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Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.

53 79, 2006 /

Decolonizing Weber
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

Max Weber was an imperialist, a racist, and a Social Darwinistic nationalist,


and these political positions fundamentally shaped his social scientific work.
Weber did not merely absorb the imperialism, racism, and nationalism of his
era: he consistently found himself a lone voice at the right of many of the
organizations to which he belonged, including the Verein fur Sozialpolitik, the
National Social Party, and even the Pan-German League. This political basis
for Webers work has been obscured through selective readings and
translations in order to colonize and exploit his name to justify liberal
scientific and political agendas. The primary point of this essay is not to prove
that Weber subscribed to illiberal political ideas. Wolfgang Mommsen has
already established this in his unsurpassed treatment of Weber, and Weber
himself made no secret of his own views.1 Rather, it is to consider how Weber
developed these ideas into a social scientific approach to race and labor and a
prescient theory of empire that still finds wide application today by politically
influential theorists like Samuel Huntington. Decolonizing Weber means,
above all, ceasing the work of repression2 required to make his thought
support political and social scientific positions that were not his own, and
studying Weber instead as a political-philosophical specimen far more
interesting, dangerous, and rewarding than the gutter ideologues often
scrutinized by students of imperialism and colonialism.
Max Weber was perhaps the first theorist of what Etienne Balibar has
called neoracism, a racism that denies the importance of biological race
while working out a system of cultural differences that functions as effectively
as race as a means of underwriting political and economic inequality. Balibar
writes: culture can also function like a nature, and it can in particular function
as a way of locking individuals and groups a priori into a genealogy, into a
determination that is immutable and intangible in origin.3 Weber developed
this cultural racism in studies of ethnic minorities within imperial metropoles
rather than of conquered populations without. His earliest social scientific
writing treated the cultural, racial, and economic properties of Poles living in
Germany. Later, he developed a similar interest in African Americans. This
interest in internal minorities led Weber to anticipate the neoracist thought
that became prevalent only after decolonization, which reversed, as Balibar
explains, population movements between metropole and colony. Whereas the
era of overseas imperialism and explicit racism had Europeans conquering
supposedly racially inferior others, the era of decolonization had individuals
of apparently incompatible cultures immigrating to former colonial metro-
poles. Neoracism invites a flexible approach to others, now regarded as
ISSN 1368-8790 print/ISSN 1466-1888 online/06/010053 /27 # 2006 The Institute of Postcolonial Studies
DOI: 10.1080/13668250500488827
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

internal minorities, whom political and economic elites can assimilate,


exploit, exclude, or deport as they see fit. Weber pioneered a racism of
exploitation and subordination rather than a racism of conquest. Webers
later work on the religions of Europe, China, and India elaborated a
culturally differentiated world that did not place Europe in the position of
conqueror but rather in a position of adjacent superiority.
To study Weber as an imperialist means expanding, in beneficial ways, not
only prevailing conceptions of Weber, but also prevailing conceptions of
empire, imperialism, and colonialism. Weber approached a theory of empire,
as defined by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, during the era of
imperialism and colonialism. Imperial racism, Hardt and Negri agree with
Balibar, operates through differentiation and inclusion, rather than through
the binaries, hierarchies, and exclusions of imperialist or colonialist racism.4
Hardt and Negri have argued that the postcolonial world has been
characterized not by imperialism and colonialism but rather by empire, a
derivative universality that exploits the productive and autonomous move-
ments of the transnational multitude. Empire is not limited but expansive,
not excluding but including, not hierarchical but differentiating. The
difference between racism and neoracism thus marks the difference between
colonial-imperialism and empire. Webers precocious neoracism suggests that
empire, rather than following colonial-imperialism chronologically, in fact
logically precedes capitalist forms of transnationalism.5 At the most basic
level, if imperialism is to function as what David Harvey calls a spatial fix
for capital (or, for that matter, for culture, the state, or anything else), it
depends on, as Harvey also maintains, already constituted differentiated
space.6 If capital is to take advantage of its mobility, this mobility must occur
against a background of fixed differences. The mobility of capital, as I argue
elsewhere, is dependent on the immobility of populations, races, cultures, and
identities.7 Colonial-imperialism has worked upon this system of differences
through racist hierarchies, but it has also, just as easily, adopted the more
flexible modes of regulation that also characterize the post-fordist era. Weber
gives us a political economy of cultural difference, a generalized theory of the
empire presupposed by colonial-imperialism and revealed most directly in the
phenomena of migration and internal minorities rather than in foreign
conquest. Webers thought was especially pertinent to German and US
political economy in the period before the First World War, when these
nations were the two biggest importers of labor in the world.8 It is even more
generally relevant today, when empire takes the form of globalization rather
than colonial-imperial conquest.
A critical study of Webers theory of empire not only suggests revisions to
scholarly understandings of Webers thought and to theories of empire, but
also allows scholars to engage with an intellectual mainspring of present-day
publicists of the right. Many of the authors in the recent volume Culture
Matters, for example, invoke Webers cultural account of economics to
apologize for the political economic status quo.9 They thus use Webers
scholarly approach to empire to support what is instead a pragmatic agenda
within empire. Much of the book consists of banal exhortations to nations to
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DECOLONIZING WEBER

change their cultures, suggesting the sort of macroeconomic theory that


Samuel Smiles might have proposed had he been so inclined. These writers
counterpose Weber to what they call dependency theory, by which they
mean any suggestion that international political and economic inequalities
contribute to global poverty. David Landes, for example, in an essay
beginning with the sentence Weber was right, argues that dependency
theories should be abandoned because they foster a morbid propensity to
find fault with everyone but oneself and therefore they promote economic
impotence. Even if they were true, he writes, it would have been better to
stow them.10 There is no scholarly argument to be had with a writer who
wants to stow ideas because of their possible political consequences* much
/

better to go straight to a social scientific source of neoracist thought, the


work of Max Weber, than to try to eat the thin soup of political polemic with
the fork of scholarship.
Webers imperialism and racism drove the development of what is today
recognized as Weberianism: the role of values in society and social science
and the cultural roots of rationalization, especially as it bears on the
development of capitalism.11 (Another commonly cited aspect of Weberian-
ism, understanding (commonly left untranslated as Verstehen), is not
peculiar to Weber, and its association with Weberianism is, I believe, an
artifact of Parsonss psychologistic reading.) In this essay I will trace these
elements of Weberianism back to Webers early engagement with the Polish
question in Germany, especially as it developed in connection with the
Negro question in the United States. Weber devoted less attention than
others in the Verein fur Sozialpolitik to Germanys overseas holdings in Africa
and the Pacific, but his imperial thought on race and culture had direct
bearing on social science methodology and on later neoracist thinkers.

I. Webers neoracism: the encounter with Ploetz revisited


Present-day understandings of Max Webers thought on race are based
largely on what he rejected, namely, the biologistic racial hygiene presented by
Alfred Ploetz at the first German Sociological Congress in 1910. Before
considering Webers early work on East Elbian Prussia, I will consider this
later paradigm of Webers racial thought. Alfred Ploetz presented, at the
request of the organizers of the congress, his position on the relation of race
(Rasse) and society (Gesellschaft). For Ploetz, the principle of race was
replacement [of inferior individuals] through reproduction [of superior
individuals], while the principle of society was exchange of help. While
recognizing that races often depended upon the exchanges facilitated by
society, Ploetz also endorsed the prevailing Social Darwinistic fears that the
social principle would weaken the racial principle, helping individuals who
should rather be replaced. Race, Ploetz asserted, ultimately trumped society
in both normative and explanatory importance.12 Werner Sombart led the
ensuing discussion, which, though challenging Ploetzs lecture in ways that
had the speaker repeatedly interjecting shouts of Nein!, concluded that
practically nobody there, and certainly not Sombarts friend Max Weber,
55
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

whom he personally knows quite well, rejected biology. Quite true!


exclaimed Weber from the audience.13 In fact, Weber never rejected the
explanatory role of race, self-consciously keeping the question open in many
of his writings and asserting explicitly that race probably played an
important, if not all-determining, role in many social phenomena.
Webers response to Ploetz does indeed provide a succinct introduction to
his own racial thought, although it hardly constitutes the liberal bill of health
that it might, at first, appear to be.14 Weber disputed Ploetzs assertion that
Christian love of the neighbor and social welfare (Sozialpolitik) had allowed
inferior individuals to survive and weaken the race. In fact, Weber claimed,
modern Christianity, especially in its Calvinist forms (as he knew better than
anyone), had decreased sympathy for the poor, and social welfare allowed
strong but financially impoverished individuals to survive. Weber and Ploetz,
who had both spent time in the United States, disagreed about the origin of
the anti-Black racism they both found so prevalent there. For Ploetz such
racism came from a racial instinct while for Weber it came from the old
feudal contempt for labor that emerged as Americans embraced European
aristocratic values. A man, explained Weber, who wants to be an aristocrat
in the modern sense of the word, must have something for which he has
contempt. (While it may sound as if Weber is poking fun at Americans here,
in fact he also embraced this very sort of contempt in his anti-Polish
politicking.) While agreeing that Black people in America smelled worse than
most white people, the two men disputed the origin of this alleged smell: for
Ploetz, the smell resulted from biological characteristics peculiar to Blacks;
for Weber, the smell resulted from a habitual neglect of bathing. Weber
argued that much Black inferiority came from the limitations on education
and social advancement placed upon them by white racists, and famously
cited W E B Du Bois as the most important sociological scholar anywhere in
the Southern States.15
During a 1904 trip throughout the United States, Max and Marianne
Weber had met both W E B Du Bois and Booker T Washington, admiring
these and many other half-Negroes, quarter-Negroes, and one-hundredth
part Negroes whom no non-American can distinguish from whites. The
Webers, however, had far less sympathy for those Max described in a letter to
his mother as the semi-apes one encounters on the plantations and in the
Negro huts of the Cotton Belt. He was quick to add that southern whites
appeared equally benighted as soon as one looks beyond the humanly
attractive surface.16 Still, the Webers dislike of poor whites should not be
taken to imply a sympathetic view of poor Blacks, nor, as Ploetz also pointed
out, should their admiration for the brilliant example of W E B Du Bois be
used to characterize their view of African Americans as a whole. Weber
understood that he lived in a world in which race, culture, and class
intersected in mutually determining ways, a world far more complicated
than the Manichean racism of Alfred Ploetz or American segregationists.
Ploetzs racism is important as an ancestor of Nazi racial ideology. It should
not, however, be used as an alibi for Webers racism, whose subtle mixing of
race, culture, and class has had a far more decisive impact on the racialized
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DECOLONIZING WEBER

political economy of most of the world than did the crude racism of Ploetz or
Hitler. African Americans played a crucial role in the development of Webers
racial thought, and we shall return to Webers view of Blacks below.

