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16. Weber on Protestantism and Capitalism

16. Weber on Protestantism and Capitalism


Prof: Now also I would
like to spend a couple of minutes kind of wrapping up some
issues about the four authors, what we covered in the
test–right?– Marx, Nietzsche,
Freud and Weber, just to help you to get an
overall sense– right?–what the bottom line
is, and what the similarities and differences are.
And then I’ll go into Max Weber.
There’s a lot I want to cover
today. Would love to talk a lot about
his life; I won’t have time.
I could give you a lot of nice
and juicy stories, what I have,
but unfortunately I have to withhold myself.
Okay, so the four authors.
There is one important common
feature in all four authors, and somewhat distinct from the
theorists we studied so far. In one way or another,
all four of them call be called critical theorists.
That means they all offer
critical analysis of what is in your mind.
They say, “What is in your
mind is not necessarily what you think it is.
Let’s subject your
consciousness to critical scrutiny.”
I think all four do share this
argument. Right?
Marx certainly,
with the idea that well the dominant ideas of each epoch are
the ideas of the dominant class, and therefore you think what is
in your mind is your idea. “Tell me what your class
position is and I will tell you where your ideas are coming
from.” Right? Now this is Nietzsche’s project.
He said, “Well,
you think this is morality? I will show the immorality of
morality, what you think is moral.” Right?
This is certainly Freud.
“You think this is your
ideas? Well lay on my couch and talk
to me, and I will–you will recall all
these early sexual experiences in your life,
and then you will realize what–who you really are.”
Well, you know,
Weber is a little more complicated, but he also has
this idea of legitimacy and domination–with some later
Marxist people on this. And the fundamental idea of
Weber is coming also from Nietzsche.
And the fundamental idea is
that we actually do internalize the very principles of our
submission. That’s what legitimacy,
at least in my interpretation, in Weber is.
There is domination. Right?
And therefore Weber also helps
you to understand–right?–where these ideas are coming from,
and to what extent you yourself are your own jail keeper.
Right?
That’s sort of mine–a little
post-modernist reading of Max Weber.
So these are–in this way they
are all critical theorists. Right?
They are critiques of
consciousness. But there are fundamental
differences between the four authors.
And in some ways there is a
similarity between Marx and Freud.
Marx and Freud all take their
point of departure in their project to be critical of
consciousness for sensuous human experience.
Right?
Material reality.
In one way or another they are
both materialists. Right?
Of course, for Marx it is
reductionist, because this sensuous human
experience is reduced to the economy.
“You tell me what your
position in the economic system are, then I understand what your
economic interests are. You are behaving and you are
thinking according to your economic interests,
and then I will understand what is on your mind.”
Well, by the way,
it’s not all that different–right?–from Adam
Smith and rationally acting individuals.
Marx has some similarities.
Only he offers it critically,
while Adam Smith offered it affirmatively.
But that is Marx’s reductionism;
that what is sensuous experience is reduced to the
economy. And then he also has an agency;
that’s the big, unique feature of Marx’s
theory. He knows what good society is;
does not describe in much detail, but has an idea about
good society. And he knows who the historical
agent is, who will lead us there.
I mean, many of you were
probably turned off by his vision of the future.
But the strength of the theory
is that he has a vision of good society, and he knows how to get
there. So those of you who are looking
for answers, Karl Marx does have answers for you.
Right?
Now what about Freud?
He does not quite have answers
to you. Right?
When you are lying on his
couch–right?– he helps you to discover the
repressed desires in yourself, and then it will help you to
get rid of your depression, anxieties, hysteria,
or whatever you are suffering from.
Right?
But it will be up to
you–right?–to somehow figuring out what is repressed in you.
He only will help you to find
it. Right?
Does he have a very clearly
defined good society? He has sort of ambiguous
attitudes about this. Right?
Civilization,
modern civilization. Well, this is coming from
repression. Civilization has a lot to do
how people are being controlled. On the other hand,
he knows out of the id a lot of nasty, aggressive stuff is
coming from, and they have to be repressed.
So he has a kind of ambiguous
attitude. He does not want to go against
civilization, but he sees the dark side of
civilization at the same time. Now what is common in Nietzsche
and Weber, that they all depart from this
idea– right?–that it is sensuous
experiences from which you have to understand–
right?–what’s wrong with your consciousness.
