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Max Weber's Liberalism for a Nietzschean World

  • Mark Warren (a1)
Abstract

Weber's commentators often accuse him of lacking a coherent political philosophy because his pluralist-elite theory of democracy seems indifferent to liberal-democratic values. I argue, however, that the core of Weber's political philosophy is a politicized neo-Kantian liberalism, one that produces an ethically significant and positive concept of politics. The problem is rather that Weber's pessimism about institutionalizing positive politics in bureaucratized societies left the ethical core of his political philosophy inexplicit. This introduced a conflict into his thought between his ethical commitments and his assessments of political possibilities. The conflict is compelling because it reflects the contemporary gap between the promise and performance of liberal democracies. At the same time, formulating Weber's problems in these terms helps identify democratic solutions that remain obscure in his assessment of conflicts between bureaucratization and democracy.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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