SOCY 151: Foundations of Modern Social Theory

Lecture 19

 - Weber on Charismatic Authority


Charismatic authority, unlike traditional authority, is a revolutionary and unstable form of authority. Weber borrows the religious term of charisma and extends its use to a secular meaning. Audiences and followers believe that charismatic leaders have a close connection to a divine power, have exceptional skills, or are exemplary in some way. Charismatic leaders promise change in the future for the society and also change people’s attitudes and values; in this way, charismatic authority is revolutionary in a way that traditional and legal-rational authority are not. However, charisma is unstable and deteriorates if the leader cannot produce the changes he promises or when he confronts the contradictory logics and demands of the other types of authority. There are particular ways–including search, revelation, designation, or heredity–that charismatic successors are identified, but transferring charismatic authority is difficult and not always successful.

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Foundations of Modern Social Theory

SOCY 151 - Lecture 19 - Weber on Charismatic Authority

Chapter 1. Weber’s Theory on Charisma [00:00:00]

Professor Iván Szelényi: Incidentally, in my discussion sections, people got too excited about charisma. So we did speak a lot about charisma. I ask your patience. We will cover some of the same grounds, but I hope I can give you new jokes about charisma.

This is one of the most exciting features of Weber theory, and probably one of–next to the Protestant Ethic, right?–the one which entered the common language, more than anything else. Right? That we all talk about charisma, and people’s charisma, or charismatic leaders, all the time. Just like the Protestant work ethic, which entered the popular vocabulary, and everybody who has not read any Weber still uses the term.

It’s also very important to come to terms with the idea of charisma because Weber was suspected in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s to be actually a proto-fascist, and with the idea of charisma advocating for a strong leadership for Germany, a calling for a charismatic leader for Germany, and in a way almost demanding Adolph Hitler. Well, of course, he died in 1920; he could not do that. But especially the philosopher, George Lukács, accused him to be an irrationalist, and being a proto-fascist, laying the ideology for Nazism and Adolph Hitler. I have to tell you that I am not absolutely certain what Weber would have done in 1930 or ‘33. I hope, like his brother, he would not have gone for the fascists, or Nazis. But it’s complicated. I will try to make a case that in fact the concept of charisma is not quite what Adolph Hitler was.

So the main major themes of the presentation today. First of all we will deal with the definition of charisma; what is charismatic authority. Then we will talk about the sources of charisma, where charisma is coming from, and this is particularly important, to see why Weber is actually not a proto-Nazi. Then we will be talking about the followers of the charismatic leader.

Then we will talk about charisma as a revolutionary force, charisma as a vehicle of change. And I think this is an interesting idea in Weber, though one of the weaker points I think of Weber theory. I think Karl Marx has a much more coherent and much more persuasive theory about historical change as class struggle, you know, and the contradictions between forces and relations of production. This is historically invalidated, but a very coherent and very persuasive kind of argument. Weber’s idea of charisma as a revolutionary force actually has empirical relevance, but it’s rather unpersuasive, and I will talk about this. And then we come to a big problem with charisma, how charismatic leadership can be routinized or transmitted from a charismatic leader to the next, and what are the methods of succession for a charismatic leader.

So, I mean, those of you who were in my discussion sections, you can see it will not be just a regurgitation of the discussion sections. And I don’t know what happened in other discussion sections; also the charisma may have come up. This makes people move; minds move a great deal.

So I’ll just step back a minute and again revisit the idea of different types of domination and authority. And this is the simplest scheme I can come up with. But I think this is a good one. I’ll copyright it; I did it. So the question is where is obedience due to? It can be due to rules, impersonal rules, or it can be due to a personal master, to an individual. That’s the big story. Right? And if it is due to rules, that’s when we are talking about legal-rational authority–and this will be the topic–and bureaucratic rule, modern liberal democratic system or modern not-that-democratic system, but systems which still do have rules of law. There are actually authoritarian systems which do operate with rules of law, where authoritarian leaders actually do themselves follow the law and take law seriously and implement laws seriously. So legal-rational authority does not mean liberal democracy. It simply means that this is a system in which there is a rule of law, even if the leader itself can be not particularly democratic.

