A Postmortem on Daniel Bell's Postindustrialism was written by Laurence Veysey, a history professor at the University of California - Santa Cruz. The article was published in 1982 by the Johns Hopkins University press, and it focuses on the works of Daniel Bell who wrote The coming of Post-Industrialization Society (1973) and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976). Bell’s first work announces talks about “…technical knowledge and its steady use by elites to secure social order and control” (Veysey). His second work argues that romanticism has taken over American culture. Veysey critics the works of Daniel Bell and delivers a perspective into Bell’s view of the postindustrial society. In this scholarly article, Veysey finds contradictions in the works of Bell and comments on his shift of tone between his two works.
Although Bell, who wrote his works during the 1970s, talks about how the postindustrial ‘era’ was on the rise, Veysey notes that an ‘era’ of this sort was noted “…long ago before Daniel Bell’s writings on the subject, by such figures as David Riesman, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Walt W. Rostow” (Veysey). These notable writers wrote pieces on this rise of a new era during the 1920’s, 1950s, and 1960s. With that said, this article focuses on how Bell’s contradictions between his works leads to an unreliable perspective on the postindustrial era. Bell romanticized view in his second work completely turns his views around by then stating that the “…spirit of postindustrial society turns out to be neither an advancing technocratic rationality, nor even the continued chanciness to politics, but a romantic hedonism that leads to a reckless squandering of resources” (Veysey). Veysey goes on to explain how Bell’s views do not complement the American society, rather, it focuses on the small elite groups whose effect is minor. Veysey observes that while in his first book he was more of a prophet, late in his second book he drops down to the ordinary consumer level and bases his views on the bad news he listens to, trying to make sense of a myriad of problems Americans are facing day-to-day.
Arguing against Bell, Veysey states that the concept of post industrialization has merit only as it is compared to the American twentieth century past and not an idea based on futurology. More importantly, he states the it is hard to note exactly when this postindustrial age began, and this relates to modern society today in the sense that year-to-year we are seeing postindustrial advances and new signs of evolution. He believes that “the important question is not whether the prophets of post industrialization saw the future correctly, for it is by now clear, in an era of contracting possibilities, that their vision of the future was ludicrously optimistic” (Veysey).
Veysey ultimately believes that the post industrialization era began near the 1920’s where attitudes changed dramatically. Veysey brings out intriguing points on the contradictory ways of Bell’s books, and he delivers his perspective on Post industrialization in an efficient and well proposed manner. He first analyzes the contradictions in Bell’s works, and then he leads his way into his own views and why they may be the more reliable opinion in post industrialization today.
Veysey, L. (1982). A Postmortem on Daniel Bell's Postindustrialism. American Quarterly 34:1 .