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Weber Vs. Marx

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Weber destabilizes the relationship between base and superstructure that Marx had established. According to Weber, the concept of historical materialism is naпve and nonsense because superstructures are not mere reflections of the economic base. ("The Protestant Ethic" and "The Spirit of Capitalism (1904-5) Weber agrees that the economy is one of the most faithful forces in modern life. However there are other social and legal factors which exhibit power and thus influence society. These factors help define bureaucratic society or Weber's concept of modern society which operates through the rational administration of labor. According to Weber, the condition of modern society is disenchantment, which, through rationalization (division of labor), worldly activity is no longer motivated by cultural or spiritual values (meaning) but is instead motivated by economic impulsion. Ironically though, Weber attributes religious aestheticism (meaning) to the root of rationalization, and once mechanism (capitalism) takes off on its own, that religious root is no longer needed to justify work. Thus, mechanized petrification emerges, leaving hardly any room for spontaneity, with a few exceptions. In establishing a definition of modern society, Weber, unlike Marx, acknowledges that certain ideas can have great influence on material conditions. He suggests a more complex, dynamic relationship between economy and superstructure. Human activity is motivated by reasons other than just capitalist consumption. For example, many people act based on meaning, such as religious or spiritual. Values shape how people live. Weber accuses Marx of being an economic determinist for believing that the mode of production is the only force that moves the base. Weber believes that social and legal factors such as status, class, party, and the division of social honor from economic order in addition to the economy influence modern society, which, according to Weber, is a bureaucracy organized through the rational administration of labor. Weber believes that human history has been the progressive rationalization of life (modernity). The increased rationalism (measuring/controlling the labor process, ie: assembly line) based on logic and calculations instead of traditions, heart, and feeling of modernity lead to disenchantment, excluding any spontaneity, feeling, or passion.

According to Weber, the rational mode of administration (Bureaucracy), that defines modern life, is superior to all other forms of administration, as Marx's machine production (mode of production) is superior to handicraft methods. It yields optimal functional performance, with every part contributing to the whole (universal purpose). Bureaucracy encompasses an elaborate hierarchical division of labor (power administered from top to bottom) directed by precise rules impersonally applied, staffed by full-time, life-time, professionals, who do not own the 'means of administration', or their jobs, or the sources of their funds, and live off a salary, not from income derived directly from the performance of their job. Employees use discretion only within delegated limits, and the data of the organization becomes independent of those who originally made the decisions. The one disadvantage of bureaucracy though is that it has led to the depersonalization of the modern world, excluding anything irrational, incalculable, or passion driven. This depersonalization and disenchantment can be compared to Marx's concept of alienation. Weber uses the analogy of the iron cage to describe the spiritual root of rationalization and disenchantment that are present in a bureaucracy. The iron cage is a bureaucracy, in which the bird (religion, spirit, feeling) is trapped until it escapes the cage, resulting in disenchantment. The spirit of religious asceticism escapes from the cage because the rational world no longer needs a religious foundation; it has become an independent mechanism of coercion. The reason that society obtained a rational form of capitalism was through the inner-worldly asceticism of the Protestant ethic. In the advent of the Reformation (The calling) and Calvinism (Predestination), concepts such as the calling and predestination applied reason and brought religious significance to one's work. If the calling is one's particular occupation, then one must work whole-heartedly to attain a state of grace. People are predestined and cannot be brought to their fate by force. They are prepared to do what they have been predestined for. This religious aestheticism left the monasteries to dominate the world. Here, the base of the mode of production is morality (religion). Unlike Catholicism, Protestantism reflects an individuality or loneliness in which the relationship with God is direct and not mediated through a priest. Therefore, each person is on his/her own, and the degradation of the flesh is feared because it indicates that one is not in a state of grace. Capital is no longer accumulated to possess pleasurable delights, but to attain holiness and rigor in one's life. So instead of capital being squandered on life's pleasures,



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