Social Land Ownership
Land Reform Act Part 2
George Clark, May 2002
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|If the poor are to be with us
always then, axiomatically, so are the rich. There is an argument, however, that being
rich in modern capitalist systems is different from being rich in other economies.
Capitalist wealth creation represents human greed rationalised, institutionalised, and
writ ruthlessly large on our all too delicate globe. It is relatively new and first
emerged in the West.
||The following quotes trace the
origins of capitalism according to the thoughts of Max Weber (1864-1920) as
summarised by Anthony Giddens. Although rooted in religious asceticism, the mechanical
monster has now been cut loose and we are all forced to live in its iron cage.
"The desire for wealth has existed in most times and places, and has in itself
nothing to do with capitalist action, which involves a regular orientation to the
achievement of profit through (nominally peaceful) economic exchange.
Capitalism thus defined, in the shape of mercantile operations
existed in various forms of society
but only in the West, and in relatively recent
times, has capitalist activity become associated with the rational organisation of
formally free labour. By rational organisation of labour here Weber means
its routinised, calculated administration within continuously functioning
enterprises." (Giddens p xi his emphasis)
"The regular reproduction of capital, involving its continual investment and
reinvestment for the end of economic efficiency, is foreign to traditional types of
enterprise. It is associated with
the continual accumulation of wealth for its own
sake, rather than for the material rewards that it can serve to bring. Man is
dominated by the making of money, by acquisition as the ultimate purpose of his life.
Economic acquisition is no longer subordinated to man as the means for the satisfaction of
his material needs. (p53) This, according to Weber, is the essence of the spirit
of modern capitalism. (Giddens p xii)
|"The entrepreneurs associated with the development of rational
capitalism combine the impulse to accumulation with a positively frugal life-style.
finds the answer (to this paradox) in the this-worldly asceticism of
Puritanism, as focused through the concept of the calling (which)
to the idea that the highest form of moral obligation of the individual is
to fulfil his duty in worldly affairs
Weber singles out for special attention
the doctrine of predestination:
that only some human beings are chosen to be saved from damnation, the choice being
predetermined by God
From this torment the
capitalist spirit was born
(and) two developments occurred:
'In its extreme inhumanity this doctrine must above all
have had one consequence for the life of a generation which surrendered to its magnificent
a feeling of unprecedented inner loneliness.' (p104).
|it became obligatory to regard oneself as chosen, lack of certainty being indicative of
insufficient faith; and |
|the performance of good works in worldly activity became accepted as the
medium whereby such surety could be demonstrated. |
|'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
victorious capitalism, since it rests on
mechanical foundations, needs its support no longer
the idea of duty to one's
calling prowls about in our lives like the ghost of dead religious beliefs.' (pp181-2)
||Hence success in a calling eventually came to be regarded as
a sign never a means of being one of the elect. The
accumulation of wealth was morally sanctioned in so far as it was combined with a sober,
industrious career; wealth was condemned only if employed to support a life of idle luxury
or self indulgence." (Giddens p xii-xiii)
Puritanism has played its part in
creating the iron cage in which modern man has to exist an increasingly bureaucratic order
from which the spontaneous enjoyment of life is ruthlessly expunged. Weber concluded that.
The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so.(p181)"
(Giddens p xix)
- Weber, Max (1930, 1991) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
- (Translated by Talcott Parson, Introduction by Anthony Giddens)
- Harper Collins Academic ISBN 0 00 302070 3