Tag Archives: German Unification

Concepts from Max Weber

Max Weber (1864 – 1920), who died in the last global pandemic, is the father of modern sociology. His approaches to research and methodology were ground breaking within academia. His definitions have been exceptional, for example, the state as having a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force and defining charismatic leaders, bureaucracy, methodological individualism and controversially the Protestant Work ethic. Max Weber also had some anti-Polish views which is bizarre and potentially evil. Below are notes on his theories in relation to nationalism, war and strategic ends.

Weber’s Theory of Nationalism: power & prestige

Facts & Figures                                                                                                        

List of previous final exam questions:

How did Weber define and explain nationalism? What role did prestige and power play in his understanding of nationalism?

Why is there no sociological definition of nationalism according to Weber?

Discuss the constructed ethnicity Weber argued.

  1. To what extent, if at all, Weber developed clear concepts and theories of ethnicity, nationality, nation-state and nationalism.
  • Guenther Roth & Claus Wittich (eds), Economy and Society (2 vols., Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1978). vol.1, `Ethnic Groups’, pp.385-398
  • H.H.Gerth & C.Wright Mills (eds), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York, 1946). `Structures of Power’, pp.159-179 (most of which is also to be found in Economy and Society, vol.2, pp.910-926).
  • Beetham, D. (1974). Max Weber and the Theory of Modern Politics. London. Chapter 5 `Nationalism and the nation-state’
  • M. Guibernau, Nationalisms: The Nation-State and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 1996), chapter 1 `Nationalism in classical sociological theory’.
  • Defining, Background, Foundations
  • Of all the writing undertaken in Max Weber’s 56 years, only two significant passages use social science to address the question of nationalism. In order to ascertain why Weber never explicitly formulated a theory of nationalism, this paper will do the following.

Posthumous Works Should Be Questioned: MAJOR point about his papers on Nations and Ethnicity: We would never have known about Weber’s thoughts on ethnic groups and nations had his wife not published it posthumously by Marianne Weber in Economy & Society. It wasn’t his finest material. He says at the end of ethnic groups that there is no ideal type for ethnicity. It is fragmentary like Economy & Society in general.

Nation & Ethnic Group: Weber would never have had it published because there is no ideal type here.Weber’s ethnicity text is associated with a Gemeinshaft concept: it is a belief not a fact: it is a belief in relationships that are rationally calculated: it is pre-modern: it might not work in large scale societies. NOTE that he did study subjective texts

  • Outline the Nation and Ethnic Groups papers and argue Weber forwards an instrumentalist view of these phenomena.
  • Argue that Weber’s ultimate value is informed by the same value-laden pursuit: political power and prestige of the German nation-state.
  • Conclude that Weber never formulated a sociological explanation of nationalism for two reasons,
  • a) the concept had not fully developed as central in the modernization process during his lifetime AND
  • b) he recognized the subjectivity and amorphous tendency of this field of study.

NOTHING CAN BE ACHIEVED WITHOUT Struggle. Workaholic, Germany world position, struggle, becoming a politcian, struggle. Darwinists Realpolitk.

 (Tonnies, 1887) 2 forms of Human Association:

Gemeinschaft: community of sentiment ie. the nation. Ties on effective relationships: small-scale interactions.

Gemeinschaft (often translated as community) is an association in which individuals are oriented to the large association as much if not more than to their own self interest. Furthermore, individuals in Gemeinschaft are regulated by common mores, or beliefs about the appropriate behavior and responsibility of members of the association, to each other and to the association at large; associations marked by “unity of will” (Tönnies, 22). Tönnies saw the family as the most perfect expression of Gemeinschaft; however, he expected that Gemeinschaft could be based on shared place and shared belief as well as kinship, and he included globally dispersed religious communities as possible examples of Gemeinschaft.

Gemeinschafts are broadly characterized by a moderate division of labour, strong personal relationships, strong families, and relatively simple social institutions. In such societies there is seldom a need to enforce social control externally, due to a collective sense of loyalty individuals feel for society.Weber moralizes the Gemeinshaft: Weber we are not going to get those Gemeinshaft back with ethical.

Gesellshaft: society and rational association: ties are less effective: self-interested.

In contrast, Gesellschaft (often translated as society or civil society or ‘association’) describes associations in which, for the individual, the larger association never takes on more importance than the individual’s self interest, and lack the same level of shared mores. Gesellschaft is maintained through individuals acting in their own self-interest. A modern business is a good example of Gesellschaft, the workers, managers, and owners may have very little in terms of shared orientations or beliefs, they may not care deeply for the product they are making, but it is in all their self interest to come to work to make money, and thus the business continues.

Unlike Gemeinschaften, Gesellschaften emphasize secondary relationships rather than familial or community ties, and there is generally less individual loyalty to society. Social cohesion in Gesellschafts typically derives from a more elaborate division of labor. Such societies are considered more susceptible to class conflict as well as racial and ethnic conflicts.

Since, for Tönnies, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft are normal types, he considered them a matter of Pure Sociology, whereas in Applied Sociology, on doing empirical research, he expected to find nothing else than a mix of them. Nevertheless, following Tönnies, without normal types one might not be able to analyze this mix.

The primary direction of history from Gemeinschaft -> Gessellschaft. Weber doesn’t believe in developmental movements: he sees the calculability of relationship.

Weber is a methodological individualists: he is interested in communializing: socializing effects: we aren’t moving from Gemeinschaft to Gesellshaft but certain things are producing Gesellschaft: people might say that their family relationships have a more effective ties. A wage labourer will negotiation personal contracts: not so clear-cut.

Values Judgements Backed By Science:

As long as Weber is able to shift Polish: confronted Bauer: Weber don’t believe in objective truths: this is the best I can offer but with new evidence he will shift on Polish. Build up a scientific then use it to defend his means.

He knows that he is full of values he accepts and thinks its okay aslong as you are rational. Spent his whole career being value-laden then he says that science should strive to be objective BUT then if we do all this we should not be doing it in the lecture (Science, 1919). Science Vocation: instrinctive values and then you have choosen values. EH doesn’t like Christian pacifist but he respects them for rational. He respects induvudal sermon on the mount.

CENTRAL Question:

(Hennis, 1988) Weber’s Central Question: what is the meaningful life?

Menschentum… I think, I am not sure how to translate this maybe “the quality of being human,…” I am not sure, but this is definitely what Hennis central question is about, Weber is concerned with the human,… I think thats the answer,…  

(Hennis, 1988) Weber was passionate but we should not believe his personal letters to be cannon. Karl Marx revised, revised and then revised his ideas so we should not obsess about chicken-scratched outlines of shooting Poles or opposing Versaille.

1) Nation is valued by Weber as a life order:: what kinds of people does the social arrangement produce. SO what kind of person is the German peasant: which will lead to the Germans to go west where as the Poles will go to East Elba: Germans like freedom according to Hennis. The promise of freedom caused German migration.

2) It is a sign of life orders, how a particular life can be developed. Germany is a place, political order, high culture, within which certain personalities can be generated which have value: they make ethical choices: you have clear conceptions of your ends: this is more likely to occur in the powerful German state. It isn’t a life order, but a multi-class claim that they are the same: Junker, peasant class, Weber never bought into the ethnic commonality. Hennis: has the problem of whether Weber is a defensable thinker. Weber was brilliant but he didn’t say exactly what he should have according to Hennis.

There is a central question throughout Weber’s works. It is in the dissertation. The central questions IS ever present.

Weber’s central question: is the triumph of the souls of men? That Weber is a Hedgehog (one big moral idea) to use the Berlin and not a Fox (many small ideas).

(Hennis, 1988): (Freiberg Inaugural Lecture 1895) is wonderful: Weber is interested in what kind of human beings in the East Elbian situation this leads to nationalism. Hennis: 1st Chapter and 2nd Chapter are useful but he’s a bit too internal: not cogent as a writer.

Hennis ideas about Prestige are useful. Honour = Prestige. Weber has the three dimensions: Power, Class and Status

Status is related to status group: stand each has their peculiar sense of honor status groups about honour. The nation is about status group with prestige> He is arguing an ideal interest in maintaining your status and your honour. It is a class system. Nobleman has to justify their economic function: as soon as you start justifying……

You cannot offend my honour: you see the conception in refusal to sign the armistice: this is not something that a rational means end can be applied. The prestige concept: it becomes more intense when Weber’s Germany confront other world powers: Weber is not conscious of Austria or France. Weber saw Russia, Britain and US as the real powers.

Weber: (Freiberg Inaugural Lecture, 1895): the youthful prank of Germany. Weber uses the organic metaphor: but he projects it into the young nation: it has to force the old out ie Junkers. BUT Breuilly says Weber doesn’t care about nations, members of groups that have youth. Weber is a methodological individualism> Breuilly says that the Inaugural Address is a crude, arbitrary and Weber later says he was ashamed and could have expressed more clearly his ideas in that lecture…..(Hennis, 1988) would have agreed.

He mentions this explicitly with reference to his brief membership in the Pan-German League (1893-1899).  Because of Weber’s peculiarity in only focusing on certain aspects of what Hennis defines as “Liberalism” (belief in removal of limitations, progress with time, universality of values)  he can at best label his writings as those of a “voluntaristic Liberalism, more properly perhaps of a liberal voluntarism closely bound to freedom” (197).  Hennis’ inability to label Weber as “Liberal” in his sense of the term ultimately demonstrates Weber’s actions as coinciding with his theoretical writings.  Weber’s “Liberalism”, thus, is separate from “contemporary Liberalism” in its “passionate efforts on behalf of impartiality” (202).

I think Weber certainly was not a liberal in the sense of believing in progress. He did support free markets and strong parliaments and permissive laws.


  1. Political Power Junkers to the Bourgeoisi
  2. Agriculture East Elbia Economics
  3. Real Politik the Importance of Nation should serve the purpose of national

Pan-German League  (Mommsen, 1984) (controversial)

It would seem strange that Weber not stay longer in a bourgeois organization that placed “national values” at the core of its agenda.  According to Wolfgang Mommsen, Weber left the League because it catered too strongly to Junker interests and was not “uncompromisingly national” on the Polish question. Mommsen never explicitly defines Weber’s “nationalism,” only to remark that his “nationalist” views changed with respect to the Polish.  He holds that the “national idea” was Weber’s ultimate norm, but that his “nationalist thought transcended the epoch of his generation” in his ability to know its limits and change its emphasis (Mommsen 63-64).  Thus, he concludes, “it is unlikely that Weber would have  long remained associated with the league as it moved increasingly in the direction of…irresponsible chauvinism.  Moreover, he was never totally in agreement with the radical Polish demands of the Pan-Germans” (55).  While Weber would later come to criticise the League’s aggressive foreign policy intents during the war, to think of him as “illiberal” is exactly as Chickering describes – a “value judgement” that does not take into account different interpretations and means of achieving a particular goal. (303)

A good and informed section on the Pan-German League and Weber’s links with it.

(Radkau, 2005): what he says about the Inaugural Lecture. Weber is incoherent, worker politic is bluster: weak economic argument. (Radkau, 2005): landowners construct how economics. (Radkau, 2005) (Breuilly)

Real Politik: was a prevalent position: BUT Weber is an early nationalist of this agreessive patriotism> (Radkau, 2005): in Weber’s early life: Weber wasn’t reflecting the mood he was anticipating on shaping it. Weber wasn’t just spouting clichés. Mommsen/Radkau view on the Inaugural Lecture is superior according to Breuilly: read them.

Weber & Iron Cage: haunted by pressure of time. Workaholic: ‘time was money’

(Radkau, 2005) reveals that life is not a consistent entity: it is a confused, broken life has several phases. The better you know Weber, the more you like him. Weber’s over analysis caused him much personal illness.

(Stargardt, 1996) Weber-Tonnies 1912 Soziologentag

  • Weber defines nation as a “community of sentiment, which could find it adequate expression only in a state of its own, and which thus normally strives to create one.” Weber argues that Tonnies is a cretin/ethno-cultural nationalist boob.
  • Stargardt argues that Weber begins/“expresses the starting point for open liberal politics.”
  • Stargardt is Weberian AGAINST controversial Mommsen who has forcefully argued that Weber “was a Liberal in Imperial Germany and model of primacy of politics tilts the nation-building role of the state over towards geopolitics, at least during and before WW1 – hence Weber’s ALL or NOTHING predictions of the fate of German nation in great power conflicts. The federal state was explicitly submission to a dominant national group control: Constitutional support for Prussia hegemony.
  • Weber must have known about Bauer/Renner.
  • Renner’s personality principle: a strong state segregate cultural difference form the sphere of a national conflict to the domain of individual rights. 
  • Weber and Bauer end up supporting Statism: historical perspective the radical liberal politics of multiculturalism – has potentially illiberal social foundations.  The problem is that the state is responsible for managing cultural identities against an ethnic nationalism: but both Weber and Bauer know that the state should also be founded in social sentiment. Popular sovereignty lies at the centre of all democratic politics according to (Stargardt, 1996). Weber and Bauer’s susceptibility to the Gemeinshaft causes much ambiguity: Tonnies mourned the end of romantic medieval community.
  • Thesis: Stargardt argues that Weber and Bauer are left in a position shaped by what they thought they opposed. (Stargardt, 1996): you cannot escape the validity of Tonnies dichotomy of Gesellshaft & Gemeinschaft.
  • Weber is an instrumentalist not actually interested in multinational models for Germany itself for example. Counterfactually, what would Weber have said if he was an Austrian? I’d guess he’d be an Austro-German unificationist??? Hard to say.

Bauer & Weber both use Tonnies dichotomy ie. Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft.

