On Post-Human Society

On Post-Human Society

The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Forecasting, by Daniel Bell. New York: Basic Books. 507 pp.

It is the thesis of this book that the R&D revolution brings forth a new type of society, which can no longer be called capitalistic in any previously accepted sense. Its decisionmakers are not the wealthy owners of the means of production but those whose training and function enables them to use, plan, and augment society’s equipment. The motive of their actions is not profit but Zweckrationalitat—the abstract drive of all scientific-technological potentialities to realize themselves. A society built on these premises may include economic features of corporate or state capitalism, of the welfare state, or of socialism; but if I understand the author’s meaning: the social-economic characteristics no longer are essential to describe this society’s mode of operation. Nevertheless, to call it “post-industrial” is awkward and seems to be justified only by the nonintrinsic reason that Kenneth Galbraith already has taken title to all other possible terms. Its main sociological features are the suspension of the operational code characteristic of a free-enterprise system and, as Bell shows very convincingly, profound changes in the nature and functions of the traditional classes.

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