can be oriented to an 'ethic of
ultimate ends' or to an 'ethic of responsibility.' This is not to say that an ethic of ultimate ends is identical
with irresponsibility, or that an ethic of responsibility is identical with unprincipled opportunism. Naturally
nobody says that. However, there is an abysmal contrast between conduct that follows the maxim of an
ethic of ultimate ends--that is, in religious terms, 'The Christian does rightly and leaves the results with the
Lord'--and conduct that follows the maxim of an ethic of responsibility, in which case one has to give an
account of the foreseeable results of one's action.
You may demonstrate to a convinced syndicalist, believing in an ethic of ultimate ends, that his action will
result in increasing the opportunities of reaction, in increasing the oppression of his class, and obstructing
its ascent--and you will not make the slightest impression upon him. If an action of good intent leads to bad
results, then, in the actor's eyes, not he but the world, or the stupidity of other men, or God's will who made
them thus, is responsible for the evil. However a man who believes in an ethic of responsibility takes
account of precisely the average deficiencies of people; as Fichte has correctly said, he does not even have
the right to presuppose their goodness and perfection. He does not feel in a position to burden others with
the results of his own actions so far as he was able to foresee them; he will say: these results are ascribed to
my action. The believer in an ethic of ultimate ends feels 'responsible' only for seeing to it that the flame of
pure intentions is not quenched: for example, the flame of protesting against the injustice of the social
order. To rekindle the flame ever anew is the purpose of his quite irrational deeds, judged in view of their
possible success. They are acts that can and shall have only exemplary value.
But even herewith the problem is not yet exhausted. No ethics in the world can dodge the fact that in
numerous instances the attainment of 'good' ends is bound to the fact that one must be willing to pay the
price of using morally dubious means or at least dangerous ones--and facing the possibility or even the
probability of evil ramifications. From no ethics in the world can it be concluded when and to what extent
the ethically good purpose 'justifies' the ethically dangerous means and ramifications.
The decisive means for politics is violence. You may see the extent of the tension between means and ends,
when viewed ethically, from the following: as is generally known, even during the war the revolutionary
socialists Zimmerwald faction) professed a principle that one might strikingly formulate: 'If we face the
choice either of some more years of war and then revolution, or peace now and no revolution, we choose--
some more years of war!' Upon the further question: 'What can this revolution bring about?' Every
scientifically trained socialist would have had the answer: One cannot speak of a transition to an economy
that in our sense could be called socialist; a bourgeois economy will re-emerge, merely stripped of the
feudal elements and the dynastic vestiges. For this very modest result, they are willing to face 'some more
years of war.' One may well say that even with a very robust socialist conviction one might reject a purpose
that demands such means. With Bolshevism and Spartanism, and, in general, with any kind of
revolutionary socialism, it is precisely the same thing. It is of course utterly ridiculous if the power
politicians of the old regime are morally denounced for their use of the same means, however justified the
rejection of their aims may be.
The ethic of ultimate ends apparently must go to pieces on the problem of the justification of means by
ends. As a matter of fact, logically it has only the possibility of rejecting all action that employs morally
dangerous means--in theory! In the world of realities, as a rule, we encounter the ever-renewed experience
that the adherent of an ethic of ultimate ends suddenly turns into a chiliastic prophet. Those, for example,
who have just preached 'love against violence' now call for the use of force for the last violent deed, which
would then lead to a state of affairs in which an violence is annihilated. In the same manner, our officers
told the soldiers before every offensive: 'This will be the last one; this one will bring victory and therewith
peace.' The proponent of an ethic of absolute ends cannot stand up under the ethical irrationality of the
world. He is a cosmic-ethical 'rationalist.' Those of you who know Dostoievski will remember the scene of
the 'Grand Inquisitor,' where the problem is poignantly unfolded. If one makes any concessions at all to the
principle that the end justifies the means, it is not possible to bring an ethic of ultimate ends and an ethic of
responsibility under one roof or to decree ethically which end should justify which means.