Their central concern is
power–right?–power and domination.
It is not the economy,
it is not sexuality; it is power.
And interestingly in some ways,
therefore, they probably reach back all
the way to Hobbes– right?–that all history of
humankind is struggle around power.
Well this is the most radically
done by Nietzsche, because what Nietzsche is
doing–right?– he shows you how the most noble
ideas, what you have in your mind,
are actually manufactured– right?–in the workshop of
ideals, in very nasty ways, by coercion–right?–by torture.
And he shows you this
instrument of coercion. If the history of the
museum–historical museum of Marx is filled up with the means
of production; you go into a museum,
you can see the life-right?–how people lived,
what their house was, what the instruments were they
produced their livelihood. You see this in a lot of
contemporary museums, which are not Marxist,
but still inspired by this Marxian idea.
Nietzsche’s museum?
Well you will find guillotines.
Right?
You will find all these
instruments of torture. That’s human history,
the history of torture. And that’s where is an
interesting similarity between Weber and Nietzsche;
namely, that the history of humankind is evolution,
but this evolution has its downside.
Our bodies may not be tortured
any longer in modern civilization,
but our souls are kept hostage. That’s the bad news. Right?
Now I think that’s,
in a nutshell, I think the kind of
similarities and differences of the four authors we covered for
this test. And I don’t think I have more
time to deal with this. So let’s now go to Max Weber.
And I am actually very
sensitive. Somebody asked a question
whether on the test the question on domination should be there?
I will be thinking very hard
about this. In fact, if you still
have–very much dislike questions, send me an email and
I will try to take this into consideration.
Okay, so this is Max Weber.
Born in 1864 and died in 1920.
Well nowadays with flu shots,
he would not have died. He just died of pneumonia.
He probably would have lived
longer. Fortunately he did not,
because he did not live Nazism, and we do not have to ask the
unpleasant question, would have Max Weber turned
into be a Nazi? I doubt, but there are some who
believe he might have, and we will talk about this
later on. So a word about the Max Weber’s
family. This is a Protestant family who
lived in the city of Salzburg, which was in the Hapsburg
Empire. It was actually an independent
city, ruled by an archbishop–a very Catholic city.
And by the late-eighteenth
century, this archbishop started to take the counterreformation
too seriously. So therefore those who were not
Roman Catholic better left. So did the Weber family,
and they moved to Germany, in the Rhineland,
and they settled in Bielefeld, and they set up a textile
manufacturing business, which operated pretty good.
Weber’s father,
Max senior, was the younger of two sons.
And the family business,
though it was doing okay, was not enough to support two
families. Therefore he was asked to learn
some trade. So he actually entered civil
service and became a politician and civil servant.
Max Weber himself was born in
’64 in Erfurt, in the eastern part of Germany,
where his father was stationed at that time.
And his mother was Helene
Fallenstein; a very sensitive,
wonderful woman. There were eight brothers and
sisters–a big family, and quite a family.
Here you have the three
brothers: Max on the left, and the middle,
Alfred Weber. Alfred Weber was quite a
scholar. He was a younger brother of
Max, and he was a very prominent economist,
philosopher and sociologist, but primarily economist,
who was well known for the theory of industrial location,
in his times. He was a professor at
University of Heidelberg. He did not turn into a Nazi.
He was actually laid off by the
Nazis, and re-instituted in 1945.
Those of you who study in
economics industrial relation theory may have come across the
name of Alfred Weber. He was actually the famous
Weber. Max Weber was less famous in
his time than Alfred. Now Max Weber’s mother was
Helene, as I said. She was a wonderful lady.
She was a devote Calvinist–so
now you can understand the role of Calvinism and the Protestant
Ethic in Weber– and was also greatly interested
in philanthropy. And that’s where Weber’s social
sensitivity is coming from. There was a great deal of
conflict between the sensitive Helene and Max senior,
who was a very authoritarian, paternalistic figure–
a very unpleasant guy. Politically also extremely
conservative, and they had quite a bit of
conflict with each other. Early in his life,
Max sided with his father– did what Freud said you will
do, when you would overcome your Oedipus complex,
you identify with your father. Okay, this is what he did.
But then he actually shifted
and eventually sided with his mother.
Well this is the father.
