Thursday, December 01, 2016


"In the course of the year 1838, the peaceful island of Barbados was rocked by a strange and bloody revolt. About two hundred Negroes of both sexes, all of whom had recently been emancipated by the Proclamations of March, came one morning to beg their former master, a certain Glenelg, to take them back into bondage. An Anabaptist minister, acting as spokesman for the group, read out a list of grievances which he had compiled and recorded in a notebook. Then the discussion began. But Glenelg, either from timidity or because he was scrupulous, or simply afraid of the law, refused to be swayed. At which point he was at first mildly jostled, then set upon and massacred, together with his family, by the Negroes, who that same evening repaired to their cabins, their palavers, their labors, and customary rituals. Swift action on the part of Governor MacGregor succeeded in suppressing the matter, and the emancipation pursued its course. As for the notebook of grievances it has never been recovered."

- Jean Paulhan, "Happiness in Slavery," from the preface to The Story of O.
Weber [Parsons]
The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order. This order is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which to-day determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force. Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt. In Baxter’s view the care for external goods should only lie on the shoulders of the “saint like a light cloak, which can be thrown aside at any moment”. But fate decreed that the cloak should become an iron cage. 
Weber ‎[Baehr/Wells]
The Puritans wanted to be men of the calling—we, on the other hand, must be. For when asceticism moved out of the monastic cells and into working life, and began to dominate innerworldly morality, it helped to build that mighty cosmos of the modem economic order (which is bound to the technical and economic conditions of mechanical and machine production). Today this mighty cosmos determines, with overwhelming coercion, the style of life not only of those directly involved in business but of every individual who is born into this mechanism, and may well continue to do so until the day that the last ton of fossil fuel has been consumed.

In Baxter's view, concern for outward possessions should sit lightly on the shoulders of his saints like a thin cloak which can be thrown off at any time." But fate decreed that the cloak should become a shell as hard as steel [stahlhartes Gehause]. As asceticism began to change the world and endeavored to exercise its influence over it, the outward goods of this world gained increasing and finally inescapable power over men, as never before in history. Today its spirit has fled from this shell—whether for all time, who knows? Certainly, victorious capitalism has no  further need for this support now that it rests on the foundation of the machine. Even the optimistic mood of its laughing heir, the Enlightenment, seems destined to fade away, and the idea of the "duty in a calling" haunts our lives like the ghost of once-held religious beliefs. Where "doing one's job" [Berufserfullung] cannot be directly linked to the highest spiritual and cultural values—although it may be felt to be more than mere economic coercion—the individual today usually makes no attempt to find any meaning in it. Whom capitalism is at its most unbridled, in the United States, the pursuit of wealth [Enuerbsstreben], divested of its metaphysical significance, today tends to be associated with purely elemental passions, which at times virtually turn it into a sporting contest.
stahlhartes Gehause. Baehr: The "Iron Cage" and the "Shell as Hard as Steel"

repeats: Weber and Kafka

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