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Max Weber and the ghost of Marx....

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Max Weber and the ghost of Marx....

Postby mhandel » Sun Feb 29, 2004 2:12 pm

Tell me what you think of this paper. Doesn't deal specifically with anarchism, but it does lead to questions about whether Weber is useful to radical social struggles.


Max Weber and the ghost of Marx

Max Weber’s relationship to Marx is an intellectually complex issue. Was Weber attempting to refute Marx [Parsons 1958 [1929]], or to supplement him [Zeitlin 1997][]? The thesis of this paper is the paradoxical argument that both Parsons and Zeitlin are correct: Weber’s (probable) intent was to refute Marx and Marxism but Weber’s theories often end up supplementing Marxian analyses.

This essay is divided into 4 parts. The first two sections of this paper will be about setting the groundwork to understanding my argument. In the first section, I will discuss Weber’s epistemology as a major cause in terms of why it is so difficult to assess Weber’s relationship to Marx. In the second section, I will discuss the anti-Marxist political project of classical sociology and how it relates to Weber. In my third section, I will compare specific examples of Weber’s social theories and his political intent with that of Marx. In my conclusion, I will make some general observations about Weber’s intellectual heirs’ relationship to Marx, and how Weber’s relationship to Marx has been interpreted over the years.

Weber’s epistemology
It is important to understand Weber’s epistemology since it sheds light on both Weber’s relationship to Marx and why this relationship is so open to (mis-)interpretation. Max Weber’s epistemology can be summed up as an attempt to merge Kant with Nietzsche (“Neo-Kantianism”). This may seem impossible, because the universalism and foundationalism of Kant seems to be diametrically opposed to the strongly particularist and relativist position of Nietzsche. Yet Weber does manage to synthesize these two figures in his epistemology.

Weber, like Kant believes in the ability to separate “facts” (science) and “values” (ethics/morality/politics etc) [Weber in Mills and Gerth 1946: 129-155]. But whereas Kant attempts to construct a foundation for universal values (i.e. the categorical imperative), Weber, like Nietzsche offers a radically subjectivist and relativist account of values, where values are entirely in the eyes of the individual [McCarthy 2001] As Loren Goldner explains:

“With Weber, the critique of the positivity of facts is linked to "values" in a way that appears Kantian, but because, following Nietzsche, Weber makes of multiple "values" an ultimately arbitrary choice, thereby rejecting all external criteria, he shows the distance which separates post-1890 German thought from the Kantian effort to elaborate a foundation for morality.” [L. Goldner 1999 [1980] work in progress][]

The fact that Weber himself tries so hard to follow this epistemological perspective, makes it extremely difficult to figure out what his values are. Within his post -1903 scholarship, he is extremely good at describing phenomena but it is often very difficult to figure out whether he is in favour or opposed to those phenomena which he is describing. Of course, Weber does have values embedded in his scholarship, just that they are coded and buried. This difficulty in assessing his values, has meant that there is a tendency for many sociologists to impute (pro or anti-Marxist) values into Weber’s writings (Parsons is perhaps the best known example of someone who does this [Antonio 1984;1985]) This ease in which one can read one’s own values into Weber is a major reason why there is so much controversy over Weber’s relationship to Marx.

Max Weber and the Classical Sociological Project
Before I begin to discuss the specific relation between Weber and Marx, it is useful to discuss the broader social context in which this relation was formed. It is no accident that in the late
19th and (especially) early 20th century, we see an enormous growth in the number of sociologists—many of whom, unlike the sociologists of the earlier phases, were institutionalized within the academic environment. These sociologists were members of the rising professional middle class and thus their class interest made them hostile to the aspirations of the working class and revolutionary theories like Marxism in general. Thus, the classical sociological project can be seen as mostly an attempt to formulate theories that would discredit Marxism. [A. Gouldner 1970].

I have identified 3 “ideal-type” categories of classical sociologists: 1) There were those who seemed very unfamiliar with Marx, and thus their theories are implicit attempts at refuting Marxism (e.g. Emile Durkheim) [Craib 1997] 2) There were those who explicitly framed their theories as attempts to refute Marxism (e.g. Vilfredo Pareto) [Zeitlin 1997]. 3) There were those who were somewhat sympathetic to Marxism (thus were engaging in a dialogue with Marx), but their theoretical frameworks were easily taken over by others to be used in an anti-Marxist manner (e.g. Karl Mannheim;) [Kettler and Meja 1995]

While Weber doesn’t fit into the first category, it is extremely difficult to classify Weber in the second or third category because we’re not sure exactly “which of Marx’s work, Weber actually read” [Guenther Roth cited in Schroeter 1985]. As well, it is unclear whether Weber saw himself as refuting the “Marxism” of the time (e.g Kautsky, Plenkanov) or Marx himself.

