Charisma, Obama and Weber: A Discussion

Two things.  Here’s an interesting conversation between Paul Price and Craig Calhoun over at Societas:

In another conversation with Paul Price, Craig Calhoun continues his analysis of supposedly irrational factors at play in electoral politics. This time they focus on charisma: to what extent is Barack Obama’s unique mix of political passion and a cool demeanor the source of his political appeal? Referring to Max Weber’s model of charismatic leadership, Calhoun notes that Obama has the gift of making us see him as someone who stands outside the traditional structures of government-and therefore someone who can help Americans break the “iron cage” of bureaucracy, politics-as-usual and dominant social roles.

Click here to listen to the discussion.  Also, here’s a CFP for the Lighthearted Philosophers Society. Continue reading

Craig Calhoun on Cosmopolitanism

Over at the Immanent Frame and Societas: The Blog, Craig Calhoun has a series of posts on the issue of cosmopolitanism:

Cosmopolitanism and the Ideal of Postsecular Public Reason.

The notion of religion as somehow private has informed the modern era in a host of ways. Most are misleading but also constitutive of social practices and understandings.

It is not that religion simply was in every sense private. On the contrary, from the Social Gospel to Vatican II and Liberation Theology, as well as in more conservative forms it was recurrently part of both national and international public life. The distinction is not that of personal piety from more outward forms of religious practice, though this has been a significant distinction. Indeed, established churches have suffered some of the greatest declines in religious adherence. Religion has flourished most where it has felt like a personal commitment, but this has not meant that it had no public implications. The rest is here.

Cosmopolitanism in the Modern Social Imaginary (Part 1 of 3).

One day in the early 1980s, I was riding in the backseat of an old Land Rover through the desert southwest of Khartoum. There was no road but the landscape, mostly flat, was marked by the occasional saint’s tomb distinctive to Sudanese Islam. My companions and I hadn’t seen another vehicle for a couple of hours when one appeared as a tiny dot on the horizon. It was headed our way and as is typical both cars slowed down to see who else might be passing through the seemingly empty desert. My curiosity was mild – I had been in the Sudan only a month or two and didn’t think I’d know anyone – until I realized that in fact I did know the face looking back at me through the window of the other Land Rover. It was my friend Vaughan, an Oxford classmate from years earlier. We both shouted and our cars stopped. The rest is here.