II. The Verein fur Sozialpolitik before Weber: free labor as threat to the social
order
Weber began addressing the problem of free labor when he joined the Verein
fur Sozialpolitik, the organization of social scientists founded in 1872 by
Gustav Schmoller, Georg Friedrich Knapp, and Lujo Brentano. The Verein
had been founded, as Schmoller explained in his opening address to the
groups first meeting, to deal with the political and social dangers caused by
the rise of free labor and the end of feudalism in Germany. The vestiges of
what was at least widely regarded as feudalism persisted in Prussia until well
into the nineteenth century. Serfdom, a form of involuntary agricultural
servitude, was only formally abolished in Prussia in 1807. Still, impoverished
and landless farmers remained nearly as dependent on their former lords as
they had been prior to their liberation. An 1869 Prussian law abolished
criminal sanctions for contract breaking in factory work, thus providing
those poor peasants who left for industrial work in western areas
of the kingdom with an escape from the extra-economic coercion associated,
at least by the members of the Verein, with feudalism.17 In the years 1880 /

1893, millions of German farmers left eastern Prussia for better opportunities
in the United States and, to a lesser extent, western Germany.18 Germany also
became an important destination for Poles emigrating from Russian and
Austrian Poland, although far more went to the United States.19 In the 1890s,
Germany became a major industrial economy in Europe. Germanys
increasingly proletarianized labor force did, as many bourgeois observers
feared, turn increasingly to social democracy. After Bismarcks anti-socialist
laws were allowed to lapse, the social democrats got more seats in the German
Reichstag than any other party, with almost twenty percent of the vote in
1890. Germany, which had made such a late and rapid transition from
feudalism to capitalism, seemed on the brink of making an equally rapid
transition from capitalism to socialism.
The founders of the Verein had long worried that, as Schmoller put it at the
first meeting of the organization, free-market Manchester school economists
did not appreciate this threat of social revolution because of their optimistic
prophecies about the beneficial results of the freedom of trade and
profession [Gewerbefreiheit] and the abolition of the entire archaic medieval
labor regulation. Workers, Schmoller admitted, enjoyed this mobility of
profession, and it afforded many of them better standards of living than ever
before. However, free labor also introduced a growing division between
workers and the owning and educated classes, not just economically, but
even more so in ethics, education, views, and ideals. All higher cultures,
including the Greeks and the Romans, Schmoller warned, fell because of
similar social divisions. Rejecting the leveling proposed by socialists,
Schmoller spoke for the Verein in encouraging the state to develop policies
57
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

that would protect the middle classes by creating a society with gradual
gradations of income rather than sharp class divisions.20 Only their enemies,
who termed the group Kathedersozialisten (academic socialists), regarded
the Verein as having affinities with the political left. The members of the
Verein would indeed have agreed with Marx and Engels that capitalism may
improve the lot of the poor as compared to the way they had lived under
feudalism and, more importantly, that it produces the class conflict that
would ultimately lead to socialism. They were willing, however, to sacrifice
the well-being capitalism brought workers in order to avoid the socialism that
they, like Marxists, assumed it would also eventually bring.
The main proposals discussed in the Verein meetings to check the evils of
capitalism, especially the new freedoms enjoyed by workers, involved both
political intervention and social engineering. One of the earliest discussions
involved the states ability to punish workers who broke contracts with their
employers. Members agreed that the states powers to punish contract-
breaking workers did not need to be expanded, but that existing laws should
be enforced to fight a practice that produces and encourages moral
barbarization [Verwilderung] of the working class.21 The Verein did not
continue developing schemes for such frankly repressive measures* although
/

it also did not reject them* and by 1881 had turned to what would be its
/

major program for limiting class conflict in Germany: the preservation and
strengthening of the rural middle class. Soliciting contributions from local
experts, the Verein published a three-volume work, Rural Conditions in
Germany, which formed the basis of an 1884 discussion on the possible uses
of landownership as a bulwark against social democracy. The discussion was
also notable, in light of Max Webers later contribution, for the total absence
of any discussion of Polish, German, or any other ethnicity.22
Karl Kaerger, a Verein member and Privatdozent at the Royal Agricultural
Academy in Berlin, gave an especially optimistic account of the mobility of
free labor in his 1890 work on Sachsengangerei.23 Sachsengangerei, literally
going to Saxony, became a generic term for migrant agricultural labor in
Germany because so many workers from the eastern parts of Germany
traveled to work in the sugarbeet fields of Saxony. The term Sachsenganger
soon came to refer to workers in sugarbeet fields and in other areas of
agriculture outside of Saxony. The term also came to describe the seasonal
laborers from Russian Poland who replaced the Sachsenganger who had left
eastern Germany in the first place. Social scientists and state officials
generally assumed that Sachsenganger, from both in- and outside Germany,
were Polish, and discussions of Sachsengangerei often involved anxieties
about culture and ethnicity, and concerns about Polonization and Germani-
zation.
For Kaerger and many observers, the economy of sugarbeet determined the
character of free agricultural labor. Because sugarbeets were labor intensive
and required experienced technical oversight to farm and process, the
paternal relationship between lord and peasant was replaced by the
more impersonal relationship between manager and employee. Sugarbeets
required an enormous amount of labor during the planting, cultivating, and
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DECOLONIZING WEBER

harvesting, but almost no work in the winter. Since seasonal workers left in
the winter, landlords did not have to concern themselves with supporting
them in the off season. Although the pay was low, the hours long, and the
housing terrible, many workers signed contracts every year for the same
estates. Women were hired more frequently than men. They were considered
better at all tasks other than pulling the fully grown beets, two at a time, from
the ground and knocking them together to dislodge soil. Also, women were
paid, on average, two-thirds of mens wages. Most of the Sachsenganger,
Kaerger found, were young people, who returned to live with their parents
when they were not away working. They saved much of the money they
earned during their labor contracts to buy clothing more luxurious than they
normally could afford or to otherwise enjoy higher standards of living.
Many commentators, according to Kaerger, worried that the Sachsengan-
ger had lower moral standards because of the long winters of unemployment,
their independence from their own families, and the absence of paternalistic
labor relations. Kaerger, by contrast, found that, on the whole, Sachsengan-
gerei improved Kultur. The separation from economically and culturally
backward homes, the supervision by proficient overseers, and the contact
with technologically advanced sugarbeet farming and with the culturally
advanced West had a beneficial influence. Travel broadened the minds of the
Sachsenganger, freeing them from old traditions and teaching them new
habits, such as, in the case of many girls, wearing shoes. The contact with the
West Germanized the Poles, by teaching them to speak German and to
identify with more homogeneously German areas. The migrants usually
settled down in their late twenties and started their own household, so that
Sachsengangerei did not, according to Kaerger, lead to a permanently
wandering population. The state, Kaerger concluded, should not forbid,
but rather further regulate, Sachsengangerei. He insisted especially on the
solution proposed in the previous decade in the Verein of increasing the
criminal penalties for breaking contracts, in order to prevent the legal ideas
of the rural population from permanently sinking back to the level of natural-
or half-cultured peoples.24
To a far greater extent than the Verein fur Sozialpolitik in the period before
Max Webers participation, the Prussian state addressed the question of free
agricultural labor in terms of ethnic and cultural conflict between Germans
and Poles. Prussia had expanded eastward for centuries, eventually divvying
up all of Poland with Russia and Austria in the eighteenth century. In the
eighteenth century, Frederick the Great had sent German, French, and other
colonists to the formerly Polish portions of Prussia. Such waves of what came
to be called internal colonization continued into the twentieth century,
although it was not until the more racist and nationalist period after German
unification that the Prussian state conceived of these settlements in explicitly
anti-Polish terms.25
In the second decade after German unification, Bismarck and others
created an anti-Polish panic in the east, turning against supposedly inferior
Polish nobles, farmers, and agricultural workers. An 1886 Prussian law gave
the Ministry of Agriculture 100 million marks to strengthen the German
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ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

element in the provinces of West Prussia and Posen against Polonizing


efforts.26 The Ministry accordingly set up a Settlement Commission
(Ansiedlungskommission) to purchase land from Polish estates to divide into
modest farms to be settled by German farmers and workers. Bismarck and
other Prussian officials advocated this policy primarily to undermine
the political power of Poles, whom they regarded as deutschfeindlich (hostile
to Germans).27 Under Bismarcks leadership, the Prussian government
had already expelled, between 1883 and 1885, 32,000 Poles without
Prussian citizenship.28 The Settlement Commission faced the task of
continuing Germanization after these deportations. In a case of hostile
projection that would be risible if it had not led to such privations for Poles,
the Prussian government imagined that Poles wanted to Polonize eastern
portions of Germany, driving out German families, and turning the rest
Polish by forcing Polish to be taught in schools. Jesuits, it was imagined,
funded this campaign, which was perceived to be centrally directed.29 Poles,
according to the Prussian Minister of Agriculture, also refused to sell land to
the Settlement Commission, and received financial support for this economic
boycotting from the savings of Sachsenganger, available as loans from Polish
banks.30 Such planned economic and cultural aggression was precisely what
the men behind the Ansiedlungskommission were perpetrating against Poles,
but they imagined their actions, paradoxically, as a defensive move against
just such actions by Poles. The settlement activities of the Prussian
government were directed primarily against Polish minorities; state ministers
did not recognize an inherent value in preserving small farmers against large
estates, and, indeed, it would have been hard for political officials with strong
ties to agrarian capitalists, such as Bismarck, to advocate for the interests of
small farmers.
The Verein, in its pre-Weberian period, greatly admired the settlement
programs of the Prussian state but primarily as these programs contributed to
the creation of the settled middle class that would check the spread of social
democracy and other ill consequences of free labor.31 The Verein published a
volume designed to guide Prussia in this project. Schmoller explained that
internal colonization involved not merely conquest but also, more impor-
tantly, the expansion of higher moral, intellectual and technical civilization
and the definitive settling of a people. Colonization, Schmoller explained,
was always a difficult fight against natural forces and with traditional morals
and habits and thus was no project of individuals but rather of peoples
with strict social upbringing [Zucht], with the best state organization, [and]
with the healthiest community life.32 Schmollers colonization would not
involve the unstable, adventurous individualism that he and other members of
the Verein feared in capitalism, but rather involved increasing state and social
control. Other members of the Verein looked back at the history of Prussian
colonization in the east, focusing especially on the settlement programs of
Frederick the Great and also on a more limited 1873 program to divide
up some royal demesne land into affordable plots that might persuade a
few farmers to remain in Germany rather than emigrating to the United
States.33 At their 1886 meeting, the Verein endorsed the Prussian Settlement
60
DECOLONIZING WEBER

Commission and expressed the desire that its work be expanded to all of
eastern Germany.34 Even as the Prussian government grew increasingly
paranoid about Polish anti-German agitation, the Verein remained focused
on the social-political task of settling German farmers to ward off the social
revolutionary consequences of capitalism.