My colleague, Mr. F. W. Forster, whom personally I highly esteem for his undoubted sincerity, but whom I
reject unreservedly as a politician, believes it is possible to get around this difficulty by the simple thesis:
'from good comes only good; but from evil only evil follows.' In that case this whole complex of questions
would not exist. But it is rather astonishing that such a thesis could come to light two thousand five
hundred years after the Upanishads. Not only the whole course of world history, but every frank
examination of everyday experience points to the very opposite. The development of religions all over the
world is determined by the fact that the opposite is true. The age-old problem of theodicy consists of the
very question of how it is that a power which is said to be at once omnipotent and kind could have created
such an irrational world of undeserved suffering, unpunished injustice, and hopeless stupidity. Either this
power is not omnipotent or not kind, or, entirely different principles of compensation and reward govern
our life--principles we may interpret metaphysically, or even principles that forever escape our
comprehension This problem--the experience of the irrationality of the world--has been the driving force of
all religious evolution. The Indian doctrine of karma, Persian dualism, the doctrine of original sin,
predestination and the deus absconditus, all these have grown out of this experience. Also the early
Christians knew full well the world is governed by demons and that he who lets himself in for politics, that
is, for power and force as means, contracts with diabolical powers and for his action it is not true that good
can follow only from good and evil only from evil, but that often the opposite is true. Anyone who fails to
see this is, indeed, a political infant.
We are placed into various life-spheres, each of which is governed by different laws. Religious ethics have
settled with this fact in different ways. Hellenic polytheism made sacrifices to Aphrodite and Hera alike, to
Dionysus and to Apollo, and knew these gods were frequently in conflict with one another. The Hindu
order of life made each of the different occupations an object of a specific ethical code, a Dharma, and
forever segregated one from the other as castes, thereby placing them into a fixed hierarchy of rank. For the
man born into it, there was no escape from it, lest he be twice-born in another life. The occupations were
thus placed at varying distances from the highest religious goods of salvation. In this way, the caste order
allowed for the possibility of fashioning the Dharma of each single caste, from those of the ascetics and
Brahmins to those of the rogues and harlots, in accordance with the immanent and autonomous laws of
their respective occupations. War and politics were also included. You will find war integrated into the
totality of life-spheres in the Bhagavad-Gita, in the conversation between Krishna and Arduna. 'Do what
must be done,' i.e. do that work which, according to the Dharma of the warrior caste and its rules, is
obligatory and which, according to the purpose of the war, is objectively necessary. Hinduism believes that
such conduct does not damage religious salvation but, rather, promotes it. When he faced the hero's death,
the Indian warrior was always sure of Indra's heaven, just as was the Teuton warrior of Valhalla. The
Indian hero would have despised Nirvana just as much as the Teuton would have sneered at the Christian
paradise with its angels' choirs. This specialization of ethics allowed for the Indian ethic's quite unbroken
treatment of politics by following politics' own laws and even radically enhancing this royal art.
A really radical 'Machiavellianism,' in the popular sense of this word, is classically represented in Indian
literature, in the Kautaliya Arthasastra (long before Christ, allegedly dating from Chandragupta's time). In
contrast with this document Machiavelli's Principe is harmless. As is known in Catholic ethics--to which
otherwise Professor Forster stands close-- the consilia evangelica are a special ethic for those endowed
with the charisma of a holy life. There stands the monk who must not shed blood or strive for gain, and
beside him stand the pious knight and the burgher, who are allowed to do so, the one to shed blood, the
other to pursue gain. The gradation of ethics and its organic integration into the doctrine of salvation is less
consistent than in India. According to the presuppositions of Christian faith, this could and had to be the
case. The wickedness of the world stemming from original sin allowed with relative ease the integration of
violence into ethics as a disciplinary means against sin and against the heretics who endangered the soul.
However, the demands of the Sermon on the Mount, an acosmic ethic of ultimate ends, implied a natural
law of absolute imperatives based upon religion. These absolute imperatives retained their revolutionizing
force and they came upon the scene with elemental vigor during almost all periods of social upheaval. They
produced especially the radical pacifist sects, one of which in Pennsylvania experimented in establishing a
polity that renounced violence towards the outside. This experiment took a tragic course, inasmuch as with
the outbreak of the War of Independence the Quakers could not stand up arms-in-hand for their ideals,
which were those of the war.
Normally, Protestantism, however, absolutely legitimated the state as a divine institution and hence
violence as a means. Protestantism, especially, legitimated the authoritarian state. Luther relieved the
individual of the ethical responsibility for war and transferred it to the authorities. To obey the authorities
in matters other than those of faith could never constitute guilt. Calvinism in turn knew principled violence
as a means of defending the faith; thus Calvinism knew the crusade, which was for Islam an element of life
from the beginning. One sees that it is by no means a modern disbelief born from the hero worship of the
Renaissance which poses the problem of political ethics. All religions have wrestled with it, with highly
differing success, and after what has been said it could not be otherwise. It is the specific means of
legitimate violence as such in the hand of human associations which determines the peculiarity of all
ethical problems of politics.
