Vexen Crabtree 2015


Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

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Vexen Crabtree 2015

Max Weber wrote this in 1906...

From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology

Max Weber, by far the most famous and unsurpassed sociologist, who founded sociology, wrote about just about every subject under the sun. I hadn't realized before this year just how much of a great that this man was! Anyway... I took the following quote where he warns about some of the now well-recognized downfalls of commercialism. He wrote this 100 years ago and he certainly hasn't been proven wrong!

"The opportunities for democracy and individualism would look very bad today were we to rely upon the lawful effects of material interests for their development. [...] In the American 'benevolent feudalism' [...] everywhere the house is ready-made for a new servitude. [It] will make the masses 'docile'. Then man will move into the house of servitude.
In the face of all this, those who constantly fear that in the world of the future too much democracy and individualism may exist and too little authority, aristocracy, esteem for office, or such like, may calm down.
It is utterly ridiculous to see any connection between the high capitalism of today - as it is now being imported into Russia and as it exists in America - with democracy or with freedom in any sense of these words. [...] The question is: how are freedom and democracy in the long run at all possible under the domination highly developed capitalism? Freedom and democracy are only possible where the resolute will of a nation not to allow itself to be ruled like sheep is permanently alive.

Russia probably deviated from his precise forecast due to varied outstanding circumstances. His warning about American capitalism has certainly held true, seemingly even as much as he feared, but more so, for much of Europe and the developed world is going the same way.

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In the face of all this, those who constantly fear that in the world of the future too much democracy and individualism may exist and too little authority, aristocracy, esteem for office, or such like, may calm down.

Correct up to the point where he gets to "Esteem for office".

Also I wonder if he then realised that the thing keeping a stay on Individualisum and via that democracy would not be govenment but the media.

I agree, I think the way the media has changed as a result of technology was not, and probably could not, have been predicted by Weber. Perhaps, with the Internet's future generations, we're entering a new phase of social history.

An interesting essay... must admit, I'm not that big on "political democracy" of the you-get-to-vote-once-every-5-years variety: for most people it's too infrequent, remote and inconsequential to have much charm or attractiveness.

Instead, as a fairly hard-line anarcho-capitalist, I prefer what I call "credit-card-democracy" - that is, you get to "vote" - by way of deciding what you buy - whenever you spend your money. This has the appeal to me of being something which is much more frequent and much more direct i its effect on people's lives. The current failing of this approach is in those areas where Government denies you any market choices in the matter - i.e. when the government compulsorily extracts your money from you by way of taxes. The problem here is that you don't really have the option to opt-out of the process; the government wants its pound-of-tax-flesh (or rather, its £15,000 a year) out of me come what may, and I get thrown into jail if I refuse to cough up.

Forget about no-taxation-without-representation; I'd rather be unrepresented and keep my cash for myself - that way at least I'll still have enough money to buy myself a better class of oppression.

Truly a genius...Weber is one of my favorites. Between he and Marx, they analized capitalism to the core (although Marx wasn't, in essence, a sociologist rather an economist, lawyer, etc). Weber created the concept of "ideal type" which he used to examine the characteristics of entites and social events that lead to the outbreak of social phenomena such as the one you talk about in your post. Truly a genius. Weber even came to a conclusion that economy is directly linked to religion (for example, calvinists though that spending too much was a sin...therefore it lead to the principle of saving and investing money). Oh, have you read "The Sociology of Religion" by Weber? If you haven't, you should, since religion is one of your large interests.

I went to the library to get Sociology of Religion, but all their copies are (still) out after a few attempts, so I've settled for a large collection of smaller essays by Weber, which is what I'm reading now. I will definately read S.o.R. at the first opportunity.

In any case, thanks for the reference :-)

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Sure thing, to bad I'm so far away, i have a copy!


In particular, although I'd love to read the entire thing, I am wondering if it contains a clear/concise/quotable definition of what a "cult of personality" is. I understand and have read up on the charismatic leadership, and recognize that a cult of personality would be a group centered around such a leader, and was wondering if I can make a distinction between some groups with charismatic leaders and others.

I suspect that actual term "cult of personality" may be more modern than Weber, therefore he may not have talked about it directly. It is possible that all charismatic leaders have a "cult of personality", but I'd like to distinguish between good ones and bad ones. Bad ones include destructive, doomsday cults, good ones include (for example) a small business under the control of a charismatic entrepreneur.

I have some text enabling me to make such a distinction, but it is a bit convuluted and by a modern sociologist, and I'd rather get it from Weber. It states that a cult of personality is when the followers of a charismatic leader make irrational and illogical decisions based upon the things the leader has said, whereas a normal "group" is one where the followers follow the charismatic leader, but still make rational decisions about problems that face the group.

Have you tried getting it on Amazon? I'm pretty sure it could be there...if not...maybe there's the possibility that I could mail you a copy

Good idea... I can definately get it there. I am actually going to wait, though, and get it at a later date when I order other stuff from Amazon at the same time. I prefer to make orders of over £40 or so, so I get free delivery :-)

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