Social Scientist. v 13, no. 140 (Jan 1985) p. 3.


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ASOK SEN*

Weber, Gramsci and Capitalism

Not summer's bloom lies ahead of us, but rather a polar night of icy darkness and hardness,...

Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth—that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain that which is possible today. Only he has the calling for politics wl?o is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what ho wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this can say *In spite of all!' has the calling for politics. Max Weber, ^Politics as Vocation', 1919

The crisis we are passing through today is perhaps the worst revolutionary crisis...This new tactic is being tried out in the ways and forms to be expected of a class of chatterboxes, sceptics and corrupt dealers. The succession of events...with all their journalistic, oratorical, theatrical and vulgar echoes...was like the projection into reality of... Monkey-People... Aimless corruption and ruin...The Monkey-People make news, not history... Although these people have damaged the working class and strengthened reaction,...when the dialectic of the class struggle has been internalized and within every individual consciousness the new man, in his every act, has to fight the "bourgeois" lying in ambush...the evil is not decisive : men of good will will still have a boundless field to cultivate again and cause to bear fruit handsomely... If everything lies in ruinSy then everything has to be done again.

Antonio Gramsci, Excerpts from 'Political Writings^ September, 1920—January, 1921

Weber on Capitalism

WEBER'S analysis of the relation between the protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism is in some senses akin to a project ofhermeneutics.1 It is a significant example of the application of the Dilthey-Rickert approach to an understanding of the spirit of industrial capitalism. Dilthey distinguished between the sciences of nature and the sciences of the spirit, the subject of the latter being social reality. For him, positivism offered no adequate insight into the nature of society. The central issue was related to the Kantian question of uniting logic and ethics, the'areas which involved a separation in the realm of pure reason. Dilthey emphasized the

* Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.



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