Whosoever contracts with violent means for whatever ends--and every politician does--is exposed to its
specific consequences. This holds especially for the crusader, religious and revolutionary alike. Let us
confidently take the present as an example. He who wants to establish absolute justice on earth by force
requires a following, a human 'machine.' He must hold out the necessary internal and external premiums,
heavenly or worldly reward, to this 'machine' or else the machine will not function. Under the conditions of
the modern class struggle, the internal premiums consist of the satisfying of hatred and the craving for
revenge; above all, resentment and the need for pseudo-ethical self-righteousness: the opponents must be
slandered and accused of heresy. The external rewards are adventure, victory, booty, power, and spoils. The
leader and his success are completely dependent upon the functioning of his machine and hence not on his
own motives. Therefore he also depends upon whether or not the premiums can be permanently granted to
the following, that is, to the Red Guard, the informers, the agitators, whom he needs. What he actually
attains under the conditions of his work is therefore not in his hand, but is prescribed to him by the
following's motives, which, if viewed ethically, are predominantly base. The following can be harnessed
only so long as an honest belief in his person and his cause inspires at least part of the following, probably
never on earth even 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 materialist interpretation of history is no cab to be taken at
will; it does not stop short of the promoters of revolutions. Emotional revolutionism is followed by the
traditionalist routine of everyday life; the crusading leader and the faith itself fade away, or, what is even
more effective, the faith becomes part of the conventional phraseology of political Philistines and banausic
technicians. This development is especially rapid with struggles of faith because they are usually led or
inspired by genuine leaders, that is, prophets of revolution. For here, as with every leader's machine, one of
the conditions for success is the depersonalization and routinization, in short, the psychic proletarianization,
in the interests of discipline. After coming to power the following of a crusader usually degenerates very
easily into a quite common stratum of spoilsmen.
Whoever wants to engage in politics at all, and especially in politics as a vocation, has to realize these
ethical paradoxes. He must know that he is responsible for what may become of himself under the impact
of these paradoxes. I repeat, he lets himself in for the diabolic forces lurking in all violence. The great
virtuosi of acosmic love of humanity and goodness, whether stemming from Nazareth or Assisi or from
Indian royal castles, have not operated with the political means of violence. Their kingdom was 'not of this
world' and yet they worked and sill work in this world. The figures of Platon Karatajev and the saints of
Dostoievski still remain their most adequate reconstructions. He who seeks the salvation of the soul, of his
own and of others, should not seek it along the avenue of politics, for the quite different tasks of politics
can only be solved by violence. The genius or demon of politics lives in an inner tension with the god of
love, as well as with the Christian God as expressed by the church. This tension can at any time lead to an
irreconcilable conflict. Men knew this even in the times of church rule. Time and again the papal interdict
was placed upon Florence and at the time it meant a far more robust power for men and their salvation of
soul than (to speak with Fichte) the 'cool approbation' of the Kantian ethical judgment. The burghers,
however, fought the church-state. And it is with reference to such situations that Machiavelli in a beautiful
passage, if I am not mistaken, of the History of Florence, has one of his heroes praise those citizens who
deemed the greatness of their native city higher than the salvation of their souls.
If one says 'the future of socialism' or 'international peace,' instead of native city or 'fatherland' (which at
present may be a dubious value to some), then you face the problem as it stands now. Everything that is
striven for through political action operating with violent means and following an ethic of responsibility
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 be damaged and discredited for generations,
because responsibility for consequences is lacking, and two diabolic forces which enter the play remain
unknown to the actor. These are inexorable and produce consequences for his action and even for his inner
self, to which he must helplessly submit, unless he perceives them. The sentence: 'The devil is old; grow
old to understand him!' does not refer to age in terms of chronological years. I have never permitted myself
to lose out in a discussion through a reference to a date registered on a birth certificate; but the mere fact
that someone is twenty years of age and that I am over fifty is no cause for me to think that this alone is an
achievement before which I am overawed. Age is not decisive; what is decisive is the trained relentlessness
in viewing the realities of life, and the ability to face such realities and to measure up to them inwardly.