Well I would not have liked him
as my father. He was a conservative
politician, a very patriarchal figure.
He started in the municipality
as a civil servant in Erfurt. Then became actually a deputy
of the National Liberal Party, which had very little to do
with liberalism. It was a conservative party.
This was under the
chancellorship of Otto von Bismarck, the Iron
Chancellor–real conservative times in Germany.
Now about Weber’s life.
He studied in Heidelberg and
then in Berlin. He studied both law and
agrarian history. Actually he was somewhere
between a legal theorist, a historian,
and an economist; he was kind of sociologist last.
In ’92, he married Marianne
Schnitger, who was a kind of second-cousin.
I will come back to this
relationship later on. In ’95, he was appointed
professor of economics at Freiberg, and then he moved to
Heidelberg, where he basically spent the rest of his life.
He also became professor of
political science. He was involved early in his
life in very feverish academic activities.
He published two Ph.D.
dissertations,
one in law and one in history. The law Ph.D.
was on commercial law in
Medieval Italy, and the history was on agrarian
history in Rome. Both books were published;
and they are actually not in English.
A later version of the agrarian
history was published in Germany.
’97, he suffered a very serious
nervous breakdown. I would love to talk in detail
about this. By all likelihood it had a lot
to do with his conflict with his father.
Just during the summer of ’97,
the mother visited– he visited the parents in
Berlin, and then the mother said,
“Well I want to visit you in Heidelberg.”
And then the father said,
“No, you can’t, because I need you here.”
Right?
“Who will cook my
breakfast?” And then Max Weber,
who was always subservient and obedient to the father,
revolted, and he said, “Father,
you can’t do that. If Mother wants to visit us,
she should be allowed to visit us.”
And this happened the first
time that Max Weber said no to the father.
Well the father passed away
within two or three months, and just after the death of the
father Weber had a very serious nervous breakdown.
Well, no one knows exactly what
it had to do with the death of the father, but there is
certainly a correlation between the two facts.
It was actually a very serious
disease. He was lucky to be married to a
wonderful and extremely smart woman,
Marianne–they married earlier–and Marianne was a
great help for him to recover from this nervous breakdown.
For five years Weber could not
teach, could not write, could not read.
He was just sitting in the
corner staring out of himself. Marianne took him to travels.
They went to Italy and
eventually he recovered. ’92, he’s coming out of his
nervous breakdown and returns to Heidelberg, though he never
really took on very regular teaching duties anymore.
1904, he had his only trip to
the USA. He went to the St.
Louis World Fair and wrote a
wonderful paper at that time. And then in 1906–again,
I wish I would have more time to talk about the Richthofen
sisters. This is a great story.
Anyway, he obviously falls in
love with Elsa von Richthofen. Else von Richthofen was
actually the wife of a good friend and colleague of Weber,
Jaffé, a major political social
theorist. Well this is a very important
event in Weber’s life. It lasts until his death.
It is actually not Marianne who
is standing by his deathbed, but Else von Richthofen.
Interestingly,
Else and Marianne were very good friends.
Again, I cannot resist to give
you a little gossip. But the best as we know,
the marriage with Marianne was never consumed.
So this affair with Else von
Richthofen is really the first real fulfilled erotic experience
in Weber’s life, and has a lot to do,
I think, in Weber’s changing thinking about life and
modernity– the rediscovery of the power of
eroticism. Then he has been doing work on
religion. This is mainly a response to
criticism he got for his book– we will be talking in a minute
about The Protestant Ethic–
and he tries to defend his work on The Protestant Ethic
by looking at various world religions,
and shows that rationalization did not take place in these
religions as much as it happened in Christianity.
And then he’s working on his
opus magnum, Economy and Society;
what he never finished. Died in 1920.
Well this is Else von
Richthofen, Mrs. Jaffé. She came from a very prominent
German family. There were three very prominent
and very beautiful Richthofen sisters.
As I said, Else was the wife of
Edgar Jaffé. Her sister, Frieda von
Richthofen, had a long and very passionate relationship,
eventual marriage, with D.H. Lawrence.
And probably many of you in
high school have read D.H. Lawrence and Sons and
Lovers. Sons and Lovers was
inspired by Frieda van Richthofen.
It was a very turbulent,
complicated relationship. Well this is Weber in
Heidelberg–last time in his life.