  • Karl Renner/Otto Bauer + Weber (Stargardt’s argument) they concerned about opposing multicultural states. Weber has an instrumental support for Polish nation-state was to fragment Russian potential hegemony (multi-nation empire). Weber admired Renner/Bauer even if they were Austro-social-democrats, for they viewed citizenship values and norms based on belonging rather then the Tonnies ethnic approach that Weber abandoned in 1912 at the second German Sociologists Conference. Weber doesn’t like the Poles because they aren’t committed Germans.
  • WRONG ARGUMENT: the Weber is obviously an instrumentalist why would Weber support the Austro-Hungarian empire’s maintenance post-1918 (probably for the same reason that Bismarck et al did) to nullify the SLAVS, Weber consistently hated the Poles and he was willing to sacrifice the Austrians anyway because they aren’t part of his Gesellshaft, political sphere???

Poland ISSUE shift in 1919.

  • POLAND was participating in 1857, Prussia, Austria, Russia. Poland Danzig is German but part of Poland.
  • (Mommsen, 1984) reveals that Weber made a statement about Poles in Germany: that the first Pole to claim Prussia should be SHOT. BREUILLY REFERS to Weber makes a one off quip it shouldn’t be blown out of proportion in 1919: Weber had returned to 1895 (German for Germans).

CAUSE 1) his biases on the question of nationalism: His methodology does not accommodate scrutiny on the issue of the German nation. He quite consciously did not question whether the national idea could fairly be judged as the highest guiding principle of political action.(62pp) WHAT IS AT THE ROOT OF WEBER’s position on nationalism?

Weber is never ever to develop a general theory of nationalism. This is because his view of nationalism is value laden (see 2 Reasons). His highest value is to that of the German nation and its place amongst the nations of the world.

Weber Prestige & Power Arguments. Weber overvalued the principle of power and their ideal fulfilment in the concept of the nation that was characteristic of the imperial epoch – an overvaluation that was to lead to old Europe to catastrophe.

(67pp, Mommsen, 1984).

  • Objective: Germany as a global political actors; WEBER believed that POWER was the highest goal and CULTURE was secondary.
  • Weber sought to impose his general will on others, in defiance of other nations.
    • Weber disliked small nations: GERMANY had to be a “voice about the future of the world.”

Germany has to carry on the war in order to win recognition as great power in the idle of Europe. Protect our honour for its descendents shake off the chains of political serfdom and vassalage.

HOW can Weber be scientific if nationalism is not placed under the same scrutiny as bureaucratization, political leadership?

Essentialist and instrumentalist perspectives on culture and nationhood; political arguments in favour and against; is there, or can there be, a European culture?

Conception of Cultural Bonds

a) Essentialist approach: nationalists believe in the innate value or goodness of a language and therefore requires cultural protection against others. Has instrumental purposes consequently….Herder

b) Instrumentalist/Functionalist approach: nationalists believe in the utility of a belief for political ends. The instrumentalist conception of cultural bonds is more detached, objective and built upon internal and external identity-markers.

The essentialist versus instrumentalist conceptions of culture cannot be ignored with regard to a European cosmopolitan culture. The essentialist approach would argue for the innate goodness of particular culture and therefore requires cultural protection against others. This is the irrational, emotionality of culture. If a culture can be viewed simply as having a value all its own then Fichte’s Prussia address in 1806 Addresses to the German Nation is sound.[1] Essentialists have the tendency to delimit cultural value within the frame of nation state, although Fichte was writing during an unstable time in German history, he embodies ethnic nationalism at its most repugnant, hierarchical and illiberal according to Abizadeh.

  • It is later echoed by Max Weber, a fellow German nationalist a century later.[2] The Weberian ideal type of the nation “means, above all, that one may exact from certain groups of men a specific sentiment of solidarity in the face of other groups.”[3] This is why Max Weber viciously attacked Naumann’s Mitteleuropa arguing in a letter that “‘Mittleeuropa’ means that we shall have to pay for every stupidity with our blood…committed [to] the thick-headed policies of the Magyars and the Vienna court…Can we bind this all together so that each part has the feeling: I can live with these stupidities, since the other one is here suffering with me?”[4] While Weber is a product of an era of realist Darwinian thinking, cultural essentialism is still remarkably agile despite the lessons of the 20th century.

Herder (1860s) was mobilizing in the 19th century. He emphasizes the linguistic reality and the normative worth of community (German poetry, romanticism, the need to preserve their existence).

Is the nation something that exists at a single point or is it something that passes through time? Or is it that individuals believe the nation exists?

The question is where is the value of the community? Is it good to preserve the Italian language? Is this a normative question? Is it itself a value or is it just a useful tool in achieving other goals?


At the same time cultures are constantly evolving so a European culture may be something possible in the long-term, but even then it might not be desirable.

The instrumentalist conception of cultural bonds is more detached, objective and built upon internal and external identity-markers. Without going into detail, the dichotomy between the essentialist and instrumentalist approaches is really only useful in pointing out that; essentialists often have the ulterior motive of self-preservation and maintaining – in the Weber/Fitche example – prestige: their essentialist objectives have instrumentalist consequences.

Freiburg Inaugural Address (1895)

Weber’s “early nationalism” from his Freiburg Inaugural Lecture: “we economic nationalists measure the classes who lead the nation with or aspire to do so with the one political criterion we regard as sovereign.  What concerns us is their political maturity…their grasp of the nation’s enduring economic and political power interests…” (Lassman and Speirs 20).  The focus on economic nationalism, to Norkus, has been overlooked by other writers such as David Beetham and Kari Palonen, specifically the view of a great nation possessing “prestige” by using its relative economic strength to control world markets (Norkus, 2004 401).

(Norkus, 2004)

In his later critiques of Pan-German nationalism, “the ‘economic’ idea was replaced with a more subjectivist idea of the broadest status group struggling for a higher place in the regional or world estate order of nations.  In this struggle, economic and military power is not the only efficient ammunition” (408).  Norkus places Weber’s political-economic “nationalism”  in the modernist camp of Anderson, Gellner, and Hobsbawm, but has difficulty labelling his political-sociological “nationalism”


Freiburg Inaugural Address (1895) as VALUE-LADEN? Breuilly says that Weber set out to discuss about national interests and yes it was political. But it was set out to parameters he sets out in the opening: “an Inaugural Address is an opportunity to set a personal stand-point.” He was arguing for the improvement of the economy: it was his means rather than his ends> he uses the national economy to critique the Poles in Germany. Except for the hilarious the Bourgeois isn’t strong enough.  Working class aren’t worthy.Economic proposals for East Elbia are impractical. (ivory tower)

Economics: science is international but the goals are nation. The moment you use scientific evidence it will be nationalist because that is your value. International economics but rational ends. (page15: but as soon as it is value)

1919 Intellectual or Incoherent Shift: the creation of the Kingdom of Poland: East Elbian lands. Weber believes East Elbia is German. Social scientists are speaking out against. He is stepping back to 1895 inaugural address. (Crucial)

(Freiburg Inaugural Address 1895): Polish state? Did he want a Polish state? It wasn’t an issue: Germany is the key issue: Ethnic composition of East Elbia. His view changes during the war: Weber does not care about Poland until it has utility for his ultimate end. When German owns the Polish national-lands: With Russia out of the war: Germany should create a Polish state that is close to us.

BUT in 1905 Dragmonov: Poles in Russia. This changes that the Russians are struggling with Poles too. So Weber makes a fundamental intellectual shift, they offer a new framework for cultural autonomy.

(Radkau, 2005): explain Weber on his personal experiences. War triggers the debate for him.

  • Nationalism, Ethnicity: DEFINING & MEANING
  • To what extent, if at all, Weber developed clear concepts and theories of ethnicity, nationality, nation-state and nationalism.

[“Nation”] seems to refer…to a specific kind of pathos which is linked to the idea of a powerful political community of people who share a common language, or religion, or common customs, or political memories…it is proper to expect from certain groups a specific sentiment of solidarity in the face of other groups.  Thus, the concept belongs in the sphere of values.  Yet, there is no agreement on how these groups should be delimited or about what concerted action should result from such solidarity” (Roth and Wittich, 398, 922) 

(Guibernau, 1996)

Chapter 1 Nationalism in Classical Social Theory:

Heinrich Von Treitschke (the demagogue). Influential to both Durkheim & Weber.

The State:

1) The people legally united as an independent power. The state is a) engaged in supreme moralizing and humanizing agency b) there is no authority above the sate.

2) The state exerts its power through war. Treitschke denies the state as the only entity capable of maintaining a monopoly of violence….State must have territory.

War is the defining grandeur of perpetual conflict of nations and it simply foolish to desire the suppression of their rivalry. ONLY under war do people become heroic nationalists.

The interests of the community are above the individual: he is Machiavellian in his approach to policy aims as designed to protect the nation first and fore most. The idea of state as supreme entity guided ‘not by emotion but by calculating, clear experience of the world. The state protects and embraces the life of the people, regulating it externally in all directions.

On German Unification:

Three possible Germanies: Prussia is the hegemony always.

  1. Confederation of German states
  2. US federal model three branches of government.
  3. Unitary German state.

On Nationalism. Patriotism is the conscious cooperating with the body-politic, of being rooted in ancestral achievements and of tormenting them to descendants.

Appeal to history. Consciousness of cooperation: handed down from generation to generation.

Two Powerful Forces:

  1. The tendency of every state to amalgamate its population, in speech and manners, into one single unity.
  2. Impulse of every vigorous nationalist to construct a state of its own.

Nationalism should be real or imagined blood-relationship. All real poetry came out of great nationalism. The largest state is the most powerful state. Large state is necessarily nobler and culturally superior to smaller ones. Larger states can impose themselves as superior states and promote their culture and art for granted. Smaller states may usurp larger ones.

The idea of a world state is odious; the ideal of one state containing all mankind is no ideal at all… the whole content of civilisation cannot be realised in a single state. Every nation over estimates itself and more importantly that ‘without this feeling of itself, the nation would also lack the consciousness of being a community. 

Will only powerful nations be able to assert themselves in the future?

Max Weber

The state as ‘a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.’ State has the right to use violence. Politics is striving to share and distribute power either among states or among groups within a state. Clearly influence by Treitschke’s violence Die Politik.

The distinction between nation and state + theory of values to nations of culture as a basis for the difference arising between nations.

Ethnic troup corresponds, to one of the most vexing since emotionally charge concepts; the nation as soon as we attempt a sociological definition: He argues “We shall call ethnic groups those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customer or bother or because of memories of colonization and migration.

Ethnicity shit here

The NATION > PRESTIGE: the cultivation of the nation is the cultivation of superiority. The culture values of the group set off as a nation. The propagation of national ideas just as those who wield power in the polity provokes the idea of the state.

Solidarity in the face of other groups, For Weber, national solidarity among people speaking the same language may be just as easily rejected as accepted, Instead he suggest that solidarity may be linked to memories of a common political destiny. The nation as community of sentiment which would adequately manifest itself in a state of its own. Therefore nationality is not sociological distinct concept for Weber: it ought to be defined not from the standpoint of common qualities that establish the nationality community, by solely form the goal of an independent state: The correct relationship between state and nation, in which the latter identified by language and culture is of greatest importance for the state’s power status.

The nation is not identical with the people of the state the membership or a given polity. Numerous polities comprise groups among whom the independent of their nation is emphatically asserted in the face of other groups, or on the other hand, the comprise parts of the group whose members decide this group to be on homogenous nation.

The nation can exist outside of the state. That the nation and state do not have to fit perfectly. The more power is emphasized, the close appear to be the link between nation and state. Weber relates the significance of power within politics: the nation to the ideal of power in the Freiburg Address (1895) there is the idea of cultural nation. Mommsen stress that Weber had moved far forms the idea of the purely cultural nation. He was only able to accept the national idea in associating with a governmental system that pursues power politics on a grand scale.

The power structure allows for Switzerland to remain neutral. No great power wants to upset the others by making claim to Switzerland. 

 Weber sees the nation as part of the struggle: the eternal struggle for survival. The struggle for self-determination has favoured modern Western capitalism. THE STRUGGLE is a Nietzsche-ian idea that (Henniss, 1988) builds on.  

The Unification of Germany 1871 influences Weber’s thought. The preservation of nationality as the highest principles. Weber did not formulate a theory of nationalism but adopted a ‘nationalist’ attitude through his life. The Elbia Case Study: Junker patriarchal system is being transformed and labourers allowing the latter a relative degree of independence and security were collapsing everywhere.

Slav race either possesses as a gift from nature or has acquired through breeding in the course of its history is what has helped them to expand in this zone. (37pp). Weber shared the nationalism enthusiasm in the goal of preserving a German nation. Making the German Reich a great power amount he European would power as the only justifiable objective of the war.

Weber’s national feeling was aroused by the Allies’ peace conditions. When he opened his lectures in Munich, he spoke with passionate national urgency: ‘we can only have … ac hoc goal: to turn this peace treaty into a scrap of paper. The nation and its power in the world remained the ultimate political value for him.

(Beetham, 1974)

Nation is subjective phenomenon: “a nation exists where people believe themselves to be one, or to put it in less circular manner, where people have a sense of belonging to a community which demands or finds its expression in an autonomous state” (122pp, Beetham) Weber is interested in nations that attempt to take power.

Nation is rooted in objective factors:

  1. common race b) language c) religion d) customs.

Communit of language (Sprachgemeinschfat) “which he regards as the most common objective basis, was not a universal feature: Swtizerland, Canada.

“Nor did the existence of such objective factors on their own make a nation.”