Surely, politics is made with the head, but it is certainly not made with the head alone. In this the
proponents of an ethic of ultimate ends are right. One cannot prescribe to anyone whether he should follow
an ethic of absolute ends or an ethic of responsibility, or when the one and when the other. One can say
only this much: If in these times, which, in your opinion, are not times of 'sterile' excitation--excitation is
not, after all, genuine passion--if now suddenly the Weltanschauungs politicians crop up en masse and pass
the watchword, 'The world is stupid and base, not I,' 'The responsibility for the consequences does not fall
upon me but upon the others whom I serve and whose stupidity or baseness I shall eradicate,' then I declare
frankly that I would first inquire into the degree of inner poise backing this ethic of ultimate ends. I am
under the impression that in nine out of ten cases I deal with windbags who do not fully realize what they
take upon themselves but who intoxicate themselves with romantic sensations. From a human point of view
this is not very interesting to me, nor does it move me profoundly. However, it is immensely moving when
a mature man-- no matter whether old or young in years--is aware of a responsibility for the consequences
of his conduct and really feels such responsibility with heart and soul. He then acts by following an ethic of
responsibility and somewhere he reaches the point where he says: 'Here I stand; I can do no other.' That is
something genuinely human and moving. And every one of us who is not spiritually dead must realize the
possibility of finding himself at some time in that position. In so far as this is true, an ethic of ultimate ends
and an ethic of responsibility are not absolute contrasts but rather supplements) which only in unison
constitute a genuine man--a man who can have the 'calling for politics.'
Now then, ladies and gentlemen, let us debate this matter once more ten years from now. Unfortunately, for
a whole series of reasons, I fear that by then the period of reaction will have long since broken over us. It is
very probable that little of what many of you, and (I candidly confess) I too, have wished and hoped for
will be fulfilled; little--perhaps not exactly nothing, but what to us at least seems little. This will not crush
me, but surely it is an inner burden to realize it. Then, I wish I could see what has become of those of you
who now feel yourselves to be genuinely 'principled' politicians and who share in the intoxication signified
by this revolution. It would be nice if matters turned out in such a way that Shakespeare's Sonnet 102
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 matter which 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
whom spring apparently has bloomed so luxuriously will be alive? And what will have become of all of
you by then? Will you be bitter or banausic? Will you simply and dully accept world and occupation? Or
will the third and by no means the least frequent possibility be your lot: mystic flight from reality for those
who are gifted for it, or--as is both frequent and unpleasant--for those who belabor themselves to follow
this fashion? In every one of such cases, I shall draw the conclusion that they have not measured up to their
own doings. They have not measured up to the world as it really is in its everyday routine. Objectively and
actually, they have not experienced the vocation for politics in its deepest meaning, which they thought
they had. They would have done better in simply cultivating plain brotherliness in personal relations. And
for the rest--they should have gone soberly about their daily work.
Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all
historical experience confirms the truth --that man would not have attained the possible unless time and
again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader
but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes
must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This
is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today. Only he has
the calling for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too
stupid or too base for what he wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this can say 'In spite of all!' has
the calling for politics.
"Only in a more egalitarian society is it possible to develop policies that are truly in the public interest, for only in such a society do enough citizens share enough interests so that these can be considered public interests."
In neighboring Rhode Island, Green Party leader Greg Gerritt haas pointed out that it is not possible to confront the problem of Poverty properly without at the same time dealing with the problem of Climate Change, nor is it possible confront the problems raised by Climate Change with out at the same time finding the ecologically sound ways to eliminate the institution of Poverty. In doing so he recognizes both as anthropogenic, and related to patterns of consumption/production, causal factors in both catastrophic climate change and the persistence of poverty.
The text of Herbert J Gans's 1971 essay titled "The Uses of Poverty: The Poor Pay All." is a copy of an underlined text that I used two weeks ago in testimony before the Ordinance Committee of the Cambridge City Council. The text itself is an early version of the article that appeared not long thereafter in The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 78, No. 2. (Sep., 1972), pp. 275-289. which indicates that; "Earlier versions of this paper were presented at a Vassar College conference on the war on poverty in 1964, at the 7th World Congress of Sociology in 1971, and in Social Policy 2 (July-August 1971): 20-24. The present paper will appear in a forthcoming book on poverty and stratification, edited b y S. M . Lipset and S. M . Miller, for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. I am indebted to Peter Marris, Robert K . Merton, and S. M. Miller for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper."
