Ideal Types of Authorities

Last Updated: 30 Mar 2021
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Ideal Types of Authorities

According to Max Weber, there are three kinds of authority: the legal rational authority, the charismatic authority and the traditional authority. President Nixon, Adolf Hitler and Moroccan Monarch Hassan II were all great leaders. However, the source of their powerful domination and their political leadership differ from one to another. In fact, considering a “Weberian” classification, we will consider Nixon as a legal rational leader, Hitler as a charismatic leader and Hassan II as a traditional leader.

In this paper, we will try to emphasize the characteristics of each one of them based on their domestic or foreign policies. And then we will see their resemblance and similarities. Richard Milhous Nixon was sworn in as president on November 5, 1968 with only five hundred fifty thousand votes more than the Democratic candidate, and Vice-President under Johnson administration, Hubert Humphrey. (Strober & Strober, 2003) According to Weber: “Rulership is seen to rest on legal authority.

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As citizens of constitutional governments we assent to authority because its powers are based on procedures and institutions which have been legally enacted. (Whimster, 2004) Nixon is a legal rational leader since his authority is tied to the American government that is a rational and bureaucratic institution. As he was putting his administration together, “Nixon was always bringing in new people…this was one of the keys to his success. ” He chose to work with a small group of assistants, advisors “and his longtime secretary Rose Mary Woods. ” Nixon had a simple, but efficient philosophy: to bring in new blood to his administration. “He understood that people can perform up to a certain level; then they may lose interest, or may get bored.

Moreover, one of his biggest strength was his political foresight. “Some of the best political minds of the past twenty years have been Nixon’s finds. ” (Strober & Strober, 2003) Domestically, Nixon believed in equality in the repartition of civil rights. He insisted that the country should help black people and that “the answer was to give them a chance to be capitalists - not just jobs” but figure out a way to have them involved in the American economy and the capitalist system.

Afterwards, black people began to have more ‘office’ jobs and less hysical or illegal jobs, for instance “they became employers and tax payers,” which “shifts the whole burden in the economy. ” Nixon also believed that although it was not necessarily a good political move because it will not get the administration any votes, they “will do it, because it’s the right thing to do. He had a conviction that that was something that needed to be done. ” Subsequently, the program was called Minority Business and was expanded to “four ethnic groupings of people in the United States that are considered by the Congress to be minorities: blacks, Hipics, Asians, and American Indians. It was a success but what Nixon mostly saw in it was what he called “an equal Place at the starting line. ” Nixon continued to fulfill his domestic policy, and one of his most remarkable works in this area is clearly the integration of the South. His “administration had to desegregate the school systems” they tend to do it in a diplomatic way in order not to impose radical changes on very conservative people in the South. “And by 1972, the South had some of the most integrated systems in the country.

This whole integration issue made Nixon very popular in the South. (Strober & Strober, 2003) Furthermore, Nixon brought reforms to ex-President Johnson’s Health care system. In Nixon’s proposal on health care systems, he proposed a health insurance coverage that everyone would benefit from and created the Environmental Protection Agency. According to Max Weber “The charismatic leader gains and maintains authority solely by proving his strength in life. If he wants to be a prophet, he must perform miracles; if he wants to be a warlord, he must ‘prove’ itself in that those who faithfully surrender to him must fare well.

If they do not fare well, he is obviously not the master sent by the gods. ” (Weber, 1946) Thus, Weber’s notion of “Charismatic leadership” perfectly suits Adolf Hitler. Since he joined the German Worker’s Party in 1919, he generated a cult around his person. In 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of the third Reich and in the same year the Reichstag passed the “Enabling act of 1933” that gave Hitler full power.