3 Different Elements of the Nation:

1) Objective common factor between people, which distinguishes them from others

2) where this common factor is regarded as a source of value and thus produces a feeling of solidarity against outsiders

3) this solidarity finds expression in autonomous political institutions, co-extensive with the community or at least generated the demand for these.

  • Racial assumptions about the difference between Germans and Polish in his Freiburg Address regarding physical and psychical racial difference.
  • “With racial theories,’ he said at a meeting of the German Sociological Association held to discuss the subject, ‘it is possible to prove or refute whatever you like.’
  • Language is the most common factor: belief in the exclusiveness of their language community seizes the masses as well, and national conflicts become necessarily sharper, bound up as they are with the ideal and economic interests of mass communication in the individual languages” (123, Beetham).
  • “the democratisation of literary culture, language played an increasingly important part in national sentiment, possession of a common language was not itself everywhere paramount.” (124, Beetham).
  • Irish versus English = Religion.
  • French Canadian, Swiss and Germans in Alsace = common customs, social structure, shared values, ways of thinking.
  • “The French Canadians’ loyalty towards economic and social structures and customs of the United States, in the face of which their own individuality was guaranteed by the Canadian state.” (124, Beetham).
  • Kultur difficult to define: value attitude towards the world. “The sense of Kultur that we are concerned with here is a narrower one: it indicated those particular values which distinguish a group or society from others – which constituted its individuality, Weber does not confine the term ‘Kultur’ narrowly to artistic or literary values: it embraces values of whatever kind –manners, character, patterns of thought (Geist)
  • Beetham believe sthat the concept of Kultur provides the bridge between Weber’s empirical and normative conception of the nation.
  • Empirical = Kultur embraced both the objective difference of language and custom
  • Subjective appreciation of their distinctiveness, that constituted the essence of a nation, and against which ‘reasons of state’ were often powerless.
  • Value concept = Kultur is most obvious in that it embodied a conception of minimal literacy or artistic standards, in relation to which certain groups or people could be judged as uncultured. “the self-conscious development of group distinctiveness and individuality that was equally a criterion of ‘Kultur’ was also a value for Weber: it indeed it can be regarde as an extension of his central commitment to individualism at the personal level, sicne it was based upon the same belief that distinctiveness was more valuable than uniformity, and that “capiticy to articulate distinctive values was among the highest human achievements.
  • “It was as a vehicle for, and embodiment of, Kultur in this sense that the nation had supreme value for Weber.” (127, Beetham).

NATION = Kultur, STATE = Power: “The nation was concerned with the realm of ‘Kultur’; the state was the realm of power.  Weber’s conception of the nation state was that though nation and state belonged to fundamentally different caterogires, they were also reciprocal.” (128, Beetham).

If you reject power then you cannot be a nation. Nationality requires political association, requires political power

Max Weber: The Nation

The Nation is power prestige – historical attainment of power-positions.

  1. Power prestige: All groups who hold the power to steer common conduct within a polity will most strongly instill themselves with this ideal fervor of power prestige. Material and direct imperialist interests
  2. This power prestige is intellectually created with specific partners of a specific culture diffused among the members of the polity. The nation is that certain groups of men act in solidarity against the other groups. “Thus the concept belongs in the sphere of values” (22pp, Hutchinson Oxford Reader Nationalism)

Nation is not identitcal with the people of a state. There is a difference between nation and state. Numerous polities comprise groups among whom the independence of their ‘nation’ is emphatically asserted in the face of other groups OR they comprise parts of a group whose members declare this group to be one homogenous ‘nation’.

A nation is not identitcal with a community speaking the same langage: that this by no menas laway suffices is idnividaul by the Serbs and Croats, North Americans, Irish and Englihs.

(Guibernau, 1996)

Ethnicity (1912)

  • Subjectively perception of race and similarities. Ethnic membership does not constitute a group; it only facilitates group formation of any kind, particularly in the political sphere. It is the political community that artificially organized: this inspires the belief in common ethnicity.
  • State creates a presumed identity.
  • The ethnicity tends to persist even after the disintegration of the political community, unless drastic difference in the custom, physical type, or above all, language exists among its members.
  • A political community can engender sentiments of likeness which will persist after its demise and will have an ethnic connotation; but such an effect, Weber argues, is most directly created by the language group which is the bearer of a specific ‘cultural possession of the masses.
  • Weber looks at ethnic groups not nationalism. Nationality does not require a common ethnicity: in fact a share language is pre-eminently considered the normal basis of nationality. (33pp).
  • The significance of language is necessarily increasing along with democratization of state, society, and culture. Masses participation into a culture.

Ethnic Groups (Whimster, 2003, 2003; Beetham, 1974)

  • Weber’s approach in Ethnic Groups is worthy of analysis because it is more vigorous than the Nation piece and there are parallels with his social constructivist interpretation of the nation.
  • Weber argues in Ethnic Groups that ethnicity may appear to be a preexisting natural phenomenon but is created by a political association. It becomes the conspicuous differences that divide groups into political loyal segments for Weber.[5]
  • He reverses the intuitive causal relationship that would suggest ethnicity engenders political association. For Weber, “artificial distinctions, politically imposed, lead to the myth of a common ethnic descent”[6], therefore, for example, the Twelve Tribes of Israel were politically imposed.
  • Ethnicity as a social construct would have been difficult to grasp in the early 20th century when social Darwinist arguments were being advanced. His instrumentalist view in ethnicity’s construction is shaped by this idea of power and consequently prestige as operative forces in Weber’s thinking.

One needs to distinguish what Weber argues ethnicity IS (a belief in common descent) and WHY it exists, where he argues that (probably) it is a product of political domination. However, that may lay well in the past and not play a central role later; which means that those later ethnic beliefs cannot be explained in terms of political instrumentalism. (Primordialism -> Modernists) The question then arises, what sustains such beliefs once the political cause is removed? Clearly such beliefs do enable forms of cooperation which are of mutual benefit and that may be the reason they continue to operate.

  • The nation and ethnicity are viewed through an instrumentalist lens(wrong): they are spaces for the struggle for political domination. There is no moral, racial, ethnic or national reality outside of the state’s power.[7]
  • PREOCCUPATION with DIGGESTIBLE CONCEPTS: Despite being a social scientist, Weber was also a value laden individual.[8] I think Weber’s comment on this sentence would be that social scientists who considered themselves not to be “value-laden” would be deluding themselves.
  • That is why Weber’s cursory analysis of these two concepts suggests not only an instrumentalist approach but also Weber’s intellectual interests. The reason that Weber largely ignores these two concepts is due to their subjective nature and thus he takes them for granted.
  • NOTE that it is impressive for Weber’s time to believe Ethnicity as constructed.
  • For Weber, the concept of Gesellschaft or political association can be grasped through his rational-legal logic but the Gemeinschaft or nation does not have an “empirical quality common to those who count as members of the nation.”[9]
  • The nation and ethnicity are not generalizable concepts: why study something amorphous? As abstract, “ambiguous” concepts, it would lack scientific rigor to address the national and ethnic ‘feelings’ seriously.
  • More importantly, we must presume that these ideas were a given and for Weber not an area of interest worthy of publishable in-depth scientific analysis.[10]

Breuilly doesn’t agree with above statements. Also, Weber spent a good deal of time studying  “subjective” beliefs, above all world religions, which then became vital components of broader social relationships and actions. My guess is that his interests in how modernity came about, that is large-scale political and other relationships, found more could be explained in terms of world religions or the formation of extensive economic markets or large, bureaucratic-military states, than in terms of ethnicity.

  • Weber wrote about what interested him – for example – the Protestant work-ethic. This may explain his view of that the nation and ethnic groups were secondary to his preoccupation with state power.
  • In addition to the value laden individual argument; there may be more than just a power and prestige aspect to Weber’s instrumental approach to nationalism. Weber was a product of his time, thus his idea of Nations and Ethnicity engenders a top down approach antagonistic to mass movements.[11] Since both the nation and ethnicity are conceptualized by Weber as imposed or constructed, this value judgment fits cleanly into Weber’s bourgeois perspective.
  • According to Beetham, Weber is a bourgeois nationalist who was “not only [bound by] the concept of the Kulturnation, but also the idolatry with which the bourgeoisie pursued the national culture as the final value.”[12] Nationalism suppresses the proletariat and thus has a practical political value for bourgeois Germany.

Weber believed that there would always be lower class groups; that only elites can actually run states; and that under modern conditions in Germany, these elites should primarily be drawn from the educated middle classes. However, he also thought that the labour movement would fare better in such a state than one dominated either by pre-industrial elites or the demagogic intellectuals who came to the fore in socialist parties. What is more, in such a society there would always be opportunities for able people of working class origin to rise up the social scale.

  • For Weber, “the nation is anchored in the superiority, or at least the irreplacability, of the culture values that are to be preserved and developed only through the cultivation of the peculiarity of the group.”[13] Thus, the nation is designed to protect culture and ethnicity against erosion from forces such as socialism.
  • The Ultimate End

RATIONALE OF NATIONALISM: What is curious, then, is that although Weber was a realist, pessimist and a genius, he was also a German nationalist. Distinct from the value laden social scientist, the personal and political Weber was committed to German nationalism of the post-1871 German unification era.

BREUILLY: A very interesting essay which tackles some difficult questions. I think I am persuaded by your points on the two fragments on nation and ethnic groups, on Weber’s elite and power perspective, and on the separation of his nationalism from any rational social science work.

I do think there are problems however in your points about his instrumentalism and the irrationalism of his nationalism. A), Weber insisted that ultimate values are non-rational. Valuing wealth or eternal salvation or power or beauty above other things are choices. One can be clear rather than vague, committed rather than indifferent, and consistent and rational in pursuit of such values (and for Weber clarity, commitment and consistency seem to have values in their own right) but it is no more or less rational to be a nationalist than a socialist or a Christian. I think Weber would ask you in turn: what ultimate values could I commit to which would be any more rational than those of German nationalism? And can one live a meaningful life without making some such commitment?

  • If there was a fragmented German nation for the first seven years of Weber’s life, one would scarcely know it in his writings. Following a rational-legal perspective, as long as the means are rational, Weber’s artificial German nationalism can and was vigorously defended given changing conditions.
  • It was defined through three episodes; first, the discrimination against Polish immigration in East Elbia, second, German nationalism during the Great War and finally, his reaction against the Treat of Versailles. Continuous through his political writings, nationalism for Germany and against other nation-states is only addressed for instrumental reasons of political power and prestige based on rationally deduced pragmatic arguments. For example, self-determination for the Polish nation  Well – the formation of a semi-autonomous Polish state for that part of Poland which Russia had ruled and which Germany had occupied during the war. during the Great War is instrumental in subverting Russian dominance in the East. Weber is merely obsessed with German political power in relation to the question of nationalism, thus he produces only two social science papers on the subject.

(Whimster, 2003, 2003)

WEBER Power & Prestige

A) “Now, in contrast, we have to say that the state is that human community which within a defined territory successfully claims for itself the monopoly of legitimate physical force.” (131pp, Whimster, 2003)

B) Weber divides that nation from the state.

“Numerous polities comprise groups who emphatically assert the independence of their nation in the face of other groups; or they comprise merely parts of a group who members declare themselves to be one homgenous nation (Austria for example.

C) Nations can have common political destinies: Alsatians “with the French since the Revolutioanry War which represents their common heroic age, just as among the Baltic Barons with the Russian whose political destiny they helped to steer.” (147pp, Whimster, 2003).


QUESTION OF LOYALTIES. German Americans would unconditionally defend America.


“It is a well-known fact that within the same nation the intensity of solidarity felt toward the outside is changeable and varies greatly in strength. On the whole, this sentiment has gorwn even where internal conflicts of interest have not diminished. Only sixty years ago the Kreuzzeitung still appealed for the intervention of the emperor of Russia in internal German affairs; today, in spite of increased class antagonism, this would be difficult to imagine” (149pp, Whimster, 2003).


A sociological typology would have to analyse all the individualkinds of sentiments of group membership and solidarity in their genetic conditions and in their consequences for the social action of the participants. This cannot be attempted here. (149pp, Whimster, 2003).                        

E) Peculiarity of the group: INSTITUTION OF CULTURAL PROTECTION as means to power.

“Another element of the early idea was the notion that this mission was facilitated solely through the very cultivation of the peculiarity f the group set off as a nation. Therewith, in so far as its self-justifcation is sought in the value of its content, this mission can consistely be thought of only as a specific ‘culture’ mission. The significance of the ‘nation’ is usually anchored in the superiority m or at least the irreplacibility, of the culture values that are to be preserved and developed onoly through the cultivation of the peculiarity of the group.”(149pp, Whimster, 2003)

Therefore: Weber is making an intellectual account of how to deal with the Polish Question. The polish in question may be changing: Weber condemns the East Elbian poles in 1896 while he is willing to accommodate the Poles in the 1910s. On his death bed, he is says he hates Poles again.

  1. Polish are a problem
  2. Policy prescriptions are rationally deduced.
  3. There are a series of possible policy ends.
  4. You can defend rationally any policy end if it is rationally deduced.
  5. (Weber, 1886: Friedburg Inaugural Lecture) Polish Question-> border restriction NOT possible. Agrarian communal policy for German re-settlement doesn’t WORK. His ultimate value is still for the preservation of the German nation. It doesn’t have to be rational. But the means do have to be rational: in this case they clearly are rational given available information.
  6. He isn’t a pragmatic politician. He didn’t compromise on the core theory of his own nationalism. But he does draw different conclusions on the validity of other nationalities in order to protect his own. He is never able to draw a general theory of nationalism because he is a German and can only truly understand the German case.
  7. Germany is better than all other nations: because Weber is German and his values are a product of who he is. 
  8. There must be a rational intellectual grounding to any pragmatic decision. Need to define our terms: pragmatic.
  9. Pragmatic: denial of the value/fact distinction. 