Weber’s Sociology: A debate (dialogue?) with the ghost of Marx

I will adopt a multi-perspectivist approach when attempting to contextualize Weber’s relationship to Marx: I will first employ a Neo-Kantian fact-value dichotomy, by attempting to evaluate Weber’s theories in abstraction from his political intent. Since I do not believe that one can separate “facts” and “values” as easily as Weber seems to believes [Mommsen 1984 [1959]], I will then bring in his political intentions into the discussion. My approach will yield something quite fascinating: abstracting Weber’s social theory from his politics, will show Weber to be relatively compatible with Marxian analyses and seems to be simply correcting some of the problems he sees in Marx’s work (from this perspective, his attitude is a lot closer to Mannheim than Pareto). However, once we bring in his politics into the analysis, his views will seem to be much more an attempt to refute Marx and Marxism (from this perspective, his attitude is a lot closer to Pareto than Mannheim).

Weber’s most famous work is the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (PE). In it he argues that capitalism requires a certain type of outlook or mentality (“spirit”) in order for it to succeed. Protestentism according to Weber, provides such a mentality. As evidence for this, one can point to how the individualist ethos of Protestantism has a strong similariity (“elective affinity”) to the demands of an economic system (capitalism) that requires individuals to aggressively compete against each other in the market-place. Even doctrines of predestination—the notion that a person has been chosen to go to heaven or hell is determined before they were born—rather than producing a fatalistic attitude, produces a work-ethic that is a prerequisite for a successful capitalism. According to Weber, the doctrine of predestination produces “status-anxiety”, causing people to work hard as a means to psychologically reassure themselves that they will go to heaven when they die [Weber 1959 [1903-1904][].

The emphasis on the role of ideas in PE should be seen as a commentary on what Weber understood as the “materialist theory of history”. It is commonly interpreted by Parsonians and Structural Marxists alike, to view Weber as explaining the origins of capitalism in an idealist fashion: seeing Protestantism as the major cause behind the rise of capitalism. Thus from this standpoint, Weber’s work can be seen as an attempt to refute Marx and Marxism’s emphasis on materialist explainations of social reality [Antonio 1985; B. Turner 1995]. But this is probably a misinterpretation of Weber, because Weber saw material factors as important. As he himself wrote:

“It is, of course, not my aim to substitute for a one-sided materialistic an equally one sided spiritualistic [idealistic]
causal interpretation of culture and of history. Each is equally plausible, but each if it does not serve as the
preparation, but as the conclusion of an investigation, accomplishes equally little in the interest of historical truth
[Weber cited in Bendix 1977: 46]

Thus, Weber is not arguing that ideational factor like Protestantism was the primary cause behind the rise of capitalism, merely that it was one factor among many (including material factors). His argument is that ideas are not simply a reflection of the economic “base”, rather ideas have relative autonomy from the economy [Parkin 1982]. More generally, Weber is rejecting monism (i.e. a an event cannot determined by a single cause—since there are a multiplicity (infinite) causes behind an event). However, this is really not too different from Marx who referred to those believing that ideas are merely a superstructural reflection of the economic base as “vulgar materialists” [Antonio 1985]. But Weber’s strawman “Marx” is not too different from the Weltanschauung of the Marxists of Weber’s day who did tend to hold such vulgar materialism [Antonio 1985][].

A critique of “vulgar” Marxism is not necessarily a refutation of Marxism because such a critique is often needed to strengthen Marxist analysis. Thus, at this level of analysis, Randall Collins’ comment that “it [Weber’s work] builds upon Marxian fundamentals” [Collins cited in Schroeter 1985] is apt. While he is not talking about PE in particular, the young Lukacs also seems to hold a similar opinion concerning Weber’s historical sociology:
“While Historical Materialism brought about a self-knowledge of nineteenth century society, the research into earlier societies, e.g. Early Christianity or the early history of the Orient conducted, for example, by Kautsky, has shown itself as not being sophisticated enough in comparison with more recent studies....Consequently, we must utilize the work of those exceptional scholars...who understood the basic tenets of historical materialism and subjected them to detailed revision in the course of their own investigation into the history of the past. I am thinking of scholars such as Max Weber” [Lukacs cited in Tar and Marcus 1984:115]

