Through Weber’s ideal types, some might wonder why people have affective actions of romanizing hard labour or their calling, and why people use value-rational action to value a calling or a set of verses that may be used to turn their very bodies as cogs in a machine? Why must people undergo instrumental-rational action to attain payments through highly bureaucratic, yet Protestant ways…couldn’t there be other ways of gaining monies? Why do people follow traditional actions that revolve around religion or the dogma of religion that may be purposeful to manipulate people into giving away their gains. These concepts or ideal types are used for analysis, the answer to these questions revolve around the Protestant Ethic or what some people today may perceive as Austerity. In the video, the host talked about people never thinking of working for a greedy minority, but when the doctrine if austerity was used and preached, they would change their mind and give up some of their assets to appease the greedy. Weber used Verstehe, he would be able to dissect that such modern austerity and the Protestant Ethic were mechanisms for control and he would also note that if if a doctor of Austerity said, “this would hurt”, it would affect the lives of people and their saving tremendously. In the video, “The Meaning of “Austerity”, one can recognize that the preachers tried to persuade countries that they should be austere, or basically happy with the little pleasure they have. The IMF reformers used this concept of austerity to get people to be comfortable with what they have, then use the public monies for personal debt solutions, this is all to similar to Weber’s writing, “From The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904).” In this writing Weber’s states, “One of the fundamental elements of the spirit of modern capitalism, and not only of that but of all modern culture: rational conduct on the basis of the idea of the calling, was born – that is what this discussion has sought to demonstrate – from the spirit of Christian asceticism.”(From The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904),Weber) In this quote, Weber explains how people are swayed to rationally work. These people were still swayed irrationally by religion as if to be a cog in machine was one’s calling, not some rational mechanism for the nobility to gain riches. The IMF is not different from these clergymen of austerity, they’ve even went so far to change the constitution of a Brazil to push their money grabbing agenda. On the other hand, the Puritan elite used the bible to maintain their capitalistic greed. The use of sacred doctrines to get people to be swayed by Protestant ethnic was cunning, and it allows for more manipulation. This is probably why Weber thought of religion as an evil entity, he knew that people found religion sacred and thus could be manipulated by it. In the video the host even mentioned the oligarchy of austerity using their manipulation to “earn” so much cash, that the only way for the austere people to survive was to have an illegal cocoa business. This is very similarly to the spirit of old Calvinism, for the religion was used in a way to allow people to make some money via their calling, but not enough that they would become “wickedly” wealthy. They were to stay poor for the capitalistic interests of their superiors or tricksters. This would allow a surplus value for their superiors and keep them as cogs in a machine only to be used for an an increase in monies. Similarly the IMF, explains government austerity measures by using the amounts of public monies to pay off the country’s debt or theirs, at the same time this very IMF doesn’t t mind manipulating the illegal and surplus valued business of the austere to fill their bank accounts. In the modern or old eras, the cash amounts are still in the favor of the greedy, and the people remain as brainwashed “cogs”. Lastly, the host explains the lock step trend of the government to ask for austerity from the people after instances of debt, there is also a lock step of asceticism in the Puritan age from the Protestant Reformation. The very business that Martin Luther tried to dismantle failed. What was once a business of getting saved by giving away your monies to the Catholic Church, prior to Reformation, became adhering to your calling in the Puritan age. This allowed the wicked of Capitalism to spread as people became coaxed into callings made for them to work well and fail in terms of wealth…..all for their superiors.
Source, youtube video, “The Meaning of “Austerity”
Marx’s theory of Alienation is surprisingly common when looking into our social structure in the U.S. Being a capitalist country, we developed a mode of production that deprives humans of being “human”. Workers are basically drones, gears in a grand industrial clock, where they are emotionless and have only one output which is labor. What is the point of constantly grinding out work, the same thing day in and day out, if you can’t enjoy life. It’s unfortunate that this net, that is alienation, has caught so many people and exploited them. However, as seen in history many times over, revolution seems to cure, even if only for a short time, the proletariat’s epidemic. I would assume that in order to achieve a “fresh start” that overcoming bureaucracy would be necessary and as time passes it seems more and more difficult. Alienation of the worker is spreading and it looks as if we are drifting further away from humanism.
