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Weber’s Inquisitive Ethos Built on the Shoulders of Marxist Capitalist Theory

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Weber and Marx have both written accounts on the rise of capitalism and the bourgeoisie class in an attempt to understand the resulting inequalities that still exist today. Weber has criticised the work of Marx, citing how limited it is use a purely economic framework, labelled as historical materialism, instead of looking at all factors within society (Weber 2001: 20). Weber provides evidence and conclusions that mirror Marx, suggesting that his criticism is faulty. First, both writers recognise an inequality between the poor and rich resulting from the rise of capitalism and the bourgeoisie (Marx and Engels 2008: 34-36; Weber 2001: 28-30). Second, they both suggest broader systems of delusion meant to normalise the exploitation of the worker, and validate the gains of the bourgeoisie (Marx and Engels 2008: 38-40; Weber 2001: 24-27). Third, both authors refer to the development of systems that divides workers and suppresses their ability to deviate from or break capitalism (Marx and Engels 2008: 44; Weber 2001: 19; 115). Therefore, Weber’s criticism of Marx is only partially correct. Marx actually discusses social, political, and even moral elements despite both authors believing that The Communist Manifesto is solely about economics; the overlap between their conclusions shows demonstrates such variety. Weber’s work is superior though because he integrates examples of religion and morals to further support these points: the oppressive systems of capitalism and the persistent class antagonisms. Disproving even Marx’s own identity as an economist, Weber’s argument is marginally superior because it uses morality to elaborate on Marx’s seemingly-economic conclusions regarding the rise of bourgeois capitalism.
Marx’s expla...

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...he apparent overlap between the two authors. This lost potential is evident in the superior argument Weber includes that Marx neglects, but could have easily included. Weber takes these three claims and provides evidence of the adoption, transformation, and removal of morals and ethos through the guise of religion, to achieve deeper political goals. These authors criticise capitalism in very similar ways, yet Weber actively works against Marx. Like the naturalised divides set between workers, how may labels and rhetoric of different disciplines affect the ability of academics to question larger, naturalised institutions?

Works Cited

Marx, Karl & Friedrich Engels. 2008 (1848). The Communist Manifesto. Introduction by David Harvey. London: Pluto Press. ISBN: 978-0745328461
Weber, Max. . The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. London: Routledge.
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