Who Makes War and Who Likes Peace? a Weberian Sociological Perspective on Wars in History and Today

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Max HALLER, University of Graz, Austria, Austria
The paper is a contribution from the perspective of Weberian sociology which starts from two assumptions: First, social actions are always guided by interests and by values; second, sociology has to focus on social actions. It will present three theses: (1) The widespread absolute confrontation between pacifism and political „realism“ is misleading. Peace is a universal human value, but striving for peace must also take into consideration other social values (according to an ethics of responsibility, against an absolute ethics of conviction; Weber). (2) There is a long-term trend toward peace which is supported by other processes of civilization, because peace is in the interest of the population at large, while the initiation of wars is mainly in the interest of leaders and elites (the famous thesis of Kant that democracy is the most important base for perpetual peace on earth). The long peace in Europe since 1945 is due not to European integration but to the establishment of democracies; (3) Many kinds of actions by political leaders (hatred speeches, distortion of information, arms build-up) prepare wars. In the paper, I will (1) develop a sociological-historical typology of wars which distinguishes them in terms of their motives and character; (2) show that large wars between states are on decline. But two new forms emerged: More local wars, connected to ethnic and religious cleavages; such war are more frequent in authoritarian political systems; wars of Western democracies (particularly the USA) against aggressive or threating dictators; here, we must also include massive economic interests as factors leading to wars); (c) ethno-national wars for independence and presupposed threats from in- and outside (as in Israel, Africa); (3) investigate the warmongering actions of leaders in the present-day world.