"A certain quality of an individual personality…"

Interesting piece by Charles Oakland at Conservatives4Palin about Sarah Palin’s charisma. More specifically, it’s an examination of just what charisma is and why Palin appears to have it. I am, of course, delighted to see other people discussing the phenomenon of charisma, as I have done so myself very often on this blog.

It’s piece worth reading, in my opinion, regardless of your views on either Sarah Palin or Mr. Oakland.* Putting the political aspects of the thing aside, it is a very interesting read, and touches on many of the same points I have in my ongoing blogging about charisma.

Having said all that, I have to confess that I’m shocked that one could write such a long article on the nature of charisma and not mention the work of Max Weber, who is probably the primary reason we have the word charisma today. But quite apart from that, Weber’s writings are indispensable for understanding the concept of charisma. As he described it, charisma is:

“…a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which one is “set apart” from ordinary people and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These as such are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as divine in origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader.” 

No question, the religious origins of the word are indeed important, and Oakland is surely right to discuss it. But Weber has studied the implications of charisma with particular regard to politics, and therefore it is surely worth mentioning his efforts in an examination of a political figure’s charisma.

*For those readers who really don’t enjoy reading words of extreme adoration for Sarah Palin, you only have to read the article from the passage beginning: “As some readers know, my interests also include languages and biblical studies….”

2 Comments

  1. Ugh, that was hard to get through without a bit of vomit.Does charisma include sex appeal? I am going to guess that if Palin looked like Janet Reno, she'd be gutting moose way up North, and not in any political arena.Once again, ugh.

  2. That's an excellent point. I have noticed that there seem to be far fewer women who are widely considered charismatic than there are men. I suspect this to be because of a sexist double-standard; though whether it is a double-standard based on looks or based on a sexist attitude towards women in positions of power generally, I can't tell.

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