Blog 3: Weber! (And a Dash of Marx)

All in all, Weber was a difficult reading to grasp. However, what I did get from it I was able to connect to Marx a bit. On page 170, it says “…the earning of more and more money, combined with the strict avoidance of all spontaneous enjoyment of life…Man is dominated by the making of money, by acquisition as the ultimate purpose of his life”. On page 170, there’s talk of how ” money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on” (oh, sounds familiar). On 174, it’s stated that “Labour must, on the contrary, be performed as if it were an absolute end in itself, a calling”. These quotes make me think of two things. The first being that the bourgeoisie that Marx talks about must have looked good in God’s eyes. Weber talks about how the religious belief that labour and acquiring wealth was a neccesity in order to be saved and it was only good if the money was accumulated, but not for luxuries. Well, if we put aside the fact of the luxurious lives the upperclassmen lead, we do see that they are obsessed with making money, and they don’t waste anytime making it. Which is good, because apparent;y wasting anytime that can be put to labor is a sin! This also ties in with the second point I realized, which was that the concept of M-C-M ties into the quote I found on page 170. The bourgeoisie start with the M for money and end with that M. It doesn’t end up going to a commodity as it does for the proletariats. In some ways it seems that the bourgeoisie might be going to heaven, while the proleteriat might end upin hell! Simply because they want some enjoyment from their hard work, the poor saps. However, I do realize that the bourgeoisie doe have their own selfish pleasures so they are notso innocent, although Weber does bring up the point that this religious belief did, ironically, set the up the foundation for the secular capitalism we have today, where money and luxuries rule the world.

A big difference that I saw between Marx and Weber was quite clear on page 194. Like Marx, Weber agrees that there are two class situations: the “property” and the :lack of property”. But Weber does what Marx failed to do, and that is to break up these two into subgroups. There are many ways to own property and many ways to be without property, so Marx’s simple generalizations might not be too helpful all the time.

Finally, I found Weber’s three pure types of authority interesting, especially the charismatic type. And wouldn’t you know it, I right away thought of good old Marx. I wondered if perhaps his proletariats were sort of like charismatic authorities because they’re sort of like revolutionaries. Marx thinks they should break away from authority and such,. But eventually won’t they have to set up a kind of government similar to that of the bourgeoisie? Eventually won’t they have to become a rational authority? So it seems that charismatic authorities are not permanent figures, but simply ones of change that eventually become either the traditional or rational authority.

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One response to “Blog 3: Weber! (And a Dash of Marx)

  1. First-rate analysis, K. Your post touches on several fascinating and critical themes. Regarding Marx (and the circuits of capital), the key distinction between the bourgeoisie and proletariat is the ownership of capital. Only owners, the bourgeoisie, can tap into the circuits of capital (See here for a good breakdown: http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/c/i.htm). They can buy labor power, a commodity, and exploit it to extract surplus value, to make money that is reinvested in more commodities (C’ – M’ – C’). Proletariats, on the other hand, must immediately “consume” their money/wages. That’s the key difference — they can never accumulate capital. They need their wages for subsistence. Therefore, as you note, according to the Protestant Ethic, they appear to lack the grace the God.

    But Weber already in his time saw how the European middle and upper classes had departed from strict Protestant ethical practice, Being industriousness was initially practiced as an end in itself; devotion to one’s calling was supposed to be an end in itself. Over time, wealth was accumulated as a means to other ends, for status, for the pleasure of consumption; it was *instrumentalized*.

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