III. Race, free labor, and political economy: Weber and the Poles
It was Max Webers unique achievement to synthesize, in a series of works
produced between 1892 and 1895, the conservative politics of the Verein fur
Sozialpolitik with the racist politics of the Prussian state. This first
sociological interest laid the groundwork for Webers later, more well-known
work on sociological method and economic sociology. Eastern Prussian
agriculture presented separate problems to the Verein fur Sozialpolitik and to
the Prussian state. To the Verein, free labor presented the principal problem
of the region, for as laborers freed themselves from paternal domination they
also became potential revolutionaries. To the Prussian state, the region
presented a problem of an increasing Polish population and a diminishing
German population. Both the Prussian state and the Verein fur Sozialpolitik
found common ground in the program of internal colonization. The Prussian
state favored the small farmers settled in the program because they were
ethnically German, while the Verein favored them because their landholding
would prevent their proletarianization.
Weber first encountered the Polish minority of East Elbian Prussia when
his reserve unit was transferred from Alsace to Posen in 1888. At the end of
his first period of service in that eastern province, Weber toured estates set up
by the Prussian Settlement Commission. From that time on, Marianne
recalled, he felt one of the most important political problems was the
winning of the East by a policy of settlement. Weber was repelled by much in
the east, complaining, for example, in a letter to Marianne from his 1894
reserve duty, of the old greasy barracks biped (whether he was Polish or not
Weber does not make clear), who, on Sundays, remembers that it is
human . . . and must therefore try to be distinguishable from an ordinary
pig, at least under a magnifying glass.35 One of Webers most important, if
least celebrated, contributions to the debates about agrarian labor in the
Verein fur Sozialpolitik (as well as in other political organizations to which he
belonged) was to bring the supposed inferiority of Poles and the cultural
degeneration of the Prussian East* often, as in the last-cited passage,
/

expressed in frankly animalistic terms* to the front and center of debates


/

about free labor and national politics.


Webers first, 1892 publication on East Elbian workers expanded upon the
anxieties, by then common among members of the Verein, that the
modernization of agriculture had separated workers from paternal authority
and created the conditions for proletarianization and class conflict on the
land.36 Like other members of the Verein, Weber fully admitted that modern
agriculture produced more for German landlords and also improved
standards of living for those who left the land to become workers, since
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ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

their livelihoods no longer depended on unpredictable harvests. Weber added


to the concerns in the Verein about free labor the worry that German farmers
who left the land were being replaced with a rapidly growing mass of foreign
laborers with lower standards of living. The advantages for landlords of these
seasonal migrant workers stemmed not only from their lower wages and the
ease of controlling such precariously employed foreigners but also from the
fact that they did not need to be supported in the winter when there was no
work for them anyway.37 The Prussian East had, through what Weber
identified as its typical patriarchal forms of authority, preserved the military
virtue of the rural population and created the political might of the nation.
Times had changed, however, and Germans were no longer willing to accept
patriarchal hierarchy, which now found no popular-psychological
(volkerpsychologisch) support. While all of these developments led to greater
economic efficiency, they also presented dangers to the nation, dangers that
under the sign of capitalism, Germandom will be denied victory over Slavic
propaganda and even that Russian-Poles would become better colonizers of
the east than Germans were. The dynasty of the Kings of Prussia, Weber
concluded,
is not called to rule over a rural proletariat without fatherland and a Slavic
migrant population next to small Polish farmers and depopulated latifundia, but
rather over German farmers and large landholders whose workers know that
they can rise to self-sufficiency in their own homeland.38
At a presentation of this work at the annual meeting of the Verein fur
Sozialpolitik the following year, in 1893, Weber further emphasized the issue
of nationality and added warnings about ethnic mixing and national decline.
In this lecture, Weber claimed that migrant laborers did not, in themselves,
present a danger to the nation as long as they were sharply separated from
German workers and prevented from influencing them. Workers in Saxony
were in little danger, Weber offered, since they look down with contempt
upon the low standards of living of the Sachsenganger. Farther in the east,
however, there existed the danger of assimilation.39 There was little to say
against the importation of migrant labor from an economic standpoint, but,
from the standpoint of reason of state (Staatsrason), Weber called for the
absolute exclusion of the Russian-Polish workers from the German East. It
is not possible, he explained,
to allow two nations with different bodily constitutions */differently constructed
stomachs . . .*/to compete freely as workers in the same area. German workers
would have to descend a cultural step [Kulturstufe ]. . . . There was once great
opposition to an importation of Chinese Coolies to the East, but the importation
of Poles is a far greater danger to culture, for our German workers would not
have assimilated with the Coolies. . . .40

Weber had difficulty proposing concrete solutions to the problem of


Sachsengangerei, since he recognized that to do so would require capitalists
to accept less profitable and efficient organizations of labor. He repeated the
support for internal colonization common in the Verein, including the
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DECOLONIZING WEBER

creation of rental agreements that would keep German settlers legally bound
to the land. While the Prussian state already pursued both of these programs,
Weber worried that this would turn out to be a case of too little, too late.41
Max Webers famous 1895 Freiburg inaugural address developed the
methodological tensions in his work on Polish seasonal labor in ways that not
only intensified the racist and imperialist aspects of his thought, but also
connected them to the question of values and science that has since become a
hallmark of Weberianism.42 This lecture used, as Weber explained, the
example of West Prussia to show the role played in the economic struggle for
existence by physical and mental race differences [Rassendifferenzen] between
nationalities.43 Going over phenomena already familiar from his studies of
Polish and German labor, Weber concluded that the economic differences
between the two groups resulted from differing abilities, based on physical
and mental racial qualities of the two nations to adapt.44 The Polish farmer
was winning the economic struggle with the German, Weber explained not
despite, but rather because of, his low physical and mental habits.45 Like
many Social Darwinists, Weber feared that society allowed biologically
inferior individuals to prevail over superior individuals, contrary to the rule
of the survival of the fittest. Social Darwinists, such as Ploetz, more
commonly blamed social welfare for allowing the unfit to prosper. Weber,
as we saw in his conflict with Ploetz, believed that social welfare might
actually preserve stronger individuals. He made his own peculiar twist on
Social Darwinism by blaming the market rather than social welfare for the
victory of inferior Poles over superior Germans.
Webers anti-Polish rhetoric was no passing mania but rather a central part
of his politics. Weber was not, it is eminently clear, merely a figure of his
times, simply mouthing a racism whose existence we are not, according to a
certain perverse historicism, allowed to acknowledge because it was part of a
supposed spirit of the age. Rather, Weber consistently agitated for firmer anti-
Polish politics within the major organizations of which he was a member. We
have already seen this in the case of the Verein fur Sozialpolitik, where he
alone saw internal colonization primarily as a fight against Poles rather than
against proletarianization. In 1896, at the founding meeting of the National
Social Party, a patriotic and religious alternative to the social democrats,
Weber attacked his friend Friedrich Naumann, the leader of the party, for his
insufficient hostility to Poles. Naumann should not speak, Weber claimed,
against those who would reduce the Poles to second-class citizens of
Germany. In fact, Weber maintained, the opposite is true: we were the first
to make the Poles into humans. Weber concluded his attack with a sentiment
that would become famous later in his lecture Politics as a Vocation.:
Politics is a tough business, and whoever wants to take up the responsibility of
grasping the spokes of the wheel of the political development of the fatherland must
have steady nerves and must not be too sentimental to carry out earthly politics.
The politician must recognize a fundamental fact: the irresolvable and
eternal struggle of man against man on the earth . . . .46 In 1899 Weber
resigned from the Pan-German League, explaining that, while he supported
63
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

the aims and leaders of the organization, he believed it did not work hard
enough against Poles in Germany, bowing to the interests of agrarian
capitalists in allowing cheap migrant labor into Germany.47 Near the end of
his life, in 1918, Weber offered to lead any student who had decided not to
make any grand speeches but silently to see to it that the first Polish official
who dares to enter Danzig is hit by a bullet. (Weber found no followers in this
endeavor, and Marianne Weber recalls that many listeners walked out on
him.)48 Throughout his life, Weber attempted to turn organizations to which
he belonged toward radical nationalist, anti-Polish sentiment and action, in
science and in politics alike.
In much of his work, Weber was faced with the problem of balancing a
commitment to social science with a commitment to German nationalism and
anti-Polish racism. In his Freiburg address, he first explicitly raised the
question of how an economist could advocate acting against labor
practices* the employment in agriculture of migrant laborers who happened
/

to be Polish* that were, in themselves, consistent with economic rationality.


/

Economics (Volkswirtschaft), Weber explained, was, in itself, international


and therefore could not provide a basis for nationalist judgments. However,
once economists were asked to make value judgments (Werturteile), they were
necessarily caught up in the economic struggle of nations, in this case the
struggle between the German farmer and a lower race.49 Economics had,
Weber explained, to look beyond the day-to-day politics of the temporarily
ruling powers and classes to the permanent power-political interests of the
nation. They had, ultimately, to worry less about specific organizations
within the economy, and instead concern themselves with expanding the
amount of elbow room that we win in the world.50 This doctrine of values
seems, at first, to contradict the well-known doctrine of value-neutrality
derived from his 1918 lecture Science as a Vocation, where he warns students
against confusing professors for political leaders who can do more than
present various value choices but not select them.51 That Weber himself did
not accept such a position is made manifest in his attempt to lead a student
militia to oppose the return of Polish sovereignty to Gdansk. In fact, Webers
notion of values and social science, in 1918 as in 1895, remained consistently
oriented to power-politics.