Democracy, as we understand it, is a very recent phenomenon. Universal suffrage in the Western world became widespread since the 1920s, and it really became the dominant form–right?–of political rule much, much later; I would say more like after the Second World War. I mean, Switzerland, for instance, gave rights for women to vote just very recently. So well, you know, democracy is a–liberal democracy–is a very new invention. And legal-rational authority is not such a new invention. There was a rule of law in England going back to the Orange Revolution. Right? It’s going back to the late seventeenth century. There was rule of law in the United States before the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, though there was no liberal democracy as we understand that. Right? There was no universal suffrage at all. So, I mean, you could have rule of law without democracy. But that’s still very different from a system where you obey a master.

There are two ways how you obey a master. You obey because the tradition appointed that master–and that’s what we were talking about Tuesday–or because the master is believed to have some charismatic features.

I also mentioned it last time: that the differences between the three types of authority–legal-rational authority, traditional authority, and charismatic authority–do not have the same, I’ll use the term, ontological status. Right? The two big forms in history are traditional authority which through rationalization eventually becomes legal-rational authority, and charismatic authority usually is a transitory stage. Charismatic authority is a charismatic leader emerges in times of great need, desperation and need for change, and charismatic leaders, if they deliver–you know, as long as they deliver–they remain leaders. If they stop delivering charisma is taken away from them. And it is extremely difficult for a charismatic leader to establish an ongoing system of charismatic authority–right?–because it will be very difficult to transfer their own personal charisma to somebody else–right?–and to keep running a charismatic system.

Chapter 2. Definition of Charisma [00:09:38]

Okay, so that’s about generally, you know, what is charisma? As I said, this really we keep using the term all the time. The last eighteen months we used it a lot because of candidate and later President Obama. And there is probably nobody in this room who at one point did not say something about Obama’s charisma; or, you know, if you did not like him, the lack of his charisma. Right? But, you know, this was a commonly used term.

Now this is coming from Weber, because he dug this term out from a rather obscure theological language, where charisma actually referred to some superhuman qualities of individuals, I would say almost semi-gods, who have some very personal and exclusive relationship to God, and therefore, like any other human beings, they kind of can talk to God and then they can interpret God’s will to the people; these were charismatic leaders. So, in the most classical definition, charisma refers rather to the great founders of great world religions; that’s what charisma, in initial meaning, meant.

So Mohammed, Moses, or Jesus, they had charisma, because they had a special access to God. Right? Moses got the two tables from God. Right? He could not see the face of God but nevertheless got the two tables from God. Nobody else could walk up–right?–there on the mountain and get these tables, you know, and tell people, “This is the law.” Right? It was only Moses who could. Right? And Jesus had a very specific relationship to God. Right? Christian belief, was even the Son of God, embodiment of God. And undoubtedly, you know, it is believed by Christians that Jesus could actually convey to us what God wants us to do. Right? Had this very special unique charismatic appeal. And Mohammed had this special appeal to God. Or if you are Mormon, then Mr. Smith had this very unique–right?–relationship to God. At one point an angel came, you know, got a new sacred book, a continuation of the Bible, left it with Mr. Smith. He translated it, and when the translation was gone, you know, the angel came and took it away. This was a charisma–right?–a very specific superhuman; it did not happen to any other human being, only to Smith. Right? That is the initial notion of the meaning.

But now Weber makes it here a little- kind of a broader conception, and he said–right?–that charisma will be applied to a certain quality of an individual personality. It’s important still an individual who is considered extraordinary and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman. This sounds like the original definition. But then he goes on and he said, “Or at least exceptional powers and qualities.” Right? And these are regarded as of divine origin–that’s the founders of the great religion–or exemplary; he modifies that. Right? It can be just exemplary. You don’t have to believe that this is semi-god or the embodiment of God. You only have to believe that this is an exemplary being who has some exceptional abilities, exceptional qualities, and that will qualify that you will call somebody a charismatic person or a charismatic leader.