However, once we bring in Weber’s politics and intent into account we see his anti-Marxist project much more clearly—he was ardent German nationalist, a supporter of imperialism, and he was an advocate of power-politics [Mommsen 1984[1959]]. These features are not something one would find in abundance among Marxists. His views on the Ultra-Left, were extremely derogatory: “[Karl] Liebknecht belongs in the madhouse and Rosa Luxembourg in the zoo” [Weber cited in Mommsen 1984: 305]. This does tend to suggest, following the later Lukacs[] that Weber’s intent was not to critique vulgar Marxism as a means to improve it—but rather to construct a strawman Marxism as a means to discredit socialism. [Lukacs 1952]

One of Weber’s other interests was bureaucracy. For Weber “[Bureaucracy meant] an elaborate hierarchical division of labour directed by explicit rules impersonally applied, staffed by full-time, life-time, professionals, who do not in any sense 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.” [R.J. Kilcullen 1996]. Weber’s holds an ambivalent view of bureaucracy, because for Weber, it does produce some social improvements. As Douglas Kellner points out:
“For Max Weber....bureaucracy contained a certain amount of logic and rationality and was part of a process of rationalization and modernization which produced at least some social benefits and progress (i.e. rational calculation, predictability, law, governance by rules rather than force, etc.)” [Kellner ????].

But there is a deeply felt existential anxiety to bureaucracy as well—the generalization of bureaucratic structure with its emphasis on conformity, and predictability, leads to human existence that is characterized by
“...entropy, lack of arousal, lifelessness lack of passionate involvement.....he [Weber] feared that it [bureaucracy] entailed a routinization of life, in which men accommodate themselves to the social machinery and become lifeless, dependant grey cogs.” [Gouldner 1970: 122].

This is why Weber referred to bureaucracy as the “Iron Cage”. By this term, he refers to how bureaucracy totally controls the lives of individuals. Individuals increasingly feel they are powerless and feel they lack agency (“caged”) to change the social structures[]. Instead people learn to acquiesce to their social conditions.

Weber is quite prophetic in seeing emerging tendencies in western societies, that would become apparent only much later on. I am somewhat astonished that he predicted the emergence of someone like the Nazi bureaucrat Adolph Eichmann who claimed he was a good bureaucrat “just following orders”:

“The Individual bureaucrat cannot squirm out of the apparatus into which he has been harnessed ....the professional
bureaucrat is chained to his activity in his entire economic and ideological existence. In the great majority of cases.
He is only a small cog in a ceaselessly moving mechanism which prescribes to him an essentially fixed route of
march. The official is entrusted with specialized tasks, and normally the mechanism cannot be put into motion or
arrested by him, but only from the very top. The individual bureaucrat is above all, forged to the common interest of
all the functionaries in the perpetuation, of the apparatus and the persistence of its rationally organized domination”
[Weber cited in Antonio 1984: 159]

To understand Weber's interest in bureaucracy, we have to look at changes at the material level of capitalism. As a result of the breakdown of the self-regulating market in the 19th century (i.e. the growing class conflicts and increasingly serious business cycle problems [Fotopoulous 1999]), the ruling class was increasingly moving towards a more “state-centric” (corporatist) economic model. This model, instead of solving economic problems through the ‘invisible hand’ of the market, would instead aim to resolve these “economic conflicts” and business cycle problems through a bureaucratic regulatory structure. This emerging corporatist model would eventually turn into either the welfare-state, fascism, Stalinism, or the various statist developmentalist models in the Third World [Goldner1988, 2000].

