No Comment, Quotation — June 8, 2008, 11:32 pm

Weber on the Political Vocation

max-weber-1917

Die Politik bedeutet ein starkes langsames Bohren von harten Brettern mit Leidenschaft und Augenmaß zugleich. Es ist ja durchaus richtig, und alle geschichtliche Erfahrung bestätigt es, daß man das Mögliche nicht erreichte, wenn nicht immer wieder in der Welt nach dem Unmöglichen gegriffen worden wäre. Aber der, der das tun kann, muß ein Führer und nicht nur das, sondern auch – in einem sehr schlichten Wortsinn – ein Held sein. Und auch die, welche beides nicht sind, müssen sich wappnen mit jener Festigkeit des Herzens, die auch dem Scheitern aller Hoffnungen gewachsen ist, jetzt schon, sonst werden sie nicht imstande sein, auch nur durchzusetzen, was heute möglich ist. Nur wer sicher ist, daß er daran nicht zerbricht, wenn die Welt, von seinem Standpunkt aus gesehen, zu dumm oder zu gemein ist für das, was er ihr bieten will, daß er all dem gegenüber: »dennoch!« zu sagen vermag, nur der hat den »Beruf« zur Politik.

Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It requires passion as well as perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms–that man would not have achieved the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that, a man must be a leader, and more than a leader, he must be 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 resolve of heart which can brave even the failing of all hopes. This is necessary right now, otherwise we shall fail to attain that which it is possible to achieve today. Only he who is certain not to destroy himself in the process should hear the call of politics; he must endure even though he finds the world too stupid or too petty for that which he would offer. In the face of that he must have the resolve to say ‘and yet,’—for only then does he hear the ‘call’ of politics.

Max Weber, Politik als Beruf (1919) (lecture delivered before the Freistudentischen Bund of the University of Munich)(S.H. transl.) in: Gesammelte politische Schriften p. 560.

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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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