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Soviet relations of domination: legitimate or illegitimate?

Sowjetische Machtbeziehungen: legitim oder nicht legitim?
[working paper]

Armbruster, Chris

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Abstract 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-à-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; USSR; communism; totalitarianism; Nazism; imperialism; Weber, M.; historical development; twentieth century; dictatorship; democracy; fascism
Classification Political System, Constitution, Government; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Method historical; theory application
Free Keywords Domination; power; legitimacy; Soviet empire; terror; totalitarianism; goalrational legitimation; eudaemonic legitimacy; legal-rational domination
Document language English
Publication Year 2005
City Berlin
Page/Pages 26 p.
Status Published Version; not reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works