Weber’s Values: doesn’t matter what the ends are: good scientific knowledge will allow objective science. If people can rationally understand, then it will be objective reasoning: until someone finds something more rational

The Protestant Work Ethic and Capitalism

  1. Protestant Work Ethic (an Ideal Type: it is exaggerated because not all Protestants has a good work ethic). This ideal type is use to study a subjective value of the people being studied. Their values in a world of infinite chaos -> these people are trying to clutch their meaning on their world. Sociology is agent focused or value focused.
  2. Significance is imposed on the world. People place significant on the world. Capitalism + Protestants makes an undersand . You can’t understa one ideal type: capitalism is something that exists, you have an ideal type of capitalism

Of all things Weber could have studied: why did he study the Protestant Work Ethic? Because it was Weber’s question: “how did a specific form of rationalism emerge in the Western World?”. His values=ends lead to that study.


Ultimate values cannot be rationally defended: “here I stand I can do no other” : Berlin: we can choose our positions in a pluralistic world or they choose us, their way we are value-laden as humans always are.

If you weren’t born a German would have still be a German nationalist? Weber would say that is absurdity.

Weber is haunted by instrumental rationality because people don’t have a value in such a system. Weber believes that most people don’t have values anyway.

Weber is relentlessly self-critical: constantly testing his values.

Weber’s conscious commitment to subscribing to his ultimate value: German nationalism.

‘Objectivity’ (1904)

  • For Weber there is NO final court of Objectivity (Whimster, 2003, pg 308)
  • There is absolutely no ‘objective’ scientific analysis of cultural life” pg 374
  • The best that can be done is a construction of reality according to cultural interest.  Science arose practically and can offer knowledge of the Significance of a decision.
  • The role of social science then is to distinguish between perception and judgement.
  • The prime work of our journal… [is] the scientific investigation of the general cultural significance of the socio-economic structure of human communal life and its historical forms of organisation” (pg 370)

Ideal Types    

  • There is a gulf between abstract/ theoretical and empirical historical research for Weber, however, given this intractability thinks that can be done is to construe reality according to our cultural ideals.  Outlines ‘ideal types’ as a means (pg 389) successfully “develop knowledge of concrete cultural phenomena and their context, their causal determination and their significance” (pg 389). Whether ideal types are purely thought experiment or conceptual construction cannot be determined.
    • They are Utopian, and ‘nominal’ but help to determine judgement, perhaps a ‘guide’ to determine the best route to an END (this makes it Normative in some sense)
  • The ‘objectivity’ of social scientific knowledge depends rather on the fact that the empirically given is always related to those evaluative ideas which alone give it cognitive value, and the significance of the empirically given is in turn derived from these evaluative ideas” (Pg 403)
  • The proposition that the knowledge of the cultural significance if concrete historical relationships is exclusively and alone the final end, along with the means, the work of conceptual formation and criticism seeks to serve” pg 403

SCIENCE ENHANCES VALUES: Science can contribute…methods of thinking, the tools and training for thought…to gain clarity in the making of one’s value judgements by thinking of them rationally. (Gerth and Mills 143, 151)

(Brubaker, 1984) Limits of Rationality.

Weber makes 2 distinctions:

1) formal instrumental rationality,

2) substantive end rationality (you are conscious of rationality).

Subjective rationality applies to formal and rational

Objective rationality is not

If there a numberous ends then not all of which not all must be rational

Ringer’s text is about the methodology. Its about his theories of rationality.

We have 4 kinds of action: traditional, affectual, instrumental, substantive

Traditional: we’ve always been doing this.

Affectual: we are driven by our emotions.

Instrumental: it has a utility not necessarily a value

Substantive: we want to help people taking into account people into rationality.

On the first, Weber certainly thought that many relationships and social interactions were non-instrumental. His very division of forms of action into the emotional, the traditional, the rational-instrumental and the rational-substantive indicates this. Ethnicity may  have endured simply through tradition and emotion (and nowadays, some would argue, endures because it enables valuable forms of cooperation).

Policy is about likely causal connections in the future. There can be no objecrtive reality.

Weber is Kantian in that “there is chaos but we bring categories” BUT Kant believe in autonomy & substantive rationality while Weber believes in ends that are incompatible.

Weber -> tracing out causal analysis -> Lawyers argue that there was a drunk driver causing an accident: there are many possible variables but the drunk driver is the cause: in the same what that Protestantism causes capitalism.

Policy is presidential predictions about the future:

Based on how things happened in the past -> we can be prudential.

(Brubaker, 1984) “Moral Vision of Weber” says there are two concepts of Weber -> live rationally as possible BUT weber says that reason cannot help all that much -> it is very useless and traditional and affectual forms of action shape our lives.

Brubaker says that Weber is an existentialist.

Ultimate value for Weber is the German nation’s interests.

That value is rational according to Breuilly, but the means to that value/end are rational.


  • Weber never chose his ultimate value of German nationalism but there was no alternative choice to be made about it, given Weber’s identity and what German nationalism required.
  • Weber’s short piece called (Between Two Laws, 1916) highlights this deterministic argument. Weber says one must choose between the Swiss et al – those nations that saintly turn the other cheek[14] – and the German nation that embraces world political power.  The choice is a false one, however, since Germany has a distinct role in world political history: namely to struggle against “Anglo-Saxon conventions” and “Russian bureaucracy.”[15]
  • Prestige and power are necessities.
  • Germany would be meaningless without them, thus violent unification would be purposeless if the German nation had failed in the Great War.
  • In this sense, Weber is another of many German scholars and general(?) civilians swept up in prestige for an artificial creation whose value is measured in chauvinistic strength and militaristic grandeur.
  • This proved to be an unfortunate cocktail for nation-state destruction unique to the German case.

FORMS OF ACTION:  His very division of forms of action into the emotional, the traditional, the rational-instrumental and the rational-substantive indicates this.

  • Conclusions:

CONCLUSION: Is Weber a Fox or a Hedgehog (Berlin, 1969) Ontology of Weber.

Berlin expands upon this idea to divide writers and thinkers into two categories: hedgehogs, who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea (examples given include Plato, Lucretius, Dante, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Ibsen, and Proust) and foxes who draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea (examples given include Herodotus, Aristotle, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Molière, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzac, Joyce, Anderson).

Turning to Tolstoy, Berlin contends that at first glance, Tolstoy escapes definition into one of these two groups. He postulates, rather, that while Tolstoy’s talents are those of a fox, his beliefs are that one ought to be a hedgehog, and thus Tolstoy’s own voluminous assessments of his own work are misleading. Berlin goes on to use this idea of Tolstoy as a basis for an analysis of the theory of history that Tolstoy presents in his novel War and Peace.

  • Hedgehog: universalist one moral value system: universalism of modernity: Brubaker connection about Young versus Old Weber: he is not willing to compromise from his ultimate value; ie. Versaille incoherence
  • Berlin: universalism is impossible. Hedgehogs are wrong. Berlin states that  his version of pluralism leaves no alternative but to say that ‘men choose between ultimate values BUT they choose them, because their life and thought are determined by fundamental moral categories and concepts that are, at any rate over large stretches of time and space, a part of being and thought and sense of their own identity; part of what makes them HUMAN – (Berlin, 1969)
  • (Berlin, 1969): How do we choose between possibilities?
  • Considering ultimate values, those values which are regarded as ends in themselves and not as means to other ends, we can do nothing other than commit ourselves. (HERE I stand I can do no other) The problem here is that the choise itself resists, according to this way of posing the question, any kind of rational construction. If this is so, then it is difficult so see how Berlin is distinguished from, Max Weber versus Carl Schmitt, who have stressed the reality of decision in the context of an unavoidable pluralism of values but derive very different political conclusions.
  • Fox: believes in many small fragmented things: value pluralism: you support this view having read the posthumously published Economy and Society was something he condoned. (Radkau, 2005; Mommson, 1984) fragmented life. Geertz is a methodological individualist looking at various cases.
  • Thesis of Conclusion: Weber could never be a successful politicians because he was too much of a Hedgehog. There are trade offs and sacrifices between competing values that Weber was not able to make.

(Guibernau, 1996) Conclusion

Weber has a nationalist view despite not have a theory of nationalism.

Weber regarded German unification as a point of departure for a policy of “German world power” The POINT OF CREATING a world policy and stressed that this policy should not be reduce to pure economic principles. Weber linked his nationalism to the power and prestige of Germany. “To recognize and encourage nationalism in other countries would have been against his main interest, that of German primacy.

PROBLEM WITH THE above academics:

  1. They do not provide a dimension of nationalism as a provider of identity for individuals who live and work in modern societies;
  2. They do not develop a clear cut distinction between nationalism and the nation-state;
  3. They offer no theory of how nationalism can transform itself into a social movement general political autonomy; the ability to homogenise individuals living in a concrete territory; notion related to political concept of citizenship and of citizenship rights; duties and Janus-faced character.
  • Need to make the distinction between nationalism and the nation state.
  • There is a need for a common homeland.
  • Analyse how a sentiment of attachment to a homeland and a common culture cab be transformed into the political demand for the creation of a state.
  • Nationalist capability to bring together people from different social leves and cultural backgrounds; in so doing nationalism show that, however frequently nationalist feeling have been fosterest and invoke ideologically by dominant elites, is not merely an invention of the ruling classes to maintain the unconditional loyalty of the masses, making them believe that what they allegedly have in common is much more important than what in fact separate them. “I do not think that million of people around the world are so naïve: nationalist feelings are not just force-fed to an unwilling indifferent population.
  • Nationalism is a phenomenon which came into being in Europe around the 18th century.

Need to aim for impartiality on the question of nationalism as a fascist or a normative good.

  • Of all the writing undertaken in Max Weber’s 56 years, only two significant passages use social science to address the question of nationalism. In order to ascertain why Weber never explicitly formulated a theory of nationalism, this paper will do the following.
  • First, it will outline the Nation and Ethnic Groups papers and argue Weber forwards an instrumentalist view of these phenomena.
  • Second, the paper will argue that Weber’s ultimate value is informed by the same subjective pursuit: political power and prestige.
  • Finally, it will conclude that Weber never formulated a sociological explanation of nationalism for two reasons, a) the concept had not fully developed as central in the modernisation process during his lifetime and b) he recognized the subjectivity and amorphous tendency of this field of study.

2 Reasons why Weber never formulates a theory of nationalism:

A) Nationalism Studies was AFTER his LIFE HISTORY: the concept had not fully developed as central in the modernisation process during his lifetime. It is anachronistic to have expected Weber to provide a theory of nationalism because the concept had not been recognizable until during World War Two. According to Guibernau, there is no systematic treatment of nationalism in classical social theory because “nationalism was not seen as phenomenon that could be connected to the rise of modern nation states, or as a feature linked to the expansion of industrialism.”[16] Nationalism did not have the salience as a scientific area, but was merely a political issue that Weber was passionate about. Nationalism is in background of his academic work but is the forefront of his political writing.

B) Amorphous Study Area: The second plausible explanation for stopping short of a typology of nationalism stems from his implicit recognition of the subjective and amorphous nature of this area of study. Near the end of his paper Ethnic Groups, Weber states that to understand ethnicity “[we] would have to analyze all the individual kinds of sentiments of group membership and solidarity in their genetic conditions and in their consequences for the social action of the participants. This cannot be attempted here.”[17] Cultural interpretive forms of analysis would be required. Herein Weber recognized that nationalism is a particularistic field, that the explanatory theory could be not be created without hyper-extensive research of all cases which is nearly impossible. Therefore, as John Breuilly states, “I do not think it is possible to have a satisfactory theory or even approach towards nationalism as a whole.”[18] The lack of a theory of nationalism from Weber is fortunate as nationalism studies have failed to consolidate into a cohesive core explanatory theory anyway.


  • Weber has many advocates in a wide range of fields making him one of the greatest social theorists in Western academia. It is for this reason that a historical assessment of Weber and nationalism has occurred.
  • Specifically for nationalism studies, Weber was the precursor to the ‘subjectivist’ school of nationalism.[19] Weber was in no way interested in ethno-symbolism, primordialism, standing along side the modernist approach to nationalism.
  • Weber’s academic descendents include in particular Gellner & Breuilly for certain; as evidenced by the social constructivist anthropological approach.
  • His methodology of analyzing power is still widely referred but he has also proven that even a genius scholar is susceptible to intellectual indulgences: OR core values. The fact that his historically repugnant nationalism did not tarnish him much is indicative of his overbearing significance and his prestige as an individual, the same prestige he desired for Germany.

[1] Abizadeh, A (2005). “Was Fichte an Ethnic Nationalist? On Cultural Nationalism and Its Double”. History of political thought (0143-781X), 26 (2), p. 334.

[2] Weber, Friedburg Inaugural Lecture 1889.

[3] H.H.Gerth & C.Wright Mills (eds), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York, 1946). `Structures of Power’, 172.

[4] Mommsen, W. (1984). Max Weber and German Politics, 1890-1920. Letter to Naumann Novemebr 11th 1915, p. 217.

[5] Roth & Wittich, 387.

[6] Whimster, 2003, Sam. eds. The Essential Weber: A Reader. London: Routledge, 2004, 124.

[7] Weber demonstrates his longevity in arguing against the morally outmoded conception of race believing that “with race theories you can prove or disprove anything you want.” See Roth and Wittich, 387.

