"Weber notes that in early modern Europe the systems of production for certain goods had all the material conditions of capitalism, but were nonetheless non-capitalist systems still dominated by use value. And when these systems were suddenly transformed into capitalist systems this often happened without any major “material” development, simply through the advent of a new spirit among entrepreneurs. Weber gives as an example the production of cloth by putters-out (Verleger) and peasants (Bauern). The putters out bought cloth from the peasants at traditional prices, and sold them again to their habitual customers. There was little attempt to improve the quality of the wares, or to expand the pool of customers beyond the natural expansion of the customers’ families. Working hours were short. Relations between the various putters-out were friendly, and there was little attempt at competition between them.
All the material conditions of capitalism were present here: division of labor, division of labor from capital, and exchange markets in capital, labor, and cloth. However, the spirit in which the business was conducted was not capitalistic, but rather what Weber calls ‘traditionalistic.’ A traditionalistic spirit does not attempt to maximize the gains of economic activity, but rather merely to earn as much money as he is accustomed to by the methods to which he is accustomed. As Weber puts it, “a man does not ‘by nature’ wish to earn more and more money, but simply to live as he is accustomed to live and to earn as much money as is necessary for that purpose.” To put it in more Aristotelian terms, the “traditionalist” wants a definite number of useful goods necessary to live the good life as he conceives of it. The concrete conception of the good life is often (as in Weber’s example) determined by what is customary for a person of a certain “station” (Stand) in life."
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