The early work in Weber was
mainly in antiquity. In 1903 and 4,
he writes The Protestant Ethic.
Then the big world religions,
China, India and Judaism. And then finally Economy and
Society, an unfinished manuscript.
This is the First Edition of
The Protestant Ethic. Well I think I’ll probably skip
this one, because I will talk to The Protestant Ethic
later. Well this is the Weber’s house
in Heidelberg. As you can see,
University of Heidelberg treated their professors quite
nice. Well Marianne was running a
salon in this house, with an extraordinary
intellectual circle around them. This is Marianne Weber.
She was, as I said,
a wonderful woman. He was actually a kind of
second-cousin. Her grandfather was the brother
of Max Weber’s father. She was also a formidable
intellectual. Her book, Wives and Mothers
in the Evolution of Law, was a great success.
Émile Durkheim reviewed
the book. And at that time Marianne was
much more famous than Max Weber was.
Max turned quite nationalistic,
as many other Germans during the First World War.
But then his experiences of the
horrors of the First World War, and partially I think the
relationship with Else von Richthofen,
turns him from a committed liberal who just had nothing
else to say but approving things about modernity–
somebody who is called “a liberal in despair”.
He remains liberal for his life.
He will always say that
capitalism is the only viable system we can live in;
modernity has no alternative. But he’s beginning increasingly
to show the downside of this modernity.
He said, “I cannot come up
with anything better. But it should not prevent me to
see the disenchantment, the loss of magic,
in the modern world, and the horrors of the modern
world.” We will talk about this later
on. He actually–nationalism had an
impact on him– he actually was part of the
delegation at the Versailles Peace Treaty,
and he was responsible for inserting Article 48 into the
Weimar Constitution, which unfortunately was used
for Hitler to gain power in 1933.
I mean, not that Weber can–
shall be held responsible for Nazism, but this is something I
have to share with you. Well the last work,
Economy and Society, is mainly a theory of
domination, and we will talk about next week what domination
is. He basically combines power,
which is legitimated, as the concept of domination.
And what he does,
he develops a theory of human history as subsequent types of
dominations; a major departure from Marx.
Right?
That social history not
describes subsequent modes of production, but different types
of domination. Okay, so that was the life and
work of Max Weber. And now let’s turn into The
Protestant Ethic; and try to do this in twenty
minutes, which will not be easy. Okay.

So this is–as he recovers from
the nervous breakdown, his first major book is The
Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
And that’s in many ways a major
departure. Before the nervous breakdown,
Weber is an enthusiast pro-capitalist and pro-liberal.
His major concern before 1897
is what blocks the development in the eastern part of Germany,
and how those forces which block the development of
capitalism can be overcome. He’s very much a liberal in the
sense of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill.
Then he has his nervous
breakdown, and the person who is emerging looks like a person who
has been thinking about Nietzsche–
right?–by staring ahead of himself a great deal,
and that’s beginning to show already in The Protestant
Ethic. Well he was working at a time
when Marxism was the dominant intellectual force in Germany.
The Social Democratic Party in
Germany was gaining ground and beginning to do extremely
well–at elections as well. And therefore,
in my reading, Max Weber’s project is to
challenge Marxism in fundamental ways.
And The Protestant Ethic
is a first and major step in the direction to challenge Marxism.
So what is the Marx-Weber
debate? If you are interested in it,
I will teach a seminar next semester which will only deal
with this slide, what I am presenting here to
you. But you will be asked to read a
lot of text from Marx and Weber. Well historical
materialism–right?–suggests that it’s only economic forces
which explain history. Weber said, “Look,
ideas matter too. You cannot deduce ideas and
cultural features from economic conditions.”
Also, Marx has no problem what
motivates human beings: survival, economic interests.
Weber said, “No,
we are not only motivated by economic interests,
we are also motivated by tradition;
we can be motivated by values.”
He has a more complex notion of
human motivation. Then, as I mentioned,
history cannot be described as subsequent modes of production.
What changes is the nature of
power; the different type of
motivation. What changes from time to time
historically, how people, in position of
power, what kind of claims do they make for you to obey,
and how you internalize–right?–the
principles of your subordination.
And he develops these different
types of authorities. Right?
Three major types:
traditional authority, charismatic authority,
and put it liberal authority, legal- rational authority.