[8] Weber was honest about the capacity for objective research in social science in science/value distinction see Ringer.

[9] H.H.Gerth & C.Wright Mills (eds), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York, 1946). `Structures of Power’, 172.

[10] Again, it may be that Weber’s wife inappropriately inserted those texts into Economy & Society.

[11] Hence Weber’s surprise at the enthusiasm of the German people in August 1914 and consistent distrust of the proletariat in his political writings.

[12] Beetham, D. (1974). Max Weber and the Theory of Modern Politics. London. Chapter 5 `Nationalism and the nation-state’. 144.

[13] Whimster, 2003, 149.

[14] Referencing Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount…

[15] Weber, Max. `Between two laws’, in Lassmann & Speirs, Political Writings, 76.

[16] M. Guibernau, Nationalisms: The Nation-State and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 1996), chapter 1 `Nationalism in classical sociological theory’, 41.

[17] Whimster, 2003, 149.

[18] Breuilly, John. (2001) “The State and Nationalism” from Guibernau, Montserrat and Huntchinson, John, Understanding Nationalism, pg 44, Polity Press.

[19] Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism and Modernism (Routledge, London, 1988), 170.

  • Defining, Background, Foundations (Detailed Background May Not Be Necessary in Exam)

2 important aspects of Max Weber’s Approach to War Writting:

(1) Weber’s Ultimate End > German nationalism: Weber’s ultimate value: preservation of German world power:

a) need to maintain the German state and culture (created in his youth: 1871) 

b) build on the struggle itself as bring meaning to this creation of the German Reich.

c) Weber’s ultimate end is rational as a value-judgement: nationalism. The means ARE rational.

(Ringer, 2004)Weber’s science value distinction: we do not choose our ends, they choose us. It doesn’t matter what the ends are: good scientific knowledge will allow objective science.

(2) Weber’s Politics as a Vocation: (1919): all policy decisions are formulated through rational means to justify the ultimate end of the German Reich. As long as his means to achieve the irrational end are themselves rationally deduced then he fulfills the ER.

Weber aspires to the Ethic of Responsibility: a one-sided pursuit that models human beings as rational & pragmatic. (Whimster, 2003).

Before he articulated Ethic of Responsibility in 1919, he implemented ER to justify:

a) his stance on Unrestricted Submarine Warfare (USW).

b) his stance on negotiating a peace with honour at any cost.

Weber view prestige as more important than gains (which is difficult for others to agree with because they would see the deaths on the front lines as being in vain. Weber is more rational than Tirpitz and the High Command because he disassociates emotional pain with achieving long-term outcomes that are beneficial to (1).

There are two fundamentally different, irreconcilably opposed maxims:

Ethic of Conviction: acting on what is believed to be right because you believe it alone. If evil consequence flow from an action, then that is beyond ones control. Tirpitz & the High Command could be seen as exhibiting these tendencies.

  • Ethic of Conviction (EC): ‘The Christian does what is right and places the outcome in God’s hands. (Weber, 1919, 359). If evil consequences flow from an action done out of pure conviction, this type of person holds the world, not the doer, responsible or the stupidity of others, the will of God (Christian) who made them thus. (Weber, 1919, 360). You don’t weigh the consequence of your convictions. Value A is what I will strive for no matter what the consequences. The EC is a romanticism of the intellectually interests without a sense of responsibility. It was a product of the negative parliamentary system of Germany (section 39, Bismarck’s legacy…).  You need EC to want to enter into politics….

Ethic of Responsibility: rationally deduce ones position by weighing the probable consequences given available information. Assumes that people aren’t necessarily good or rational.

  • Ethic of Responsibility (ER): ‘One must answer for the foreseeable consequences of one’s actions’. (360) ER is a view point of trying to weigh out the consequence of your action. You make allowances for precisely these everyday shortcomings of people: he does not presuppose goodness and perfection in human beings. If the probable consequence will be reduce the war: Is it necessary for political leadership. “There is a responsibility for the cause (EC) it becomes the lode stone of all action.” ALMOST ALL POLITICIANS FAIL: “the eventual outcome of political action frequently, indeed regularly, stand in a quite inadequate, even paradoxical relation to its original, intended meaning and purpose (Weber, 1919 Politics, 355pp).

THESIS: Social science academics tend to establish their outcome and then deductively pursue a rationalization for that outcome to explain their values. Weber is rationally consistent in so far as his actions can be explained by the Ethic of Responsibility.

  • Should not misconstrue Private Opinion with Public Opinion divergence as a sign of a fragmented, shifting pragmatic politician but as part of German Public Morale issue.

Nationalism & Max Weber: War as Proving Ground Either We Take Our Place in History OR become subordinate against the Anglo & Russia world powers.

He believed in the responsibility of the Reich before the bar of history. The war was a proving ground. Quiet emotional, irrational but the state needs to be defended to cultivate the nation. (In Between Two Laws, Weber, 1916) he states that the creation of the Reich is in direct resistance to the division of the world between what he calls “Anglo-Saxon convention” and “Russian bureaucracy.” To not struggle honourably for the Reich existence is to make the Reich meaningless. In a sense the meaning and the normative value of the Nation is its creation of a space for struggle and ‘survival’ + protection of the divided smaller states of Europe.

(Hennis, 1988) Nietszche-ian struggle brings meaning for life: Germany facilitates meaning.

Weber is deterministic. Germany is a great power, it cannot be like the Swiss. The weak, artistic culturally diverse society has a place but not as significant as Germany.

Switzerland                                                                                              Reich

The Sermon of the Mount: Saintly                                              Diabolical Politics

Weak, subordinate, small                                                 Powerful, grand, nominal

Renounce political power                                                  Accept burden of power

Other cultural possibilities                                                                         Survivalists

  • Max Weber as a pragmatist for German nationalism.

Max Weber the pragmatist, reactionary, instrumentalist, politician, fragmented

(Breuilly doesn’t support this view)

  • In some areas, his opinions would change depending on the military situation in others (such as annexations) Weber’s ideas remained fairly consistent regardless of the political and military realities.
  • This argument is about how Weber’s nationalism may (or may not) have influenced his thoughts and whether this disabled him from making judgements based on his own notion that is the ‘ethic of responsibility’. Did Weber’s nationalism ever get in the way of him pursuing rational goals with regard to Germany’s position in the war?
  • War as Distraction: 1914 August: Joachim (Radkau, 2005) argues, the war offered Weber a refuge from his problems – a possible explanation for his original endorsement of the war.[1]

Weber as an Incoherent Pragmatist:                      

  • Weber managed to create framework without being a pragmatist but we are infallible. Our conclusions are influenced by the world: realities changed on the daily basis.
  • You can justify anything as long as you are not irrational: as long as you are rational. Rationality is ridding a tiger.
  • Weber can’t compromise those ends. Where as politicians have to compromise.
  • Weber wasn’t a populist but couldn’t accommodate irrational demands of the population.
  • Economic objectives with the Polish East Elbia. Ethic of Responsibility.
  • He was against Versaille (was that convinction? or ethic of responsibility?) He then came round a month later realizing it has to happen.
  • OR has his scientific argument stops his scientific ends has led him to the political conclusions.
  • BUT with Versaille 1919 his convictions force him to abandon his ER.
  • Ethic of Responsibility or Ethic of Conviction:
  • Ride tiger: rationality is what ever you think.
  • Weber got it right he could have rationally argued that he had been right.
  • Tautology of ER: Ethic of responsibility can only be measured retrospectively. You can only be aware of the consequences afterwards. Weber looks good for supporting the right things.

ER as Framework to Justify Anything

Wonderful framework ER. Why serious scientists needs to have a methodology: rationally. Stick to the facts.

1919 elucidates:

BUT a politician needs to react to so many facts.

Note that this rationality could be used to justify anything (counter-argument) BUT MY response is that Weber had values/principles at the core of his approach: he hated those who attacked Jews etc.

Counter-Argument to EFJA: Weber still has his values, therefore he would not have supported Hitler, as he did not support the Fatherland Party. The Genius of ER: he can argue anything. BUT Breuilly says he doesn’t. Rational ends that can justify his means, end Liberal bourgeois.  So why does Weber ridicule other academics because they have different ends. Weber respects the Christians and Socialists. He respectfully hates the Socialist and Christians.

(Mommsen, 1984)

Breuilly doesn’t agree with Mommsen: that Weber’s approach would have supported Nazism through the ER. Determinism of Mommsen, 1984: he is very critical. Mommsen doesn’t like ER, doesn’t like President (charismatic) of Weber. Weber wants a stronger parliament: selection process for leader occurs. BUT in the Weimar Constitutional opinion (Hugo Price) making Weber wants to enhance the bundestag, Reichstag weakened, reduce Prussian influence, all powerful vice president.

Spectrum of Weber’s private (scholar) morale: Weber’s position with regard to the war changed greatly during its course; 1914, optimism > 1915, moody > 1916, pessimism.

Note that his GPM is always constant…

(A) 1914 > Weber’s position on the Outbreak Weber’s an optimist – in the sense that it would give the German Reich a raison d’être – and enthusiast.

  • Wolfgang (Mommsen, 1984) he “frequently criticized the German people for quietism and apolitical attitudes”, believing that “the nation’s patriotic enthusiasm, its willingness to make sacrifices, its national unity” would give the war an inner meaning, whatever the outcome.[2]
  • (Radkau, 2005) escape the polemic.
  • Enthusiasm is strange for two reasons:
  • (1) Weber did not mention the prospect of war in any of his personal letters during the July Crisis of 1914. In fact, Weber seemed to have completely shut out the world of politics as the letters focused solely on “personal problems”.[3]
  • (2) Second, Weber’s enthusiasm seems somewhat misplaced as he viewed Germany’s prospects for success pessimistically.[4]
  • Weber never published an academic support for the war: mention Michael Ignatieff’s support for the War in Iraq in 2003, then he become the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
  • Yet when war broke out with Germany very much at the centre of it Weber wished to be involved in the effort – preferably as a soldier at the front. Age, however, restricted him from active service and so he became the administrator of a military hospital in Heidelberg. In a letter to his mother in 1916, he laments not going to the front: a death trap for many young men…emotionalism. During this early period of the war, Weber scarcely commented on politics in public.

(B) 1915 onwards this mood began to shift >> Weber’s position on Annexation: he consistent & heavily influence by his nationalism.

  • Matthias Erzberger’s annexationism: Six Economic Associations memorandum of May 20th, 1914 signed by several Berlin professors and 1347 representatives of the cultural world. “Annexation of Flanders and Verdun + repressive measures for non-German speakers + Massive resettlement plans for non-Germans.”
  • Weber made his opposition to annexations public in December 1915 when he argued against them in a series of articles entitled ‘Bismarck’s Foreign Policy and the Present’ (1915) which were published in the Frankfurter Zeitung.

(GPM2): Weber’s concern about PUBLIC MORALE is important:

Bismarck’s Foreign Policy and the Present” he opposed a boundless annexation program. Lack of realims in an annexation policy of the west.  The Article outlines the long-term effects of annexation propaganda on public opinion: as soon as it was apparent that such unrealistic goals could never be achieved, disillusionment would become widespread and the fighting spirit would dissipate.

  • Belgium was for Weber a pawn in negotiations against the Triple Entente.
  • (Mommsen, 1984) Weber explained that he did not believe that annexations in the west were desirable because it would not be not in Germany’s national interest to expand there.
  • Germany, he argued, should not expand beyond the borders of the natural German nation and Belgium, for example, was clearly not part of the German nation.
  • Integrating foreign nations into the German empire would serve only to weaken and destabilize the German nation as well as antagonize the other great nations of the west once the war was over.
  • Negotiations with Britain & France: Belgium conquest would weaken any negotiations made with Triple Entente (Breuilly?)
  • POLISH QUESTION: With regards to the possibility of annexations in the east, Weber took a more flexible approach. Weber had, early on in his academic career, defined the lack of a Polish nation-state as a problem. It was not just a problem that concerned him academically, but it also concerned him politically. Throughout the war, Weber advocated the creation of a Polish state.
  • Two Motivations:
  • 1) (Mommsen, 1984) Weber’s goal was “to win the Poles as political, military and economic allies of Germany by seeking their friendship”[5].
  • 2) Polish as fragmenting Russian hegemony/buffer zone: outweighed the former in Weber’s thinking. The newly created states were to be tied to Germany politically, economically (a tariff-union), militarily (the creation of military infrastructure) and would mainly have served as German buffer-states against Russia.[6]
  • In short then, Weber was opposed to annexations precisely because he was a pragmatic nationalist. Where nations existed, Germany could and should not take over as it would cause only problems. Yet, Germany, being a large and powerful nation should tie other nations to it without getting directly involved.

C) 1916 Weber’s Public Mask, Private (Scholar) Sorrows: Weber felt pessimistic and deeply troubled with the direction which the war, and the politics surrounding it, had taken.