Durkheim and Marx both held different opinions about Capitalism, specifically the modern division of labor. Marx was a conflict theorist and argued that the division of labor resulted in alienation, he mainly focused on the social inequalities between social groups. On the other hand, Durkheim claimed that the division of labor was not necessarily bad for the individual or society. Unlike Marx who claimed economic specialization produced alienation, Durkheim who was a functionalist, believed the division of labor was beneficial for society because it increases the worker’s skill and created a feeling of solidarity between people. He claimed the division of labor creates a certain balance and unites social systems, essentially making them more efficient. Although Marx and Durkheim were essentially basing their theories from the 19th century and the rise of industrialization, the division of labor theory can still be applied in today’s society.
Durkheim disagrees with Marx on alienation, he believes only in rare circumstances do people actually become aliented. In todays society someone who agrees with Durkheim would argue that the worker who works in retail is constantly interacting with other people, whether it is other workers or the customers. Although their task is to sell or restock, they understand that they are part of a bigger picture, they are helping economy, therefore the worker remains consious of their humanity. The worker sees they are part of a whole, as Durkheim says “he knows that his activity has a meaning.”
Based on the two arguments, I would agree with both. I believe workers do tend to get alienated from their work, for example my friends who work in retail always complain about how much they dislike their job. Similar to the workers becoming “the machine,” in todays society workers become “the dummies” in order to sell and make their wage or commission. Along the lines of Marx’s theory, employees work out of necessity, therefore they grow more and more resentful of their jobs. However I don’t believe alienation is the correct term, not every worker hates their job and my friends certainly do not feel isolated from their jobs. In other words I believe a better word for alienation is people feeling occasional discontent in their jobs. For example I am a waitress and bar tender, my hourly wage is very low because I get tips. There are days where I feel extremely discontent, days where it’s not busy, or days when customers are cheap; however, there are days where I have my regular customers or even new ones who always brighten up my day. Along the lines of Durkheim’s theory, I believe economic specialization is not necessarily bad, because I find that since I’ve been specializing in my job for so long, I am actually really good at it. But then again I am a bit biased, because I have great relationships with my boss and co-workers and actually enjoy my job.
Overall, I believe a combination of both theories is essentially the most accurate in today’s society. Although I just make drinks and serve them, I do not feel alienated from my job. Although my friends simply engage people to buy or work at the cash register, they do not necessarily feel alienated, especially in today’s society. However there are cases where people MUST work and do resent their jobs.
The videos “Wealth Inequality in America” and “Land of the Free, Home of the Poor” show the unequal distribution of money in the United States. I always understood there was a gap between the top 20% and the bottom 20% however I did not realize it was such a wide gap. I would have fallen in the category of what people “think” it is. The “actual” middle class closely represents what we think “poor” distribution is. Marx’s ideas of a ruling class owning the means of production and a subordinate class that lacks the means of production and the ability to sustain itself without selling its labor power to the ruling class lives on. The statistics are especially surprising, it is jaw dropping to see that 1% of America has 40% of all the nations wealth, and the top 20% holds 84% of wealth! This adds to Marx’s theory of capitalism, we can clearly see how capitalism produces inequalities. A complete equal society in a capitalist nation is unrealistic, however the reality behind the inequalities should produce alarming attention.
The video makes you question the reality and the American Dream. Can we still call America the land of opportunity? The first thing that comes to mind is that the people at the bottom of the social triangle are resistant to work and the people at the top are the ones who have worked hard to reach their wealth. However, the video shows how this is not the case, its unlikely that the CEO is working 380x harder than the average worker. After learning the reality it is amusing to see everyone so confident about what they think the distribution is. Naturally we don’t notice these inequalities on an everyday basis, it seems as if everyone is more or less equal considering the packed malls and designer clothing many people have. The truth of the matter is the inequalities are present and corporate profits continue to grow and the inequalities continue to grow with them.
After learning this information, one thing I wondered is how to overcome this class struggle and reduce the differences and inequalities.