It may be that the academic acceptance was delayed because the Chicago School (of sociology) made possible direct involvement of its students in social struggle of the urban communities that it studied, bought about a hiatus of five years, to protect academic neutrality. But political lag in making use of research is far greater than delay of academic recognition and debate. Some city councillors in Cambridge were delighted to receive this as though it were the most recent word on the subject of institutional poverty.
Note: When Gans speaks of "the poor" he is speaking of people living under conditions established by institutionalized poverty; not of people living on incomes as designated "below the poverty line" drawn by demographers.
~ Elie Yarden
* * * *
Herbert J. Gans.
The Uses of Poverty: The Poor Pay All.
Social Policy July/August 1971: pp. 20-24.
Some twenty years ago Robert K. Merton applied the notion of functional analysis to explain the continuing though maligned existence of the urban political machine: if it continued to exist,perhaps it fulfilled latent - unintended or unrecognized - positive functions. Clearly it did. Merton pointed out how the political machine provided central authority to get things done when a decentralized local government could not act, humanized the services of the impersonal bureaucracy for fearful citizens, offered concrete help (rather than abstract law or justice) to the poor, and otherwise performed services needed or demanded by many people but considered unconventional or even illegal by formal public agencies. Today, poverty is more maligned than the political machine ever was; yet it, too, is a persistent social phenomenon. Consequently, there may be some merit in applying functional analysis to poverty, in asking whether it also has positive functions that explain its persistence. Merton defined functions as "those observed consequences [of a phenomenon] which make for the adaptation or adjustment of a given [social] system."
I shall use a slightly different definition; instead of identifying functions for an entire social system, I shall identify them for the interest groups, socio-economic classes, and other population aggregates with shared values that 'inhabit' a social system. I suspect that in a modern heterogeneous society, few phenomena are functional or dysfunctional for the society as a whole, and that most result in benefits to some groups and costs to others. Nor are any phenomena indispensable; in most instances, one can suggest what Merton calls "functional alternatives" or equivalents for them, i.e., other social patterns or policies that achieve the same positive functions but avoid the dysfunctions. Associating poverty with positive functions seems at first glance to be unimaginable. Of course, the slumlord and the loan shark are commonly known to profit from the existence of poverty, but they are viewed as evil men, so their activities are classified among the dysfunctions of poverty. However, what is less often recognized, at least by the conventional wisdom, is that poverty also makes possible the existence or expansion of respectable professions and occupations, for example, penology, criminology, social work, and public health. More recently, the poor have provided jobs for professional and para-professional "poverty warriors," and for journalists and social scientists, this author included, who have supplied the information demanded by the revival of public interest in poverty. Clearly, then, poverty and the poor may well satisfy a number of positive functions for many nonpoor groups in American society. I shall describe thirteen such functions - economic, social and political - that seem to me most significant.
The Functions of Poverty
First, the existence of poverty ensures that society's "dirty work" will be done. Every society has such work: physically dirty or dangerous, temporary, dead-end and underpaid, undignified and menial jobs. Society can fill these jobs by paying higher wages than for "clean" work, or it can force people who have no other choice to do the dirty work - and at low wages. In America, poverty functions to provide a low-wage labor pool that is willing - or rather, unable to be unwilling - to perform dirty work at low cost. Indeed, this function of the poor is so important that in some Southern states, welfare payments have been cut off during the summer months when the poor are needed to work in the fields. Moreover, much of the debate about the Negative Income Tax and the Family Assistance Plan [welfare programs] has concerned their impact on the work incentive, by which is actually meant the incentive of the poor to do the needed dirty work if the wages therefrom are no larger than the income grant. Many economic activities that involve dirty work depend on the poor for their existence: restaurants, hospitals, parts of the garment industry, and "truck farming," among others, could not persist in their present form without the poor.
Second, because the poor are required to work at low wages, they subsidize a variety of economic activities that benefit the affluent. For example, domestics subsidize the upper middle and upper classes, making life easier for their employers and freeing affluent women for a variety of professional, cultural, civic and partying activities. Similarly, because the poor pay a higher proportion of their income in property and sales taxes, among others, they subsidize many state and local governmental services that benefit more affluent groups. In addition, the poor support innovation in medical practice as patients in teaching and research hospitals and as guinea pigs in medical experiments.
Third, poverty creates jobs for a number of occupations and professions that serve or "service" the poor, or protect the rest of society from them. As already noted, penology would be minuscule without the poor, as would the police. Other activities and groups that flourish because of the existence of poverty are the numbers game, the sale of heroin and cheap wines and liquors, Pentecostal ministers, faith healers, prostitutes, pawn shops, and the peacetime army, which recruits its enlisted men mainly from among the poor.
