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Mueller, Socialism and Capitalism in the Work of Max Weber

Mueller, Socialism and Capitalism in the Work of Max Weber

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Socialism and Capitalism in the Work of Max WeberAuthor(s): Gert H. Mueller and Max WeberSource:
The British Journal of Sociology,
Vol. 33, No. 2 (Jun., 1982), pp. 151-171Published by:
on behalf of
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GertH. Mueller
Socialismandcapitalismn theworkofMaxWeber
ABSTRACT
Thereseems obe littleroom eft for socialismn the thoughtof MaxWeber.For himthe marketandits free playof forceswasthe basisof freedomandrationality.Stillthe 'socialquestion'accompaniedhimthroughouthis life.His lastlecturewas onsocialism.His speechon socialismdemonstrateshisstaunchliberalism.What he discussesas'state socialism'is really statecapitalism.Socialismeemsto reduceto ethicalandegalitarianalues.Stilltowards theend ofhis life he systematicallyopposed'marketeconomy'to 'plannedeconomy.'Auniversalpattern husemerges:capitalismand socialismaspolaroppositeswhichdenotefundamentallternativesor society.I
THE SOCIALISTSOF THECHAIR:WAGNER,BRENTANOANDWEBER
Theproblem ofcapitalismandsocialismappearsnotto havebeencentral tothe thoughtof MaxWeber:at leastwhen comparedwithhisfavorite themessuchas rationality,bureauctacyandcharismaticleadership.Still 'the socialquestion'accompaniedim throughall hislife.The yearof his birth(1864)was alsothe yearof the foundationofthe firstInternational;Lassalle'sAllgemeinerDeutscherArbeiter-verein,the first organizedworker'smovementn Germany,hadbeenfoundedthe yearbefore(in 1863), to befollowedby the foundationof the(staunchlyMarxist)SocialDemocraticWorkers' artybyBebelin1869 andthe unionof both partiesintothe GermanSocialistWorkersPartyatGotha in 1875.Whenhe repression fthatpartybyBismarck'snti-socialistawsbegan n 1878,MaxWeberwas 14yearsofage. When hedied in1920, he wasin the processof preparinglectureonsocialism.The decadefrom1878 to 1890wasmarkedby thecontinuingpoliticalrepressionf thesocialistsandby Bismarck'socialegislation
TheBritishJournalof SociologyVolume33 Number2June 1982(3 R.K.P.19820007 1315/82/3302-0149$1.50
151
 
152GertH.Mueller
whichinstitutedpublicinsuranceorworkersagainstickness1883),ccupationalaccidents(1884)and,mostfar-reaching,ldage(1889)hich,togetherwiththeuninhibitedgrowthofcartelsandtrusts,adeGermanyoneoftheleadingindustrialpowersintheworld.hispolicyalsocreatedtheconditionswhichmadetheGermanocialiststhestrongestMarxistpartyintheworldandtheleadingorceintheSecondInternational(1889-1914).ltwasinthissocialandpoliticalsettingthatMaxWeberompletedisstudyofjurisprudenceandjoinedtheAssociationforSocialolicyn1888,theorganandrallyingpointoftheso-calledsocialistsfhechair'(Kathedersozialisten)hichhadbeenfoundedn1873.2cornedytheMarxistsas'bourgeoisocialists'andattackedbythentrepreneurialampforsympathizingwithsocialismandcolludingiththeMarxiststheassociationcombinedpeoplewithawidearietyfviewswhowere,however,unanimousnonepoint:theebuttalfclassicalManchesterlaissez-fairendtheadvocacyofanctiveoleofthestateinsocialegislationi.e.,'socialpolicy')aimedtmprovingheconditionoftheworkingclassesandreducinglasstrife.Itisobviousfromthisdescriptionhatthe'socialistsofthechair'ereoMarxists;heyweresocialreformersratherthansocialistevolutionaries,venthoughatthetimeofthefoundationofthessociationheirideashadarevolutionaryingandaninspiringffectntsmembers,mostofwhombelievedintheidealofPrussiaasasocialmonarchy.3Ifthisidealwasagrossillusion,itwasausefulnehichallowedtheassociationodevelopanuninhibitedactivityithoutearofrepression.4TheassociationcombinedconservativesndliberalswithAdolphagnerndLujoBrentanoastheirmostoutstandingrepresentatives.asednHegel'sexaltationofthestate,andonRodbertus'soncep-ionfsocialism,5WagnerndtheconservativesdvocatedasortoftaatssozialismusndpointedtoBismarck'screationofthestatewnedndrunpostalserviceandrailways,heReichspostandtheeichsbahnwhichalsoprovidedanicerevenuetothegovernment,husushioningthemilitarybudgetagainsttheinterferenceofthearliament).neneedonlyextendthissystemtothecoalandsteelndustry,obacco,alcohol,etc.,6togetalivepictureofthepotentialf'state-socialism'hich,itshouldgowithoutsaying,approximatedstate-capitalism'uchmorethansocialismsafreeassociationftherimeproducers.7Theiberal'left'wingoftheassociationwaswellawareofthemplicationsfWagner's'state-socialism.'Undertheleadershipofrentano,heycalledforasortof'socialconstitutionalism'whichouldombineanactivelegalprotectionoftheworkingorce(e.g.,heiminutionfworkinghoursandfactorynspectionasinEngland)ithherighttofreecoalitionandassociation.Theliberalsthus

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