DemocracyCapitalism

DemocracyCapitalism - Luis Monroy February 19, 2008 SOCY...

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Luis Monroy February 19, 2008 SOCY 4461: Professor Isaac Reed The Conflict between Capitalism and Democracy American politics centers itself around the appraisal of two specific ideals: democracy and capitalism. No matter how divided the two political parties in the American government become, the unrelenting appraisal for these two ideals never wavers. However, it is ironic that these ideals are cherished in American society so greatly when they are somewhat clashing ideas. An obviously inherent piece of the democratic ideal is equality, and an equally obvious piece of the capitalistic ideal is inequality. So, how is it that a modern society such as America has survived so long with these conflicting principles? By synthesizing Alexis de Tocqueville’s study of Democracy in America with Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism one can understand that while America prides itself on both principles, democracy is many times lessened because of the spirit of capitalism. The importance that Americans place on liberty, money, and religion create the unique mindset necessary to hold the often conflicting ideas of capitalism and democracy as equally important principles in thought, but make capitalism more powerful in practice. The concept of liberty in American society today is a mostly liberal definition of the term in that the American ideal of liberty is seen as the ability to have free will. The socialist definition, on the other hand, associates liberty with equality in terms of wealth. This is an obviously clear violation of the strong spirit of capitalism, so it can be thrown out. However, according to de Tocqueville, the liberal definition is slightly different from the phenomenon of American liberty. His thesis centralizes on the idea that American democracy has emerged
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through a few aspects, but one being this uniquely American view of liberty. De Tocqueville describes the reasoning for this difference because “in America, on the other hand, it may be said that the township was organized before the county, the county before the State, the State before the Union.” 1 This uniquely American liberty is important in that instead of a centralized government trying to impose its beliefs on the people, as was the case in many European countries, the American people were deciding their own liberties on a communal level rather than national. This has led to Americans identifying themselves within both a national context and in a state context. The deviated self regarding a split in nationalism is a completely unique aspect of American modernity and its idea of liberty. While Weber never specifies specifically on the topic of liberty in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism , his thesis offers some insights on the topic. Weber states that our ability to act through free will, or as aforementioned our liberty, is constantly impeded by the system of capitalism. He states that because of capitalism, people’s devotion to their work is “so
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course SOCY 4461 taught by Professor Reed,isaac during the Winter '08 term at Colorado.

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DemocracyCapitalism - Luis Monroy February 19, 2008 SOCY...

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