Max Weber, Economy and Society

I have no background in sociology and it is my first chance of reading Max Weber, though I have encountered a lot his name in my various reading experience. Economy and Society is dealing with extremely broad subject from religion to politics and economy and has unique structure unfolding its subject matter from small and narrow sphere of inquiry (action, social action, relationship, etc.) into broader and bigger themes (legitimate order, political organization, etc).

About the relationship between economic system and political system: “…the big capitalistic interests of the present day, like those of the past, are apt … to prefer monocracy. For monocracy is, from their point of view, more ‘discreet’”(283). Even though we acknowledge the time that the book is written, it is striking to assume that, according to Weber’s perspective, the capitalistic society, especially in the hand of big transnational capital, tend to be monocratic rather than democratic. Does it mean that the capitalist society cannot be not democratic, because of it desire toward efficiency and profit-making?

However, a kind of monocracy can be found in the socialist society, especially dictatorship of proletariat in the early Soviet and the real socialist blocs: “the separation of powers is generally favorable to the formal rationalization of economic activity. Movements which, like the Soviet type, the French Convention, and the Committee of Public Safety, aim to abolish the separation of powers, are definitely concerned with a more or less ‘just’ economic distribution”(284). Thus, can we conclude that monocracy is inevitable regardless of the economic system? 

* * *

Political expansion – trade is the decisive factor and the economic structure in general does co-determine the extent and manner of political expansion. (915)

Development of imperialist capitalism….

“in general and at all times, imperialist capitalism, especially colonial booty capitalism based on direct force and compulsory labor, has offered by far the greatest opportunities for profit” (918).

While Weber thinks that domination in general is deeply related with the economic power and authority, he seems to consider possibility of direct democracy but ruled by notables – though direct democracy is possible under the conditions such as small size of the organization, homogeneity of the members, simple administrative functions, etc. However, it is not about the direct participation of people in their own decision-makings as we understand democracy today, but about the domination, or the domination through administration. I am wondering what (direct) democracy is in principle and whether it is the form of domination or the way of participation. Put it differently, when it comes to the political system which prevails even as a universal value today, i.e. democracy, do we have it as a convenient administrative mechanism for all of us or as an oppressive domination apparatus to rule us given by the class who has economic power and authority?


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