Adorno on Weber

“Within the economic sector, Weber asks whether the understanding of the administration for the objective problems which they have to solve is equal to the powers which they weild. This is so because precise factual knowledge in their field is a matter of immediate economic existence: ‘errors in official statistics bring no direct consequences for the guilt official; errors in the calculation of capitalist concern result in losses to the firm, indeed, perhaps even in the loss of its existence’ (p. 673). However, the question regarding the competence of bureaucracies, formulated by Weber in regard to economics, has in the meantime magnified in scope to the same degree as has administration itself within society. This question becomes critical in the cultural sphere. Weber touches upon what is coming in a parenthetical remark without realizing the significance of his observation, made over forty years ago during the conception of his great work. Within the highly-specialised context of the educational-sociological annotation to this chapter on bureaucracy he mentions that the possession of educational patents increasingly represents talent — or ‘charisma’, for the spiritual cost of educational patents is always slight and does not particularly decrease with mass production (p.676). According to this thought, the irrational mission which is not planned progressively withdraws from the spirit itself, while this remains a mission for which the spirit is uniquely suited according to the traditional views. […] Inseperable from this, however, is the obligatory increase of administrative control in regions in which administration is without objective competence. Specialists must exercise authority in fields in which they cannot be professionally qualified, while their particular aptitude in abstractly technical matters of administration is needed in order that the organization continue to function.”

— Adorno, “Culture and Administration” (1978[1972))