  • Although attempts at ending the war in negotiation were made numerous times, they were all doomed from the onset because none of the belligerent powers were willing to abandon their interests or their allies. The one exception to this was post-revolutionary Russia.[7]
  • By this point it would seem that Weber had given up hope on Germany decisively winning the war and that fighting it until the bitter end would ruin Germany economically and cause the ‘home front’ to collapse.[8]  Thus, logically, the only way out would be by negotiation. Weber seemed to realise this and yet he was not quite willing to admit to it. The nationalist in Weber would simply not let him acknowledge the bitter truth. Thus when the Peace Initiative was passed, Weber went to great lengths to criticise it because he feared it would be seen as a sign of weakness abroad and because it would increase the level of domestic tension which was becoming an increasing threat to Germany’s war effort. In all, he considered the passing of the motion as an event which could cost Germany its prestige abroad – it was thus a shameful act. The Peace Initiative did not have great political or military repercussions as the Reichstag could not enforce it.
  • Brest-Litovsk March 1918: (Radkau, 2005) observes in Weber a similar internal contradiction. In private (scholar) letters to his wife and close friends, Weber expresses criticism of the way in which the negotiations were being conducted and raises doubts that the peace will be a lasting one if Ludendorff and Hindenburg imposed a grossly unbalanced treaty.[9] Here Weber seems to be making a rational analysis of the situation. Yet publically, he recorded his support for the botched treaty.[10]
  • On the one hand, he wished to put on a brave face in order to keep up the appearance of a united Germany abroad. On the other hand, Weber supported the Supreme Command as he feared domestic division over the issue could hamper the general war effort.
  • Here Weber was still adhering to the ‘ethic of responsibility’. But his public support for the prolongation of the war in spite of the increasing certainty that it would not end well, render his private (scholar) reservations void. Here Weber’s nationalism blinded him from stating what even he knew were hard facts. Thus when Germany was beginning to collapse under the burden of war, Weber seems to have ditched rational and responsible rhetoric for passionate, desperate and often self-contradictory appeals to the German population’s nationalism. The argument is extended to cover his view that Germany should not sign the peace treaty and should resist giving up territory to Poland. (He was playing the politician)
  • During the Spring Offensive of 1918: Weber changes his war ams: he believe that they can win the war: this is silly optimism.
  • Weber could handle being a politician all the baby-kissing.
  • WEBER’S INCONSISTENCY only DURING WAR: Fortunately this period of Weber’s writing was fairly short-lived and once the extent of Germany’s defeat became all to obvious for him to cling onto hope, Weber found back to rational argument and presented some powerful pamphlets on the how Germany’s political future should be arranged.

(Beetham, 1974)

Weber held no simplistic belief that the prestige of a nation’s culture was dependent upon the mere extension of its power. Whatever prestige Germany might derive from the proposed cultural policy in the East, would not be a result of her power as such, but rather of the way it was used and the purposes to which it was put.” (142, Beetham). Machtstaat = totalitarian state

Those who regard Weber’s wartime nationalism simply as an extension of the nationalism of this early period thus overlook two developments in his thinking” (143, Beetham)

1)            his critique of Germany’s prewar foreign policy, the politics of national vanity; which contributed to the outbreak of the war.

2)            Confrontation witht the situation of national minorities in his Russian studies of 1905-6, and with the problem of how to preserve the cultural identity of smaller nations in face of the aggrandisement of a larger power. : this is apparent in his critique of Prussian attitude to the Poles as early as 1908” (143, Beetham).

Weber is still an emotionally committed German nationalist: he had his share of national prejudice, particularly in respect of the Russians.

Beethem’s thesis that Weber’s profession of a world political role for Germany involved the pursuit of power and aggrandisement for its own sake, and that this national commitment can simply be reduced to the ‘Gefuhlspolitik’. (politics of emotion).

INSTEAD “the ideas which are used to justify and give meaning to a particular way of life themselves set limits to the range of conduct possible within it” (143, Beetham).

There is nothing distinctively bourgeois about the pursuit of powerit is a different matter, however, with the ideas Weber uses to justify its exercise.

Dificult to avoid concluding that “Weber remained bound by the typical categories of thought of the bourgeois age, to which belonged not only the concept of the ‘Kulturnation’, but also the idolatry with which the bourgeoisie pursued the national culture as the final value.

Political Activism versus Academia

Weber cannot extricate himself from his political reality but his attempt is partially successful: politicians have short-term objective while Weber has long-term ones: throughout the war he is pontificating about the German Reich’s future in the long-term given the progress of the war. He took a job at the University of Vienna but could not stand to stay out of the dialogue on Germany’s future for long in 1918.

During the War: Weber energetically championed the concession of cultural autonomy to the Prussian poles and an honourable understanding with them. He pointed out that ‘a state need not necessarily be a ‘nation-state’ in the sense that it{oriented] its interests exclusively in favour of a single, dominant nationality. The state could “serve the cultural interests of several minorities in a way that was in full harmony with the interests of the dominant nationality”. Weber could not see the state replacing nationality.  OR WAS IT SOMETHING ELSE: Russian Imperialism’s threatening creation of nationalist autonomy under Russian Rule????

Weber’s observations and his consciousness of responsibility led him to change form a firebrand to a compromiser on the question of Prussian Poles: HIS transformation was primarily due to the “recognition that a moderate nationality policy was needed to counter the attraction of a potential Russian policy of autonomy”. Russian promise of autonomy + German-Polish Question = concessions to Prussian Poles. Weber feared the peaceful acquisition of Poland by Russia as a crass Russian Imperialism. Weber wanted Germany to control Poland. Weber believed that only a sincerely liberal nationality policy could bring about a solution to the German-Polish problem.

8.2. The Treaty of Versailles and Germany’s Future in the World

  • “Max Weber looked upon the German negotiations in Versailles as unworthy of a great nation. he believed that the German side had had to indulge in self-humiliation, in the hope of winning better conditions from the enemy, and he rebelled against that.” (311)
  • Weber used all his influence to persuade the allies that too harsh a treatment of Germany would result in a reawakening of German nationalism → he wasn’t too worried about the latter; he just didn’t want Germany to be humiliated.  To this end, Weber and others formed the Heidelberger Vereinigung für eine Politik des Rechts which was largely unsuccessful.
  • → Weber supported the publication of Germany’s war papers despite some unease he felt about this: “Weber’s additional call for an investigatory commission to question the leading figures in the German government before and during the war was founded on his rigorous ethic of responsibility”. (316)
  • “Basically, Weber viewed the German negotiating position as hopeless from the outset and expected nothing from the negotiations and opposing arguments in Versailles.”
  • → He firmly believed that the war guilt question did not apply to Germany as it was Tsarist Russia which bore the guilt of the war as they forced Germany and Austria into a situation in which their only available course of action which was honourable would be to take up arms (319).
  • → He vehemently argued against signing the peace treaty “whatever the risks” yet “Weber had to face a difficult inner conflict between rejection at any price on national grounds and the sober evaluation of the consequences of such a step.” (320) By June he could no longer defend rejection even though he personally favoured it.
  • Weber’s nationalism gains strength as a result of Germany’s treatment by the allies. (321-2) Germany must once again build itself up to become a world power, regardless of what the treaty said.  Weber also argued for the leaders of Germany (including the Kaiser) to hand themselves over to the American’s in order to argue their case and defend Germany’s honour. Ludendorff rejected this suggestion out of hand.
  • Notes on Weber’s politics:
  • “Domestically, he pressed for a democratic and social constitutional order; but democratization was only a means for him to produce qualified political leaders who would bring the legacy of the “Caesarist” statesman, Bismarck, to a new glory. He had no concrete plans for the form that the social reorganization of Germany would take, although he had spent so much time playing with socialist notions without, however, believing in them.”
  • Foreign policy and Germany’s place in the world were more important to him throughout the period.
  • In the end, Weber realised that his policies were out of touch. Whereas before the war he was seen as political outcast because he wanted to change the system and adopt a realistic foreign policy, he was seen as outdated after the war. (330-1)

COUNTER ARGUMENTS to Weber the Incoherent/Pragmatist: Weber the principled academic: (3) Max Weber as Principled

  • However, doesn’t the objection to annexation based on the argument that it undermined the very essence of a nation-state, go beyond pragmatism?
  • The causality is mixed up in the above argument that Weber is a pragmatist. Weber believes in the principle that nations should be self-determined, just as he respects his ultimate end of Germany on the world stage. He believes in the Bauer/Renner principles for the Polish and Slav nation-states because it coincides with his belief of a German nation-state. In other words, he believe in to each their own. As it happen a Polish kingdom does have strategic advantages against Russia aggression. As it happens, also, Belgian sovereignty has strategic advantages for British and French negotiations.
  • Not opposing annexationism in public while condemning it in private made sense precisely in terms of his Ethic of Responsibility.
  • Weber see the Great War as a product of international dynamics and not necessarily German mistakes….

On the Peace Negotiatoins: could one

Weber’s Principled view of The Nation-State System: Weber believed that “a correct relationship between state and nation, where the state = power and the nation = culture and language….It was therefore unwise to annex great peoples with strong national cultures.” (Mommsen, 1984)


Weber discovered the works of Ukrainian federalist Dragomanov, who he believed brilliantly solved the problem of nationalities: checkout M.P. Dragomanov. The Collected Works of M.P. Drahomanov, 2 vols, Paris, 1905. If Dragomanov’s proposal were adopted we could bring the interests of the individual Russian nationalities under the same roof as an all-Russian great power policy. Dragomanov demanded sweeping federalist transformation of Russia into separate ‘regions’ with full cultural autonomy on the basis of ethnic borders. He attributed the Cadet program for the political autonomy of nationalities to Dragomanov’s ideas – whether consciously or unconsciously. Weber claimed Dragomanov’s writings as fundamental for any treatment of nationality problems. CHECK OUT A short synopsis of the writings of Dragomanov in “Mykhaylo Drahomanov: A Symposium and Selected Writings,2 ed. I.L. Rudnytsky, Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the USE 2 no.1 (New York, 1952). “unify…bourgeois liberalism’ across the barriers of the conflict of nationalities. Failed to recognize the extent to which the Russian liberal movement’s tolerant attitude to the national minorities was merely tactical because the aid of these minorities was essential to the success of the constitution. It is questionable where the Polish drive for independence could have been contained in the long run by the concession of broader autonomy.

  • Ethic of Responsibility or Conviction?: Max Weber’s principled approach Defended> Annexation, Government & Peace negotiations

Even Mommsen seeks to clarify “the inconsistencies and contradictions in his position, while at the same time recognizing its fundamental consistency”, citing Weber’s capacity for “judgement” that never wavered from the ethic of responsibility – separating him from the “shallow emotional nationalism” that engulfed the intelligentsia’s lack of rational justification for the consequence of their actions. (63, 447, Mommsen, 1984)

It is thus fascinating though not altogether surprising that Weber delivered his “Science as a Vocation” lecture two days after sitting with a panel of Social Democrats in Austria to speak out against Pan-Germanism and the founding of the Fatherland Party. (264)  Thus his seemingly inconsistent actions actually conform to his overall theoretical framework, as outlined in “Science as a Vocation”, of distinguishing the “science” of nationalism from its “value”.

I don’t follow this concluding point. I am suspicious of arguments that reconcile “inconsistencies” by pointing to some deeper level without actually spelling out how that works. ie I agree but elaborate please. – Breuilly.

Social scientist, Level-headed, Principled Thesis:

Introduction: (1) Weber’s arguments centre around his ultimate end: Germany’s place as a world power (Between Two Laws): the need to maintain the German state to instrumentally facilitate German culture built on the struggle itself as bringing meaning to the 1871 Reich, (struggle -> protestant work ethic.)

(2) All policy decisions (which Weber has no influence in) are formulated in Weber’s case through rational means to justify that end. He uses the Ethic of Responsibility later outlined in his Politics as a Vocation 1919 lecture, which justifies his stances during the war (Aims, Annexation, USW, Peace Negotiations). Weber also argued for negotiating peace with honour at any cost. he is more interested in honour/prestige than gains which is difficult for others accept because the deaths on the front would seem vain.

(3) Limit Cases Analyzed (for time-sake A rational actor must have rational means to achieve an end that he believes is rational (but doesn’t have to be). consistency/rationality through the means of his arguments IS CLEAR. You can defend him because his means are rational BUT Weber has intellectual consistency in his irrational end.

  • Weber had a realist appraisal of German foreign policy in the war years, not by a principled appreciate of other nations’ right to exist? (Mommsen, 1984)

WHY IS NEGOTIATION WITH HONOUR SO IMPORTANT because HE BELIEVES without peace negotiations GERMANY WILL BE SUBJUGATED into a small group of nations and take the path of Switzerland (Between Two Laws). He want avoid the destruction of his ultimate value of a German nationalism. ER applied.

Concern for German Public Morale are demonstrative of Weber’s congruence with his ultimate end: principled.

Max Weber knew he would be attacked when he spoke out against the High Command: Weber is important academic voice in Germany: is Weber merely using reason to ride a Crazy Tiger. Weber is concerned about morale: Rational Choice Theory.

Weber’s Position is Responding to Two Groups:

  • The High Command (Fischer, 1961): strategic imbeciles or failed genius: the Schlieffen Plan-> defeat the French quickly then deal with Russians. The High Command could be characterized by maximalist ambitions.
  • Hindenburg: Fatherland Party -> Pan German Imperialist Racists/anti-semetic: Maximalist cases: WEBER HATED these cretins. German Fatherland Party (German: Deutsche Vaterlandspartei) was a pro-war party in the German Empire.The party was founded close to the end of 1917 and represented political circles supporting the war. Among founding members were Wolfgang Kapp (of the Kapp Putsch fame) and Alfred von Tirpitz (naval minister and post-war party leader). Peak of its political influence was summer 1918 when it had around 1,250,000 members. Main source of the funding was the Third Supreme Command. The party was dissolved after German Revolution (December 10, 1918).One member, Anton Drexler, went on to form a similar organization, the German Workers Party, which later became the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party) which came to power in 1933 under Adolf Hitler.

(Radkau, 2005) Weber thinks that the public needs to be confronted with the facts. SO German that weakness should be kept secret for national unity. Machivellian. Breuilly doesn’t agree with psychological: Radkau humanized Weber. Which Weber don’t like.