Let me also underline one more term from these quotations which is extremely important. He said the person is considered to be extraordinary and treated as endowed with superhuman or exemplary features. So–and what I think is extremely important to see, that Weber does not tell us that this individual is actually extraordinary, that it is actually superhuman. In a way it is in the eye of the beholder. It is among the followers who attribute–right?–to these qualities, to somebody. So in a way charismatic leaders are being made by the followers.

Chapter 3. The Source of Charisma [00:15:12]

Well, and what is the source of charisma? This is now making it even more clearer and more precise. It rests in recognition. You have to recognize it, charisma. So the relationship of charisma is in the interpersonal relationship between the leaders and the followers, and in this interaction is charisma being created. Right? It is not given by the grace of lord–right?–to an individual person. It is created by those who are subjected to authority. Right? And it’s also important that those who follow the charismatic leaders are usually seen as followers or disciples. Right? They have some extraordinary commitment to this leader. Right? This leader creates excitement in them, and this excitement, what creates the community of the followers or the community of the disciples. Right?

And well this was one of the reasons why many people in the last eighteen months regarded Barack Obama as a charismatic leader, because he was capable to appearing in a crowd, and moved the crowd–right?–create excitement in the crowd. Right? He created followers–right?–almost one would say disciples, as such.

Now but the charisma can be withdrawn. This is again a very important idea in Weber. He said if the proof of success alludes the leader for too long, it is likely that the charismatic authority will disappear. Right? So the charismatic leader gives you–right?–promises that it will produce miracles, and then the charismatic leader does not producing these miracles–right?–he must work miracles, said Weber–then the people withdraw the recognition of charisma from the leader, and the master simply becomes a private person, an ordinary person; it loses its individual appeal. Well what is very important–right?–that the charismatic leader has to promise you miracles–right?–has to promise you that it will deliver something what you desperately need. Right? Charisma is deeply rooted in the conditions in the situation in which a charismatic leader is being constructed by the followers. When you are in a desperate need, then you are looking for a charismatic leader which can solve this problem what you think is almost unresolvable. Then the charismatic leader will come and will promise you that this problem, that the charismatic leader will be able to solve, because of its extraordinary characteristics.

And again if I can come back again to the last elections, that was, you know, clearly the case, the way how candidate Obama was capable to win the elections. You remember one of the key words–right?–which characterized the campaign: hope, change, yes we can. I mean, these are very typical elements–right?–of a charismatic appeal. Right? You are in need, you want hope, you want to have business as not usual, you want to have a new type of business, now this is what I promise you. Right? Change and hope, and I empower you. I am the person who can empower you. Right? It can be done. Right? We can do it. Right? Yes, it can be done. Hope, change, yes can be done. These are very typical elements–right?–what a charismatic leader does produce.

In recent history other charismatic leaders, which are probably not as attractive in historical perspective as Obama, did become charismatic leaders the same way. Fidel Castro established charisma for himself. The Cuban society was in desperate need for change in 1960, and Fidel Castro appealed, and he said, “Well I will bring change to you. I will get rid of this corrupt government. I will create equality.” Right? “I will help the poor. The poor will get wealthier. I will create affluence.” Right? “I will create a just and affluent society.” Right? And therefore he came up with promises what people were looking for, and then charisma was attributed to Fidel Castro. Adolph Hitler emerged as a charismatic leader. Right? Germany suffered a humiliating defeat in the First World War.

