TITLE: Caesarism in Democratic Politics: Reflections on Max Weber
SPEAKER: Gerhard Casper
EVENT DATE: 2007/03/22
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
President Emeritus of Stanford University Gerhard Casper, who recently occupied the Chair of American Law and Governance in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, talks about Caesarism in democratic politics. Casper believes that the concept of Caesarism, political absolutism or dictatorship, was of considerable importance to Max Weber, the German political economist and sociologist considered to be one of the founders of the modern study of sociology. "In reading Weber one cannot help but be struck by the relevance to our own historical situation. As we encounter Caesarist tendencies in contemporary politics, what Weber has to say about 'governance' is anything but theoretical," says Casper.
Speaker Biography: Gerhard Casper served as president of Stanford from 1992 to 2000. He is currently the Peter and Helen Bing Professor in Undergraduate Education at Stanford. He is also a professor of law, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a professor of political science (by courtesy). Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1937, Casper studied law at the universities of Freiburg and Hamburg, where he earned his first law degree. He received a master's in law from Yale in 1962 and eventually earned his doctorate in law from Freiburg in 1964. He has been awarded honorary doctorates, most recently in law from Yale and in philosophy from Uppsala University in Sweden. Following his immigration to the United States, Casper was assistant professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley from 1964 to 1966. He then joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School, and between 1979 and 1987 served as dean of the law school. In 1989, Casper was appointed provost of the University of Chicago. Casper has taught and written extensively in the fields of constitutional law, constitutional history, comparative law and jurisprudence. From 1977 to 1991, he was an editor of The Supreme Court Review. His books include a monograph on legal realism (1967); an empirical study of the Supreme Court's workload (1976, with Richard A. Posner); "Separating Power" (1997), concerning the separation of powers practices at the end of the 18th century in the United States; and "Cares of the University" (1997), about the Stanford presidency. He is also the author of numerous scholarly articles.