21 Eylül 2011 Çarşamba

Structures of Power and Way of Empires: Max Weber's Theory of Power Structures

Weber claims that, all the political structures use one specific method for succession, which is “power”. But the way how they follow and to whom they apply this power differs, and these differences functions as a determinant on the formation and the future of them. According to Weber to use this power one must be a Great Power with full prestige, to influence on other political entities, to have this prestige a great power has to focus on their expansion of power. It’s not just the mere subjection of other territories or isolationism, but there are some other factors too, such as; economic exploitation, belonging to the superior nation and cultural exploitation, and finally using the scholar-bureaucrats as officers in the constitution. Economic exploitation is the imperialist capitalism, which is the full control of a great power on territories’ means of economy by monopolizing trade, taxation, exploiting labor, taking the raw materials and resources or buying for really cheap and so on. Secondly, to possess this prestige one great power has to belong to the “superior nation” and make cultural manifestation, which is basically making other nations to feel inferior. Finally, to acquire the prestige the constitution within the government must function correctly. Therefore, the officials in the constitution should be trained in the pattern of governing; any kind of despotism might wipe the prestige out.

The common strategy of many empires was to manifest the greatness of their nation, in fact their race. From the point of view of “white empires” most of the territories that they subjected was for the sake of those territories, because they were ‘educating’ them in ‘civilized way’. But still for some thinkers, this effort was hopeless. A quotation from Immanuel Kant: “In the hot countries the human being matures in all aspects earlier, but does not, however, reach the perfection of those in the temperate zones. Humanity is at its greatest perfection in the race of the whites. The yellow Indians do have a meagre talent. The Negroes are far below them and at the lowest point are a part of the American peoples” Physical Geography. The expansion of power in terms of cultural exploitation manifested as naturally suitable by the thinkers of Enlightenment.

I think prestige is the key which is going to get you to the power and you can achieve that by expanding it, as Weber argued, however to me the structures of power is not enough for the “formal empires”. Because for the formal empire “expanding power” is one of the easiest tasks, if you look at to where they extended their power (like Africa) , the hard one is to maintaining that expanded power in plenitude. The strategies they used there are even more complex than the strategies they were using to expand their power. For instance, conversion of peripheral elites, coopting with local elites (indirect negotiations), taxation, vision establishment (basically maps) and large sophisticated urban centers to distribute within the empire. Those things are directly connected to administration, Weber as usual, blessed the bureaucrats and their work, however, didn’t mention the strategies that an emperor and officials should follow and this must need some other kind of structure of power.

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