Then it was hit with a Great Depression, which hit Germany even worse than it hit the United States. And then Adolph Hitler appealed, though he was not quite as an attractive personality as Obama; he was, you know, quite a ridiculous guy. But he actually said, “Well I can solve the problems for you.” Right? Defined an enemy; “It’s all Jewish conspiracy. We get rid of the Jews, and I will turn things around. And, you know, we will have a new empire.” And there he was capable with this problem. There was a need in the situation where people were looking for leadership, and they were looking for a strong leader, a charismatic leader, and they attributed this charismatic leadership–people to them.

The problem comes when they cannot deliver. Certainly Hitler, when the Russian troops were already fighting around Berlin, was no charismatic leader any longer. Right? He was hiding in the bunker, considering suicide, and his charisma was gone all together, because he did not deliver, he did not do the miracles–right?–and therefore his charisma was withdrawn.

Chapter 4. What About the Followers? [00:22:46]

Now about the followers. Right? He said the followers of a charismatic leader are often bound together by emotional ties, and they create an emotional community with each other. Weber uses the German term Vergemeinschaftung; they become kind of a community. There is a real religious leader with a charismatic appeal. It creates always communities of people. I don’t know if any one of you ever had experiences of some fundamentalist religious experience. I did when I was a teenager. There was a preacher–interestingly, he also did not look charismatic; he was even not a great speaker. I don’t know how on earth he had this curious charismatic appeal; but he did. He did have an impact on me. I attributed charisma to him. And he kind of created a community around himself. Right? We all were brothers and sisters together, who kind of believed in the charismatic preacher. This is very often in kind of sectarian, fundamentalist religious groups, be it Christian, or be it Muslim, be it Evangelical.

There must be people in this room–right?–who at least when they were teenagers experienced that. Right? When you are a teenager and you want to get out of your family, and you are looking for a new community; I mean, this kind of religious community is very often offered an alternative. And some of you may still be in such a community. And if you are, I envy you. I think it is–you know, as I recall, it was a wonderful experience in some ways. Vergemeinschaftung. You had your family. Right? You have your spiritual family where you belong to. Does it make any sense what I’m saying? I think there must be people–right?–who experience that or are still experiencing it. Right? So that’s what he calls Vergemeinschaftung.

Gemeinschaft means community–when the mass society relationships becomes a relationships like a community. And indeed, even in charismatic political campaign, you have this sense that we belong together in the common cause. Right? There was Vergemeinschaftung in the Civil Rights Movement–right?–where there were these charismatic leaders, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy–right?–and the whole idea of civil rights, and that we’re called together–right?–and we go to the South and we demonstrate–right?–and we demand civil rights from these bloody racists. Right? That created a sense of community among people–right?–who had this belief in change. Well and if you are actually in such a community, you have a kind of personal devotion to the leader, and there is a certain degree of enthusiasm what emerges in you–right?–which is occasionally coming out of despair, that you are desperate and then you hope to have some salvation, some solution to an irresolvable problem by the charismatic leader. That’s how in Communism charismatic leaders like Lenin or Mao or Castro emerged. Right? These were all societies in deep trouble, after humiliations, after wars, in big need for some major structural change, and then they were looking for a savior–right?–who will solve these irresolvable problems and will lead out to paradise.

Well it’s also interesting that, you know, in charismatic communities there is usually relatively little hierarchy, not all that much of a bureaucracy. Those who are actually serving the charismatic leader usually do not get salaries or benefits. It’s again true, you know, even for charismatic political leaders, that they get a whole army of volunteers; because they so strongly believe in the cause that they volunteer their time and money.

Chapter 5. Charisma as Irrationality; Charisma as a Revolutionary Force [00:27:58]

Well here comes an interesting and disturbing proposition–that he said, “Well because charisma is such an extraordinary form, it’s–as a system of charismatic authority–it is opposed to a rational and bureaucratic authority.” Right? Therefore it is kind of irrational, in the sense of being foreign to all established rules. Because what is a charismatic leader about? To change. And the change means that there will be new rules of the game, and you don’t know exactly what these rules of the games are. And this is what makes, if the charismatic authority as a whole system is operating, a high level of uncertainty to the system.