Thus, Weber can be interpreted as periodizing an emerging phase of capitalism [“bureaucratic capitalism” or in Weber’s language “high capitalism”] and this is clearly compatible with Marxian analyses. This is one of the ways that the Marxists of the Frankfurt School appropriated Weber (whether or not they would have cared to admit it[]) [Kellner 1985] However, once we take a look at the broader picture, we get a very different understanding of his “periodization”’s political intent. One of his domain assumptions is his linkage between private property and “freedom” and conversely he links the decline of private property to the Iron Cage of bureaucracy [Beetham 1974]. His critical attitude towards bureaucracy is ironically, a justification for capitalism—after all, since socialism entails the abolition of private property, it will mean a bureaucratic nightmare far worse than capitalism. Thus, while Weber recognizes capitalism as exploitive and increasingly bureaucratic, it is the lesser of all evils. Weber is an indirect apologist of capitalism:

“Whereas direct apologetic was at pains to depict capitalism as the best of all order, as the last, outstanding peak in mankind’s evolution, indirect apologetic crudely elaborated the bad sides, the atrocities of capitalism, but explained them as attributed not of capitalism but of all human existence and existence in general. From this it necessarily follows that a struggle against these atrocities not only appears doomed from the start but signifies an absurdity, viz., a self-dissolution of the essentially human.” [Lukacs 1980 [1952]: 202]

Weber’s political prescriptions on how to deal with the “Iron Cage” is strongly anti-Marxist in nature: It isn’t any form of libertarian socialist revolution that would solve the stifling nature of bureaucracy, it is the personal authority of the charismatic leader. It is the charismatic leader who is able to impose his “will” on the polity, who can prevent the bureaucratic routinization of politics. [Weber in Gerth and Mills 1946: 245-252; Zeitlin 1997]. Even in regards, to his solution of charismatic authority, he is pessimistic about it, because Weber is aware of the strong possibility of the ““depersonalization” of charisma, (that occurs after the routinization of charisma” [Glassman 1984: 217] and the possibility of ““disenchantment” with charisma (that emerges from a rational world-view)” [Glassman 1984: 217]

Conclusion
This essay may seem somewhat frustrating as I first demonstrate the compatibility of Weber’s social theories with Marx, but when I brings in his politics, it shows his theories were intended to refute Marx. This contradiction between his “pro-Marxist” and “anti-Marxist” side becomes more apparent, when we note that C. Wright Mills [Ritzer 1988; Elwell 2002] and Alvin Gouldner [Wrong 1982; Antonio 2004[]] are sympathetic to Marx, while (the later) Robert Michels [Mcintosh 1983] and (the later) Daniel Bell [Waters 1996; Antonio 2004[6]] are antagonistic to Marx—yet all can be considered intellectual heirs to Max Weber!

Generally speaking, the dominant interpretation of Weber’s relationship to Marx, tends to illuminate more about the interpreter and the society in which the interpretation is being made, than Weber’s actual relationship to Marx.[]. In the conservative 1950s, with the dominance of the Parsonian interpretation of Weber, it was almost an axiom (at least in the English speaking world) that Weber was out to “refute Marx”[]. But in the more radical era of the late 1960s, Weber’s work was increasingly seen “not as a repudiation of Marx’s methodological principles but rather as a rounding out and supplementing of his method” [Zeitlin 1968 in Zeitlin 1997: 198][]. In the 1970s and 1980s, with a general climate of neo-conservative ascendancy there were attempts to revive Parsonian “readings” of Weber’s relationship to Marx [Antonio 1985; Schroeter 1985].

If there is one thing this paper demonstrates, it is the relative autonomy between the actual intent of a social theorist and what the theory itself illuminates. This perhaps holds particularly true for Weber, whose Neo-Kantian “fact-value” dichotomy accentuates this autonomy. The fact that he managed to (relatively consistently) follow his strenuous epistemological principle is a tribute to his skills, but on the negative side, it makes it rather difficult to assess his relationship to Marx.

Works Cited
Beetham, David. Max Weber and the Theory of Modern Politics. George Allen&Unwin 1974.

Bendix, Reinhard. Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait. University of California Press 1977 [orig. 1960].

Craib, Ian. Classical social theory. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Gerth, H.H, Mills, C. Wright. From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. Oxford, University Press 1946.

Gouldner, Alvin. The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology. Basic Books 1970

Kettler, David and Meja, Volker. Karl Mannheim and the crisis of liberalism : the secret of these new times Transaction Publishers, c1995.

Lukács, György. The Destruction of Reason. Merlin Press, c1980 [orig 1954].

McCarthy, George. Objectivity and the silence of reason : Weber, Habermas, and the methodological disputes in German sociology. Transaction Publishers, c2001

Mommsen, Wolfgang. Max Weber and German Politics: 1890–1920. University of Chicago Press 1984 [orig in German 1959].

