Posts tagged "Max Weber"
The Return of Magical Thinking

The Return of Magical Thinking

For the last hundred and fifty years or more, scholars have been wont to claim that magic has been dissipating as a force in society. Yet at no time since the Middle Ages has the role of intangible forces and powers been so central to the social order. More»

The New Dystopia

The New Dystopia

I have, from time to time, been wont to quote the opening passage of Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment. It is perhaps the most compelling statement of the deeply unsettling character of the modern world. “Enlightenment, understood in the widest sense as the advance of thought, has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them as masters.” More»

The Fifth or Sixth Human

The Fifth or Sixth Human

Der dritte oder der vierte Mensch, by the German sociologist Alfred Weber, hardly qualifies as a classic of the literature. It was published in 1953 as the first phase of the Cold War was winding down and much of the value that it retains is due to the way that it reflects the mindset of a particular moment in history. More»

Pro-life politics in Pakistan

Pro-life politics in Pakistan

Pakistan is facing fresh violence following the deaths of over seventy people, and the injury of several hundred more, during a martyrdom operation on Easter Sunday, in Lahore, directed against Christians. As Punjab prepares for a military crackdown, it is critical to understand the situation in its proper context.  More»

The Cult of Personality

The Cult of Personality

Politics in the world of industrialized neoliberal states is subject to a sort of compression. Neoliberalism, as a mode of thought and organization, is characterized by the shifting of ever greater regions of the social order out of the realm of political deliberation and into the ostensibly more “objective” realm of economic competition. More»

Stories Matter

Stories Matter

The ending of a fiction represents the point at which its essential artificiality is most acute. While individual lives do end, life itself does not end (or at least, will not end on earth for a literally unthinkably long time). When a fiction ends, it is the apotheosis of the human ability and desire to chop up the flow of time into manageably finite stories. More»

Jihadi John as Thug

Jihadi John as Thug

British tabloid coverage of Mohammed Emwazi (“Jihadi John”) has been predictably irritating. The SunThe Daily Mail, The Daily Star, and more have all printed obscene headlines about the man, with the clear objective of terrifying their readers into supporting counterterrorism. More»

Ceaușescu's Egypt

Ceaușescu’s Egypt

Many analysts have become cynical about the Arab spring as a result of events in Egypt. There is certainly cause for it, especially since General al-Sisi is consolidating military rule while establishing a new cult of personality. Personally, I’m not hopeless. There is a trajectory to cults of personality that always has the opportunity to end abruptly, as was the case of Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania.  More»

Send in the Clowns

Send in the Clowns

Modern politics is so often the preserve of spin, of carefully shaped, focus group-tested utterances, that it can be shocking when someone says what they mean. So it was, when Peer Steinbrück, a leading German socialist politician, and his party’s presumptive nominee for Federal Chancellor in the fall elections, spoke with frankness about the results of the recent parliamentary elections in Italy. More»

The Romance of Disenchantment

The Romance of Disenchantment

Although it’s been decades since baseball was as popular as football, proponents still insist that it is America’s “national pastime.” At first glance, this may appear to represent wishful thinking. But as the fascinating new film Moneyball implies, this conclusion fails to account for the peculiar connotations of the word “pastime.” More»