And now forget about American politics. Because in the United States we clearly have a legal-rational system–right?–that’s what characterizes the United States of America. And occasionally we see emerging politicians who actually do implement some level of change–or promise change, whether they can deliver or not–will greatly affect how long we attach charisma to these people. But from Roosevelt to JFK to Martin Luther King to Obama, there were politicians with this charismatic appeal. But the system itself was not charismatic. Right? Charisma helped leaders to get elected, and charisma actually may help a leader to be able to make some strong and important changes early in life.

Those who are critical of President Obama usually are critical of him, that he has not moving fast and forcefully enough– was not cashing in, in his charisma early–right?–in his presidency. And there is, you know, some signs that in fact, you know, his charisma, charismatic appeal is weakening. Right? There are some people who say, “Well I feel betrayed. You know? I was promised change, and I see a lot of politics as usual.” Right? So this is, of course, an inevitable problem, if a leader who has this charismatic appeal finds itself in the legal-rational authority–right?–where actually it’s very difficult to implement a change. You want to change the rules, the laws, you have to go through Congress to do that. Right? You just cannot declare that from now onwards there is a new game, rules of the game. And that is–sounds very much like politics as usual.

That’s very different from what Lenin or Mao Zedong did. Right? Lenin and Mao Zedong were not guided by rules. They established the rules. I mean, Mao Zedong is a particularly interesting character. Right? He established first a bureaucratic rule in China, and then he launches the Cultural Revolution. Right? He launches an anti-bureaucratic movement, and the top leader of the bureaucracy is becoming the major popular leader of an anti-bureaucratic movement. I mean, this guy was really quite something, quite extraordinary. And in a way he did that, you know, because his charisma was weakening by the 1960s. First he promised “a great leap forward”; you know, in no time we will catch up and we will look like the United States. And what happened with the great leap forward? Disaster; people were starving to death. So he was not delivering the miracle. So what does he does next? He shows as his–we’ll change the rules of the game. He launches the Cultural Revolution, and he suddenly becomes the leader of people who actually should be opposing him. You know, he’s generating these kind of miracles; you know, the last miracle what he’s trying to generate at old age, that he goes swimming in the Yangtze River. You see? You think I’m old and I’m dying? No, I’m superhuman, I still can swim. Right? This is the kind of–trying to rescue–right?–your charismatic appeal, where it is about to be taken away from you.

But on the whole, as we see, as they establish, these charismatic leaders, establish this charismatic system, they can change the rules. And, you know, if you look at Chinese history, every five years everything is completely different. Right? First a hundred flowers flourish. We will let–everybody will–then, you know, great leap forward; then, you know, Cultural Revolution. He’s changing the rules all the time. This is an unpredictable environment. Can the economy work in this unpredictable environment? No, it cannot. The same goes for the Nazis, and the same goes for the Stalinists. Right? It was an unpredictable environment. It was not good for business.

Business needs a predictable environment. Right? It needs the rule of law. That’s why capitalism–business at least—likes legal-rational authority. They don’t necessarily like democratic system. Right? Capitalism can live nicely with authoritarian figures. Capitalists loved Pinochet. Right? But, you know, Pinochet was, you know, reasonable legal-rational authority; I mean, at the beginning, you know, he was killing people like crazy. But then he established a reasonably predictable system and capitalists loved it, and for awhile, you know, the Chilean economy, partially advised by Milton Friedman, you know, boosted. So, I mean, what capitalism really wants is a predictable environment. And in many ways, you know, democracy is not all that good for a predictable environment, because every fourth year we go to the polls and then we elect other people, and then they come up with other ideas, and this is a bit of a mess. So really I would almost say that a good free market economy loves rule of law, with a kind of authoritarian leader and a longstanding political stability. They don’t like these big changes–right?–in the political system.