Parkin, Frank. Max Weber. Ellis Horwood Limited 1982

Ritzer, George. Contemporary sociological theory. Knopf, c1988

Turner, Bryan. For Weber: Essays on the Sociology of Fate. Sage Publications 1996.

Waters, Malcolm. Daniel Bell. Routledge 1996

Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Trans. Talcott Parsons. Charles Scribners Sons 1958 [orig. in German 1904/1905]

Zeitlin, Irving. Ideology and the development of sociological theory. Prentice Hall, 1997

“Science as a Vocation”, Max Weber in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. [pg 129-158] C. Wright Mills and Hans Gerth [eds. and trans.] Oxford, University Press 1946.

“Introduction”, Talcott Parsons in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Trans. Talcott Parsons. Charles Scribners Sons 1958

“The Sociology of Charismatic Authority”, Max Weber in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology [pg. 245-252]. C. Wright Mills and Hans Gerth [eds and trans] Oxford, University Press 1946.

“A Note on Marx and Weber in Gouldner's Thought”, Dennis Wrong in Theory and Society Vol 11, No 6. Nov 1982:
http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0304-2 ... 0.CO%3B2-N

“Max Weber as a Critical Theorist”, Donald Mcintosh in Theory and Society Vol. 12, No. 1 Jan 1983:
http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0304-2 ... 0.CO%3B2-0

“The Weber–Lukacs Encounter”, Zoltan Tar and Judith Marcus in Max Weber’s Political Sociology: A Pessimistic Vision of a Rationalized World. Ronald Glassman and Vatro Murvar (eds) Greenwood Press 1984.

“Weber vs Parsons: Domination or Technocratic Models of Social Organization”, Robert Antonio in Max Weber’s Political Sociology: A Pessimistic Vision of a Rationalized World. Ronald Glassman and Vatro Murvar (eds) Greenwood Press 1984.

“Manufactured Charisma and Legitimacy” Ronald Glassman in Max Weber’s Political Sociology: A Pessimistic Vision of a Rationalized World. Ronald Glassman and Vatro Murvar (eds) Greenwood Press 1984.

“Dialogue, Debate, or Dissent? The difficulties of Assessing Max Weber’s Relation to Marx”, Gerd Shroeter in A Weber–Marx Dialogue. Robert Antonio and Ronald Glassman (eds.). University Press of Kansas 1985.

“Values, History and Science: The Metatheoretic Foundations of the Weber-Marx Dialogue”, Robert Antonio in A Weber–Marx Dialogue. Robert Antonio and Ronald Glassman (eds.). University Press of Kansas 1985.

“Critical Theory, Max Weber and the Dialectic of Domination”, Douglas Kellner in A Weber–Marx Dialogue. Robert Antonio and Ronald Glassman (eds.). University Press of Kansas 1985.

“Short History of the World Workers' Movement from Lassalle to Neo-Liberalism”, Loren Goldner 1988 at:
http://home.earthlink.net/%7Elrgoldner/ ... story.html

“The Domain of Sociology”, Harley Davidson in Contemporary Sociology: Critical Perspectives. Peter S. Li and B. Singh Bolaria. Copp Clark Pitman, c1993

“Max Weber: On Bureaucracy” R.J. Kilcullen 1996 at:
http://www.humanities.mq.edu.au/politics/y64l09.html

“Welfare State or Economic Democracy?” Takis Fotopoulos in Democracy&Nature Volume 5 Number 3, November 1999 at: http://www.democracynature.org/dn/vol5/ ... elfare.htm

“The Remaking of the American Working Class”, Loren Goldner 1999-(work in progress) (orig 1981) at: http://home.earthlink.net/%7Elrgoldner/remaking.html

“Ubu Saved From Drowning: Class Struggle and Statist Containment in Portugal and Spain, 1974-77”, Loren Goldner 2000 at:
http://home.earthlink.net/%7Elrgoldner/ ... tugal.html

“From 1984 to One-Dimensional Man: Critical Reflections on Orwell and Marcuse”, Douglas Kellner at:
http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kelln ... kell13.htm

“The Sociology of C. Wright Mills” Elwell, Frank W., 2002, at: http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/~felwell/The ... /index.htm

Steven Rosenthal’s questions concerning Weber/Marx. Progressive Sociologists Network. (See Appendix A) at http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/ ... g00007.htm

“RE: Would calling Alvin Gouldner a "Weberian" be dangerous/problematic?” Robert Antonio, personal communication with author 2004 (see Appendix B)
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Re: Max Weber and the ghost of Marx....

