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Karl Marx and Marx Weber: Suffering in the Society

Many sociologists, including Karl Max and Marx Weber, have tried to explain different contemporary issues in our society. In this paper, I will discuss how Karl Max and Marx Weber have explained the nature and cause of suffering in society. In addition to this, I will discuss Marx Weber regarding the connection between religion and capitalism.

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Discuss two theorists, how they theorize pain and suffering, and the solutions that they offer to relief suffering

Suffering is a state of physical, emotional, and psychological pain (Shapard 3). Society has many inequalities that cause pain and suffering. Karl Max and Max Weber have tried to explain pain and suffering in society. They have also recommended ways of overcoming pain and suffering. Karl Max used capitalism and religion to explain suffering in society, while Marx Weber used religion to explain suffering.

Karl Max argues that the struggle between the rich and the poor has created disparities causing suffering (Shapard 23). In a capitalist society, owners of means of production exploit their workforce. He observes that the capitalists continue accumulating wealth while the poor laborers continue becoming poor (Shapard 21). The gap between the rich and the poor in society has widened, leading to extreme poverty. Because of the poor lack of economic power and basic needs, they are forced to work for long hours with low pay (Shapard 19).

Karl Max connects poverty to the spirit of capitalism that oppresses the masses to accumulate wealth. He also observes how religion is used to maintain the oppressive capitalist system in society (Shapard 21). Because of alienation and social-economical problems, man has turned to religion in an effort to get solace for his suffering (Shapard 7). Religion has been used to justify suffering and pain in society.

Christianity teaches people that those who do not have material possession are rich in spirit and will be rewarded in heaven ((Shapard 56). Because of the idea of reward in heaven, the poor have found comfort and given up efforts to break from the bondage of oppression (Shapard 66).

Karl Max argues that society needs to create an equilibrium to eliminate suffering and pain in society. However, society cannot reach this level without a social revolution, and therefore, workers who are oppressed must turn against the capitalist system (Shapard 121). Trade unions and workers unions should advocate for social change. He observes that communism is the only way to eliminate pain and suffering caused by a lack of economic power (Shapard 101). Karl Max does not see religion as a solution to human suffering but means used by the capitalists to maintain their position in society.

On the other hand, Max Weber argues that man created religion for himself. Religion points out that those people who go through pain and suffering have misfortune. The misfortune can be because of bad deeds that an individual committed against the gods. Because of pain and suffering experienced in society, people decided to look for answers. Religion looks at suffering as a way of getting close to God to bring fortune. People are encouraged to deprive themselves of earthly pleasure because if they engage in the earthly pleasure, they will not be rewarded in heaven. Activities such as fasting are meant to bring people close to God, which will be rewarded with fortune.

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Max Weber adds that religion has been used by the affluent in society to maintain social status. Society has used religion to explain why there is death, mourning, sickness, and other misfortunes. Religion was developed to help provide answers to human pain and suffering (Shapard 43). People have believed in divine powers to reconcile the imperfect society that we live in. People need to understand that God created the earth, and he can provide answers to injustice, pain, and inequality on earth (Shapard 45).

Weber says that people have always wanted to know why some people are successful than others (Weber, 13). There are people who have undeserved favor, while others suffer. Religion is able to change our perspective of the world to help people to cope with suffering. Religion relieves individuals from suffering by offering solace (Shapard, 54). In addition, religion motivates people to work hard to attain salvation from pain and suffering. It teaches that people who obey the will of God will obtain direct favor from God.

Max Weber continues to say that as people get committed to religion, they learn how to endure pain to gain eternal salvation. Max Weber says that suffering and pain cannot be eliminated because it helps to maintain social status (Weber, 23). Karl Max is positive that suffering and pain can be eliminated in society. He points out that social revolution through workers union can change the inequalities experienced in society. Karl Max believes that inequalities in society are the root causes of human suffering.

