Why am I reading “The Protestant Ethic and the ‘Spirit’ of Capitalism” by Max Weber? I don’t know. But it sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Eventually, my TBR pile will catch up with my new system of documenting where I got the idea to put the book there in the first place, but not yet.

the protestant ethic
Photo by Author

So far, it’s a rough one. I keep reading, thinking, “wow…this is dry stuff…I have no idea what I’m reading…” and then come across some line or paragraph that makes me think. It’s like sifting through a 5000-piece puzzle.

Here’s what I know so far. Wax Weber originally wrote this in 1905 in response to the rise in popularity of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto written in 1848. The Protestant Ethic was controversial then and now, but I’m still not sure why. I’m still reading it and, since I’m pretty much lost on every page, I’ll probably have to find some articles that explain the context.

Right now, I’m a bit floored reading about Calvinism and Puritanism. These two religions had major influence in the colonizing of America, and we still feel their effects on our culture. For one thing, I’ve always found it strange how much we attempt to hide sex and alcohol in our country, well…more so in the past, but still. Laws about where and when we can buy alcohol, where we can drink it and at what age, marriage laws, and laws still on the books about which sex acts are legal, modesty laws, etc., all stem from our nation’s Puritan roots.

Things are changing, have changed, dramatically, but not in any kind of healthy way, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to go back, but it seems to me that we are all acting a lot like kids who were never allowed to have any kind of sweets, running amok alone in a candy store, ever since the 60’s. We still haven’t figured out how to take the reins of our passions and use them to our advantage. How many generations will it take?

The United States is different from the rest of the world. We have a very strange mix of cultures, races, and religions, that makes things that seem easy in some countries very complicated in ours. I’m hoping this book might begin to shed some light on why that is.

Searched back and found this old post, Mourning Political Change: A Passing Feeling. Still feeling it and more so these days.