Weber’s Écrits politiques : sociological insight into contemporary issues
This publication of a part of Weber’s political writings is clearly an occasion for drawing French-language readers’ attention to the specifically sociological thrust of the writings in question. Though they are closely tied to context and circumstances, the most important among them take up extremely broad issues, which Weber handles from distinctly sociological points of view, making more or less explicit use of some of his major conceptual instruments. His in-depth analyses of the Russian Revolution of 1905 and its outcome are a brilliant illustration of this type of approach. In the first he presents an overview of Russian society that allows him to identify the multiple obstacles to successful development of bourgeois democracy in Russia ; in the second he stresses the increasingly marked political closure in Russia, as reflected in its « pseudo-constitutionalism ». Moreover, in writing his renowned « Parliament and government in a reconstructed Germany », a vigorous critique of bureaucracy and an acute perception of the dangers inherent in the extension of bureaucratic power, he directly transposed analyses taken from his « sociology of domination ». In general, it is Weber’s sociological understanding that led him to perceive a tendency toward bureaucratization in modern societies, and to seek counterweights to it. Large-scale socialism seemed to him particularly ill-equipped to fulfill this function. He first attempted to confer the counterweight role on a strong parliament ; then thought he has found at least a partial answer in plebiscitary power in the form of the Reichspräsident. In this way he identified yet another tendency of modern politics, that seemed to him to derive from mass democracy and confrontation among organized political parties.