IV. Weber in the United States: African Americans and the reality of race
Webers trip to the United States in 1904 brought him into contact with what
had become, in German social science as in so many other discourses, a
paradigmatic case of the interrelation of race and free labor: emancipated
African Americans in the South.52 Webers experience with African Amer-
icans allowed him to develop his anti-Polish racism into a general political
economy of race and free labor. Georg Friedrich Knapp, a founder of the
Verein fur Sozialpolitik, whose studies of the end of serfdom in Prussia laid
the groundwork for practically all subsequent studies of German agriculture,
began drawing parallels between the end of slavery in the New World and free
labor in Prussian agriculture no later than 1888.53 For Knapp, however,
64
DECOLONIZING WEBER

questions of race in the New World simply disguised questions about class
and labor relations. The Negro question, Knapp explained, both in the New
World and in Germanys own African colonies, was the labor question for
the agricultural-industrial large enterprise of the plantation. The claim that
Negroes were inherently lazy, for Knapp, amounted to no more than the
complaint that they refused to work for white employers.54 Gustav Schmoller,
in his 1900 Grundri der allgemeinen Volkswirtschaftslehre, differentiated his
own historical economics from the abstractions of earlier political economy
(as well, presumably, as the economic abstractions he had rejected in the first
Methodenstreit), in part because of his willingness to concretize abstract
humanity with concepts of race and national character. Schmoller offered a
survey of the economic properties of races, beginning with the lowest race,
the Negro of Africa and America. While Schmollers text by no means takes
race as its central category, it does make race a fundamental aspect of its
uniquely historical perspective and highlights the case of Blacks as a case
proving the importance of race.55
Webers scholarly interest in African Americans emerged during a 1904 trip
to the United States to give a lecture at a Congress of Arts and Letters at the St.
Louis Worlds Fair. In his lecture on The Relations of the Rural Community to
Other Branches of Social Science, Weber repeated the claim, by then standard
in the Verein, that capitalism destroyed rural communities by freeing peasants
to become workers, and often politically dangerous socialists. While the
United States did not, Weber allowed, yet see a situation similar to eastern
Germany, where less cultured Poles threatened to defeat the older and higher
culture of the Germans, it might someday. If African American farms
continued to expand, they could, in combination with an enormous
immigration of uncivilized elements from eastern Europe, become a rural
population . . . which could not be assimilated by the historically transmitted
culture of the United States, namely, the Anglo-Saxon spirit. Whether and
how the United States would eventually encounter the problems that now faced
Germans would, Weber concluded, determine the character of the future
culture of this continent.56 While in America, Weber met with Booker T
Washington and W E B Du Bois, persuading the latter to contribute an article
on The Negro Question in the United States to the Archiv fur Sozialwis-
senschaft und Sozialpolitik, the journal of the Verein.57 Du Bois had already
begun work on this project when he had been a graduate student under
Schmoller in Berlin.58 Perhaps at first simply to interest his St. Louis audience
in a lecture on a topic that Weber himself saw as peculiarly German, he began to
develop his anti-Polish racism into a general theory of race and labor that could
also be applied to the United States. This American mediation helped
transform his racist nationalism into a political economy of race and culture.

V. From the political economy of race and culture to a global study of culture
and economics
Webers interest in political, economic, and cultural conflict with minorities
in Germany and the United States did not lead him to become a vocal
65
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

supporter of German overseas imperialism. This was not for lack of


opportunity. Gustav Schmoller of the Verein fur Sozialpolitik began, as early
as 1902, to support programs of peasantization in German Africa as a way to
bring Settlement Commission-style smallholding to German Togo and
Tanzania.59 In 1906 he founded the Colonial-Political Action Committee to
build enthusiasm for German colonialism during the crisis of the so-called
Hottentot elections and to back the reforming colonial secretary Bernhard
Dernburg.60 The National Social Party and Webers close association with
Friedrich Naumann also presented Weber with an opportunity, which he did
not take, to become a more vocal proponent of colonialism in Africa. The
National Social Party advocated overseas imperialism as part of a mission of
German culture. This was part of a generally expansive nationalism, typified
by Naumanns proclamation that being German means being certain that
we Germans, because of our character, have something to offer the
world.61Although the National Socials, as Weber complained, were un-
enthusiastic about, and sometimes even opposed to, Prussian anti-Polish
measures, they did support vigorous overseas expansion.62 The colonial
writer Paul Rohrbach became the major spokesperson of the National Social
Party on colonial issues. Unlike Schmoller, Dernburg, and other colonial
thinkers associated with the Verein, Rohrbach was a firm believer in Black
inferiority, calling for segregating whites and Blacks, preventing Blacks from
learning to read or write, and forcing the colonized to work for Europeans if
they refused to do so of their own free will. Natives, he explained, have no
right to live and die according to their own custom if this meant economic
hardship for Europeans in the colony.63 Rohrbachs anti-Black racism
resembled Webers anti-Polish racism, and Weber and Rohrbach both
believed in the inferiority of poor Blacks in the United States. Indeed,
Rohrbach, like Weber and Ploetz, believed those African Americans often
cited as examples of potential Black ability were in fact racial mixtures whose
abilities derived from their white ancestry.64 Still, although Weber shared
Schmollers enthusiasm for organized agrarian settlements and Rohrbachs
racism, he neither embraced nor rejected their explicit advocacy of overseas
colonization.
Instead, Weber made segregation into the basis for a social science of race
and free labor that differed from colonial-imperialism, but which was
nonetheless implicit in much colonialist ideology like Rohrbachs and
Schmollers. Segregation, such as applied to Poles in Germany or African
Americans, differs from colonial imperialism in that the subject population is
interior, not exterior, to the metropole. Weber developed his understanding of
race and labor on internal, rather than external, colonization. Schmoller, it
will be recalled, had contrasted external colonization, the conquest of
territory external to a state, with the building, settling, agricultural activity
that constituted internal colonization. Internal colonization thus amounted
to the advance of higher moral, intellectual, and technical civilization and
was therefore an earnest struggle with the opposing natural forces, with
traditional morals and customs of ones own people and with hostile or
recalcitrant elements of foreign peoples.65 Weber thus imagined a world
66
DECOLONIZING WEBER

internally divided by more or less hostile cultures carrying out an economic


struggle for existence. As a partisan of German culture specifically, and, to a
lesser extent, the Anglo-Saxon spirit, he identified with the white, northern
European ruling classes of the United States. Weber concerned himself not
merely with struggles between racial and cultural elites and Slavs and Blacks,
but with the range of possibilities for dealing with those internal minorities,
especially as workers. Weber anticipated, even before the First World War, the
flexibility of neoracism and empire against the fixed differences of colonial
imperialism.
Weber first began to work out a generalized theory of race, ethnicity, and
economics in his program for a study of industrial labor in Germany. He
hoped to direct a survey, much like the one carried out in the previous decade
by the Verein on agrarian labor, on, on the one hand, the effects of industrial
employment on personal qualities, professional fate, and extraprofessional
lifestyle . . . and, on the other hand, the extent to which the development of
industry depends upon the ethnic, social, and cultural provenance, tradition,
and standards of living of the workers.66 Weber hoped to borrow the
experimental psychological methods from his Heidelberg colleague Emil
Kraeplin to carry out what he called a Psychophysics of Industrial Labor.
The question of labor could not, however, Weber explained, revolve around
the back and forth of exhaustion and recovery of individual workers, since
great unwillingness to work and subjective tiredness often correlate with
greater productivity. As industrial workers became more skilled, Weber
explained, they also became less happy, even leading to neurasthenia among
skilled workers suffering from the combination of mental ability with the
requirement of monotonous labor. Rather than individual psychological
studies, therefore, Weber planned to consider the economic efficiency of
ethnic, cultural, professional, and social groups for various industrial
employment, much as one might consider the profitability of a variety of
coal, ore, or other raw material.67
While the study was only to consider German workers, the possibility of
such varying qualities of labor across groups obtained plausibility, Weber
repeatedly stressed, from the example of American Negroes. Especially
telling for Weber was what he called the neurotic disqualification of
American Negroes for certain jobs in the textile industry.68 In fact, at this
time, white elites divided the southern working class by offering relatively
high-paying job in textile mills only to white workers, who were thus rewarded
for participating in the exclusion of Blacks. Weber maintained that the
existence of hereditary mental illnesses among North American Negroes
spoke for the biological foundation of group differences in industrial
qualifications, although the general improvement of American Blacks after
emancipation suggested otherwise. In any case, Weber hoped eventually to
determine different ethnic potentials for hysteria, supplementing Freuds
theory that particular events in the life of an individual caused hysteria.
Weber doubted that these ethnic potential for hysteria would be based on
biological inheritance, and suggested they would probably be based instead
on culture (or rather lack of culture).69 Verein members produced a number
67
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

of case studies in this project, but not a general psychophysics of labor, in


part because many workers and trade unions refused to cooperate with data
collection. None of the case studies reflected Webers interest in race.70
However, in planning the study, Weber worked out ideas that would bear fruit
in his studies of religion and economics.
Weber found a solution to the problem of capitalism, free labor, and
ethnicity in his studies of religion, formulated most clearly in his 1920
Collected Essays on the Sociology of Religion (Gesammelte Aufsatze zur
Religionssoziologie).71 This three-volume work brought together revised
versions of Webers 1905 articles on the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of
Capitalism and his 1915 1919 articles on Confucianism and Taoism.
/

Webers studies of Hinduism, Buddhism, and ancient Judaism were published


unrevised, the last by Marianne Weber after Maxs death. He had also
planned a similar study of Islam. Weber sought in this work to present each of
the worlds regions as possessing a unique civilization, exemplified by its
religion, which determined its politics, economics, level of rationalization, and
even individual psychology. In this partially completed survey, Weber did not
present the world as a place ripe for European conquest, as an imperialist
ideologue might have, but rather as a differentiated space of relatively
immutable cultural areas that Europe could deal with as it saw fit.
Weber used religion as other thinkers used race, to characterize and explain
the politics, economics, and psychology of fixed populations. Weber had once
used religion as a proxy variable for physical and mental race differences
when he inferred from census data that only specified religion the distribution
of (presumably Catholic) Poles and (presumably Protestant) Germans.72 In
his essays on religion and economics, however, Weber did not use religion as a
proxy for race.73 Religion in this later work did not function as a neutral
marker indicating race, but rather functioned as an essential factor, as race
had in his work on Poles, shaping economic, political, and other behavior.
Religion, Weber explained, represented the ideas of the bearers of civilization
[Kulturtrager], rather than the ideas of average individuals. He evidently
assumed that the beliefs and behaviors of elites shaped social phenomena and
thus rejected ethnology as a source of data, since it focused only on these
average individuals. Weber kept biological concepts of race much closer to his
own work, noting, simply, that he was personally and subjectively predis-
posed to attribute great importance to the meaning of biological heredity but
that racial-neurology and -psychology were not yet developed enough to
carry out such a study.74 Subsequent neoracists might jettison such biologistic
hypotheses altogether, and, indeed, even in Webers sociology of religion, race
is superfluous: culture functions just as effectively to reduce history to an
elaboration of stereotyped identities.
Religion allowed Weber to approach the problem of rational economics
and irrational values from a different direction than the one he pursued in his
1895 inaugural address and in his subsequent writings on science and politics.
In 1895 he posed the problem of the contradiction between his nationalist
hatred and fear of Polish people and the universal, internationalist
perspective of economics. He was in a particularly tight squeeze because he
68
DECOLONIZING WEBER

was decrying, as an economist, an employment of labor that was perfectly


rational for all involved: German peasants improved their lot by leaving the
land, sugarbeet farmers improved theirs by employing Polish migrant
laborers, and Polish migrant laborers, as mistreated as they were, felt they
benefited from their employment. A Social Darwinistic economic struggle
for existence allowed Weber to reject on nationalist grounds what he should
have had to accept on economic grounds. Science was value free, but scientists
certainly were not, and Weber sought to put his expertise in the service of the
nation to which he belonged. The value freedom of science meant,
furthermore, that Weber allowed no grounds on which to challenge
nationalism, imperialism, or Social Darwinism. That such Social Darwinism
may have been economically irrational did not mean, for Weber, that it was
not the right economic policy.
In his 1920 work, Weber synthesized the opposition between irrational (but
nonetheless valid) values and economic rationality. Weber rejected explana-
tions of capitalism that related it to greed or desire for profit, explaining
capitalism can be identified precisely as the constraining, or at least the
rational tempering of this irrational desire.75 Without the profit motive,
capitalism seemed, at first, to have no motive at all, for there was no
economically rational reason for such rational tempering.
Like rational technology and rational law, economic rationality depends above
all for its emergence on the ability and disposition of humans to live in specific
practical-rational ways [Lebensfuhrung ]. . . . Among the most important elements
that shape ways of life were, in the past, magic and religious powers and the
ethical obligations that are imagined to be bound to them.76