Postby Edo » Sun Feb 29, 2004 6:10 pm

mhandel wrote:Tell me what you think of this paper. Doesn't deal specifically with anarchism, but it does lead to questions about whether Weber is useful to radical social struggles.
Overall... I think it doesn't cite Weber enough. Without some background knowledge of his work (and I'm still acquiring that) this has very little actual content.

Weber’s epistemology
It is important to understand Weber’s epistemology since it sheds light on both Weber’s relationship to Marx and why this relationship is so open to (mis-)interpretation. Max Weber’s epistemology can be summed up as an attempt to merge Kant with Nietzsche (“Neo-Kantianism”). This may seem impossible, because the universalism and foundationalism of Kant seems to be diametrically opposed to the strongly particularist and relativist position of Nietzsche. Yet Weber does manage to synthesize these two figures in his epistemology.
The Kant-Nietzsche synthesis doesn't seem as hard as it's made out to be; Nietzsche's major influence, Schopenhauer, was the neo-Kantian. (It'd be an interesting thing to look into, to see if there's any connection...)

Weber, like Kant believes in the ability to separate “facts” (science) and “values” (ethics/morality/politics etc)... But whereas Kant attempts to construct a foundation for universal values (i.e. the categorical imperative), Weber, like Nietzsche offers a radically subjectivist and relativist account of values, where values are entirely in the eyes of the individual... As Loren Goldner explains:
With Weber, the critique of the positivity of facts is linked to "values" in a way that appears Kantian, but because, following Nietzsche, Weber makes of multiple "values" an ultimately arbitrary choice, thereby rejecting all external criteria, he shows the distance which separates post-1890 German thought from the Kantian effort to elaborate a foundation for morality.”

Max Weber and the Classical Sociological Project
Before I begin to discuss the specific relation between Weber and Marx, it is useful to discuss the broader social context in which this relation was formed. It is no accident that in the late 19th and (especially) early 20th century, we see an enormous growth in the number of sociologists—many of whom, unlike the sociologists of the earlier phases, were institutionalized within the academic environment. These sociologists were members of the rising professional middle class and thus their class interest made them hostile to the aspirations of the working class and revolutionary theories like Marxism in general. Thus, the classical sociological project can be seen as mostly an attempt to formulate theories that would discredit Marxism...

While Weber doesn’t fit into the first category, it is extremely difficult to classify Weber in the second or third category because we’re not sure exactly “which of Marx’s work, Weber actually read” [Guenther Roth cited in Schroeter 1985]. As well, it is unclear whether Weber saw himself as refuting the “Marxism” of the time (e.g Kautsky, Plekhanov) or Marx himself.
At the time, there was no difference between "Marxism" and "Marx." We can be sure of what Weber didn't read - the 1844 Manuscripts, The German Ideology (either version), the Grundrisse, most of Marx's later writings - because none of those saw print for a few decades. Marxism was vulgar Marxism, as explained through Kautsky and Plekhanov. If he actually does make a "critique" of Marx, it's been obsolete for a few decades at least, which relegates this entire point to a question of history.

The emphasis on the role of ideas in PE should be seen as a commentary on what Weber understood as the “materialist theory of history”. It is commonly interpreted by Parsonians and Structural Marxists alike, to view Weber as explaining the origins of capitalism in an idealist fashion: seeing Protestantism as the major cause behind the rise of capitalism.
This means very little. "Structural[ist] Marxism" is dead even as an academic fashion, and even if you de-Stalinized all three of its major "thinkers" all of its breakthroughs were developed more clearly by other, more palatable, writers earlier.

More generally, Weber is rejecting monism (i.e. a an event cannot determined by a single cause—since there are a multiplicity (infinite) causes behind an event). However, this is really not too different from Marx who referred to those believing that ideas are merely a superstructural reflection of the economic base as “vulgar materialists” [Antonio 1985]. But Weber’s strawman “Marx” is not too different from the Weltanschauung of the Marxists of Weber’s day who did tend to hold such vulgar materialism [Antonio 1985].
Ignoring the misinterpretation of "monism," see a point or two above about what he didn't read.

