Any political leader has to be responsible, that is he has to pursue the envisaged ends, while, at the same time he is not allowed to act irresponsible and consider that the things that need to be changed are to be charged exclusively to the others. Thus, in Weber’s view responsibility and virtue are the main qualities required of a political leader. The virtue does not reside, according to view on the mere pursue of a good or useful end for society or politics, but in the responsibility with which he is able to follow his purpose.
As Weber observes, the politician has to be passionate and take personal stand in his actions, and this differentiates him from the other men, from the civilians who, so as to serve society must obey the general rules, and not separate from the rest: “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 responsibility that Weber talks about requires a balance of vision on the part of the politician: he has to take a stand, therefore, to be responsible, but, at the same time has to maintain his balance of vision, and not act out of personal interests. Thus, it can be seen that the main characteristics of the good or virtuous politician are those of a leader and a hero at the same time, someone who can handle power with responsibility for the others and for society.
The opposite to the good politician is the one who strives for power out of personal vanity and who tries to ascend to power for the power per se: “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. ” While the power instinct, as Weber terms it, is not something bad in itself, it is however dangerous when it is not accompanied by the virtuous qualities that any politician should have:
“[…] 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. […] Therefore, ‘power instinct,’ as is usually said, belongs indeed to his normal qualities. ” It is plain that the main tenants of Weber’s essay can be paralleled to the contemporary politics of the United States. He emphasizes in his essay what he calls the politics of ultimate ends, which expressly makes use of violence to pursue the abolishment of violence:
“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 all 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. ‘”
This use of the religious and ethic principles in politics can justify, to a certain extent, a politics of ultimate ends. In this sense, the present politics of the United States seem to be itself a policy of the ultimate ends, which tries to establish world-wide democracy, and to influence the international political context. The United States tries to eradicate the violence of the terrorist organizations and groups by the use of violence, and this is why its foreign policy has been many times questioned in its legitimacy.
Also, the legislation of the United States prohibits political assassination, for example, but nevertheless, foreign leaders are still targeted in the political attacks. While the ends may indeed be considered as good, the foreign policy of the States does not coincide with what Weber considers as the main virtue in politics: the ethic of responsibility. Being responsible is here defined as being able to taken the responsibility of eradicating the evils of society or the world, but at the same time preserving one’s humanity and morality, and not aiming at achieving power alone:
“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.
‘” Thus, it is hard to classify the politics of the United States as good or bad, in itself. While democracy is a positive thing, it is hard to say whether the means to spread it are entirely justifiable or no. However, it is to be noticed that wickedness has been dealt with in the same way by religion many times, just the same, and this proves it is hard to establish justice in any other way.
Works Cited: Weber, Max. Politics as a Vocation. http://www2. pfeiffer. edu/~lridener/DSS/Weber/polvoc. html