Weber set himself the task in his religious studies of pursuing the inhibiting
and enabling roles played by these magically or religiously rooted imaginary
obligations in the development of economic rationality. The irrational, the
ethical, had moved from the position external to rationality that it had
occupied in the 1895 inaugural lecture to a position inside of rationality itself.
One no longer, for Weber, had to strike a balance between norms and reason;
reason itself depended upon norms, and specifically culturally bound norms
that were religious in origin. Rather than nationalism guiding economics
from the outside, the ethical consequences of the ideas of the bearers of
civilization [Kulturtrager] would shape economic and other rationalities from
the inside.
The Collected Essays on the Sociology of Religion answered questions
about the cultural determination of labor that Weber had been asking since
his work on Polish migrant laborers and his projected study of the
psychophysics of industrial work. In perhaps his only piece of microeco-
nomic theorizing, Weber proposed a cultural, rather than wage-determined,
theory of labor productivity. Raising wages, Weber pointed out, has the
paradoxical effect of decreasing the productivity of workers who are
motivated solely by economic gain, for they will quickly realize they can
work less to achieve the standard of living to which they are accustomed.
Lowering wages is an effective means to achieve increased productivity
69
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

among such workers for a brief period, for they will have to work harder to
maintain their standard of living. However, such a strategy begins to reduce
productivity as the wages become physiologically insufficient and poor
nutrition undermines productivity. The low productivity of Poles, Weber
explained, illustrated this outcome. Economics could not, by itself, increase
the productivity of workers, for only a feeling of responsibility within the
workers themselves could lead them to stop asking how to get a job done with
the maximum of comfort and a minimum of achievement and to begin to
pursue work as if it were an absolute end in itself [Sebstzweck]* that is, a
/

profession [Beruf]. Such a feeling, according to Weber, is not something


occurring in nature but rather a result of the Protestant ethic.80 Pure
economic logic, the logic that Weber had to resist in order to maintain his
anti-Polish politics beside his capitalist economics, now turned out to be,
nicely, uneconomical.
In addition to solving the problem of ethics and rationality produced by his
nationalist attacks on Poles, Webers study of capitalism and religion also
solved the problem of the disorder of free labor that so troubled members of
the Verein fur Sozialpolitik. The theory of capitalism Weber presents in the
Collected Essays on the Sociology of Religion is no theory of capitalists, of
Marxs rational misers, but rather of a rational-capitalist organization of
(formally) free labor that comprised workers, managers, and owners. Weber
extends the white-collar, bureaucratic, corporate capitalism that Jurgen
Kocka has identified as characteristic of management in German industry
to all participants in the economy.77 The ethical idea of capitalism was, for
Weber, the unquestioning commitment to profession (Beruf), whether as a
worker, an employee, or a credit worthy man of honor.78 This irrationally
rational economy began, as Weber famously argued, from a generally
Protestant drive to penetrate all spheres of private and public life to the
greatest possible extent with endless burdensome and serious regimentation
of all of life.79 It was accentuated by Luthers emphasis on the divine calling
to profession (Beruf), and given further power by a popular misinterpretation
of Calvinist doctrines of predestination, whereby success in career indicated
salvation in the afterlife.
The model of culturally determined economic rationality thus offered a
solution to the problem of free labor as it had been formulated by Webers
colleagues in the Verein. Webers colleagues, it will be recalled, worried that
capitalism gave workers too much freedom, leading to wanton contract
breaking, increasing working-class solidarity against owners, and general
political and social instability. In his work on religion, Weber emphasized that
capitalism made individuals less free than earlier economic systems had. The
explicitly theological motivations that made Protestants capitalists had
become unconscious compulsions embodied in the external technical
apparatus of industry. Humans were stuck, famously in a shell hard as steel
(stahlhartes Gehause * Talcott Parsonss iron cage), possibly not to be
/

released until the last ton of fossil fuel has been consumed and the material
apparatus of capitalism has collapsed.81 The Verein had considered criminal
punishments for contract breaking, and supported state-sponsored programs
70
DECOLONIZING WEBER

of peasantization, precisely to check the freedom of free labor that, they


feared, would lead to the growth of social democracy. In the Protestant Ethic
Weber showed that the kinds of cultural concerns he had been pushing his
colleagues to recognize in relation to Polish migrant labor in fact laid to rest
their worries about political and social stability in capitalism. Culture turned
out to provide the iron cage or shell hard as steel in which Weber and his
colleagues had long sought to imprison workers.82
The security of German and other workers born of the internalization of
the Protestant ethic did nothing to ensure Germany against the threats of
Germans of Polish origin or Polish migrants. Thus, Weber had, during the
First World War, emphasized the cultural struggle against Russians and Slavs
as the real sense of the war, calling for an understanding of the Realpolitik of
Kultur.83 While he favored creating a Polish Protectorate as an ally
and buffer state against Russia during the war, he also, it will be recalled,
hoped to lead or participate in a paramilitary struggle against the Polish
occupation of Gdansk after the war.84 While religiously motivated ethics
might provide the source for various types of rationality, Weber also admitted
that in decisive points, politics, in contrast to economics, can emerge as a
direct competitor to religious ethics. All foreign and domestic politics, even
social policy, is based, Weber explained, on reason of state, that is, on the
fact that the preservation (or reshaping) of the internal and external
distribution of power is an absolute end in itself. This sort of politics
must, for Weber, appear finally senseless for every universal religion of
salvation. A universally religious state would be impossible, for Weber, for
the state is ultimately an artifact of particularistic violence; it is, as Weber put
it here, that group that claims the monopoly of legitimate violence.85 In the
formulation of this famous definition in his 1918 lecture Politics as
Profession, Weber emphasized that this monopoly had to belong to a
specific region, that is, it occurs within a space defined against potentially
hostile neighbors.86 The rationality of the West was only universal, only
superior, Weber suggested, in the wishful thinking of the West itself.87 This
rationality was perhaps not universal, not rational in the Kantian, or indeed
any ordinary, definition of the term. It depended upon specific cultural-
religious ideals (that had since become latent, though unconsciously
determining). Webers West, his rational economic, political, scientific, and
other cultural forms, were under attack especially by Poles, and had to be
defended with a violence that ultimately ran counter both to the general
universalism and the specific religious salvation on which it had been based in
the first place.
Weber found that capitalism failed to develop outside of Europe at least in
part because of divergences of non-European religions from Protestantism.
These religions preserved magic as a way of dealing with the world and
therefore prevented both the rational domination of the external world and
the rational inner-worldly asceticism necessary for capitalism. Webers study
of Confucianism gives an especially clear idea of his approach to the
economic ethics of non-Western religions, for this study was the only one
other than the Protestant Ethic that he revised for the Collected Essays.
71
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

Confucianism, for Weber, lacked both the complete demagification (Ent-


zauberung) of the world and also the transcendent god characteristic of
Protestantism. This led to an unqualified affirmation of, and adaption to, the
world among Chinese literati. These literati recognized that this passive and
conformist attitude to the world also sustained their own positions within a
bureaucratic state against the potential unrest of common people. State
authorities thus cut the masses off from the literary culture of the elite and
also prevented them from developing an autonomous religious culture. This
led to the preservation into the modern age of a traditionalistic and stagnant
economy largely based, among the lower classes, on an unbelievable
virtuosity in thrift. Rather than a prophetic or transformative religion, the
masses gained traits, which Weber gleaned from missionary literature,
including the absence of nerves, endless patience and controlled politesse,
tenacious clinging to habits, insensitivity to monotony, and the ability to work
without pause, and slowness of reaction to unfamiliar stimuli, especially in
the intellectual sphere. Both Confucians and Protestants were rational, but:
Confucian rationalism meant rational adaptation to the world. Puritan
rationalism: rational control of the world. Webers portrait of Chinese
psychology does suggest that Chinese would make docile, efficient workers,
and his judgment may reflect the widespread use of Chinese coolie contract
laborers around the world.88 Indeed, as we saw above, the Prussian
government had briefly considered hiring coolie labor instead of admitting
Russian-Polish Sachsenganger into Germany.
Weber, however, emphasized the general, cultural-economic conclusions of
his research rather than its narrow policy implications, although these
implications certainly may have shaped his general conclusions. Capitalism
failed to develop in China, Japan, the Islamic world, or India, Weber
explained, not because of any material deficiency but rather because of the
fundamental properties of disposition [Gesinnung] reflected in the various
religions of the area. In his work on Hinduism, Weber extended his argument
to all Asian religions, maintaining that Hinduism, like Confucianism, did not
break with the magic view of the world, and thus was unable even to conceive
of the rational modification of the world. Where, in Hinduism, there was
inner-worldly asceticism, this was absolutely stereotyped according to
tradition and ritual. The boundless greed of Asians could not, according
to Weber, lead to capitalism because Asia lacked the control [Brechung] and
rational objectification of the drive for wealth and its integration into a
system of rational inner-worldly ethics of action characteristic of Protestant-
ism.89 Webers work on ancient Judaism was published in a relatively rough
form, and did not contain the pointed economic characterizations of his work
on Protestantism and on Asian religions. Still, it is not surprising that in this
work Weber emphasized the break this Western religion made with magic
through the devotion of its intellectual elite, the Levites, to the written
Torah.90 Weber turned his attention in his work on religion from the specific
question of segregated labor forces in Germany and, to a lesser extent, the
United States, to a general theory of culture and economics. In doing so, he
elaborated a cultural macroeconomics that continues to be practiced today.
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DECOLONIZING WEBER