(GPM1) A Context of Crisis: Cohesion as a means of being a good nationalist: whenever the nation is challenged by exogenous forces there is a need for political cohesion: the nation must consolidate its opinion towards the objectives that the political elite have ascribed. In August of 1914, the German Reich enters survival mode, old differences within the nation are diffused and public criticism that might weaken subsequent peace negotiations are to be sidelined until the crisis is resolved. Public morale needs to be high for the war to end with honour.

Weber Support of the Administration: Weber does follow this line of thinking throughout the war: in the hope that it will produce a positive outcome for his ultimate end.

  1. Burgfrieden: fortress peace or castle peace: party truce: Social Democratic Party and other agreed during the War. Unifying for victory, complete consolidation of public opinion until the completion of the war. For this reason, I think, Weber doesn’t want Tirpitz fired over the USW question because he fears weakening morale. Later in 1918, Weber attacks Erzberger for publicly damaging morale with the peace resolution speech in the Brest-Litovsk case: weakening morale was a terrible act for Weber.
  2. Weber wanted to join combat forces: lamenting that that war should have started earlier actually in 1889 before Bismarck was fired, in a private (scholar) letter to his mother. How rational is it to wish to be part of such slaughter? Because it defends the ultimate end. In a personal letter to his mother in 1916: this is why would he have a feverish lament? Weber bought into that kind of thinking. The war was meaningful to Weber. Not rational but his lament is proof that there is a place for emotion in Weber’s life.
  3. Weber took a bureaucratic post Reserve Infirmary of the Heidelberg Garrison District. Was entrusted with administrative duties and disciplinary control of the wounded, morning to night for over a year. Sought political work in 1915. Weber is a strong nationalist.
  4. He was sober when the war broke out in the summer of 1914 seeing it as a failure of German diplomacy, fearing economic ruin. At the same time, he was amazed at the national mobilization of support because the Germany people had been an apolitical with a weak civil society thus far. In a letter to his mother, Weber says the ‘meaning’ of the war was an honourable test; the war was a proving ground for the struggle and survival of the Reich, hoping for an honourable peace on equal terms. Weber has a realist appraisal of German war aims. The war must end positively although Weber is not pleased that it is occurring.

Anti-Annexationism & Weber

Six Economic Associations memorandum (1914)                                        

Erzberger                                                                                                 Newspaper editors

Pan-German League (extremist)                                                 Anti-Pan-Germans

Annexationist                                                                                                           Anti-Annexationist

Conservatives                                                                                                           Liberal

Supreme Commanders                               Hollweg (moderate)  Max Weber

Seeberg Address

Weber was siding with the SPD on annexation. SPD didn’t change their position: they were sheep lying next to the Lions: Between Two Laws…

New waves of annexationism emerged with victories in the East even among leftists.

XXX Annexation as a War Aim was a means for consolidating support. From the Schleifen Plan’s objectives to an emotional appeal, Annexation aims was an instrumental means of justifying the war. Weber believed it was silly to commodify a soldiers life to such an objective: annexation should not be the prize of victory because it contravenes his ultimate end.

Germany was strategically outnumbers diplomatic isolation BUT they fought harder and better than the Triple Entente: their number of casualities was much lower. Can we attribute this to that enthusiasm motivated by War Aims>

(GPM2) Weber was afraid that if those war aims were unfulfilled: it destroy morale. He did not want those soldier’s lives to be commodified and defined by speicifc outcomes. Did they die in vain? Weber’s position would be upsetting because those death’s would have been to mostly meaningless casualities. What was the point of war if not for annexation?

Weber’s underlying theory ‘Bismarck’s Foreign Policy and the Present’ (1915) is that the German nation should remain as Bismarck had made it except for the Alsatians.

  • Weber supports Polish nationalism: the Polish need an olive branch.
  • Austro-Marxists: Bauer: give communal institutions: harmonious nationalists <->
  • Economic questions: Weber’s formation of an Autonomous Poland in November 1916.
  • Polish must be given as much autonomy of prestige, culture, control of language.
  • Weber appears to want to go far down the autonomy road: if we treat the Prussian poles poorly it will look terrible in Poland.

Values Judgements Backed By Science:

As long as Weber is able to shift Polish: confronted Bauer: Weber don’t believe in objective truths: this is the best I can offer but with new evidence he will shift on Polish. Build up a scientific then use it to defend his means.

He knows that he is full of values he accepts and thinks its okay aslong as you are rational. Spent his whole career being value-laden then he says that science should strive to be objective BUT then if we do all this we should not be doing it in the lecture (Science, 1919). Science Vocation: instrinctive values and then you have choosen values. EH doesn’t like Christian pacifist but he respects them for rational. He respects induvudal sermon on the mount.

November 1916 Text only in German:

  • Argument against annexation.
  • State should only matter as an INSTRUMENT of the end to allow German culture
  • Protection of German interests is most nationalist.
  • Austria lacks national community
  • Prisoners of Russia: -> the state can do a lot but cannot control the individual.
  • Enthusiasm to war because Germany is his nation-state.
  • Weber says for the moment a positive light on the Poles (might seem pragmatic BUT it’s all about the Ethic of Responsibility for Weber:
  • Weber believe in the Nation Not So much the State.

THEREFORE his ultimate end of German nationalism is served.

Weber’s Annexation Positions Are Consistent:

Nationalism on the Western-Front: Holland are Germans in a hurry. They may have a political consciousness but he is primarily interested in peace with France & Britain.

Nationalism on the Eastern-Front: Russia can’t be allowed to advance westward. Weber has a principled argument for the protection of the German nation-state. 


  1. Weber never condemns the Brest-Litovsk (March 3rd, 1918) which extended German territorial occupation into large portions of where a Polish nation-state would exist. This caused a weakened relationship with the Polish people since it was a mockery of Polish autonomy.
  2. Weber wanted a strong relationship between Polish and Germans in order to divide and rule against the Russian hegemony.

BUT Weber didn’t agree with the annexation: Second Suboridnate nationalisties: recapitulation of the nations with or without power…Between Two Laws.

Rosa Luxembourg: supports a Polish national program…she rejects nationalism: cosmopolitan social Marxist.

(Weber, 1895) German overseas empires are relatively small but he sees them as essential for Germany’s place on the world stage. German national resources are impressive: he has the second largest industry only US is better: Iron Ore. Raw industrial terms.

Weber’s indirect rule approach -> contain people manage them don’t involve.

Polish migrant: East Elbia 1919, Polish migrant workers new diminished ward of Germany: independent: resist Polish: how do we preserve the German nation-state.

1916: Weber economic and financial links customs union, movement of goods.

  • Ethic of Responsibility or Conviction?: Max Weber’s principled approach defended> Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

How did his views on German policy relate to his general theory of politics? Are his writings on military and foreign policy modeled by his “Ethic of Responsibility”?

Weber as an Intellectual Shifter: changing based on new information.

Breuilly thinks its an intellectual shift. Bauer, Dragamonov. BUT I can’t except that there is a pragmatic interest. Instrumentalist approach. 1905: Russian Liberalism: they were willing to give in autonomy to minorities and Weber. Dragamonov is something Weber did Read: (Pg 58) (Mommsen, 1984). Mommsen: Bauer (possibly)-> possibility that Weber engaged in Bauer:

Breuilly END is shaped by means that are rationally deduced within a limited framework (ie. principle) which explains why he didn’t support Social Democrats. Weber seems to not go into areas he won’t go: seems to offer the most rational course of action. Rationality is connected to structural constraints. Scientists can not ignore mathematics.

Social science is to get as close to the rational arguments and rational ends as possible

Weber’s General Theory of Politics: The Ethic of Responsibility versus the Ethic of Conviction>ER: the point is it is a rational instrument. Not that it is Un-German to commit unrestricted submarine warfare. Pragmaticism applies to USW. ER odds are against the use:

  • Weber wanted to negotiate from a position of strength: ie. Supports the Spring Offensive 1918.
  • Wilson might have inevitably entered the war: but it was more about timing.

Breuilly believes that Wilson was:

  • a) slowed by the German-American coalitions and
  • b) isolationist ideology was a powerful one in the US.

Does he use his Ethic of Responsibility when he states that the Treaty of Versaille 1919 is a horrible defeat of national honour? He later changes his views a month later to accept it.


Carl Schmitt/Max Weber relationship:

  • Weber believes that politics is not a moral sphere. Politics is simply about power. The politics of Max Weber: where as the social science are value-based.
  • The idea of Friend or Foe: the world of politics is dichotomized between friends and enemies. This is the adversarilist approach. This is the non-territorialized goal of Political Theory: socialist enemy nexus.
  • He does not mean to provide us with an “exhaustive description” laden with “substantive” normative content. (Schmitt: 2007, 26) Rather, this friend/enemy distinction is the criterion by which we can determine as to whether or not an action is properly political. It is a point of heuristic entry. The tendencies of identity-bearing agents to make these distinctions are themselves attestation to the existence of the political. (Schmitt: 2007, 29) What really matters is that we tend to define ourselves as being a part of one group or another. NO MORALITY IN POLITICS

(2) Weber’s Ethic of Responsibility (1919): all policy decisions are formulated through rational means to justify the ultimate end of the German Reich. As long as his means to achieve the irrational end are themselves rationally deduced then Weber is fulfilling the ER. Before he articulated Ethic of Responsibility in 1919, he implemented ER to justify:

a) his stance on Unrestricted Submarine Warfare (USW).

b) his stance on negotiating a peace with honour at any cost.

Weber view prestige as more important than gains (which is difficult for others to agree with because they would see the deaths on the front lines as being in vain. Weber is more rational than Tirpitz and the High Command because he disassociates emotional pain with achieving long-term outcomes that are beneficial to is ultimate end Germany’s place on the world stage.

Counterfactual test: If the High Command had listened to Weber, would Germany have ended the horrors of WWI with dignity and honour?

Unrestricted Submarine Warfare: (USW)

The Ethic of Conviction versus the Ethic of Responsibility.

Weber implements a ration choice model based on his subsequent Ethic of Responsibility to justify his position against USW.


  • Naval Admiral Tirpitz’s prosecution of the naval arms race with the Fleet Acts led to Germany’s political isolation. Tirpitz believed in what is effectively risk theory (really game theory) analysis where Germany should become a second naval power, the English would avoid direct conflict in the hope of maintaining naval protection of their colonies thus allow German naval empire to emerge.  Unfortunately, history shows that the Britain felt threatened anyway given their geographic position. Leading to an arms race: Tirpitz’s policy further isolated Germany politically: Most importantly: The British blockade ended any hope of German naval power blocking American trade. Germany was already ISOLATED.
  • Basserman the National Liberal Party leader accused Weber of “tragic demagoguery”.
  • Conducting submarine warfare meant that prize rules of capturing contraband were abandoned. The Lusitania was sunk in May 7th, 1915 with 128 American passengers and another 1000 passengers died.
  • In February of 1916, Tirpitz escalated the U-Boat warfare. The High Command assumed that in using Unrestricted Submarine Warfare they could force English capitulation. German Admirality thought they could crush England in 6 months. In hindsight, British tonnage was too large: there were non-British ships to consider. The High Command was gambling that the US would enter the war too late this is clearly desperation.
  • The High Command was being desperate: hoping for the best: ultimately engaging in from Weber’s perspective in Ethic of Conviction. Everyone recognized that Germany would lose if Americans were involvement on the side of Britain this would further isolate Germany: Weber believed this would destroy any hope of equal peace negotiations. American entrance into the war would be a critical juncture.

The Memorandum March 10th, 1916: sent to the Foreign Secretary

Weber argued for the settlement of the crisis with the US in 1916 “at any cost.” 

Weber has strong rational argument based on his subsequently theorized Ethic of Responsibility.

Weber believed that Britain would not capitulate. Tirpitz’s theory was wrong.

A) England’s early capitulation is unlikely; this was desperate thinking by the High Command.

B) America would enter the war giving complete support to the English before such capitulation.

C) In the longterm, Germany would lose economically despite even a military victory because the war would take longer to be resolved and drain the German people’s morale. Germany would forfeit its future as a world power if it did not negotiate an honourable peace.

Weber: End USW> US Neutrality> Speedy End To War> Honourable Peace Negotiations.

High Command: USW> English Capitulation > US Entrance > Speedy End to War > Victory.

Weber wanted to counteract public opinion by making the memorandum rather stern.

Weber was a Bethmann-Hollweg supporter….

  • By the end of 1916 Socialists in Germany were against unrestricted warfare. The chief of the admiral staff Admiral Holtzendorff said that if we resume unrestricted submarine warfare Britain will be on her knees in 5 weeks. Cappelle Chief of the Naval Office (succeeded Tirpitz). They wanted to force a decision on the war before the Americans became involved.
  • July 1917: The Submarine Warfare miscalculated on existing British tonnage. Everyone knew that the British had more than their own shipping capacity. German predictions were based on erroneous calculations. In the Reich>The Three Parties formed a government: Centre, Progressives and Socialists (large faction) the three together had a majority in the Reichstag. They discussed the peace issue. Which resulted in the Peace Resolution. Bethmann’s position becomes untenable: he agreed to submarine Warfare and now it was clear that it was not succeeding. It was based on fraudulent calculations.
  • Hindenburg and Ludendorff said if you keep Bethmann Hollweg we will resign. These two men were soldiers had turned against Bethmann. Kaiser didn’t say that Bethmann was fired for being wrong. Kaiser had lost all power and did whatever Hindenburg and Ludendorff wanted. 13th of July 1917 Bethmann was dismissed. Hindenburg and Ludendorff had destroyed Bismarck’s constitution where the Emperor should be able to control the chancellor.

