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Caesarism in Democratic Politics : Reflections on Max Weber


Publication Date: 
March 22, 2007
Working Paper
Bibliography: Gerhard Casper, Caesarism in Democratic Politics : Reflections on Max Weber. Lecture delivered at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, March 22, 2007.


Max Weber argued that every mass democracy tends in a caesarist direction. Weber employed the term to stress, inter alia, the plebiscitary character of elections, disdain for parliament, the non-toleration of autonomous powers within the government and a failure to attract or suffer independent political minds. A hundred years ago - even before present-day modes of campaigning, before present-day modes of political fundraising, before television advertising - Weber was of the view that the position of the President of the United States lies on the road to a pure form of caesarist acclamation. After analyzing Weber's views, the paper examines recent trends in American presidential politics.