Jun 15, 2013

The Ethics of Protestantism and The Spirits of Chocolate

I’m reading the book “the Emperors of Chocolate.”

As I mentioned in the previous entry “"Gibu Mi Chokoreito": Ration D Bars and Japanese Children,” this book is about the U.S. chocolate industry, focusing especially on the competition between Hershey and Mars.

The chocolate industry is one of the typical industries in the U.S. When you read the history of the chocolate industry, you can understand the characteristics of the U.S. industries.

For example, Forrest Mars, who made Mars Corporation the biggest chocolate company in the U.S., was the typical capitalist, who Max Weber described in the book “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.”

I’d like to summarize what Weber meant in it briefly. Of course this summary is my own interpretation, so if you want to know exactly what he meant, you should read his original book.

He pointed out that the modern capitalists behaved in rational ways with irrational motives.

In every region, in every age, there were people who wanted to be rich. They wanted to be rich, because they wanted to spend money for their own desire. So when they really became rich, they began to live extravagant lives. In short, they were utilitarian.

The first modern capitalists were Protestant. They worked quite hard for success, because they believed that their success proved that they were selected by God. In fact, many of them got successful, because they worked quite hard. After they became rich, they didn’t spend money for their desire but they invested their money to their business. So they got much more successful and earned much more money. They were not utilitarian but ascetic.

Forrest Mars was an ascetic hard worker. His father and Forrest had a conversation as follows:
“My father says, ‘we’re making enough money. We have an airplane, we’ve got the fishing place, we got horses. Why do we need any more?’” recalled Forrest.
It’s a question he himself would never ask.
“Why do I want to go on?” Forrest mused. “I want to go on because it’s fun. I like building businesses… I like the tension. I like the gamble… The word challenge isn’t too good a word for it. I think it’s better to say the truth: I like the tension.”
He was greed for business but not for money. He had “the ethics of Protestantism and the spirit of capitalism.”

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