Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Dangerous Sway of Charisma and Charismatic Salvation


Max Weber in his book, Economy and Society, defined charismatic leaders as those who are "set apart from ordinary [people] and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least exceptional powers and qualities... [that] are not accessible to the ordinary person but are regarded as divine or as exemplary."

It's often when things are at their worst, when we find ourselves in a dependent state that we look to leaders to bail us out. This is when we are at our most vulnerable. This is the time when we must beware of those with all the answers, who make us feel good, who offer hope as if they are that hope.

We should look for leaders who encourage us to work with each other, who are realistic, and who may not always have the answer or make us feel warm and fuzzy all over.


Nationalism, patriotism, celebrity worship are all examples of referent powerwhich is individual power based on the power-holder's ability to sway people and shape the future by their sheer presence and personality. It's the ability to captivate the masses by spell-bounding charisma. It is foolish and can be very dangerous, especially in a celebrity culture like ours. More than ever before, leadership should not rest upon the shoulders of one individual.

Knowing what we know about Hitler now, it's very hard to imagine his power to captivate; however, as the following pictures demonstrate, he certainly did.

"Some observers have suggested that in the presence of charismatics, followers can experience inspiration, empowerment, and even awe. Those states are created by specific acts undertaken by leaders--behaviors such as dramatizing a mission, assuring followers of their competency, projecting self-assurance, and enhancing their own image. Other accounts of charismatic leaders unabashedly assert that leaders need to engage in impression management, in image building, and in manipulation of meaning in order to bind "subordinates" closely to them and to their vision. It's no wonder, then, that charismatic leaders are granted enormous license to direct an organization--be that in a direction of pro- or anti-social practices".

The Brown House in Munich


Hitler's 50th birthday


Pictures from "The Hitler No One Knows"

2 comments:

Anonymous,  02:40  

Cool pictures of Hitler!!

Roth's stepchild 15:47  

LOL...well, I don't know how cool they are, but I think they do illuminate Hitler's power to captivate the people. Something that's hard to grasp looking back in retrospect.

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