Karl Max adds that society has to adapt communism, which advocates for equal distribution of resources (Shapard 47). He believes that a society can find a solution to relieve pain and suffering by stopping the spirit of individualism. On the other hand, Max Weber is not positive about the elimination of suffering. He argues that as long as people believe in the predestined election by God, pain and suffering will not end (Weber 111).

Society will continue to face competition and inequalities (Weber 112). Weber looks at religion as a system in the society that relieves suffering by giving people hope and motivating them to work hard to gain material possession (Shapard 126).

What is the relationship between religion (particularly Calvinism) and Capitalism? How does his work on religion and Capitalism demonstrate the larger process of rationalization?

Calvinism is a reformed faith and a religion that began in the16th century led by Calvin (Kuyper 5). Today, this reformed tradition has more than 75 million members across the world (Kuyper 8). In his book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber notes that there is a connection between Calvinist believes and the modern capitalism (Kuyper 15). Notably, Weber observes that the teachings and believes of Protestantism religion have a connection with worldly success.

Calvinism religion was based on predetermination and its doctrines taught on unconditional election (Weber, 23). The principle of unconditional election says that, God has already selected his people. It further argues that, God’s people are not chosen based on believes and faith but rather they are chosen based on limited atonement (Weber, 13). This means that, God has already picked who will be rewarded in heaven and who will not. Because of this, the society tried to find ways of discovering who among them had been chosen to go to heaven (Weber, 29).

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People used different criteria to determine who had been selected. They argued that God favored those who had been successful and he had selected them to go to heaven. People believed that if you were successful in the society, then God had selected you to be rewarded in heaven (Weber, 34). Based on this principle, people began working hard to accumulate wealth as a way of indicating that they had been selected to go to heaven (Kuyper 8).

Weber argues that capitalism was motivated by Calvinist doctrines. The Calvinist doctrines emphasize that, the elect will go to heaven but the unsuccessful are destined to hell. Calvinism proclaims that God chooses his people from time of birth (Kuyper 8). However, Weber argues that this belief only reflects loneliness and helplessness by the Calvinist religion (Weber 66). Weber concludes that, these principles only emphasize on issues of worldly success.

According to Weber, the combination of worldly success and the teaching of Calvinist religion contributed to development of the modern capitalism in the society. This is because the Calvinist teachings encouraged increased accumulation (saving) and less consumption of materials (Weber 88). Since people reduced spending and increased saving, economic growth and industrialization emerged (Weber 164). This is the modern capitalism.

The explanation is that, the world only exists to serve the glorification of God and therefore the elected are only fulfilling the will of God (Kuyper 68). He points out that, wasting time is perceived as the biggest sin (Weber 112). Because of this, Calvinist cannot waste time by idling or doing things that have no value (Kuyper 45). To the Calvinists, time is precious and individuals must utilize every available time to provide labor as this is God’s will. His arguments point out that, by continuously working hard, an individual is not only portraying genuine faith but also one is fulfilling the will of God (Weber 143). This is what Weber refers as the spiritual capitalism.

Generally, the connection between religion (Calvinism) and capitalism is clear. According to Max Weber, the doctrines of the Calvinist religion have contributed to emergence and growth of capitalism. The Calvinist doctrines and teachings emphasize on material possess, accumulation and saving. This is has led to emergence of capitalist society.


In conclusion, the society has inequalities that bring pain and suffering. Karl Max argues that the struggle between the rich and the poor has created disparities causing suffering. Weber said that, because of problems experienced in the society, humans created religion to look for answers about pain and suffering. On the other hand, Weber argues that there is a connection between religion and emergence of capitalism. According to Weber, the teachings of Calvinist religion have a connection with worldly success.

Works Cited

Kuyper, Abraham. Lectures on Calvinism. New York: Cosimo, Inc, 2009. Print.

Shapard, Jon. Sociology. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

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Weber, Max.The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: The Citadel Press, 2003. Print.

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