Well now and charisma as a revolutionary force. This is very important. I think Weber first of all makes a very specific argument. He said it is always in traditionalistic periods–right?–traditional authority, when charisma is the great revolutionary force. So, in fact, in a modern legal-rational authority, it is not so much charisma which carries the change through. It is technical innovation, and it is the kind of routine and boring elections every four years which brings changes by gradually and incrementally. The big change is occurring from one type of traditional authority to another type of authority, and in order to change the value system of one type of tradition to another type of tradition, that’s when you need charismatic leaders.

So he said–right?–bureaucratic rationalization is the major revolutionary force. But, you know, in a bureaucratic system like what we have, it is really a revolution from without. It is coming from technological change. We have revolution. Oh yes. I mean, the first time when I heard there is stuff like internet–email–it was 1976. And now I’m an email addict, as many of you know. You send me an email, and occasionally in five minutes you get an answer from me, because I’m always checking my email like crazy. This was all new. This was coming from the outside.

Now, charisma, on the other hand–this is very insightful, very important–it is revolution from within. What charisma is doing is changing the value systems in you. Right? That’s what charismatic leaders do achieve, to persuade you that you have to have a different kind of value system. And that’s why I think charismatic leadership does play a role, not only in traditional societies. But charismatic leaders, in a legal-rational authority, do play a role to change people’s value systems in substantial ways. Again we discussed that in discussion sections. Those who are not in my discussion sections–just let me invoke the Civil Rights Movement. Right? The Civil Rights Movement in ten years, in the United States, produced a change in value systems–our attitudes to race relationships and gender relationships–which otherwise would have taken a hundred years. Right? It happened in ten short years, that we completely rethought race and gender relationships in this country. Right? And this to a large extent demanded–right?–charismatic leaders. It demanded–right?–Martin Luther King–right?–who had a dream–right?–about a society where there can be a different type of value system. And in no time–I mean, you were too young to experience that, but your parents and grandparents experienced it, and talk to them, they will tell you–right?–how fundamentally their world outlook and looking at a person of another race, or how they began to treat women in their family, or girls in their family, how radically it changed, almost instantly. Right? Because it was a change from within. Right? That’s what charismatic revolution is all about.

Chapter 6. Problem of Routinization; Methods of Succession [00:39:26]

And well this is, of course has everything to do against routine. Charismatic is not doing things as they used to be. That’s why it is the opposite–right?–of one type of traditionalism, and the problem is what happens if the charismatic leader disappears and dies? And that’s when we have the problem how can the charismatic leader be replaced? It’s a very big issue, and there are different methods of succession. And let me just walk you through of this. It’s not quite uninteresting. It can be search. It can be by revelation. It can be designation by the original leader. It can be designation by a staff, which is particularly qualified to decide who the next charismatic leader will be. The issue is how can you maintain a charismatic system going on? It can be hereditary, that some hereditary line is established. And it can be office charisma; the office itself can carry charisma.

Now let me just briefly talk to each one of these. Search. Well the best example is how you find a Dalai Lama. Right? It happens through a search. The Dalai Lama dies. You know that the Dalai Lama is reincarnated. So you send out people and looking for a child who is the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. There must be just one child who is the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. And then you have experts, who can tell, go around and then they find this child. This is the new Dalai Lama, and then it will be brought up, and will become the Dalai Lama and, of course, will have a great deal of charisma. And you can see it works. The Dalai Lama does have a lot of charisma. Right? Well whether you believe in reincarnation or not, that’s another story. Probably most people in this room do not believe in it, but if you do not believe in it, even more miraculous why the Dalai Lama has this quite extraordinary charisma. There are people who just get wild if they can get near to the Dalai Lama. I had a student in Taiwan who actually turned into a Buddhist and became a great follower of the Dalai Lama. He got a Ph.D. from UCLA, but he’s following; wherever the Dalai Lama goes, he’s always there. Because he has this charisma. His charisma is attributed to him. Right? He was found in the right way, and he was established as a charismatic leader.