Moreover, after the death of the president Eidenburg, Hitler became Fuhrer of the 3rd Reich, which is the fusion of Chancellor and president. Nicholls, 2011) therefore, he was the leader of the “German nation defined in racial terms…he was the leader for whom people had been waiting: The Hitler Myth. ” People placed him above every sacred thing in their lives; then it made “it possible for him to retain his status as charismatic leader. ” Traditional authority rests on “an established belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions and the legitimacy of those exercising authority under them. ” (Swedberg, 2005) Hence, this kind of rulership “involves subjects accepting rule because the king or chief has always exercised power. (Whimster, 2004) This definition is applicable on the deceased king of Morocco Hassan II. His reign extended from 1961 until his dead in 1999 after he had inherited the throne from the Alaouite dynasty generally and from his father Mohammed V in particular. Hassan II was a conservative; he established the first Moroccan constitution in 1963 and it granted him with large powers. Hassan II and Adolf Hitler were both characterized by their strong rulership. Hitler was a dictator who transformed the Weimar Republic into a totalitarian regime known as the third Reich.

Thereafter, he drove the whole nation into World War II. On the other hand, Hassan II whose methods also were too radical, if not to say dictatorial, was at the head of an authoritarian government or a disguised dictatorship. Under it people did not enjoy their civil rights, they lived a dark period called “years of lead” because of the brutality, the assassination such as the case of Ben Barka who was kidnapped from a pubic area in Paris, and the deportations to Tazmamarte prison.

Otherwise, although Hitler was a dictator, he came to power in a legal manner when his party the National Socialist German Workers Party came at the head of the electoral vote with 43. 9% in 1933. Unlike Nixon and Hassan II, Hitler is very segregationist and he was willing to fulfill his pan-Germanist ideology to gather German origin people in one country. He eradicated black people, Jews and the disabled while Hassan II gave the same rights to Moroccan Jews and Muslims, and Nixon established health care programs for ill and disabled people. Nicholls, 2011) Furthermore, Nixon, Hassan II and Hitler had different foreign policies.

The keyword of Nixon’s foreign affairs was ‘overture. ’ As soon as installed in the White House along with Kissinger, his National Security Advisor, Nixon planned to withdraw from the War in Vietnam. Nixon firmly believed that “the American policy should be one that stressed the withdrawal of external forces. ” (Lee & Haynsworth, 2002) Hassan II was an ally of the West especially the USA; he also was a intermediate between the Arab world and Israel. (Dalle, 2011).

However, Hitler’s plan was to eliminate all Germany’s enemies especially France and the USSR. He also planed to make Germany economically self-sufficient by series of territorial conquests in Central Europe, France and USSR. (Nicholls, 2011) In conclusion, we may say that according to Weber notions of ideal types of authorities and kinds of leaders, Nixon is a rational legal leader, Hitler is a charismatic figure and Hassan II is a traditional leader. However, we also notice that these classifications are not radical; therefore, one leader can fit in two or all the types of Weber’s ideal type of authority.

Consequently, in our case, Hassan II and Nixon are also charismatic figures in addition to their original classification. Even though people believe Hitler came to power with brutality and terror, he actually became chancellor in a legal democratic way. In 1933, the national Socialist German Worker’s party won the popular vote and then Hitler was appointed Chancellor. Then he used manipulative (Reichstag incendiary) and brutal ways (imprisonment of political opponent) to become the Reich Fuhrer. Thus, Hitler was also a legal rational leader once he became chancellor of Germany.

Otherwise, Weber’s classification of types of authorities does not mean that each category of leaders share the same values and govern with the same manner. Indeed, Both Hitler and Nixon were charismatic, and legal rational leaders, yet Nixon was an ardent defender of Human and civil rights. He launched programs of desegregations and health care systems, and withdrew the American troops from Vietnam. On the other hand, Hitler started World War II and invaded several countries such as France and Poland. Further, he was responsible of the holocaust and created a segregationist program of pan-Germanism to gather German people in Germany.


  • Dalle, I. (2011). Hassan II: entre tradition et absolutisme.
  • Paris: Fayard. Nicholls, D. (2003).Adolf Hitler: A Biographical Companion.
  •  Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. Swedberg, R. , & Agevall, O. (2005).The Max Weber dictionary: key words and central concepts.
  • Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Social Sciences. Weber, M. , Gerth, H. H. , & Mills, C. W. (1946).From Max Weber: Essays in sociology . New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Weber, M. , & Whimster, S. (2004). The essential Weber: a reader. London: Routledge.

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