Max Weber: Modernisation as Passive Revolution

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Published Nov 2016
ISBN: 9789004271791

A Gramscian Analysis

Jan Rehmann, Union Theological Seminary and Free University, Berlin

Basing his research on Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, Rehmann provides a comprehensive socio-analysis of Max Weber’s political and intellectual position in the ideological network of his time. Max Weber: Modernisation as Passive Revolution shows that, even though Weber presents his science as ‘value-free’, he is best understood as an organic intellectual of the bourgeoisie, who has the mission of providing his class with an intense ethico-political education. Viewed as a whole, his writings present a new model for bourgeois hegemony in the transition to ‘Fordism’. Weber is both a sharp critic of a ‘passive revolution’ in Germany tying the bourgeois class to the interests of the agrarian class, and a proponent of a more modern version of passive revolution, which would foreclose a socialist revolution by the construction of an industrial bloc consisting of the bourgeoisie and labour aristocracy.

© 1998 Argument Verlag GmbH, Hamburg. Translated from German “Max Weber: Modernisierung als passive Revolution. Kontextstudien zu Politik Philosophie und Religion im Übergang zum Fordismus”.

Biographical note

Jan Rehmann, Dr. phil., habil., teaches critical theories and social analysis at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and philosophy and the Free University in Berlin. He is co-editor of the Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism (HKWM) and the journal Das Argument. His latest book is Theories of Ideology. The Powers of Alienation and Subjection(Brill: Leiden, Boston 2013).


In sociology, politics and religion departments; areas of methodology, social theory and cultural studies; in the thriving Gramsci studies in the US and the UK.

Table of contents

Preface to the English Edition
Introduction to the First Edition (1998)

1.1 Weber’s 1904 Journey to America
1.2 The Ambivalent Fascination of Capitalism
1.3 Taylorism and Fordism in the Stockyards
1.4 The Alliance of Religion and Business
1.5 The ‘Displacement’ of Religion from the State into Civil Society (Marx)
1.6 The Sect as Germ Cell of a Superior Model of Societalisation

2.1 The Programme of the 1895 Freiburg Inaugural Address
2.2 The Katheder Socialist Milieu
2.3 The Imperialist Critique of the Agrarian Class
2.4 A Homogenous Stock Market Elite with a Coherent Concept of Honour
2.5 The Critique of the ‘Passive Revolution’ in Germany
2.5.1 The ‘Entailed Estate’
2.5.2 The ‘Feudal Pretensions’ of the German Bourgeoisie
2.5.3 Caesarism, Bonapartism and ‘Passive Revolution’
2.6 Proposals for the Development of a ‘Caesarism without a Caesar’
2.6.1 The Shortcomings of a ‘Value-Rational’ Critique of Weber
2.6.2 ‘Universal Bureaucratisation’ as an Ineluctable Fate
2.6.3 Parliamentarism as a Superior Mechanism for the Selection of Leaders
2.6.4 The Construction of an Industrial Bloc of Capitalists and Workers
2.6.5 A New Model for the ‘Assimilation’ of Hostile Groups into the State
2.7 The Integration of the Modern Industrial Proletariat into Bourgeois Society
2.7.1 Paul Göhre’s Study on the Heterogeneity of Social Democratic Common Sense
2.7.2 ‘Class Struggle’ as a Mode of Integration into Bourgeois Society
2.7.3 Linking ‘Worker Honour’ to the Force Field of Nationalism
2.7.4 The Absorption of the Labour Aristocracy into the Bourgeoisie
2.7.5 A Graduated System of Corporatist Cooptation
2.8 The Return of the Charismatic ‘Caesar’ to Modern Politics
2.8.1 The Verticalist Narrowing of the Concept of Charisma
2.8.2 Plebiscitary Charisma as Correlate of the Party Machine
2.8.3 From the Parliamentary Selection of Leaders to ‘Plebiscitary Leader Democracy’

