26 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2005
Date Written: August 25, 2005
Questions of domination and power, legitimacy and legitimation have driven 20th century research on dictatorship and democracy, on totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, on fascism and communism and even on capitalism versus socialism. Reference to Max Weber's ideal-types of legitimate domination was universal, but the prior logical distinction between legitimate and illegitimate domination remained unexamined. Hence Soviet relations of domination were appraised as total, goal-rational, new traditionalist and eudaemonic but never was the legitimacy of relations of command and obedience examined closely, not even in the light of the scope, duration and intensity of Stalinist terror. We propose such a re-examination here and conclude that as a consequence of the terror Soviet (imperial) relations of domination were illegitimate. We buttress this hypothesis through a historical comparison between the Soviet, National Socialist and Chinese communist case; by contrasting it with the most theoretically informed contemporary appraisal of the Soviet path after Stalin's death; and by defending the excess content of the new hypothesis vis-a-vis such notions as total domination, goal-rational legitimation, new traditionalist legitimacy and eudaemonic legitimacy. Our discussion challenges sociology to develop a general theory of domination as a social relation - as begun by Max Weber but never completed.
Keywords: Domination, Power, Legitimacy, Legitimation, Soviet empire, terror, totalitarianism, goal-rational legitimation, eudaemonic legitimacy, legal-rational domination
JEL Classification: H70, N44, P20, P30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation