by guest contributor Pedro T. Magalhães
Ideas have unintended consequences. Max Weber, the founding father of German sociology, must have been keenly aware of this. In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904/05), he put forward the bold thesis that Protestant asceticism had unintentionally provided the spiritual conditions for the rise of modern capitalism. Ironically, one of Weber’s own political ideas?the notion of a plebiscitary leadership democracy, which he developed in the aftermath of World War I?would also end up being interpreted as having inadvertently paved the way to the rise of totalitarian dictatorship in Germany.
The first commentator to suggest that Weber’s vision of democracy had aroused the inclination of moderate, bürgerlich German minds to accept radical, authoritarian solutions to the predicaments of parliamentary democracy was the historian Wolfgang J. Mommsen. Mommsen argued, in the conclusion to his book, that Carl Schmitt’s theory of the…
View original post 764 more words