Weber, Kafka, Mann: Insights into Alienation, Doubt and Anxiety among Late German Modernists

  Any book about Max·· No biography of Weber will ignore the famous quarrel between Weber and Schumpeter, and the magnificent masterpiece “Weber’s Biography: Thought and Will” is naturally no exception. Later history proved that regarding the cost of the Soviet social experiment, Weber’s fears became reality, while Schumpeter’s “optimistic” predictions seemed “frivolous”.
  The reason why Weber was not optimistic about the prospects of the Soviet-style social model was because, in addition to the heavy cost of violent social change, he was well aware that with the increasing specialization and complexity of technology and management, the trend of rationalization and bureaucratization of social and economic life would It will not be reversed by the apparent property rights revolution. On the contrary, under the Soviet model, workers are more likely to be alienated.
  However, in the second half of this game, Schumpeter was even better. Weber’s prediction that the United States would have a landed aristocracy, become increasingly bureaucratic in management, and become increasingly secular in religion, in a word, would become increasingly European, mostly came to nothing in the end. For example, “Religious America, Secular Europe” is still talked about today. The topic of Dao is aimed at the corruption and rigidity of American capitalism. Schumpeter’s theory of “creative destruction” is obviously more forward-looking and explanatory, although he also believes that capitalism will definitely have more socialist elements when it reaches a certain stage of development, and this seems to have been confirmed after the New Deal. Even though he also believed that democracy should be a game of elites, the tone of Schumpeter’s discussion was far less pessimistic and melancholy than Weber’s. The latter was torn between leader dictatorship and mob politics, while the former believed that the people could still instigate democracy through their votes. Elites fight against each other and will not be completely subject to elite politics.
  Some people believe that Weber’s stubbornness and gloominess and Schumpeter’s smoothness and optimism may symbolize Berlin’s temperament and Vienna’s temperament respectively, just as Zweig said in “The World of Yesterday”. It seems reasonable to say so. Compared with Austria’s more optimistic and sunny South German temperament, the Germany of Weber, Thomas Mann, Benjamin, and Brecht, plus Kafka’s Czech Republic, seem to have “realized” the “sadness” of North Germany. and the politics of cultural despair.
  These Weber’s peers or little brothers, as filial sons and evil sons of the urban class, are always full of worries, always worried about the collapse of personal order, always looking for and constructing meaning, and always struggling with their original family and family community. Between the warmth, help and harm and coercion, they are always resisting all kinds of invisible oppression, and never let go of themselves, society and even all mankind.
  Weber and Thomas Mann shared a common Oedipus complex, and Kafka had a similar fear and resistance to the shadow of patriarchal oppression. The three of them all maintained a friendship with their sisters (particularly partial to one of them), and Weber and Man even experienced the pain caused by the suicide of a sister, and the protection and competition between them and their respective brothers are even more difficult to describe.
  Although they regard themselves as enlightened people and show sufficient respect for women, especially outstanding women, by today’s standards, they still exude an unbearable patriarchal atmosphere. Mothers, partners, and sisters from the elite class of citizens were all considered the most powerful people at that time, but they were all more or less forced or took the initiative to make sacrifices in order to fulfill their needs. Kafka’s almost harsh warnings and offers to his fiancée were exactly the same as Weber’s, except that Weber’s “luck” was better, and his wife was more willing to give, even to the point of tolerating Weber’s three-handedness. The same drama of threesomes was also played out in Brecht. Although Kafka and his fiancée’s best friend’s swan-goose letter did not lead to any substantive action, this kind of spiritual derailment eventually led to the dissolution of the engagement.
  It seems that for the children of the citizen class in the German-speaking areas, the belated process of modernization and modernity, with its disenchantment and rationalization of the world, has led to alienation of people, superimposed on the power of the aristocratic ruling class that is unwilling to withdraw, and the family community The ubiquitous constraints, the unpleasant constraints of religious remnants, coupled with the unique German dark and dark romantic tradition, have a certain destructive and tormenting effect. Therefore, sanatoriums are a common theme in their real lives and literary works.
  They are a complex of contradictions, full of fear and longing for redemption. They despised the materialism of the English and French Protestants and the obscurantism of the Italian Catholics, but were also full of yearning for their bright and decisive cultural atmosphere full of “sun and coast” atmosphere, so they embarked on pilgrimage trips again and again.
  Among them, Weber can be said to be a collection of contradictions: he regards academics as his bounden duty, but cannot forget about real politics; he is devoted to democracy, but believes that the bourgeoisie is incapable of launching a Charisma-type leader; he has struggled with the shadow of Bismarck throughout his life. But by advocating leader-based democracy, it invisibly helped summon the phantom of Hitler. At the level of his personal life, he is even more dazzling. His early puritanical fear of sex contrasted with his skillful game of “indiscretion” in his private life in his later years. Weber was obsessed with establishing order for his inner world and daily life throughout his life, but in the end he tasted the “wonderful true meaning” of life in the collapse of the wall of self-discipline.
  Likewise, the cautious fear of sex, the obsession with building order, and the desire to break through rules and regulations are also vividly highlighted in the lives and works of Thomas Mann and Kafka. They try to reconstruct the order of the world in their works, either being tortured by the order like a masochist, or enjoying the collapse of the order. In short, they are neither willing to openly resist the world, nor are they willing to follow the trend and easily reach compromise with this society. Based on their background, qualifications, education and resources, if they were a little more worldly, it would be as easy to obtain a life of singing, singing, dancing, fragrant clothes and beautiful hair as if they were searching for something. Finally, if they were willing, they could use various connections to jump to the New World and restart their lives. But they had to take a more difficult path, and even their final escape and rebirth were full of sighs and resentments.
  If Dostoyevsky is added to the mix, people will find that it seems that the more “late” modernization and modernity are, the deeper the traditional accumulation, the easier it is for the citizen class to fall into various mental weird personality splits. Perhaps it is precisely because of the backwardness and sluggishness in the level of modernization that they are more likely to choose or be content to indulge in the world of concepts, “arrange the world with ideas” and like grand narratives. When faced with the reality of the new American capitalism, for example, , and more inclined to the Six Classics Annotations, and it is difficult to get out of the jungle and fog of concepts and words.
  Later people discovered that the Webers did not wholeheartedly embrace the process of rationalization or so-called “disenchantment” that gave rise to Western-style modern capitalism. On the contrary, they were full of doubts and fears about its possible totalitarian tendencies. Looking back, it is Weber, Kafka and Dostoevsky who issued a breathtaking early warning portrayal of the coming of a totalitarian society, and their accuracy is shocking, although all this is not It did not prevent various tragedies from happening one after another.

  In any case, Webers have left their own valuable mark in the history of thought and culture, enriching people’s ideological framework and concept set for understanding the world and themselves, and the corpus in them is still frequently used by people today. Their entanglements, struggles and pains also remind people that the process of modernization and modernity cannot always advance smoothly when faced with various cultural landscapes. How can modernization be as smooth as possible without going against the trend? The pain and wounds caused by modernity and modernity are still timeless issues.

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