Experts’ Impact on World Politics
The alternative to the “great and unmatched wisdom” of the charismatic leader is the rationality of the expert. This is why economists, lawyers, engineers and doctors are the backbone of the modern forms of rational government. The problem with experts is, however, that they lack the legitimacy that the popular support bestows upon the charismatic leader. This unavoidable tension between rationality and charisma takes peculiar forms in world politics. While charisma and democratic legitimacy possess limited significance – truly charismatic global leaders like Greta Thunberg are unlikely to take office in an international organization – experts play a prominent – and contested – role in international organizations like the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The tension between rationality and charisma also adopts other, more subtile forms. Even international NGOs that are supposedly born out of grass-roots movements, and often rely on the charisma of prominent activists, also need to resort to experts in fundraising, finance, or health in order to ascertain the most rational means to achieve their goals. The two presentations show how financial institutions and NGOs try to cope with the unavoidability of heeding to experts.
Moderated by Álvaro Morcillo Laiz, WZB
This event will be held in English without translation into German.