A critique of “vulgar” Marxism is not necessarily a refutation of Marxism because such a critique is often needed to strengthen Marxist analysis. Thus, at this level of analysis, Randall Collins’ comment that “it builds upon Marxian fundamentals”... is apt. While he is not talking about PE in particular, the young Lukacs also seems to hold a similar opinion concerning Weber’s historical sociology...
Hmmm. The young Lukács (depending on how young: was it before or after History and Class Consciousness?) actually holds a bit of water on this point, but I'm not sure. (I'm still reading H&CC myself.)

However, once we bring in Weber’s politics and intent into account we see his anti-Marxist project much more clearly—he was ardent German nationalist, a supporter of imperialism, and he was an advocate of power-politics.... His views on the Ultra-Left, were extremely derogatory: “[Karl] Liebknecht belongs in the madhouse and Rosa Luxemburg in the zoo..."
For what it's worth, painting Rosa as "ultra-Leftist" throughout is misleading; radical though she was at the end, Rosa Luxemburg was more the center-right of the ultra-Left. (Anton Pannekoek criticized her pretty sharply at the time, as did Paul Mattick in Anti-Bolshevik Communism a few decades later.)

This does tend to suggest, following the later Lukacs, that Weber’s intent was not to critique vulgar Marxism as a means to improve it—but rather to construct a strawman Marxism as a means to discredit socialism.[Lukacs 1952]
As of when he wrote this, "the later Lukács" was toeing an unusually Stalinist Party line. Caveat emptor.

(the section on bureaucracy at large)
While this (along with "charismatic authority") is one of the better points of Weber's work, I don't see a reason to go on at length about it here.

To understand Weber's interest in bureaucracy, we have to look at changes at the material level of capitalism. As a result of the breakdown of the self-regulating market in the 19th century (i.e. the growing class conflicts and increasingly serious business cycle problems [Fotopoulous 1999]), the ruling class was increasingly moving towards a more “state-centric” (corporatist) economic model. This model, instead of solving economic problems through the ‘invisible hand’ of the market, would instead aim to resolve these “economic conflicts” and business cycle problems through a bureaucratic regulatory structure. This emerging corporatist model would eventually turn into either the welfare-state, fascism, Stalinism, or the various statist developmentalist models in the Third World...

Thus, Weber can be interpreted as periodizing an emerging phase of capitalism [“bureaucratic capitalism” or in Weber’s language “high capitalism”] and this is clearly compatible with Marxian analyses. This is one of the ways that the Marxists of the Frankfurt School appropriated Weber (whether or not they would have cared to admit it.)


However, once we take a look at the broader picture, we get a very different understanding of his “periodization”’s political intent. One of his domain assumptions is his linkage between private property and “freedom” and conversely he links the decline of private property to the Iron Cage of bureaucracy [Beetham 1974]. His critical attitude towards bureaucracy is ironically, a justification for capitalism—after all, since socialism entails the abolition of private property, it will mean a bureaucratic nightmare far worse than capitalism. Thus, while Weber recognizes capitalism as exploitive and increasingly bureaucratic, it is the lesser of all evils. Weber is an indirect apologist of capitalism....

Weber’s political prescriptions on how to deal with the “Iron Cage” is strongly anti-Marxist in nature: It isn’t any form of libertarian socialist revolution that would solve the stifling nature of bureaucracy, it is the personal authority of the charismatic leader. It is the charismatic leader who is able to impose his “will” on the polity, who can prevent the bureaucratic routinization of politics... Even in regards, to his solution of charismatic authority, he is pessimistic about it, because Weber is aware of the strong possibility of the ““depersonalization” of charisma, (that occurs after the routinization of charisma” and the possibility of ““disenchantment” with charisma (that emerges from a rational world-view)”
I see Weber's study of charismatic authority as being an analytic tool without being useful as a prescription, but if you haven't read him (and I haven't read much) it's entirely meaningless.

Conclusion
...If there is one thing this paper demonstrates, it is the relative autonomy between the actual intent of a social theorist and what the theory itself illuminates...
I'm tempted to say this is a product of an academic paper mill, but why bother? The amount I skimmed through to make it readable should speak for itself.
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Postby mhandel » Sun Feb 29, 2004 9:05 pm

"The Kant-Nietzsche synthesis doesn't seem as hard as it's made out to be; Nietzsche's major influence, Schopenhauer, was the neo-Kantian. (It'd be an interesting thing to look into, to see if there's any connection...) "

From what I understand Nietzche despised Kant....