I was surprised by the findings in both videos. I always knew that the distribution of wealth was unequal but not to that extreme. I feel that these findings somewhat prove Marx’s theory that capitalism is an engine of inequality. The working class works extremely hard, six to seven days a week and barely makes enough money to afford rent or money for their bills. According to the videos, the reality is that the working classes are considered poor. I was surprised by how some people in the video did believe that the way money is actually distributed in this country is the right way. That is because many people believe in that American way that you need to work hard to achieve the American dream. To me, these videos show me that the government and CEOs offer incentives to be working robots in this country. Marx theory explains that capitalists pay their workers as little pay as possible and workers agree to this pay because there are too many people from the working class begging for jobs, desperately trying to make money for this “American dream”. Just like the video title says, this country is the land of the free and home of the poor.
Sometimes our perception of something may influence our ability to understand the reality of a situation. I think most Americans have been purposely blinded to the cruel reality of our economic system and inequality of wealth among the country. I have always understood that there was sever inequality when it came to money, but I never seen or actually understood the statistics. Additionally, I don’t really know how I feel about the inequality. Is it fair to penalize those who have worked for years for all they have? But, is it fair to those who struggle living paycheck to paycheck that never get a chance to financially prosper? I don’t know that I or anyone else can really answer these questions.
To me, capitalism represents the rich being rich, the poor being poor and everyone else just working or existing to support the two extremes. Socialism is the opposite in that all people have an equal amount of money. I was surprised when I watched the videos and really thought about the inequality, in fact it made rather upset. Firstly, to think of all those who are living at or below the poverty level compared to the 1% is something I cannot wrap my head around. We all live in the same nation, with the same presidents and the same opportunities; America, the land of opportunity. A place that I’m sure so many people would drop everything and leave their country if they were given the chance. Moreover, I was completely shocked to see that there was not a drastic difference between those considered low and middle class in terms of the percentages. I consider the middle class the hardest working of all the classes.
These videos and statistics have made me realize that we are not all equal and although we like to think equality exists among us, it does not. I do not think that the inequality is or can be controlled by anyone. However, I do think that there should be something done to decrease the wealth inequality gap in the United States. We must create a happy medium between capitalism and socialism to bring us a better change of economic equality among Americans.
Firstly, I would like to start by saying I have never thought of Karl Marx as a theorist. I have always thought of him as some socialist or communist from decades ago. After reading the German Ideology and researching Karl Marx, I have come to really enjoy his work and his ideologies.
Karl Marx was the first theorist to develop a social theory of a capitalist society. Marx’s ideas went against that of Hegel and Hegelian philosophers. Hegelian philosophers were interested in consciousness and abstract ideas. They were considered idealist philosophers because they also believed the ones independent existence shaped their social reality. This idea argued that a change in social reality can come about through a change in the manner reality is perceived. Hegel’s ideology focused on social change.
Marx had an materialist approach to the change in society. The German Ideology focuses on the perception that material existence influences social change. I tried to conceptualize this theory and apply it to modern time. I think that we are greatly influenced by our material existence today. Society is driven by money and the need to have it all. I agree with Marx’s theory. Our realities are shaped by the material items that we have or strive for. We work hard to have nice homes, cars and clothes. Additionally, we work hard to provide ourselves with a meaningful education in order to get a better paying job, to eventually provide ourselves with all we want.
Thinking in terms of capitalism, our nation has been deemed a consumer nation. We are almost bread to consume (literally and figuratively) and buy. At the top of our consumer nation is the “haves” and at the bottom the “have nots”. It is the goal of those on the top of the corporate pyramids to work their employees for the least amount of money while expecting them to make daily and monthly sales goals for their stores. Failures in making numbers could result in job termination for managers, cut hours for employees and lost wages. I worked as a manager in retail for a few years only to decide that it was not for me. Shortly after beginning working at a new store in Queens, I came to realize the corporate team was not interested in my success and growth in the company. They were concerned about me and my team making their numbers in a timely fashion. Corporations do not care about the consumer, they care about their sales and the money generated from their sales. This type of neglect from corporate offices, I’m sure has played a role in the heightening debts that Americans now experience. I do not like the idea of capitalism, but I agree with Marx in that our realities are shaped by what we have or what we strive to have.