Weber, "The Spirit Of Capitalism And The Iron Cage"

Weber, M. 1905. "The Spirit of Capitalism and the Iron Cage," from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (47-51, 53-54, 180-183). (104-8)

This selection is from Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. The excerpt is from an early chapter in which Weber describes "the spirit of capitalism" using Benjamin Franklin's aphorism "time is money" and from the very end of the book where he sums up the "iron cage" quality that is the legacy of the process the book describes. Protestantism and the ideologies/mindsets Weber traces out were a choice but are now solidly at the center of western culture. Like Marx, Weber suggests that capitalism has a logic all its own that once started cannot be escaped. Unlike Marx, he doesn't predict revolution as the way out of this conundrum.

He finishes the essay with a famous statement about not trying to replace Marx's materialist interpretation with an equally one-sided spiritual explanation. Both are necessary.

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