VI. From Weber to Weberianism, and back again


For all of their tendentious oversimplifications and empirical inaccuracies,
writers like Huntington or Landes have been truer to the political, if not the
intellectual, spirit of Weber than have those liberals who have sought in the
great sociologist support for their own political and scientific views. Talcott
Parsons shaped all subsequent Weber reception when he enlisted Weber in
1937 to develop his own model of society as an organic whole integrated
around felt values that subjectively motivated all members.91 Parsons
emphasized Webers posthumous Economy and Society and the Protestant
Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, both of which seemed, at least, to offer a
model of society differing from utilitarianism and Marxism. Weber, like his
colleagues in the Verein fur Sozialpolitik, had indeed sought to develop a
social theory that would avoid both free-market Manchesterism and social
democracy. Unlike Parsons, however, Weber and his colleagues did not
believe society was necessarily an organic whole, and they feared that
capitalism would further fracture it. They believed that an organic society
could be achieved through internal colonization and, at least for Weber,
segregating Germans and Poles. The prominence given to values and
subjective intention in the first chapter of Economy and Society would have
been an innovation in Webers work, had he lived to follow these
methodological prescriptions.92
Sociologists critical of Parsonss functionalism created a model of Weber
that, while a good critique of Parsons, was not an accurate representation of
Weber. In fact, the earliest of these anti-functionalists, Ralf Dahrendorf and
Dennis Wrong, paid little attention to Weber in their critiques of Parsons.
Dahrendorf, coming from a liberal, pluralist perspective, criticized Parsons
and his followers for imagining the present as a totalitarian brave new world,
in which all conflict is caused by deviance, rather than legitimate dissent. For
Dahrendorf, this utopianism of the present sustained a narrow empiricism
that was both apolitical and irrelevant.93 Wrong, in a companion piece to
Dahrendorfs essay, criticized Parsonian sociology from a psychoanalytic
perspective, arguing that Parsons and his followers created an oversocialized
conceptualization of man: they have appropriated the superego concept
[from Freud], but have separated it from any equivalent of the Freudian id.94
Soon scholars took their criticism of Parsonian functionalism to a program of
de-Parsonizing Weber. These scholars rightly pointed out that, among other
things, Weber was neither as enthusiastic about norms nor as opposed to
Marxism as Parsons had made him out to be.95 This tendency eventually
developed into the argument that Webers work, especially his emphasis on
agrarian class relations, was consistent with Marxism.96
Most of the new left, however, rightly regarded Weberianism, both in its
Parsonian version and in the undiluted form analyzed by Mommsen, as a
political and intellectual opponent. In the 1960s Parsons and his followers
began using a liberal caricature of Weber to defend what soon came to be
called the establishment against leftist and radical liberal sociologists. After
the Second World War, Weber had already been caught up in the politics of
73
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

de-Nazification, with some idealizing Weber as a forgotten liberal ancestor,


newly relevant in the American-occupied West Germany, while others, most
famously Wolfgang Mommsen, found in Weber an intellectual precursor of
Nazism. The discussions at the 1964 German Sociological Congress not only
represented the culmination of this controversy, but also its transition into a
new controversy between establishment liberals and the new left.97
The most important critique of Weber by the new left came from Herbert
Marcuse, who argued that Webers notion of value freedom simply meant that
he refused to subject his own values to any kind of rational criticism. His
virulent nationalism and his doctrine of value freedom were, Marcuse argued,
two sides of the same coin.98 This intervention was, according to the
establishment liberal Guenther Roth, both celebrated and reviled as an
execution.99 Benjamin Nelson and Reinhardt Bendix used the occasion to
attack the new left as much as to defend Weber. Nelson, waving the bloody
shirt of totalitarianism, decried those followers of Freud and Marx, including
Marcuse, who rejected the social reality principle. Weber, Nelson claimed,
taught such social malcontents instead to seek out desired relief by
appropriate remedies.100 Reinhardt Bendix similarly attacked Marcuse and
other new leftists in the name of a rational, social scientific attitude that he
associated with liberalism and with the views of Weber.101 That same year
Guenther Roth also used an image of Weber as a liberal to attack the new left,
in part by alleging similarities between critiques by Lukacs and Marcuse on
the one hand and Nazi critiques of Weber by Carl Schmitt and Christoph
Steding on the other.102 Even though, as we have seen, Weber by no means
understood his work as liberal or as politically neutral* indeed his partisan-
/

ship was one of the factors driving him to develop his theory* scholars /

identifying themselves with the establishment in the 1960s imagined a liberal


Weber as a prestigious ally for their fight against what they regarded as the
extremism of the new left.
After such forced service in so many political debates, it is worth rereading
Weber in light of his own political commitments. This was a project common
to, among others, Mommsen and Marcuse, but diverted by establishment
liberals in their struggles against the new left in the 1960s. I hope this essay
has suggested fruitful ways to continue to read Weber. Scholars using Weber
as a source for social scientific methodology will no longer be able to extract
methodological inspiration directly from his texts, but, rather, will have to
dialectically negate the neoracism latent in many concepts that have, until
now, functioned neutrally in scholarly discourse. Perhaps most urgent is a
critical reevaluation of the concept of culture.103 Scholars treating Max
Webers political thought can find a historical origin of neoracism in a theory
of ethnic minorities in segregated labor markets in Germany, as well, to a
lesser extent, as the United States. This might help activists struggling against
this latest form of racism. The Kaiserreich, once regarded as a peripheral
colonial power, has never been more relevant to the problems of the imperial
present.

74
DECOLONIZING WEBER

Notes
1
W J Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics, 1890 /1920 , M S Steinberg (trans.), Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1984. See also G A Abraham, Max Weber: Modernist Anti-Pluralism and
the Polish Question, New German Critique 53, 1991, pp 33 /66. Webers nationalism and racism has,
nonetheless, been repeatedly minimized, most recently in F Ringer, Max Weber: An Intellectual
Biography, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.
2
A striking symptomatic slip of this repressed material occurs when Harry Zohn places a sic after M
Webers account of her husband entertaining his American relatives with Nigger-English. Zohn
explains, The author presumably meant that Webers English was primitive and perhaps even exotic
and droll. See M Weber, Max Weber: A Biography, H Zohn (trans.), New York: John Wiley & Sons,
1975, p 299 /28.
3
E Balibar, Is There a Neo-Racism?, in E Balibar and I Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous
Identities, Chris Turner (trans.), London: Verso, 1999, pp 17 /28, p 22.
4
See especially the section on Imperial Racism in Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire,
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000, pp 190 /195.
5
Imperialism, the control of one region by an external state, and colonialism, the occupation or settling
of one region by inhabitants of another, have been historically linked. See G Steinmetz, Return to
Empire: The New U.S. Imperialism in Comparative-Historical Perspective, Sociological Theory 23(4),
2005, forthcoming.
6
See D Harvey, The Limits to Capital , 2nd ed., London: Verso, 1999, esp. ch. 13, Crises in the Space
Economy of Capitalism: The Dialectics of Imperialism, pp 413 /445.
7
A Zimmerman, A German Alabama in Africa: The Tuskegee Expedition to German Togo and the
Transnational Origins of African Cotton Growers, American Historical Review 110, December, 2005,
forthcoming.
8
See L Olsson, Labor Migration as a Prelude to World War I, International Migration Review 30, 1996,
pp 875 /900.
9
L E Harrison and S P Huntington (eds), Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, New
York: Basic Books, 2000. An equally important exemplar of right-wing Weberianism is the work of
Samuel Huntington. See especially S P Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations?, Foreign Affairs 72(3),
1993, pp 22 /49; S P Huntington, The West Unique, Not Universal, Foreign Affairs 75(6), 1996, pp
28 /46.
10
D Landes, Culture Makes Almost All the Difference, in Harrison and Huntington, Culture Matters,
pp 2 /13, pp 2, 5.
11
Weber as a theorist of values was first emphasized in T Parsons, The Structure of Social Action: A Study
in Social Theory with Special Reference to a Group of Recent European Writers, New York: McGraw-
Hill, 1937. F H Tenbruck, The Problem of Thematic Unity in the Works of Max Weber, in K Tribe
(ed.), Reading Weber, London: Routledge, 1989, pp 42 /84, argues that Weber turned to rationalism
late, only with the Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Religionssoziologie. He attributes the attention to Webers
view of rationalization to R Bendix, Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait , London: Routledge, 1998. See
also W Schluchter, The Rise of Western Rationalism: Max Webers Developmental History, Guenther
Roth (trans.), Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.
12
A Ploetz, Die Begriffe Rasse und Gesellschaft und einige damit zusammenhangende Probleme, 21
October 1910, in Verhandlungen des Ersten Deutschen Soziologentages vom 19. /22. Oktober 1910 in
Frankfurt a.M ., Tubingen: J C B Mohr, 1911, pp 111 /136.
13
Discussion of A Ploetz, Die Begriffe Rasse und Gesellschaft, pp 137 /165.
14
For a less laudatory, more accurate account of Weber on race, see E M Manasse, Max Weber on Race,
Social Research 14, 1947, pp 191 /221, or, indeed, Marianne Webers biography of her late husband,
Max Weber: A Biography.
15
Discussion of A Ploetz, Die Begriffe Rasse und Gesellschaft. Max Webers contributions to this
discussion are reprinted in M Weber, Diskussionsrede dortselbst zu dem Vortrag von A. Ploetz uber
Die Begriffe Rasse und Gesellschaft, in Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Soziologie und Sozialpolitik ,
Tubingen: J C B Mohr, 1924, pp 456 /462. For English translations of Max Webers remarks, see B
Nelson, Max Weber on Race and Society, Social Research 38, 1971, pp 30 /41, and B Nelson, Max
Weber, Dr. Alfred Ploetz and W.E.B. Du Bois, Sociological Analysis 34, 1973, pp 308 /312.
16
Max Weber (Asheville, NC) to his mother, 13 October 1904, GStA, VI HA, NL Weber, Nr. 6, Bl. 52 /55.
Quoted in Marianne Weber, Max Weber: A Biography, p 296.
17
For an excellent comparative account of free labor, see R J Steinfeld, Coercion, Contract, and Free
Labor in the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

