By Jim McGuigan
Creation: on 'cool' -- The spirits of capitalism -- the nice refusal -- client tradition -- industry values -- operating lifestyles -- Anti-capitalism revisited
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Additional resources for Cool capitalism
During the ’60s, the assault of Modernism and the rise of mass consumerism were topped off by a set of counter-cultural values that became very popular; most notably, in Bell’s account, by the so-called ‘democratization of culture’ that dispenses with judgement as to worth. Anything goes in this new regime; nothing is sacred; anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s. What was Bell’s solution to the terrible malaise he had diagnosed? Back in the 1970s, he called for a return to tradition and a revival of religion, thereby confirming his deepest conservative impulses.
In representing its dynamism and future promise, Rifkin identifies but also exaggerates significant trends in capitalist culture today. His argument can in some ways be seen as complementary to Boltanski and Chiapello’s thesis on the new spirit of capitalism. Theirs is a much more measured and carefully documented treatment. They emphasise the legitimacy of/justification for the new capitalism, especially regarding work and career orientations. Rifkin is less concerned with the legitimacy of capitalism in spite of his rhetorical gestures towards anti-capitalism.
27 According to Bell, Modernism’s adversary is ‘the bourgeois worldview’. Curiously, however, the bourgeois worldview and Modernist culture both value individual freedoms. 28 Modernism, instead, retains the Romantic ideal of the rebellious bohemian, in effect, the artist rejecting orderliness, seeking immediate sensation, and calling into question codes of representation. These values flow into a more generalised hedonism, which is not the exclusive preserve of alienated artists. Modernism as a revolt of intellectuals against the capitalist system, Bell notes, is now established routine for ‘the cultural class’, McGuigan 01 text 20 20/8/09 12:46:24 The Spirits of Capitalism 21 but its political challenge is, at the same time, exhausted due to the eclipse of socialism whilst, also simultaneously, popular hedonism is on the rise.
Cool capitalism by Jim McGuigan