3.1 Formulating the Question in Terms of a Critical Theory of Ideology
3.1.1 A New Scientific Beginning on a Neo-Kantian Foundation
3.1.2 Controversies Surrounding the Relationship between Weber and Rickert
3.1.3 Paradigm Shift from the History of Ideas to a Critical Theory of Ideology
3.2 Theory of Reflection and Transcendental Idealism – An Epistemological Rendezvous manqué
3.2.1 The ‘hiatus irrationalis’ between Concept and Reality
3.2.2 The Critique of the Subject/Object Dichotomy in the ‘Theses on Feuerbach’
3.2.3 The Sublation of the Kantian A Priori within the Concept of the ‘Form of Thought’
3.2.4 Gramsci’s Critique of Objectivism
3.2.5 F.A. Lange as Secret ‘School Leader’?
3.3 The Dualism of Law-Determined ‘Nature’ and Value-Determined ‘Culture’
3.3.1 The Common ‘German-Italian’ Front against ‘Anglo-French’ Naturalism
3.3.2 The Neo-Kantian Taboo on Social Laws
3.3.3 Competing with Dilthey
3.3.4 The Displacement of History and Culture into the Sphere of Ideological Values
3.3.5 The Distance between Kant and Rickert
3.4 The ‘Value Relation’ as Bearer of ‘Freedom from Value Judgements’
3.4.1 A Commonality with Marx’s Standpoint of Science
3.4.2 The Transposition of Ideological Values into the Theoretical ‘Value Relation’
3.4.3 Ideological ‘Value-Affectedness’ as a Condition of Admission to Science
3.5 Farewell to the Abstract Heaven of Ideas – Outlines of a Philosophical Paradigm Shift
3.5.1 The System of Values as Neo-Kantianism’s Weakest Link
3.5.2 Croce’s ‘Ethico-Political History’
3.5.3 The Turn from the Neo-Kantian Philosophy of Values to Neo-Hegelianism and Hermeneutics
3.5.4 The Lacuna in the Critique of Southwest German Neo-Kantianism
3.6 From the System of Values to the ‘Clash of Values’ – Weber’s Reorganisation of the Neo-Kantian Philosophy of Values
3.6.1 The Ambivalence of the Value-Decisionist Concept of the Subject
3.6.2 The Limits of Weberian Historicisation
3.6.3 The Eternal Struggle over Values – Weber and Nietzsche
3.7 Weber’s Concept of Spheres of Value as a Modernisation of Ideological Societalisation
3.7.1 Ideology’s ‘Law of Complementarity’
3.7.2 Weber’s Concept of Spheres of Value and the German ‘Power Pragma’ During the First World War
3.7.3 The Dichotomy of the Ethics of Conviction and the Ethics of Responsibility as an Ideological Pitfall
3.8 Ideal-Typical Conceptualisation’s Blind Spot
3.8.1 The Ideal Type as a Deliberately One-Sided Conceptual Construct
3.8.2 The Rendezvous Manqué with Marx
3.8.3 The Capitalist Orientation of Sociological Ideal Types

4.1 The Ethico-Political Stakes of a ‘Purely Historical Account’
4.2 The Basic Operation: Isolation of the ‘Mental and Spiritual Particularities’
4.2.1 The Critique of Offenbacher’s Comparison of Denominations
4.2.2 On the Social Profile of the Catholic Bloc
4.2.3 Weber’s Departure from Offenbacher’s Model of Interaction
4.2.4 Weber’s Vacillation between a ‘Strong’ and a ‘Weak’ Thesis on Protestantism
4.2.5 The Ethical Mobilisation of Economic Subjects
4.3 From German ‘Cultural Protestantism’ to Anglo-American ‘Civil Religion’
4.3.1 Cultural Protestantism as a Religious Ideology of Bourgeois Modernisation
4.3.2 ‘Kulturkampf’ and the ‘Debate on Inferiority’
4.3.3 Protestant ‘Culture’ as an Integrational Cipher in the Crisis of Orientation
4.3.4 Ritschl and Weber: A New Arrangement of Ethical Resources
4.3.5 Jellinek and Weber: Linking up with Anglo-American Mythistory
4.4 Weber and Simmel: The Psychological ‘Deepening’ of Marxian Value Form Analysis
4.4.1 Benjamin Franklin’s Ethos – Utilitarian or Puritan?
4.4.2 From the Capitalist Standpoint of Valorisation to the ‘Human’ Interest in Acquisition
4.4.3 The Formal Resemblance of Money and God
4.4.4 From the Ethos of Acquisition to the Work Ethos
4.4.5 Capitalist or Entrepreneurial Spirit?
4.5 Werner Sombart’s ‘Overcoming’ of Marxism
4.5.1 The Historical School as ‘Digestive Science’ (Rosa Luxemburg)
4.5.2 The ‘Further Development’ of Marxism as a Glorification of Capitalism
4.5.3 The Origin of Bourgeois Monetary Assets
4.5.4 Two Components of the ‘Spirit of Capitalism’
4.5.5 The ‘Incorporation of the Proletariat into the National Community’
4.6 Weber’s Dislodgement of the ‘Spirit of Capitalism’ from Capitalism
4.6.1 A Tautological Conceptual Arrangement
4.6.2 The Exclusion of Sombart’s ‘Adventure Capitalism’
4.6.3 Purging the Capitalist Spirit of the Materiality of Capitalist Domination
4.6.4 The Detachment of the Spirit from the Economic Form
4.7 Weber’s Perspective: Capitalist Spirit as a Popular Mass Movement
4.7.1 Renaissance Man or Reformation Man?
4.7.2 The Interminability of the Controversy on the Spiritual Origin of Capitalism
4.7.3 The Hidden Theme: The Bourgeoisie’s Popular-National Achievement of Hegemony
4.7.4 Outlook: The Social Components of Weber’s Orientalist Sociology of Religion

Index of Names
Index of Subjects