Max Weber And The False Consciousness Of Karl Marx Essay

Max Weber And The False Consciousness Of Karl Marx Essay

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As a practical sociologist, Charlie Chaplin film Modern times embodies the ideas of hyper-rationalization of Max Weber and the false consciousness of Karl Marx. His film critiques the structural evolution caused by modern society. Through satire, the film reflects the lived reality of modernity by showing how individual agency succumbs to ruthless pragmatism, and how false consciousness is taught to marginalized individuals.
With the writings of Martin Luther in the sixteen century, a large portion of Europe and the eventually the rest of the west converted from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism. Max Weber conjectures that under Protestantism citizens were encouraged to show their faith in God through hard work. (Weber, 377) . Over the centuries, Protestantism began to encourage its members to think hyper-rationally when making decisions. Hyper-rationality is characterized by decisions becoming increasingly qualitative, relied on long term cost benefit analysis, and people are hyper focused on achieving a goal are all characteristics. From the late 18th Century to the early 20th century, the United States and parts of Western Europe underwent the process of industrialization, and transitioned from Mercantilism to Capitalism as their predominant economic system. On the surface, the capitalism empowered workers. “ It has resolved personal worth into exchanged value and… has set up that single unconscionable freedom- Free Trade”(Marx, 161). The lived reality was the opposite because it damages the lower class , while helping the middle and upper class wealth faster, and more effectively than ever before. Many classes developed a false conscious, which is characterized by a misunderstanding of a groups long term potential and ro...


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...s the idea middle class narrative that anyone can be successful with hard work. His quote shows that perpetual optimism and his connection between work and success has become a mechanism for reinforcing self-blame of an individual’s failure to overcome the struggles in their lives, and helps develop a false conscious.
As a satire that comments on western society during the early 20th century, the film highlights how hyper-rationalism leads to false consciousness and eventually causes more hyper-rationalism. The film makes a bold statement by questioning the structural forces that make up society and give people agency. Through it’s portrayal of poverty and inequality the Modern times questions the typically narrative of poverty and its cause. The film then invalidates the narrative by highlighting the structural inequality, and lack of economic mobility in the west.

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