For Democracy: The Noble Character and Tragic Flaws of the Middle Class

For Democracy: The Noble Character and Tragic Flaws of the Middle Class

For Democracy: The Noble Character and Tragic Flaws of the Middle Class

For Democracy: The Noble Character and Tragic Flaws of the Middle Class

Synopsis

These sociologists and theorists, long concerned with the critical role in society of the middle class, trace its historical, structural, and cultural links with democracy since ancient times. They show how the middle class has been instrumental in spawning industrialization and capitalism. They consider the rise and decline of fascism and communism and the development of multinational capitalism. They reflect upon the decline of the working class, the growth of an underclass, and the need today to counterbalance the power of the rich and big business. They ponder how to break an "iron cage" of bureaucracy and to revitalize democracy. This socio-historical analysis from a neo-Weberian perspective deals with issues that are central to sociologists, political theorists, and historians.

Excerpt

We have presented a description of the proclivity for machine production emanating from Calvinism. Whether or not one accepts Weber's thesis on this is not, however, crucial to our theorizing in this book; the fact that machine production began to be developed, expanded, and constantly transformed is all that is necessary. Whatever its origin, machine production and the factory assembly-line system that emerged surrounding it, was far more productive than either artisan production or slave production. If the products were not as finely crafted as those produced by the artisan master craftsman, the sheer number of products that could be produced by machines was infinite in comparison; and machine production, with wage laborers tending the machines, evolved in the course of capitalist competition. Adam Smith description of the "pin factory" in The Wealth of Nations, amply illustrated at a relatively early date the improvement in productivity resulting from even this simple assembly-line process. Whether prodded forward by scientific progress, by the religious desire to eliminate slavery, or the trade capitalist desire to acquire monetary wealth, machine-factory production became a completely new mode of articulation for the production process, replacing trade capitalism.

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