75
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

18
K J Bade, German Emigration to the United States and Continental Immigration to Germany in the
Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, Central European History 13, 1980, pp 348 /377.
19
J Zubrzycki, Emigration from Poland in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Population Studies
6, 1953, pp 248 /272.
20
G Schmoller, Eroffnungsrede, Verhandlungen der Eisenacher Versammlung zur Besprechung der socialen
Frage am 6. und 7. October 1872 , Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1873, pp 1 /6.
21
A Held, Die Bestrafung des Arbeitscontractbruchs, Verhandlungen der zweiten Generalversammlung
des Vereins fur Socialpolitik am 11. und 12. October 1874 , Schriften des Vereins fur Socialpolitik , vol. 9,
Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1875, pp 5 /25, p 13. Of special concern was the 1869 Prussian law that
ended the control of masters over apprentices. See L Brentano, Gutachten, in Verein fur Socialpolitik,
Die Reform des Lehrlingswesens: Sechszehn Gutachten und Berichte, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot,
1875, pp 49 /71.
22
Verein fur Socialpolitik, Ba uerliche Zusta
nde in Deutschland , 3 vols., Schriften des Vereins fur
Socialpolitik , vols. 21 /24, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1883. Preservation and strengthening: vol.
1, p v. The discussion is in Massregeln der Gesetzgebung und Verwaltung zur Erhaltung des
bauerlichen Grundbesitzes, in Verhandlungen 6. und 7. October 1884 abgehaltenen Generalversammlung
des Vereins fur Socialpolitik , Schriften des Vereins fur Socialpolitik , vol. 28, Leipzig: Duncker &
Humblot, 1884, pp 1 /76.
23
K Kaerger, Die Sachsenga ngerei: Auf Grund personlicher Ermittlungen und statistischer Erhebungen ,
Berlin: Paul Parey, 1890. What follows on Sachsenganger comes largely from this book. For a recent
account of migrant labor in Germany see U Herbert, A History of Foreign Labor in Germany, 1880 /
1980: Seasonal Workers/Forced Laborers, Guest Workers, William Templer (trans.), Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 1990.
24
K Kaerger, Sachsenga ngerei , p 214. See Kaergers similar arguments in Die landlichen Arbeiterver-
haltnisse in Nordwestdeutschland, Die Verha ltnisse der Landarbeiter, vol. 1, Schriften des Vereins fur
Socialpolitik , vol. 53, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1892, pp 1 /239, and Die Arbeiterpacht: Ein Mittel
zur Losung der landlichen Arbeiterfrage, Berlin: Gergonne, 1893.
25
On Prussian anti-Polish efforts, see R Blanke, Prussian Poland in the German Empire (1871 /1900) ,
New York: Columbia University Press, 1981, and W W Hagen, Germans, Poles, and Jews: The
Nationality Conflict in the Prussian East, 1772 /1914 , Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
26
Quoted in G F Knapp, Landarbeiter und innere Kolonisation (1893), in G F Knapp, Einfuhrung in
einige Hauptgebiete der Nationalokonomie: Siebenundzwanzig Beitra ge zur Sozialwissenschaft , Munich:
Duncker & Humblot, 1925, pp 124 /142, p 138. A second 100 million was budgeted to the commission
in 1898. See W W Hagen, Germans, Poles, and Jews.
27
Vertrauliche Besprechung des Koniglichen Staatsministeriums, 10 January 1886; Bismarck, Staats-
Ministerium, to Honmeyer, Unterstaatsekretaer im Staastministerium, 11 January 1886, Vertrauliche
Besprechung des Koniglichen Staatsministeriums, 24 January 1886, GStA PK, I. HA Rep. 90 A, Nr.
3742, Bl. 1 /2, 70 /72.
28
On this and other anti-Polish measures taken up by Prussia, see W W Hagen, Germans, Poles, and Jews.
29
See, for example, Regierungs-Prasident [Tiedmann], Bromberg, Denkschrift betreffend einige Massre-
geln zur Germanisierung der Provinz Posen, 6 January 1886, GStA PK, I. HA Rep. 90 A, Nr. 3742, Bl.
6 /36; Freiherr von Wilamowitz-Mollendorf, Ober-Prasident der Provinz-Posen, Denkschrift betref-
fend die Grundsatze fur das Verhalten der Staatsregierung gegenuber den Staatsgehorigen polnischer
Muttersprache in der Provinz Posen, 23 November 1895, GStA PK, I. HA Rep. 90 A, Nr. 3743, Bl.
114 /125; Sitzung des Kgl. Staatsministeriums, 9 October 1900, GStA PK, I. HA Rep. 87ZB, Nr. 176,
Bl. 84 /94.
30
Meeting of all Prussian Government Ministries, 13 February 1906, GStA PK, I. HA Rep. 87ZB, Nr.
178, Bl. 244 /249.
31
The Vereins general lack of interest in the nationalist politics of Prussian colonization is especially clear
in Knapp, Landarbeiter und innere Kolonisation, p 138.
32
G Schmoller, Die preuische Kolonisation des 17. und 18. Jahrhundert, in Verein fur Socialpolitik,
Zur Inneren Kolonisation in Deutschland: Erfahrungen und Vorschla ge, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot,
1886, pp 1 /43, pp 1 /2.
33
See Zur Inneren Kolonisation in Deutschland , pp 44 /229.
34
Ueber innere Kolonisation mit Rucksicht auf die Erhaltung und Vermehrung des mittleren und
kleineren landlichen Grundbesitzes, Verhandlungen der zweiten Generalversammlung des Vereins fu r
Socialpolitik am 24. und 25. September 1886 , Schriften des Vereins fur Socialpolitik , vol. 33, Leipzig:
Duncker & Humblot, 1887, pp 77 /138.
35
Marianne Weber, Max Weber: A Biography, pp 146 /147, p 93.

76
DECOLONIZING WEBER

36
M Weber, Die Verhaltnisse der Landarbeiter im ostelbischen Deutschland , Schriften des Vereins fur
Socialpolitik , vol. 55, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1892.
37
M Weber, Die Verhaltnisse der Landarbeiter, p 793.
38
M Weber, Die Verhaltnisse der Landarbeiter, pp 795, 803 /804.
39
M Weber, Die landliche Arbeitsverfassung (1893), in Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Sozial- und
Wirtschaftsgeschichte, Tubingen: J C B Mohr, 1924, pp 444 /469, p 448. For similar arguments, see
also M Weber, Entwicklungstendenz in der Lage der ostelbischen Landarbeiter (1894), in Gesammelte
Aufsatze zur Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, pp 470 /507. Translated as M Weber, Developmental
Tendencies in the Situation of East Elbian Rural Labourers, Economy and Society 8, 1979, pp 177 /205.
40
M Weber, Die landliche Arbeitsverfassung, pp 456 /457.
41
M Weber, Die landliche Arbeitsverfassung, pp 466 /469.
42
M Weber, Der Nationalstaat und die Volkswirtschaftspolitik (1895), in J Winckelmann (ed.),
Gesammelte Politische Schriften , 3rd ed., Tubingen: J C B Mohr, 1971, pp 1 /25, p 14. For English
translations, see The Nation State and Economic Policy (1895), in M Weber, Political Writings, P
Lassman and R Speirs (eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp 1 /28, or The National
State and Economic Policy, in Tribe, Reading Weber, pp 188 /209. Marianne Weber was the first, and
perhaps the last, to identify the methodological importance of this lecture, which must otherwise appear
so distasteful to Webers liberal and leftist admirers. See Marianne Weber, Max Weber: A Biography, pp
216 /217.
43
M Weber, Der Nationalstaat, p 2.
44
M Weber, Der Nationalstaat, p 4.
45
M Weber, Der Nationalstaat, p 8.
46
M Weber, Zur Grundung einer National-Sozialen Partei (1896), in Winckelmann, Gesammelte
Politische Schriften , pp 26 /29, pp 28 /29. See also P Theiner, Friedrich Naumann and Max Weber:
Aspects of a Political Partnership, in W J Mommsen and J Osterhammel (eds.), Max Weber and his
Contemporaries, London and Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1987, pp 299 /310.
47
Max Weber to the Pan-German League, 22 April 1899, cited in Marianne Weber, Max Weber: A
Biography, pp 224 /225.
48
Quoted in Marianne Weber, Max Weber: A Biography, pp 631 /632.
49
M Weber, Der Nationalstaat, p 12.
50
M Weber, Der Nationalstaat, p 14.
51
M Weber, Wissenschaft als Beruf, in J Winckelmann (ed.), Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Wissenschaft-
slehre, 2nd ed., Tubingen: J C B Mohr, 1951, pp 566 /597.
52
See L Scaff, Max Webers Amerikabild and the African American Experience, in D McBride et al .
(eds.), Crosscurrents: African Americans, Africa, and Germany in the Modern World , Columbia, SC:
Camden House, 1998, pp 82 /94.
53
Georg Friedrich Knapp, Library slips, 12 May 1888 /15 November 1888, GStA VI. HA Nachlass
Knapp, K. II, Bl. 192a /i, 194.
54
Georg Friedrich Knapp, Der Ursprung der Sklaverei in den Kolonieen (1890), in Die Landarbeiter in
Knechtschaft und Freiheit: Vier Vortrage, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1891, pp 1 /20.
55
Gustav Schmoller, Grundri der allgemeinen Volkswirtschaftslehre, vol. 1, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot,
1900, pp 144, 149 /150.
56
Max Weber, The Relations of the Rural Community to Other Branches of Social Science, Charles W.
Seidenadel (trans.), in Howard J Roger (ed.), Congress of Arts and Science: Universal Exposition, St.
Louis, 1904 , vol. 7, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1906, pp 725 /746, pp 744 /746.
57
W E B Du Bois, Die Negerfrage in den Vereinigten Staaten, Archiv fu r Sozialwissenschaft und
Sozialpolitik 22, 1906, pp 31 /79, p 43.
58
Du Bois details his German education in a letter to D C Gilman, 28 October 1892, in Herbert Aptheker
(ed.), The Correspondence of W.E.B. Du Bois, vol. 1, Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1973,
pp 20 /21. On Du Boiss seminar paper, see David Levering Lewis, W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a
Race, New York: Henry Holt, 1993, pp 137 /143. On the importance of Du Boiss study in Germany for
the development of his social science, see Francis L Broderick, German Influence on the Scholarship of
W.E.B. Du Bois, Phylon Quarterly 19, 1958, pp 367 /371, and Barrington Steven Edwards, W.E.B. Du
Bois, Empirical Social Research, and the Challenge to Race, 1868 /1910 (Ph.D. Diss., Harvard
University, 2001), esp. pp 111 /146.
59
See Gustav Schmollers intervention in Freiherr von Herman, Plantagen und Eingeborenen-Kulturen
in den Kolonien, Verhandlungen des Deutschen Kolonialkongresses 1902 zu Berlin am 10. und 11.
Oktober 1902 , Berlin, 1902, pp 507 /517. On Schmollers colonial politics, see Erik Grimmer-Solem,
Imperialist Socialism of the Chair: Gustav Schmoller and German Weltpolitik, 1897 /1905, in Geoff

