Of course those reasons are not exclusive nor all there is to it. And obviously many modern politicians would state that they do both—living for, and from, politics at the same time. Ethically, what might be best for the masses are politicians who live only “for” politics. Why? Well, by having people in politics who don’t worry about what they can take from it and only think about what they can do to improve society, we are all best served.
In modern democratic systems only those who are really wealthy are supposedly in a position to enter politics immune to personal pressures of economic vulnerability affecting their decision-making and susceptibility to bribes and the like.
The irony of this hierarchy of political morality reveals social consequences. If the professional politician’s job is best suited to someone who is not influenced by their day-to-day financial situation, then it follows professional politicians should be independently wealthy.
Yet do independently wealthy and propertied politicians reflect the social and economic realities of the less well off? No. This is because the group interests of those with independent wealth generally align with the interests of those with money and property.
CLICO and HCU are two examples of professional politicians supporting the status quo over the greater good and leaves the question: is it the propertyless or the property owner who is best suited morally to improving social order? The previous profession of a politician is also significant in who becomes a professional politician.
One reason so many lawyers become politicians isn’t a takeover of politics to enact greater billing powers; rather it is a reflection of social realities. For example, it is rare for an entrepreneur or businessperson in their prime to become a politician. Such people are mostly irreplaceable in the context of their enterprise or business, just as many scientists are indispensable to their research projects and aren’t generally found as professional politicians either.
Lawyers, on the other hand, are over-represented as politicians. One reason is that on the whole, lawyers can make the career change. Also, historically, lawyers’ professional interests and training have grown alongside the development of modern politics and the division of labour. Of course, the field of law has produced many great heroes and fighters for social change.
Nonetheless, on the whole law—like the civil service—is the bureaucratic administration of political domination. Someone has to do the paperwork of government and provide legality, or the whole system of “who gets, what, when, and where” falls into violence.
In this light, that Ferguson and Galbaransingh might get off because of a Section 34 blunder, and hundreds of young black men were incarcerated during the SOE without due process become two sides of the same coin.
They demonstrate what happens when class interests, politics and the law meet—as they do in government. The rich can get off on legal technicalities, while the poor have their rights taken away completely. It highlights the way politics works in the interests of certain groups over others.
So what is to be done? For Weber the point was: the type of politicians we have determines the type of social world we have. In this sense politics needs morality put into it rather than a “morality all of its own.” Unfortunately the only people Weber suggested as moral examples for professional politicians were Jesus and St Francis of Assisi.
And that was his point. The social world and the political world feed into each other. The social background of our politicians, the characteristics of the professions they come from, and their class interests all shape the world they make and we have to live in.
Simply put, if we don’t put the right mix of ingredients into the political system we won’t get the social changes we want and need out of it.