It can happen through revelation. Revelation actually means that there are some people who are believed to have some kind of access to some divine authority who can declare that this is a person who is the next charismatic leader. Well I don’t think in contemporary world revelation is all that much. Though, I mean, newspapers do it for you. Right? The newspapers do create charismatic leaders for you. They attach charisma, they build up the charismatic powers of a person; the media does it for you. And certainly the charisma attributed to rock stars–right?–rock stars do have charisma, right?–is created through the media. The media has the oracle. Right? He knows who the great guys are and whom you have to get absolutely excited when you get to the concert.

Well, there can be a designation by the original leader. If the charismatic leader is dying, then the charismatic leader has a problem to find a successor. That’s very difficult to do, because charismatic leaders are bloody scared that if they designate a leader then they will be poisoned or murdered. Or the new leader wants to take it over–too often, very often, we see charismatic leaders designating leaders and then murdering them. That’s a long history in humankind. But, you know, an interesting example was that Stalin tried to build up his charisma by faking a testimonial of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, in which assumedly Lenin said that Stalin will be the successor. This was all a lie. Lenin actually disliked Stalin a great deal and was very reluctant to name a successor. But he forged this letter and tried to say, “Well I inherited the charisma.” And he had a lot of problems actually to establish his charisma. Eventually, in fact during the Second World War, he managed to emerge as a charismatic leader, and not only in the Soviet Union but even in the West. There’s a lot of people in the United States, as the Soviet Army defeated the Germans, first in Moscow and then of course in Stalingrad, that they began to see Stalin as a great leader–right?–as a charismatic great leader. But he probably had nothing to do with the success of the Red Army.

Well, or it can be designated by a qualified staff. This is the way how, for instance, the Pope is being selected; and the pope does have–right?–a charismatic authority. If you are Roman Catholic, you know that the Pope has some access to God, what you, ordinary Roman Catholics, do not have. And how is–but it’s going on from one Pope to the next. The character of the Pope will matter. Right? There are some more, you know, charming, more persuasive popes, whom you see more of charismatic leaders. There are other popes who are more like bureaucrats. But nevertheless, even the bureaucratic kind of popes, are assumed to be charismatic and they are selected by a designated staff. There is a certain set of archbishops; when one pope dies, they gather together in Rome, and they cannot leave, you know, the room until they agree, they achieve a consensus, who is the other person who will have this special relationship to God. Right?

There is also hereditary charisma, that you try to pass charisma on through your children–very hard to do. North Korea is trying to do that. Right? Kim Il-sung passed his charisma on to Kim Jong-il, which is an absolutely ridiculous guy. But nevertheless, you know, somehow it looks like, you know, that in Korea he does have some kind of charismatic appeal. So, I mean, this is not totally impossible. I mean, it’s a bad idea, you know, if you are a charismatic leader to pass charisma on this way.

Finally office charisma–this is very important. Incumbents of an office is supposed to have some charisma, depending on the office. But the office of the Pope, of course, is supposed to have charisma. But we actually do use this very often. We do–well in the United States we call this leadership. Right? That we expect people in position of certain authorities to offer leadership–to have vision, right? And this is a kind of a charisma which goes with the office.

And, you know, I have been department chair quite a few times, and it’s so interesting moving into the position of department chair and moving out of it. Your relationship to your colleagues changes a great deal. You know, when you are the department chair, there is– certainly some charisma is attributed to you. Right? You are supposed to offer some kind of leadership, and you are believed to be able to bring in some change. I just remember, you know, one of the institutions when I was an incoming outside chair, how people said, “Oh, you came in like fresh air.” Well in two years’ time it was all gone. I was not fresh air. I was routine. You know, I was operating in a bureaucracy, massaging the bureaucracy to get things done. My charisma was all gone. But there is, right?–I think it’s a very American thing, right?–that you attach expectations to incumbents of the office, that it can actually carry out change, bring in fresh air–right?–to have a vision and to do things better than it was done before. Okay, that’s about charisma. Thank you.

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