77
ANDREW ZIMMERMAN

Eley and James Retallack (eds.), Wilhelminism and Its Legacies: German Modernities, Imperialism, and
the Meanings of Reform, 1890 /1930 , New York, Berghahn Books, 2003, pp 106 /122.
60
See Gustav Schmoller, Bernhard Dernburg, Walter Delbruck, et al ., Reichstagsauflosung und
Kolonialpolitik. Offener stenographische Bericht uber die Versammlung in der Berliner Hochschule fur
Musik am 8. Januar 1907 , Berlin: Wedekind, 1907.
61
Friedrich Naumann, Patria, Patria: Jahrbuch der Hilfe [1] (1901), pp iii /vi, p iii.
62
For an especially strong criticism of Prussian anti-Polish politics as uncivilized, see Georg Gothein, Die
preuische Polenpolitik, Patria: Jarbuch der Hilfe [9] (1909), pp 47 /84.
63
Paul Rohrbach, Deutsche Kolonialwirtschaft: Kulturpolitische Grundsatze fur die Rassen- und Missions-
fragen , Berlin: Buchverlag der Hilfe, 1909, p 44. See also Rohrbach, Sudwest-Afrika , Berlin: Buchverlag
der Hilfe, 1907, and Rohrbach, Das Deutsche Kolonialwesen , Leipzig: G A Gloeckner, 1911.
64
Rohrbach, Deutsche Kolonialwirtschaft , p 8
65
Gustav Schmoller, Die preuische Kolonisation des 17. und 18. Jahrhundert, in Verein fur
Socialpolitik, Zur Inneren Kolonisation in Deutschland , pp 1 /43, pp 1 /2, 42.
66
Max Weber, Methodologische Einleitung fur die Erhebungen des Vereins fur Sozialpolitik uber Auslese
und Anpassung (Berufswahlen und Berufsschicksal) der Arbeiterschaft der geschlossenen
Groindustrie (1908), in Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Soziologie und Sozialpolitik , pp 1 /60, pp 1, 27 /28.
67
Max Weber, Zur Psychophysik der industriellen Arbeit (1908 /1909), in Gesammelte Aufsatze zur
Soziologie und Sozialpolitik , pp 61 /255, pp 68, 123, 125 /126.
68
Zur Psychophysik der industriellen Arbeit, p 125. See also Methodologische Einleitung, pp 27 /28.
69
Zur Psychophysik der industriellen Arbeit, pp 247 /252.
70
For the results, see Untersuchungen uber Auslese und Anpassung (Berufswahl und Berufsschicksal) der
Arbeiter in den verschiedenen Zweigen der Grossindustrie, Schriften des Vereins fur Socialpolitik , vols.
133 /135, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1910 /1912. See also Anthony Oberschall, Max Weber and the
Problem of Industrial Work, ch. 6 in Empirical Social Research in Germany 1848 /1914 , Paris: Mouton
& Co., 1965, pp 111 /136.
71
Max Weber, Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Religionssoziologie, 3 vols., 2nd ed. (1920), Tubingen: J C B
Mohr, 1922. I have chosen to treat only the 1920 version of this work, since it contains Webers most
developed formulations.
72
Weber, Der Nationalstaat, pp 2 /3.
73
Weber, Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus, Gesammelte Aufsatze zur
Religionssoziologie, vol. 1, pp 17 /206, p 19.
74
Weber, Vorbemerkung, Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Religionssoziologie, vol. 1, pp 1 /16, pp 12, 14 /15.
See Balibar, Is There a Neo-Racism?, p 26.
75
Weber, Vorbemerkung, pp 3 /4.
76
Weber, Vorbemerkung, p 12.
77
Weber, Die protestantische Ethik, p 7. Jurgen Kocka, Unternehmensverwaltung und Angestelltenschaft
am Beispiel Siemens 1894 /1914: Zum Verhaltnis von Kapitalismus und Burokratie in der deutsche
Industrialisierung , Stuttgart, Ernst Klett, 1969. An excerpt of this work is translated as White-Collar
Employees and Industrial Society in Imperial Germany, in George G. Iggers (ed.), The Social History
of Politics: Critical Perspectives in West German Historical Writing Since 1945 , Dover, Berg, 1985,
pp 113 /136.
78
Weber, Die protestantische Ethik, p 62.
79
Weber, Die protestantische Ethik, p 20.
80
Weber, Die protestantische Ethik, pp 44 /46.
81
Weber, Die protestantische Ethik, pp 202 /204.
82
Francis Fukuyama similarly wondered recently whether living in the iron cage of modern rationalism is
such a terrible thing after all, in The Calvinist Manifesto, New York Times Sunday Book Review, 13
March 2005. See also Ronald T Takaki, Iron Cages: Race and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America ,
revised ed. (1979), New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. For a psychological interpretation of
Webers ambivalence about the iron cage, see Arthur Mitzman, The Iron Cage: An Historical
Interpretation of Max Weber (1969), New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1985.
83
Max Weber, Deutschland unter den europaischen Weltmachten, Die Hilfe 22, 9 November 1916, pp
735 /741, p 739.
84
On Webers attitudes toward the Polish Protectorate during the First World War, see Marianne Weber,
Max Weber: A Biography, pp 554 /555.
85
Max Weber, Zwischenbetrachtungen: Theorie der Stufen und Richtungen religioser Weltablehnung, in
Die Wirtschaftsethik der Weltreligionen, in Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Religionssoziologie, vol. 1, pp
536 /573, pp 547 /548.

78
DECOLONIZING WEBER

86
Staat ist diejenige menschliche Gemeinschaft, welche innerhalb eines bestimmten Gebietes */dies: das
Gebiet gehort zum Merkmal */ das Monopol legitimer physischer Gewaltsamkeit fur sich (mit Erfolg)
beansprucht. Max Weber, Politik als Beruf (1919), in Winckelmann (ed.), Gesammelte Politische
Schriften , pp 505 /560, p 506.
87
Weber writes of this universality: wie wenigstens wir uns gern vorstellen */as at least we like to
imagine. Weber, Vorbemerkung, p 1.
88
Max Weber, Resultat: Konfuzianismus und Puritanismus, Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Religionssoziolo-
gie, vol. 1, pp 512 /536.
89
Max Weber, Hinduismus und Buddhismus, in Die Wirtschaftsethik der Weltreligionen, Gesammelte
Aufsatze zur Religionssoziologie, vol. 2 (1920), Tubingen: J C B Mohr, 1972, p 372.
90
Max Weber, Das Antike Judentum, Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Religionssoziologie, vol. 3, pp 1 /400, pp
233 /236.
91
Parsons, Structure of Social Action .
92
Max Weber, Soziologische Grundbegriffe, ch. 1 in Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundriss der
Verstehenden Soziologie, 5th ed., Johannes Winckelmann (ed.) (1921), Tubingen: J C B Mohr, 1972,
pp 1 /30.
93
Ralf Dahrendorf, Out of Utopia: Toward a Reorientation of Sociological Analysis, American Journal
of Sociology 64, 1958, pp 115 /127. It was in this article that Dahrendorf coined the phrase conflict
model of society.
94
Dennis H Wrong, The Oversocialized Conception of Man in Modern Sociology (1961), in The
Oversocialized Conception of Man , New Brunswick: Transaction, 1999, pp 31 /46, p 38. See also
Maurice Stein, Psychoanalytic Thought and Sociological Inquiry, in Psychoanalysis and the Psycho-
analytic Review 49(2), 1962, pp 21 /29, and Parsonss response to Wrong: Talcott Parsons, Individual
Autonomy and Social Pressure: An Answer to Dennis H. Wrong, Psychoanalysis and the Psycho-
analytic Review 49(2), 1962, pp 70 /79. Also central to this critique of Parsonianism is Alvin W
Gouldner, The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology, New York: Basic Books, 1970.
95
Whitney Pope, Jere Cohen, and Lawrence E Hazelrigg, On the Divergence of Weber and Durkheim: A
Critique of Parsons Convergence Thesis, American Sociological Review 40, 1975, pp 417 /427. Jere
Cohen, Lawrence E Hazelrigg, and Whitney Pope, De-Parsonizing Weber: A Critique of Parsons
Interpretation of Webers Sociology, American Sociological Review 40, 1975, pp 229 /241. Talcott
Parsons, Comments on De-Parsonizing Weber, American Sociological Review 40, 1975, pp 666 /670.
96
See, especially, Bryan S Turner, For Weber: Essays on the Sociology of Fate, Boston: Routledge & Kegan
Paul, 1981. Turner has even suggested that elements of Parsonian functionalism may be compatible
with Marxism. See his Introduction, in Bryan S. Turner (ed.), The Talcott Parsons Reader, Oxford:
Blackwell, 1999, pp 1 /20.
97
See Otto Stammer (ed.), Max Weber and Sociology Today. Transactions of the Fifteenth German
Sociological Congress, Kathleen Morris (trans.) (1965), Oxford: Blackwell, 1971.
98
Herbert Marcuse, Industrialization and Capitalism, in Stammer, Max Weber and Sociology Today, pp
133 /151. Georg Lukacs makes a similar point about Weber in The Destruction of Reason , Peter Palmer
(trans.) (1962), Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1980, pp 601 /619.
99
See Marcuse, Industrialization and Capitalism, discussed above and Guenther Roth, Science, Values
and Politics in Max Webers Methodology, Contemporary Sociology 4, 1975, pp 366 /373, p 369. See
also Roths discussion of the meeting in Guenther Roth, Political Critiques of Max Weber: Some
Implications for Political Sociology, American Sociological Review 30, 1965, pp 213 /223, pp 222 /223.
100
Benjamin Nelson in Stammer, Max Weber and Sociology Today, pp 161 /171. In his comments, Nelson
repeats the argument he made in Sociology and Psychoanalysis on Trial, in Psychoanalysis and the
Psychoanalytic Review 49(2), 1962, pp 144 /160.
101
Bendix expanded these comments for his presidential address to the American Sociological Association
in 1970. See Reinhardt Bendix, Sociology and the Distrust of Reason, American Sociological Review
35, 1970, pp 831 /843. See also Bendix in Stammer, Max Weber and Sociology Today.
102
Roth, Political Critiques of Max Weber.
103
Norbert Eliass assessment of the German concept of culture, though part of a brilliant work, in fact
misses what Weber and so many other German thinkers meant by the term Kultur, which is equivalent
to the normative concept of civilization from which Elias, wrongly in my view, distinguishes it. See
Norbert Elias, Sociogenesis of the Difference between Kultur and Zivilisation in German Usage, part
one of The History of Manners, Edmund Jephcott (trans.) (1939), New York: Pantheon Books, 1978, pp
3 /50.

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