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The Spirit of Capitalism

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E.A.B.
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#1

Posted 24 September 2011 - 09:44 AM

I'm having a bit of a dilemma here which I hope to clear up a bit.

Alright, so in ''The Spirit of Capitalism'' (chapter II of some gay ass book), Weber (sociologist) makes the argument (more or less) that Capitalism needed something to ''push'' it forward.

Farmers make enough to live, and the same could have been true of capitalism. Instead of the system we have today (Constant evolution due to profit motivation) we could have had a mere replacement of the old society (subsistence with no evolution and just enough to live creating NO profits).

Most people made enough to live. They made enough to have food and shelter for another day. What exactly lead to people wanting to make a profit, to make more than what they already had?

Weber makes the argument that Religion played a major role. Mainly, the protestant movement. The movement emphasized hard work and frugality. Which creates an accumulation of wealth that can then be/was re-invested into a growing society filled more and more with industry. Basically, this religious movement was the ''kick'' that changed the social thought when it came to economics. People didn't work enough to live off of, they worked and made more than they needed to be ''saved''* which ''evolved' industry. Once this work ethic and train of thought became the norm, religion was slowly detached from it.

Unless I butchered the mans text, that's pretty much the crux of his argument.



Now, MY problem/argument isn't so much adding to it, but debunking it. Basically, does anyone agree?

East Asian countries rose up and prospered without the influence of religion whatsoever, so that's enough to debunk this dumb mf'ers ish, right? Well, you can make the argument that the framework was merely set by Protestants, and that these countries didn't need religion in the context of a modern society to want to turn a profit and succeed.

Anyway, my issue here is that, even with the east asian example, I still think his argument has merit. The ''need'' for a force to change the social norms relating to economic thought. Here's my main question:

WHAT EXACTLY CHANGED THE SOCIAL NORMS OF WORKING ENOUGH TO GET BY INTO THE PRESENT NORM OF WORKING TO ACCUMULATE MORE AND MORE.

Working enough to live off of was the norm. In order for capitalism in its present form (PROFITPROFITPROFIT) to exist, something must have given it a ''push'' in relation to social thought. I doubt it was purely religion, but I also think it can be disproven and that it is, as Adam Smith says, ''spontaneous''.


*(Protestants actually believed in pre-destiny, but let's not get into that now)

sivispacem
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#2

Posted 24 September 2011 - 02:48 PM

Personally, I would argue that there has never been a social norm for people to "just exist" outside of smaller, self-sufficient, more tribally-orientated communities where contact with other groups has been heavily limited or restricted. It's hard to aspire to obtain more when you don't know there is a more to obtain.

crzybtch
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#3

Posted 24 September 2011 - 08:46 PM

Greed plays a big role I think. The more some acquire, the more they want.
While some use religion as a crutch, they don't necessarily live by what they advocate,
they use it as a "get out of Hell free" card, if you will. Some people will never be happy
with what they have, and they don't care who they use to acquire things. Greed is a very
dangerous thing to fall into. I'm sure there is a lot more to this, but greed is a very big factor.

A sense of entitlement also plays a big role I think. Some people think they are entitled to wealth,
for any number of reasons.

As for myself, even though I don't have much, I feel so fortunate to have what I do. I have the most beautiful
baby boy that just lights up my entire world. I think unconditional love is the most awesome thing you can have.

I hope I didn't miss the question, it's a really really good one!

Irviding
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#4

Posted 25 September 2011 - 07:27 AM

QUOTE (sivispacem @ Saturday, Sep 24 2011, 09:48)
Personally, I would argue that there has never been a social norm for people to "just exist" outside of smaller, self-sufficient, more tribally-orientated communities where contact with other groups has been heavily limited or restricted. It's hard to aspire to obtain more when you don't know there is a more to obtain.

That's a good point. For example, the Chinese were exploring the world in the fourteenth century under Zheng He, and making great progress. They probably would've gotten to America if it weren't for the next emperor not wanting to discover anything. The Native Americans too did not really do much in terms of trying to explore more than their tribal areas. I wonder why the Europeans were the ones who spearheaded exploration. I mean you could argue that not a lot of them did because Ferdinand And Isabel were not really unanimously agreed with in their decision to send Columbus.

E.A.B.
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#5

Posted 26 September 2011 - 02:32 AM Edited by E.A.B., 26 September 2011 - 02:35 AM.

QUOTE (Irviding @ Sunday, Sep 25 2011, 02:27)
I wonder why the Europeans were the ones who spearheaded exploration.

Well, a few things:

cultures in Northern America were nomadic, which discouraged more ''baggage'' beyond what was necessary. Technological innovation on an industrial scale needed a settled and numbered population.

Compare the population in a Ntive America tribe with that of an English city, or even town, and notice the stark difference.

In order for sh*t like the industrial revolution to occur you needed a settled population. I'd wager to say that Europe had it due to its relatively small size and the rapid spread of trade and ''civilization'' (farming and settling the land) in such a small area. Whereas in Northern America, land and food was bountiful enough for settling to not be necessary.

The move from hunter gatherer to settled society does not occur unless it needs to.

As for why the Europeans were so willing to venture out into the world, I really don't know. Perhaps it had to do with power and trade? I mean, since the land was so small the competition among kingdoms was fierce, and there was a necessity to spread out and reach farther lands. Or something. I dunno.


I'd also like to point out that it isn't as if the NA tribes were full of retards. Necessity is the mother of innovation, and the tribes did come up with various inventions for their own ways of life. Just because it isn't made out of iron, steel, and powered by steam doesn't make it any less of an innovation

Tchuck
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#6

Posted 26 September 2011 - 03:52 AM

QUOTE (Irviding @ Sunday, Sep 25 2011, 04:27)
I wonder why the Europeans were the ones who spearheaded exploration.

They were exploring centuries before they discovered America. It was all about money and colonies. When you live in a nearly state of permanent war, it's always interesting to find other ways to make money. Spices and whatnots commanded pretty high prices in Europe. Portuguese loved to sail as well. Something in the water I guess tounge2.gif




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