chapter  3
The ghost in the machine
Pages 28

Capitalism, Max Weber says in his ‘last word’ on the subject, the course of lectures he delivered during the last year of his life since published under the title of the General Economic History, ‘is present wherever the industrial provision for the needs of a human group is carried out by the method of enterprise’, in other words, by private business (1966:207). In his Introduction to the 1920 edition of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism he offers a rather broader definition, which would encompass Marx’s ‘antediluvian forms’ of merchants’ and usurer’s capital as well as ‘industrial provision’: a ‘capitalistic economic action’ is ‘one which rests on the expectation of profit by the utilization of opportunities for exchange, that is on (formally) peaceful chances of profit’ (1974:17)—irrespective, he adds, of whether such a profit derives from trade or from manufacture.