By Jim McGuigan
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Extra info for Cool Capitalism
Back in the 1970s, he called for a return to tradition and a revival of religion, thereby confirming his deepest conservative impulses. In spite of his doubts concerning prophecy in the social sciences, Bell’s call would seem to have been heeded if not literally heard. 34 McGuigan 01 text 21 20/8/09 12:46:24 22 Cool Capitalism Bell recognised that the evolving conjuncture was a new kind of capitalism. Having dispensed with the rectitude and moral justification of the Protestant ethic, however, the legitimacy of capitalism was, Bell thought, now cast into doubt.
58 Boltanski and Chiapello are interested in restoring the link between indignation at poverty and indignation at egoism. ’59 It is necessary to use a term like ‘indignation’ (the same word in both French and English), then, instead of the term ‘resentment’ – favoured by the political Right and occasionally adopted in error by Nietzsche-influenced Leftists – which suggests mere envy. ‘Indignation’, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, refers to ‘scornful anger at supposed injustice’. Boltanski and Chiapello point out, for instance, that in ‘a connexionist world’ mobility through physical and mental space is a defining quality of ‘great men’ (sic) whereas fixity in place is typical of ‘little people’ (sic): ‘Great men do not stand still.
The ascetic spirit is closely associated historically with liberal capitalism, free trade, family business and heroic entrepreneurship, also documented by the late-nineteenth-century novel as well as classical German sociology. While they state that the subject of their book is ‘ideological changes that have accompanied recent transformations in capitalism’,36 Boltanski and Chiapello do not offer a professedly Marxist analysis of capitalist ideology. Instead they draw on the Weberian definition of capitalism as endless accumulation by peaceful means that is justified by cultural/ spiritual values as a necessary supplement.