Fourth, the poor buy goods others do not want and thus prolong the economic usefulness of such goods - day-old bread, fruit and vegetables that otherwise would have to be thrown out, secondhand clothes, and deteriorating automobiles and buildings. They also provide incomes for doctors, lawyers, teachers, and others who are too old, poorly trained or incompetent to attract more affluent clients. In addition to economic functions, the poor perform a number of social functions:
Fifth, the poor can be identified and punished as alleged or real deviants in order to uphold the legitimacy of conventional norms. To justify the desirability of hard work, thrift, honesty, and monogamy, for example, the defenders of these norms must be able to find people who can be accused of being lazy, spendthrift, dishonest, and promiscuous. Although there is some evidence that the poor are about as moral and law-abiding as anyone else, they are more likely than middleclass transgressors to be caught and punished when they participate in deviant acts. Moreover, they lack the political and cultural power to correct the stereotypes that other people hold of them and thus continue to be thought of as lazy, spendthrift, etc., by those who need living proof that moral deviance does not pay.
Sixth, and conversely, the poor offer vicarious participation to the rest of the population in the uninhibited sexual, alcoholic, and narcotic behavior in which they are alleged to participate and which, being freed from the constraints of affluence, they are often thought to enjoy more than the middle classes. Thus many people, some social scientists included, believe that the poor not only are more given to uninhibited behavior (which may be true, although it is often motivated by despair more than by lack of inhibition) but derive more pleasure from it than affluent people (which research by Lee Rainwater, Walter Miller and others shows to be patently untrue). However, whether the poor actually have more sex and enjoy it more is irrelevant; so long as middle-class people believe this to be true, they can participate in it vicariously when instances are reported in factual or fictional form.
Seventh, the poor also serve a direct cultural function when culture created by or for them is adopted by the more affluent. The rich often collect artifacts from extinct folk cultures of poor people; and almost all Americans listen to the blues, Negro spirituals, and country music, which originated among the Southern poor. Recently they have enjoyed the rock styles that were born, like the Beatles, in the slums, and in the last year, poetry written by ghetto children has become popular in literary circles. The poor also serve as culture heroes, particularly, of course, to the Left; but the hobo, the cowboy, the hipster, and the mythical prostitute with a heart of gold have performed this function for a variety of groups.
Eighth, poverty helps to guarantee the status of those who are not poor. In every hierarchical society, someone has to be at the bottom; but in American society, in which social mobility is an important goal for many and people need to know where they stand, the poor function as a reliable and relatively permanent measuring rod for status comparisons. This is particularly true for the working class, whose politics is influenced by the need to maintain status distinctions between themselves and the poor, much as the aristocracy must find ways of distinguishing itself from the nouveaux riches.
Ninth, the poor also aid the upward mobility of groups just above them in the class hierarchy. Thus a goodly number of Americans have entered the middle class through the profits earned from the provision of goods and services in the slums, including illegal or nonrespectable ones that upperclass and upper-middle-class businessmen shun because of their low prestige. As a result, members of almost every immigrant group have financed their upward mobility by providing slum housing, entertainment, gambling, narcotics, etc., to later arrivals - most recently to Blacks and Puerto Ricans.
Tenth, the poor help to keep the aristocracy busy, thus justifying its continued existence. "Society" uses the poor as clients of settlement houses and beneficiaries of charity affairs; indeed, the aristocracy must have the poor to demonstrate its superiority over other elites who devote themselves to earning money.
Eleventh, the poor, being powerless, can be made to absorb the costs of change and growth in American society. During the nineteenth century, they did the backbreaking work that built the cities; today, they are pushed out of their neighborhoods to make room for "progress. Urban renewal projects to hold middle-class taxpayers in the city and expressways to enable suburbanites to commute downtown have typically been located in poor neighborhoods, since no other group will allow itself to be displaced. For the same reason, universities, hospitals, and civic centers also expand into land occupied by the poor. The major costs of the industrialization of agriculture have been borne by the poor, who are pushed off the land without recompense; and they have paid a large share of the human cost of the growth of American power overseas, for they have provided many of the foot soldiers for Vietnam and other wars.
