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Marx v. Weber

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Marx v. Weber

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Ajouté le : 21 juillet 2011
Lecture(s) : 63
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Marx v. Weber
by Elizabeth Milliken
Both Marx and Weber were intrigued by the changes in society at the time of
industrialization.
While Marx was seeking a revolution Weber was content to explore the
reasons why capitalism had developed.
Both saw society moving in a direction that was
unsuitable for the people, but while Weber saw no way out Marx was sure that things
would have to change. If the two men were face to face they would certainly have a lot to
discuss. On the one hand they would have quite a bit in common, on the other their ideas
are radically different.
Weber and Marx each had their own beliefs as to how capitalism
began and where it was headed.
The film
Modern Times
is a visualization of Marx’s theories about the proletariat
and the bourgeoisie.
While the men slave over the machines in the factory the boss, the
owner of the means of production, sits idly and does crossword puzzles.
He does not
work nor does he sympathize with the men who work so hard for him.
His only
interaction with the workers is to tell them to work faster.
The proletariat does the
majority of the work while the owners of the capital reap all the benefits. Marx puts it
best when he says, “Not only are they the slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the
bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the over looker,
and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself” (McIntosh 44).
To
Marx, the boss is the ultimate slave driver, working little and caring even less about the
people who make him a profit.
If Weber were to see
Modern Times
and discuss the portrayal of the boss with
Marx they would find that they have a serious conflict of ideas.
While Marx sees the
boss as lazy and tyrannical Weber sees an entirely different picture.
Weber saw the rise
of capitalism as the result of what he called, “The Protestant Work Ethic.”
The Protestant
belief in worldly asceticism, or the denial of pleasure, led to the reinvestment of capital.
As capitalism rose and the economy began to change people were continuously
reinvesting the money they earned.
The people were working hard and instead of taking
their salary and spending it right away it was put away.
This continuous work ethic was a
result of the belief that while our fate is predestined God wants us to labor, and because
we do not know our fate we must work hard and hope to gain entrance into heaven.
To
be lazy was a sin and this drove the people to work continuously out of pious reverence.
This is the primary place in which Marx and Weber would find themselves at odds.
Marx’s capitalist boss is lazy and demanding, but on the basis of the protestant work ethic
this is not true of Weber’s boss. “The real moral objection is to relaxation in the security
of possession, the enjoyment of wealth with the consequence of idleness and the
temptations of the flesh, above all the distraction from the pursuit of a righteous life.
In
fact, it is only because possession involves this danger of relaxation that it is
objectionable at all” (McIntosh 123).
For Marx the problem with possession was that it
distributed wealth unevenly.
Weber reports that the only problem with possession as far
as the Protestants were concerned was the temptation to be lazy.
Because of this belief
the Capitalist boss who rose as a result of the protestant work ethic attained this position
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