This is his somewhat awkward
term to describe the liberal system, what we would call
liberalism. And finally class.
Weber uses the term of class,
but he said they are not based–
you should not identify class on property relationship,
but on marketplaces, and Marx made an error by
believing that class has always existed in history.
Class is a new phenomenon which
emerges only with modern marketing integrated economies;
market economies. All right, what are the major
themes in The Protestant Ethic?
He starts with a rather
uninteresting part. He offers some empirical
evidence there is a correlation between being rich and being
Protestant. Well this is no proof of
causality; it’s a kind of prima facie
evidence, what he does. I think that’s probably the
weakest part of the book. Then he asks the question,
what is the spirit of capitalism?
What is the worldview of
capitalism? Then he looks at Luther’s
conception of calling, and what it has to do with the
spirit of capitalism. Then he looks at the religious
foundations of worldly, “this-worldly
asceticism”, and how Reformation brings this
by; and, in particular,
the interpretation of it in Calvinism, and the teaching of
predestination. Okay, so these are the crucial
issues. So the religious stratification
and affiliation and social stratification.
As I said, this is the weaker
part of the book. You really should do it,
if you read the whole book, as prima facie evidence.
There is something going on
here. Look at the data,
and it turns out that Protestant countries were
probably ahead of Catholic countries in capitalism.
And look at the very wealthy
people, and you will see more Protestant than Catholics.
Well not a very forceful
argument. He himself is a bit unclear
about this, because he does not quite know what causes what.
Is this somehow people,
Protestants inherited more wealth, or because they are
Protestant they can create more wealth?
But, you know,
if you are looking at American history, there is certainly
prima facie evidence for this. Right?
Think about nineteenth century
United States. Right?
It was WASP:
white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant.
Right?
And then there were the poor
people coming in. And who were they were?
The Irish and the Italian.
And what was their religion?
Roman Catholic. Right?
So I think if you are thinking
in nineteenth century, late nineteenth-century U.S.,
the kind of empirical evidence is, you know,
pretty persuasive. But otherwise,
of course, I don’t think this would stand up for scrutiny.
But I think this is just to
start the argument. Now comes the more serious one.
What is the spirit of
capitalism? And this is–there are two
important points he makes. He says, “What is unique
about capitalism, that the greed is turned into
an ethical imperative.” And the other one is that the
essence of capitalism is rationalism and calculation.
Well greed turned into an
ethical imperative. A very interesting point,
because as we have seen Marx does not offer any explanation
why on earth suddenly the capitalists start accumulating
capital. Marx does not have a theory to
explain the motivation of original accumulation of
capital. He only said original
accumulation of capital is a kind of theft–right?–and once
you have capital, you don’t have to assume theft.
But, you know,
the original accumulation comes close to theft.
But he does not explain why on
earth people beginning to accumulate capital.
And Weber said,
“Well this is interesting.”
Because in most history,
people like us, who are working day and night,
and, you know, you put our little
money in 401(k)s or whatever, and, you know,
try to put a little money in the stock market.
You know, most people,
in most human history, they would say,
“These people are jerks. Why don’t they relax?
Now they have enough to eat,
they should have fun.” And most of you in this room
will probably never have much fun.
Right?
You will be working day and
night to make more money. Where does it come from?
He said this is unique for
capitalism. This is unique for modernity,
because greed, to become rich,
became an ethical imperative. Right?
That is the essence.
And he said it has a lot to do
with rationalization of modernity.
And we will see it will have a
lot to do with Calvinism, and predestination,
and Luther’s notion of calling. Well this is the point what I
said, right? Pre-capitalist man actually
could not understand us. Right?
They had to work day and night
because they needed it in order to survive.
But once they had enough food
to eat, and they had shelter, they were not running after
money any longer. Right?
This is something which is
unique for modern man. “The capitalist system
needs this devotion to the calling to make money.”
Right?
It is for us an ethical
imperative. You know?
Well to what extent
predestination, I don’t know.
But if you are very rich you
will say, “Well I have to get
richer, because I am doing good by
becoming rich, because I’m creating jobs for
others. What a good person I am.”
Right?
That’s why you want to become
rich, to be–to create jobs for others.
