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New Left Review I/30, March-April 1965


Herbert Marcuse

Industrialization and Capitalism

The vision of industrialization and capitalism in the work of Max Weber is questionable in two respects: his view of them as the historical destiny of the West, and as the present destiny of the Germany created by Bismarck. Weber believed them to be the destiny of the West because they were the decisive realizations of that Western rationality, the idea of Reason, which he searched for everywhere, in all its open and hidden, progressive and regressive, manifestations. He believed them to be the destiny of Germany because for him they determined the policy of the Reich: the historical vocation of the German bourgeoisie to overthrow the conservative and feudal State, to democratize the nation, and then to fight against revolution and socialism. It is essentially this idea of the interdependence of industrialism, capitalism and national self-preservation which inspired Weber’s passionate and—it cannot too often be said—malevolent struggle against the socialist attempts of 1918. Socialism contradicted the idea of Western Reason and the idea of the Nation-State—therefore it was a world-historical error, if not a world-historical crime [1] We may allow ourselves to wonder what Weber would have said if he had seen that it was not the West but the East which was to unfold the most extreme forms of Western rationality, in the name of socialism?. For whatever else capitalism meant to mankind, it must first of all, before any evaluation, be understood as necessary Reason.

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Herbert Marcuse, ‘Industrialization and Capitalism’, NLR I/30: £3
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