"At the time, there was no difference between "Marxism" and "Marx." We can be sure of what Weber didn't read - the 1844 Manuscripts, The German Ideology (either version), the Grundrisse, most of Marx's later writings - because none of those saw print for a few decades. Marxism was vulgar Marxism, as explained through Kautsky and Plekhanov. If he actually does make a "critique" of Marx, it's been obsolete for a few decades at least, which relegates this entire point to a question of history."

In my endnotes, I specifically talk about this.

"For what it's worth, painting Rosa as "ultra-Leftist" throughout is misleading; radical though she was at the end, Rosa Luxemburg was more the center-right of the ultra-Left. (Anton Pannekoek criticized her pretty sharply at the time, as did Paul Mattick in Anti-Bolshevik Communism a few decades later.)"

Yes, you're correct about this, I'll correct it to say far-left rather than ultra-left.

"As of when he wrote this, "the later Lukács" was toeing an unusually Stalinist Party line. Caveat emptor."

Again, you're right about this, I'll discuss in my endnotes. In fact, when he wrote his 1967 H&CC preface (post-Stalinist phase), he wrote (in contrast to his 50s Stalinism):

“I do not at all regret today that I took my first lessons in social science from Simmel and Max Weber, and not Kautsky. Perhaps one can even say that this was a fortunate circumstance for my own development”


"I see Weber's study of charismatic authority as being an analytic tool without being useful as a prescription, but if you haven't read him (and I haven't read much) it's entirely meaningless."

If you read material about Weber's politics, (e.g. the Mommsen book, "Max Weber and German Politics" is useful) you'll find out that Weber was an ambivalent supporter of charismatic authority. (Consistent with his epistemology, reading his scholarship alone, will not give you his support for charismatic authority, because this is a normative judgement ("value"))


"I'm tempted to say this is a product of an academic paper mill, but why bother? The amount I skimmed through to make it readable should speak for itself."

That's correct, it's for a Second Year Sociology course....It's so fucking hard, to make these academic papers actually relevant to social struggles!
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Postby Edo » Mon Mar 01, 2004 3:28 pm

mhandel wrote:
The Kant-Nietzsche synthesis doesn't seem as hard as it's made out to be; Nietzsche's major influence, Schopenhauer, was the neo-Kantian. (It'd be an interesting thing to look into, to see if there's any connection...)
From what I understand Nietzche despised Kant...
He did, although it doesn't change the fact that there was a continuity.

Again, you're right about this, I'll discuss in my endnotes. In fact, when he wrote his 1967 H&CC preface (post-Stalinist phase), he wrote (in contrast to his 50s Stalinism):

“I do not at all regret today that I took my first lessons in social science from Simmel and Max Weber, and not Kautsky. Perhaps one can even say that this was a fortunate circumstance for my own development”
Hmmm... I suppose that's true; when he wrote the preface to History and Class Consciousness the Party line had changed. *sigh* Stupid Party lines. How many periods of Lukács are there anyways? I'm counting at least five or six.

I see Weber's study of charismatic authority as being an analytic tool without being useful as a prescription, but if you haven't read him (and I haven't read much) it's entirely meaningless.
If you read material about Weber's politics, (e.g. the Mommsen book, "Max Weber and German Politics" is useful) you'll find out that Weber was an ambivalent supporter of charismatic authority. (Consistent with his epistemology, reading his scholarship alone, will not give you his support for charismatic authority, because this is a normative judgement ("value"))
Haven't read that. Will check it out after the current batch of 20 is done with.

I'm tempted to say this is a product of an academic paper mill, but why bother? The amount I skimmed through to make it readable should speak for itself.
That's correct, it's for a Second Year Sociology course....It's so fucking hard, to make these academic papers actually relevant to social struggles!
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Postby jacobhaller » Mon Mar 01, 2004 4:53 pm

Just about ever German philosopher (and a few Danes) in 1830-1890 despised Kant. That doesn't mean they weren't Kantians. Compare Kant's views on the individual conditions of consciousness with Marx's views on the social conditions of consciousness.
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Re: Max Weber and the ghost of Marx....

Postby hann » Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:13 pm

it's very captivating! http://bigpaperwriter.com/blog/imperialism-essay-sources-content-and-modern-models can share some info about imperialism with you!
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Re: Max Weber and the ghost of Marx....

Postby LayRong » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:38 am

Tell me what you think of this paper. Doesn't deal specifically with anarchism, but it does lead to questions about whether Weber is useful to radical social struggles.


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