“Just cats and porno…” Pfui! My internet is different.

The internet one sees depends on the links one follows, and the same applies to its famous subset, facebook.

I get a few cute cats via facebook – and yes, I have shared some – but I ee a range of things that the popular media do not have in the public image of the net.  Spotted on facebook:  in a discussion of

‘The mindblowing issue that Weber raised: Beruf cannot be worship….but yet it IS somehow. Ever wondered if the world would be different without the Reformation?”

( beruf : calling, duty, task)   – (link to see a translation of  Politik als Beruf, part of the background to the discussion.)

one post:

“The Protestant work ethic in Weber’s time

By the time Weber wrote his essay, he believed that the religious underpinnings of the Protestant ethic had largely gone from society. He cited the writings of Benjamin Franklin, which emphasized frugality, hard work and thrift, but were mostly free of spiritual content. Weber also attributed the success of mass production partly to the Protestant ethic. Only after expensive luxuries were disdained, could individuals accept the uniform products, such as clothes and furniture, that industrialization offered.

In his remarkably prescient conclusion to the book, Weber lamented that the loss of religious underpinning to capitalism’s spirit has led to a kind of involuntary servitude to mechanized industry.

“ The Puritan wanted to work in calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order. This order is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which today determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force. Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt. In Baxter’s view the care for external goods should only lie on the shoulders of the ‘saint like a light cloak, which can be thrown aside at any moment.’ But fate decreed that the cloak should become an iron cage. (Page 181, 1953 Scribner’s edition.) ”

Weber maintained that while Puritan religious ideas had significantly impacted the development of economic system in Europe and United States, there were other factors in play, as well. They included a closer relationship between mathematics and observation, the enhanced value of scholarship, rational systematization of government administration, and an increase in entrepreneurship ventures. In the end, the study of Protestant ethic, according to Weber, investigated a part of the detachment from magic, that disenchantment of the world that could be seen as a unique characteristic of Western culture.[5]:60

And among the responses:

Weber was desperate to conceal the labour theory of value; he thus places the foundation for capitalism in the ‘work ethic’ falling back on the old moralism of Adam Smith that wealth comes from the ‘hard work’ of an individual. Nonsense. Wealth is accumulated from the surplus value (unpaid labour) of the workers put to work by the capitalist. And why are these people available to be put to work? Because their birthrights in the common lands were stolen by a previous generation of emerging capitalists.

These are just adults talking about ideas that interest them in light of current events and a fair knowledge of history and sociological/political/economic theory, in geographically separate lives.   I know that some of them have read and understood Weber’s works in the context of the time in which they were  written.

I am glad that they have the opportunity to chat this way, and that I can read  the conversation the next day.   I have the opportunity to think about it, find further resources, and decide whether to join in – and in the process, question my own assumptions about the society in which I live.

I love this application of technology.

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