Capitalism as religion: From Max Weber to Giorgio Agamben through Walter Benjamin
Weber's legacy: at the crossroads of traditions
Keywords:capitalism, Protestantism, secularization, desacralization, West, secular, anarchic, everyday life
The article, based on the work “Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism” explores the concept of «capitalism» by Max Weber, as well as a critique of capitalism itself based on the texts of Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben. All three authors have different views on the nature of capitalism. If Weber is positive about capitalism, Benjamin and Weber see it as a danger. Weber approaches the issue from the point of view of Protestant practice, Benjamin and Agamben see capitalism as a parasite that uses Christian theology for its own useful purposes. Weber writes about the “spirit” of capitalism, Benjamin and Agamben write about capitalism as a form of religion. Weber wrote that «unbridled lust» is by no means identical with capitalism, much less its «spirit». Weber characterizes capitalism through such virtues as honesty, punctuality, diligence, moderation. Benjamin suggested that «Christianity during the Reformation did not contribute to the advent of capitalism, but was transformed into capitalism». He writes that capitalism is perhaps the most extreme of all religious cults, because it is based on a purely psychological connection to the object being fetishized. This cult, devoid of ideology or theology, exists solely through the continuous performance of its rituals — the purchase of goods and their consumption. Agamben asks very important question: “if capitalism is a religion, how do we interpret it in terms of faith? What does capitalism believe in?” He writes that capitalism is a religion based on faith. Capitalism is not simply the secularization of the Protestant faith. Agamben writes that capitalism is a religion where faith and credit replace God. Ever since money became a pure form of trust, capitalism has become a religion in which money is the God.
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