Now calculation–this is
absolutely crucial for Weber. He said, “Well capitalism
begins with rational economic calculation, which did not exist
before capitalist times.” Well he kind of departs here
from Adam Smith, for whom rational calculation
was always there. People were just not rational.
Weber said now this is a
uniquely historical phenomenon, that we’re beginning to
calculate effort and return against to each other.
And we invent double
bookkeeping. Right?
This is what we spend in terms
of money and our energy, and this is our return,
this is our profit which appears.
So rational economic
calculation is the key of our capitalist spirit.
Right?
These are the two things.
That in order to work hard and
to make money makes you a good person.
Right?
It’s an altruistic act that you
can become rich. And second, you are capitalist
if you make rational bookkeeping.
Right?
If you don’t keep,
you know, your incomes and expenditures,
you are doing something wrong; you are not a real capitalist.
Right?
So in order–keep in mind,
you know, you have to keep your checks balanced.
Right?
You always have to know how
much you spend and how much you have.
And rationalism–there’s a big
tendency for history that we are becoming increasingly
rationalized. Right?
And he said,
“Only naïve historical materialism assumes
that ideas originate as reflection of economic
situation.” He said, “The spirit of
capitalism was present before the capitalist order.”
You had to invent rationalism
and rational calculation before you could have capital
accumulation and capitalism as such.
Now here you come,
Luther’s conception of calling. One very important issue is
this is a this-worldly view. It’s a big change from Medieval
Catholic theology. Luther coined the term
Beruf in translating the Bible into German.
And the term Beruf has
multiple meanings. In English I think it is quite
well translated as calling; though not quite,
because in German Beruf has the very pedestrian,
simple meaning of occupation. So if you are filling out a
questionnaire, a German language
questionnaire, for the line ‘occupation’
stands ‘Beruf’. But Beruf is also a call.
Ruf is to call,
in German. So Beruf is that
you–God calls you. Right?
You got a ruf,
you got a call. Right?
God calls you. Right?
You are needed.
You have to do something for
God. This is Beruf.
And what is God calling you?
To perform well in your
occupation. So while in medieval asceticism
the essence of life was afterlife.
Right?
You were a saint when you
withdraw from your life. You hardly ate anything.
You become a saint because all
what you eat is an egg a day, and you still survive.
Right?
This is sainthood,
in the Medieval Roman Catholic sense.
Now this is no good any longer.
Luther said you have to be
active in this life, in your occupation.
That’s when you are a saint,
not when you withdraw yourself from life and wait for
afterlife. Right?
This is the big innovation of
Luther and theology. Sort of therefore–right?–what
God wants you is to fulfill your duties in this world–
right?–rather than to be a saint, not to consume,
withdraw, and so on and so forth.
Okay.
Now let’s move on.
But Luther is also a
traditional theorist, and Weber notes that.
In fact, his emphasis on
Beruf means that you have to perform in the job what you
have, in the social position what you have.
This is not a theory for change.
It is a theory for the
reproduction of the status quo. And Luther actually stood up
against the peasant revolutions in Germany of his time and sided
with political conservatives. And therefore Weber suggests
that this non-dynamic view of history made it impossible for
Lutheranism to become the real moving force,
and therefore it remained too traditionalistic,
and that’s why you needed Calvinism.
And why Calvinism?
Well the big change in
modernity, that magic is being eliminated.
What was magic?
That we have power over God;
we could force God to do something for us.
Right?
There were prescriptions what
we do, and these were magical means by which you have magic–
you know, the magician comes, rain doesn’t come;
the magician does its tricks and rain will come.
Right?
That’s magic.
Now in order to rationalize the
world, you have to get rid of magic.
The world becomes rationalized.
You understand where the rain
is coming from, and you know there is hardly
anything you can do to make it rain.
Right?
So this is elimination of magic.
And this is what you see in a
Calvinist church. You walk into the Calvinist
church, they don’t have any pictures of saints;
you know, it has a coldness of rationalism–right?–in a
Presbyterian church. And what is the most important
element of Calvinism is the theory of predestination.
And that’s a very interesting
teaching. Calvin assumed–and this is
basically to try radically to get rid of any notion of magic–
that in fact whether you will be saved or you perish was
decided upon your birth by God; there is nothing you can do
about this. So therefore,
you know, in Medieval Roman Catholic churches this is what
Luther was revolting against. Unfortunately there were some
corrupt Roman Catholic priests who said, “You know what?
