Marx Weber Capitalism Essay

For Marx, the same contradictions manifest not in ideas, but in material contradictions about the forces of production: from the fall of feudalism to the rise of the bourgeoisie and the onset of capitalism, all steps forward can be explained by a class struggle that is rooted in the material dynamics of production. Both thinkers thus elaborate triumphant, forward-facing ideologies Weber paints a bleaker picture.

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That is, the word and engaging in idleness amounts to shirking the will of God and displays a sure sign of damnation.

This separates Puritan society from what Weber terms “traditionalism.”[2] According to Weber, it is human nature to only work as much as is necessary for subsistence.

Whereas Marxist theory consistently cited material forces, and whereas Hegel pointed to peoples (i.e., the Germans or the French) as the essential blocks in question, Weber pointed to the individual as the major unit in explaining change.

His goal as sociologist is to determine the forces that drive human action via , or an emphatic understanding of human behavior.

Working excessively in pursuit of wages could lead to the amassing of wealth, and such a path – prior to the onset of the Reformation – was considered sinful.

Whereas Christian doctrine clearly defines riches as abhorrent (i.e., it is easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter God’s Kingdom),[3] and whereas the devout previously engaged in very little labor at all (as in the case of many orders of monks), Puritanism construed wealth as grace and labor as a devotion to God.

This is not a causal relationship but rather a fostering of conditions conducive to the progress of an economic system.

Such an argument may seem less clear-cut, but Weber was aware of his limitations and scope.

By selling as blessed the concepts of work and wealth as blessed, “ascetic Protestantism” – most specifically Calvinism, Pietism, Methodism, and Baptism – produces an environment amenable to the development of capitalism.

According to Weber, this process occurs via the Calvinist concept of predestination, in which heaven is reserved for an elect and predetermined few (), and the rest of humanity is doomed to damnation.


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