Camilla Emmenegger 1
  • 1 University of Turin, Campus Luigi Einaudi, Lungo Dora Siena, 100, 10153 Torino

Max Weber on Russia: Between Modern Freedom and Ethical Radicalism

2019, vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 89–106 [issue contents]
The Weberian writings on the Russian Revolutions have been mostly overlooked by scholars, and treated as secondary within the large corpus of Max Weber’s sociological and political texts. Nonetheless, they deal with a central question in Weber’s work: the destiny of freedom in late modernity. While questioning the chances of success of the liberal struggle in Russia, Weber turns back to the moment in which modern freedom emerged in history, singling out the specific conditions that made it possible. Among these, a very central (although also very neglected) role is played by what Weber calls “a particular religious viewpoint.” Instead of being a result of economic development (Weber refuses the thesis according to which capitalism is necessarily emancipatory and bounded to democracy), or of an idea of tol-erance grounded on indifference (as a certain interpretation of liberalism would suggest), modern freedom has its cen-tral birthplace in religious radicalism, in particular in the puritan one. Weber seems to suggest that modern (that is, negative) freedom is born in a position of ethical intransigence, when religious virtuosi refuse to obey to political (i.e. worldly) authority in order to follow their own conscience, that is God’s voice. In order to better comprehend this pecu-liar link, the article investigates the Weberian conception of modern freedom as it emerges from his writings on Russia, seeking to deepen the relationship between modern freedom and ethical radicalism.
Citation: Emmenegger C. (2019) Max Weber on Russia: Between Modern Freedom and Ethical Radicalism. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 18, no 2, pp. 89-106
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