Download PDF by John R. Love: Antiquity and Capitalism: Max Weber and the Sociological

By John R. Love

ISBN-10: 0203983076

ISBN-13: 9780203983072

ISBN-10: 0415047501

ISBN-13: 9780415047500

This bold publication addresses questions touching on an previous subject - the increase and fall of historic civilization - yet does so from a particular theoretical viewpoint by way of taking its lead from the paintings of the nice German sociologist Max Weber.

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Additional info for Antiquity and Capitalism: Max Weber and the Sociological Foundations of Roman Civilization

Sample text

All the other elements in the picture—the increasing ineffectiveness of the army, the bureaucratization of the late imperial state, the shift of cultural life from the cities to the countryside—seem to gain their specific gravity from their connection with the factor of slavery. Max weber and the theory of ancient capitalism 23 But, on the detailed question of slave numbers and the causes of their fluctuation, Weber’s arguments when scrutinized are actually rather weak. 24 He claims to have established that slaves came to be in short supply as early as the time of the Principate by referring to the fact that inspections of the ergastula of large estates took place; apparently, the large landowners had resorted to kidnapping labourers to work deserted lands.

In The Agrarian Sociology the ‘backwardness’ of antiquity is never theoretically associated with the influence of so-called political capitalism. Instead, a series of comparatively unrelated factors are deemed responsible for keeping the market orientation of economic activity always below a certain level; only one of these is in any way related to tax farming (Weber mentions the unstable structure of capital formation in antiquity). Other factors listed include: the limits on market production owing to the poor development of land transport, the absence of positive incentives for work, the lack of adequate justification of the profit motive, technical limits associated with the use of slave labour, restrictions on private capital formation arising from the political interests of cities and monarchs (such as the imposition of liturgies or confiscations), the inadequacy of cost accounting.

Which is not to say that it did not have important effects in other directions. Nor does it mean that the provisioning of the needs of the masses in antiquity was not affected in any way whatsoever by forms of capitalism, political or otherwise—for example, the production of wine and olive oil was partly in the hands of private producers who, we shall see, were oriented to the market in some measure. Precisely how capitalistic these activities were, or in what precise sense they were so, is an issue to which we shall return at length in later chapters.

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Antiquity and Capitalism: Max Weber and the Sociological Foundations of Roman Civilization by John R. Love

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