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The Boer Republics

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Weber famously attributed revolutionary industrialism in Northern Europe to the "spirit of capitalism" bound up in the "Protestant ethic." In no flavor of Christianity is this ethic more borne out than in the Calvinist; a Calvinist (who believes himself to be one of the Elect) understands his infinite worth as an individual and the worthlessness of impositions upon him by the masses. The Boer Republics, most famously the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, absent their racialism and the redundancies of "faith" against reason, seem to me to be among the greatest examples of human freedom in our history.

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The Boer Republics, though admirable in many ways, were not admirable for the "Protestant work ethic," nor is that that the source of capitalism's success.

I've always thought that the Protestant work ethic was essential in the evolution of capitalism even if capitalism outgrew it. Their belief in working hard and being productive for the glory of God was a huge improvement on the Catholic ideal of poverty.

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The "protestant work ethic" is just an evolution away from strict religiousness. As such it is a step in the right direction and certainly an improvement over strict Catholicism, but the "protestant work ethic" was not "vital" to capitalism. If anything the accompanying baggage of protestantism was a major impediment to capitalism from the word 'go.' The Greek ethos of the past would have been a far better place to start from, philosophically, than the "protestant work ethic."

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