Give me a little money,
and if you give me money, then you will go to heaven,
rather than to hell.” Right?
So people could buy their way
into salvation. Now Calvin said, “No way.
You can’t do anything.”
Not only not giving money to
the priest, which was obviously corrupt and the church never
approved it; it was just kind of corrupt
practices of individuals. But he said,
“There is nothing you can do in life, because it has been
predestined.” The big question is how on
earth this teaching actually can create the Protestant work
ethic? Why do we work hard,
if it has been decided, pre-decided,
before us that we will perish or will be saved?
Well this will come out
actually from the preachings of Calvinist ministers;
actual practices, pastoral practices.
They said, “Well,
you know, you are–”
Well this is a town of Puritanism,
that was really a place-right?–of predestination.
New Haven was created by them.
You start teaching.
Then you will say,
“Well are you concerned whether you go to hell or
heaven? You are, aren’t you?”
Right?
You don’t want to burn all your
life. You want to know whether you go
to heaven. Well there is one way to do it.
Work hard, and if your work
will be rewarded, this will be a sign that God
loves you and you will go to heaven.
So therefore you are working
hard, not in order to buy your way
into heaven, but in order to have the sign
of God that you are on the right trajectory and you will go to
heaven. Well he said unfortunately this
Protestant ethic to work hard, to save–Benjamin Franklin,
he said, “Benjamin Franklin”–
right?–“you are gone in modern capitalism.”
Because now–the Puritans,
you know, wanted you to work hard.
Now this is all gone.
And what was created actually
we are in “an iron cage.”
This is a famous quotation.
Again, you have to take it down;
one of the most frequently cited sentences from Weber.
“Modernity created an iron
cage where we are actually working, because we are forced
to work very hard.” And the spirit of capitalism
today– I think he was reading Veblen
and the theory of the leisure class,
and looking at American wealthy, by the early twentieth
century, who started to have a good
life, not only to save. They would not follow any
longer Benjamin Franklin’s advice: Get up early when the
sun rises, and go to bed when the sun
sets, because you don’t want to burn the candle and waste money
on the candle when you burn. Right?
That was the
real–right?–Puritan spirit; the spirit which created this
very institution, Yale University.
Right?
Don’t burn your
candles–right?–because you waste money.
Save money;
that’s what will please God, and that’s what will be the
sign that you have been saved. Now he said this is
unfortunately not any longer, because people are actually are
for consumption, conspicuous consumption.
Well and then he ends up–this
is a very important quotation; keep it and it will be helpful
for you to understand the importance difference between
Marx and Weber– he said, “Look,
but don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want to substitute a
one-sided materialist explanation of history,
what Marx offers, with a one-sided idealist
history. I’m not suggesting that
capitalism came out of Calvinism.
All what I’m suggesting,
there has been an independent change in theological teaching,
from Medieval Catholicism to Reformation.
It was a rationalization of
religious thinking: the loss of magic,
the rationalism, the teaching of predestination.
And if this would not have
happened, capitalist institutions would not have been
able to develop.” Not that they caused the
emergence of capitalist institutions;
there was also an evolution of the economic systems.
The material change happened in
one line, and the change in the sphere of ideas happened in
another line. And what he said,
“There is an elective affinity between the two.”
If you have the proper ideas,
and the proper economic institution, bingo–right?–
then the change happens; then you have modern capitalism.
If you don’t have the right
ideas, like Calvinism– he said, “Like in China in
the twelfth century everybody, everything was ready for
capitalism. It did not happen because the
Confucian and Taoist ideas at that time did not give the
ideological framing which would have helped the development of
capitalism in China, and that’s why China was held
back.” Right? Calvinism, you know,
rationalization of ideas could happen, but if there are no
economic conditions for capitalism, it will not happen
either. So this is the idea of elective
affinity. He rejects a simple causal
relationship between ideas and material conditions,
and he substitutes it, we would say today,
an interactive effect. Right?
There is an interaction between
ideas and material conditions. He calls it elective affinity,
as such. Thank you very much.

And the test questions will be
posted, just before 7:00 p.m. I have a discussion section at
7:00. So before I go to the
discussion section Thursday, I will post the questions.

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