Twelfth, the poor facilitate and stabilize the American political process. Because they vote and participate in politics less than other groups, the political system is often free to ignore them. Moreover, since they can rarely support Republicans, they often provide the Democrats with a captive constituency that has no other place to go. As a result, the Democrats can count on their votes, and be more responsive to voters - for example, the white working class - who might otherwise switch to the Republicans.
Thirteenth, the role of the poor in upholding conventional norms (see the fifth point, above) also has a significant political function. An economy based on the ideology of laissez faire requires a deprived population that is allegedly unwilling to work or that can be considered inferior because it must accept charity or welfare in order to survive. Not only does the alleged moral deviancy of the poor reduce the moral pressure on the present political economy to eliminate poverty but socialist alternatives can be made to look quite unattractive if those who will benefit most from them can be described as lazy, spendthrift, dishonest and promiscuous.
I have described thirteen of the more important functions poverty and the poor satisfy in American society, enough to support the functionalist thesis that poverty, like any other social phenomenon, survives in part because it is useful to society or some of its parts. This analysis is not intended to suggest that because it is often functional, poverty should exist, or that it must exist. For one thing, poverty has many more dysfunctions than functions; for another, it is possible to suggest functional alternatives. For example, society's dirty work could be done without poverty, either by automation or by paying "dirty workers" decent wages. Nor is it necessary for the poor to subsidize the many activities they support through their low-wage jobs. This would, however, drive up the costs of these activities, which would result in higher prices to their customers and clients. Similarly, many of the professionals who flourish because of the poor could be given other roles.
Social workers could provide counseling to the affluent, as they prefer to do anyway; and the police could devote themselves to traffic and organized crime. Other roles would have to be found for badly trained or incompetent professionals now relegated to serving the poor, and someone else would have to pay their salaries. Fewer penologists would be employable, however. And Pentecostal religion probably could not survive without the poor - nor would parts of the second- and third-hand goods market. And in many cities, "used" housing that no one else wants would then have to be torn down at public expense. Alternatives for the cultural functions of the poor could be found more easily and cheaply. Indeed, entertainers, hippies, and adolescents are already serving as the deviants needed to uphold traditional morality and as devotees of orgies to "staff" the fantasies of vicarious participation. The status functions of the poor are another matter. In a hierarchical society, some people must be defined as inferior to everyone else with respect to a variety of attributes, but they need not be poor in the absolute sense. One could conceive of a society in which the "lower class," though last in the pecking order, received 75 percent of the median income, rather than 15-40 percent, as is now the case. Needless to say, this would require considerable income redistribution.
The contribution the poor make to the upward mobility of the groups that provide them with goods and services could also be maintained without the poor's having such low incomes. However, it is true that if the poor were more affluent, they would have access to enough capital to take over the provider role, thus competing with and perhaps rejecting the "outsiders." (Indeed, owing in part to antipoverty programs, this is already happening in a number of ghettos, where white storeowners are being replaced by Blacks.) Similarly, if the poor were more affluent, they would make less willing clients for upper-class philanthropy, although some would still use settlement houses to achieve upward mobility, as they do now. Thus "Society" could continue to run its philanthropic activities. The political functions of the poor would be more difficult to replace. With increased affluence the poor would probably obtain more political power and be more active politically. With higher incomes and more political power, the poor would be likely to resist paying the costs of growth and change. Of course, it is possible to imagine urban renewal and highway projects that properly reimbursed the displaced people, but such projects would then become considerably more expensive, and many might never be built. This, in turn, would reduce the comfort and convenience of those who now benefit from urban renewal and expressways. Finally, hippies could serve also as more deviants to justify the existing political economy - as they already do.
Presumably, however, if poverty were eliminated, there would be fewer attacks on that economy. In sum, then, many of the functions served by the poor could be replaced if poverty were eliminated, but almost always at higher costs to others, particularly more affluent others. Consequently, a functional analysis must conclude that poverty persists not only because it fulfills a number of positive functions but also because many of the functional alternatives to poverty would be quite dysfunctional for the affluent members of society. A functional analysis thus ultimately arrives at much the same conclusion as radical sociology, except that radical thinkers treat as manifest what I describe as latent: that social phenomena that are functional for affluent or powerful groups and dysfunctional for poor or powerless ones persist; that when the elimination of such phenomena through functional alternatives would generate dysfunctions for the affluent or powerful, they will continue to persist; and that phenomena like poverty can be eliminated only when they become dysfunctional for the affluent or powerful, or when the powerless can obtain enough power to change society.