(GPM3) German morale & political cohesion: U-Boat was the trumpcard, a significant advantage, if it didn’t achieve what it was supposed to then there was no other cards to play. The domestic crisis would be a revolution. Weber was right. The act of desperation of USW would have negative effects on the Morale of the German people

For Weber, the Dangers of US entrance was not as bad as the domestic response to USW’s failure. Weber opposed the Right’s agitation aimed at pressuring the chancellor to permit ruthless use of submarines. It was hysteria fuelled by alarmists. Weber believed American entrance was the least desirable outcome, the optimal outcome would be American neutrality and quick peace negotiations. Weber disapproved of USW because this idea of “the fear of peace”: creating high expectations: U-Boats was a trumpcard, a significant advantage, if it didn’t achieve what it was supposed to then there was no other cards to play. The domestic crisis would be a revolution. The act of desperation of USW would have negative effects on the Morale of the German people. So he is consistent in his position of maintaining a German morale and cohesion so as to achieve an honourable peace.

  • So he is consistent in his position of cohesion as long as you agree with his rational framework which is elucidated in (Politics as Vocation, 1919).


1) TAUTOLOGY of His Argument:

  • (a) His war aims and foreign policy prescription are for a more realistic positive peace negotiations: he was wrong about closing off the borders to Polish workers and agricultural restructuring, what about his ER then? Was it that Weber took the side that won? HOWEVER this is all given the outcome of the war which no one knew at the time. Any rational systems employed could be confused in the fog of war given the level of uncertainty/limited information.
  • (b) I argue that, Weber took the side that won. Because Weber supported the rational ideas that seem to be correct: we cannot test their validity since the outcomes have occurred: ex post analysis. 
  • (c) It ONLY seems that Weber is more rational than the High Command for assuming that the US might stay out of the war. Claiming Weber is a better nationalist is easy after the fact because not having US in the war would have allowed for honourable peace negotiations instead of one sided and unfair negotiations.
  • Weber assumes that Germany is already in a bad position: The key is that Weber accepts Germany can’t gain anything from the war before anyone else….
  • Weber’s position allowed him this claim while politicians have to manage the Blood Vengence of the people: Weber’s modest War AIMS: It is difficult to convince the military and public to not maximize the use of a strategic advantage. It is also difficult to convince the military and public that the deaths of countless soldiers is not for anything more than returning the borders to their original boundaries. In order for Weber to be taken seriously, one would have to ignore the emotional power of war on peoples decision-making.
  • Weber’s Position: there is a nuance here, however, the difference lies in the assumption of how other actors would react. Weber didn’t believe that America would inevitably enter the war: Weber was hoping for pacifist elements in America to succeed.
  • High Command’s Position: seems to assume that US would eventually enter on the side of the British NO MATTER WHAT….their assuming that the US would inevitabtly enter the war led to the Zimmerman Telegraph: this is what led to American entrance. The US was inevitably going enter on the side of the British.
  • 3) COUNTERFACTURAL ARGUMENT: What if we did a counterfactual showing that America did not enter the war & England capitulated. Weber would have been wrong about this issue. Weber correct in believing any unrestricted submarine warfare would be have devastating effects on the domestic situation.

Must REMEMBER THAT many people believed that the US would enter the war: they assumed that in using Unrestricted Submarine Warfare.

  • Weber’s War Aims: peace with honour/principled policies.

Is Max Weber less of a nationalism than those in High Command? What is distinctive about Weber’s Nationalism in WWI?


According to Fischer 1961 thesis, The German War aims were annexation of A-L, French war armament prevention for 20 years, Iron ore areas of Brie and Lorie, Belgium and Poland as a Buffer against the Russian Empire. There is some dispute over Bethmann-Hollweg’s views: he was moderate on annexation according to Mommsen. The Supreme Command of the German Army is the government. They are who I compare Weber’s war aims against.

War Aims are never static for Weber (Breuilly, seminar)

Weber is better able to detach emotionality from his rational means than the High Command who must mobilize society to fight for a glorious cause.

Weber is consitent and rational throughout his argumentations regarding the war.

War Aims & Max Weber’s Nationalism in Question

There is a debate about what exactly were the High Command and Bethmann Hollweg’s war aims but according to F. Fischer’s 1960 thesis on The September Memorandum of War Aims, The German War aims were far reaching annexation of A-L, European economic union under Germany, Iron ore areas of Brie in France, Belgium and Poland as annexed buffers against the French and Russians respectively. This is what I compare Weber’s war aims against. The primary objective of any war for Germany was annexation.

The Administrations War Aims are unrealistic ends for Weber. I argue they are used to mobilize the masses, galvanize the soldiers. These War Aims justify Germany’s involvement in the war for a majority of Germans. Weber believes that such a position is detrimental to his conception of Germany’s future because those war aims are untenable and will destroy Germany’s economic future. He wants in essence simply the honourable survival of the German Reich once the war begins.

Weber’s German Future World Policy is focused on Long-term Objectives contradicting Administrations Short-term gains: Need for a honourable meaningful ‘negotiated peace’ thereby avoiding humiliation and the end to German world power.

  1. Failure of Diplomacy: war would not produce real successes or acquisitions. Germany had failed to avoid war against a ‘world coalition’.
  2. Anti-Annexation: for instrumental as well as nationalist purposes.for instrumental purposes of peace negotiations. Germany should not attempt to acquire new territorial acquisitions. Also annexationism would exacerbate the Alsace-Loraine problem which Weber believed should be resolve through German annexation of Alsatians <- seems to signify Weber’s ethnic nationalism based on language claims.
  3. The preservation of military security in the East and West.
  4. Importance of winning the peace by speedy conclusion of the hostilities: Germany must be economically strong in the long-term. Need for ‘negotiated peace’ and an honourable meaningful peace.
  5. Fear of diplomatic isolation: wants flexibility to create further future alliances. Failure of Diplomacy: war would not produce real successes or acquisitions. Therefore Germany needs constitutional reform through democracy in order to cultivate proper political leadership.

Weber was no warmonger: he wanted a speedy end. The primary arguments focus on Weber’s concerns regarding Germany’s economic strength after war. Believing that even if Germany won the war they could still lose the peace economically.

According to Mommsen by 1916, Weber had ‘dissasociated himself from the ‘ideas of 1914’.

Weber’s Three Lessons:

  1. economic interest didn’t cause the war, but they had produced new economics interests (war mongers industrialists), which pressed for continued prosecution.
  2. Indispensability of industry and business for the war effort.
  3. The State is the highest organization of power in the world; it has power over life and death. The error is that such discussions turn exclusively around the state and do not take the nation into account.

War Aims is Weber’s ultimate end NOT PROFIT>

Weber believed that “a correct relationship between state and nation, where the state = power and the nation = culture and language….It was therefore unwise to annex great peoples with strong national cultures.”(Mommsen, 1984)

Belgian Annexationism…. Bismarck’s Foreign Policy and the Present (1915), Weber opposed a boundless annexation program. Lack of realims in an annexation policy of the west.  The Article outlines the long-term effects of annexation propaganda on public opinion: as soon as it was apparent that such unrealistic goals could never be achieved, disillusionment would become widespread and the fighting spirit would dissipate.  “THE fear of peace” led to unlimited multiplication of war goals.

Weber opposed annexation of the West 4 Principled Reasons:

  1. Turning England and France into long-standing enemies of the Reich. Instead, Weber viewed Belgium (along with Kurt Reizler) as a pawn in German negotiations with the Triple Entente. His policy was focused on security considerations. Weber’s proposals were unusually clear sighted according to Mommsen as the High Command wanted to annex Belgium into the Reich with resettlement plans for non-Germans…(209pp, Mommsen).
  2. Anti-cultural Integrationist (erode the German state): it would not work for nationalist reasons; that underlies Weber’s arguments in German politics: He believed that an independent people could be integrated in the Reich successfully. The optimal objective for Weber was a permanent military occupation of Luxembourge and 20 year guarantee of active neutrality by the Belgian state toward France. I argue he’s interested in maintainin the integrity of the German Nation-State as a Central power with little subordinate cultures orbiting the pure German centre. Did not want to engage in culturally integrating Belgium.
  3. Russia is the ultimate threat to Germany not the Anglo-Saxons: hence his position on Polish self-determination during the war. He is preoccupied with the situation of the Poles. Weber wants a Central European hegemon: Naumann’s Mitteleuropa is scrutinized by Weber as “stupid” because nation-states would not be able accommodate diverse policy objects. He did not believe in equality but in hierachical political sphere under Central Power dominations.
  4. Annexationism of Belgium would exacerbate the Alsace-Loraine problem.

NOT IMPORTANT FOR Week 8 Questions….

Weber + Soveriegnty – Associations with Eastern States.

  • Germany should liberate all the small nations from the yoke of greater Russian despotism. Hoped for Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian and Ukrainian national state, far-reaching automony but association with the German Reich.
  • Reich would continue with its fortification as well as Austria-Hungary in the south. Weber wanted a tariff union with Lithuanian, Latvia, and Poland that would tie these state economically to the Reich.
  • Kurt Reizelr’s German imperialism is similar “ with a European appearance: hegemony through indirect means, especially through the establishment of amiddle European tarrif and economic union.
  • WEBER’s concept was distinct insofar as it emphasized a liberal approach and was oriented primarily to the east. Even if it was in the east it would have centralized power in Central Europe.

Weber’s Public Meeting in Nuremberg : Deutscher Natialn-Ausschuss.

A) attacked German war enemies.

B) against Belgium annexation detrimental to Germany’s future foreign policy requirements: need for Belgium neutrality guarantees that was genuine.

C) necessity of a free Poland preferably within the framework of an ‘indissoluble, permanent [central European] union of states with a common army, trade policy and tariffs”. !!! <- essential goals of a peaceful order for all of Europe. All nations arranged around the German empire as a central core of power.

March 3, 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk:  Germany took large tracts of Russian territory. Poland taken largely by German. Germany helped Finland fight off the Russians. Strong friendship with Finland. Russia had substantial losses of territory.

  • Both sides, Germany and Russia recognized the principle of national self-determination. Soviet interpretation 12 of May 1917 regarding the right of national self-determination: Resolution: “The right of nations to succeed freely must not be confused with the separation of this or that thing. The party of the proletariat of each nation should be soviet.”

Weber’s dislikes Matthias Erzberger:

(GPM4) Erzberger’s Peace Resolution: in July of 1917: revealed German weakness during his speeches to justify the peace. When Erzberger proposes Peace Resolution between Social Democrats and other parties, he highlights German weakness: Weber calls him an ass. Weber was against Tirpitz’s resignation despite his USW objectives. He argues that Reich should not be revealed to be weak by the politically influential. He is torn between being political cohesion & rational realistism of his academic mind. He IS NOT just being pragmatically incoherent: there is a method to the madness.

  • November 11th 1918: Erzberger signs the Armistice: it is the great stab in the back by the German SPD: he is assasinated in 1921 for signing the Arministice. Weber celebrated his death. Rathenau was assinated a year later.
  • THE REASON he rejects Erzberger: THE IMPACT upon the ALLIES. “Abroad, they suspect weakness to be the reason for the democratic confessions of faith and they hope for more: revolution. This will extend the war” (258pp, Mommsen).
  • (Mommsen, 1984) believes that Weber overestimated the prestige factor in the international power game. Domestically, Weber favoured democratization in order to strengthen the home front. But when a Reichstag majority united in a decisive declaration for peace, he judged it to be a sign of weakness to those outside of Germany. As a result, Weber ended up in SELF-CONTRADICTION.
  • Weber wanted 1) free economic development of Germany 2) preservation of national existence.

Weber shifts back to a focus on world religions.

  • Conclusion:

Why is Max Weber IMPORTANT; SO WHAT? WHAT DOES THIS SAY about Nationalism Studies?

Weber’s Nationalism: nationalism engenders nations (Gellner, 1983)

Weber chooses his own end and serves that end (nationalism). We can only choose things that are culturally significant to us.

Therefore Weber is a better nationalist than the High Commanders. Weber is an instrumentalist because he is preoccupied with long-term cohesion of a strong German state. While the High Command is setting unrealistic goals that would only weaken Germany’s world policy in the longterm. Weber’s political goals appear to be more nationalist because they are superior in that they rationally deduced to achieve a moderate realistic end for Germany. The high command set expectation too high harming political cohesion and morale.


  • Weber’s argues for his ultimate value: preservation of German world power.
  • Weber’s policy prescriptions are formulated to justify that ultimate value using the most rationally efficient means given available information.
  • Weber is better able to detach emotionality from his rational means than the High Command who must mobilize society to fight for a glorious cause.

[1] Joachim Radkau, Max Weber: Die Leidenschaft des Denkens, (München, 2005), pp. 699

[2] Wolfgang Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics, 1890 – 1920,  (Chicago, 1984),  pp.191

[3] Ibid., pp. 700

[4] Ibid., pp. 193

[5] Ibid., pp. 221

[6] Weber considered Russia to be Germany’s eternal antagonist. See Mommsen, pp. 204.

[7] See David Stevenson, ‘The Failure of Peace by Negotiation in 1917’ Historical Journal Vol. 34:1 (1991), for more on the peace feelers which surfaced during the course of the war.

[8] Wolfgang Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics, 1890 – 1920,  (Chicago, 1984), pp. 257

[9] Joachim Radkau, Max Weber: Die Leidenschaft des Denkens, (München, 2005), pp. 75

[10] He states this most clearly in a speech given to Austrian officer in Vienna in June 1918.