By Jim McGuigan
Creation: on 'cool' -- The spirits of capitalism -- the good refusal -- patron tradition -- industry values -- operating lifestyles -- Anti-capitalism revisited
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Additional info for Cool capitalism
If the industrial era was characterized by the amassing of physical capital and property, the new era prizes intangible forms of power bound up in bundles of information and intellectual assets. 92 The evaluation of national wealth is no longer represented by the weight of traded commodities but, instead, in symbolic meanings through the magic of financial dissociation from the exchange of things. Dematerialisation is pervasive and takes many different forms, even including, for instance, the irrelevance of face-to-face office space for mobile executives who can nowadays communicate with colleagues via wireless laptops and cell phones from anywhere at anytime.
Schumpeter posed the question again in his distinguished book, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, originally published in 1942 during the darkest days of the Second World War. His answer then was equally blunt, though he justified it at much greater length. Do not get the idea that Schumpeter was hostile to capitalism: far from it. Born in Moravia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1883, Schumpeter was educated in Vienna, worked as a lawyer and businessman, served briefly and unsuccessfully in the Austrian coalition government after the First World War as finance minister, failed as a banker and turned to a full-time academic career, eventually winding up at Harvard in the early 1930s.
These values were espoused by various sections of the French Left, from the cultural revolt of McGuigan 01 text 25 20/8/09 12:46:25 26 Cool Capitalism the Situationists, through student protest and onwards to workers’ action supported by Maoists and Trotskyists. None of it had much to do with the official Communist Left that was so implicated in organised capitalism through orderly trade-union bargaining. Here, we come across one of the main weaknesses – or, perhaps, strengths – of Boltanski and Chiapello’s whole thesis: its specific focus on France.
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