whither the protestant ethic?

Network Culture is predictated on an affluent society, but wealth is increasingly relative. As the New York Times reports, earnings that would once have been considered upper class now seem second-rate, especially if one lives in an area like Silicon Valley. The Times also has a story on Robert H. Frank’s Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class. Extreme consumption by the super-rich drives us to try to buy larger houses, better toys, and bigger, more powerful cars even as the average family income has stayed stable since the 1970s.

audc : i love you, don't crush me crushed by the burden of possessions

Thus America becomes the very opposite of the society that Max Weber observed in the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (not that the Irish are much different these days, as Chaos at the Crossroads suggests…and the same goes for many other countries) and we work more and save less than ever before.

A "correction" as the Fed likes to call it, or a crash of some sort, seems in the cards, both economically and ecologically. But what other consequences does this have for Network Culture? Is this the last burst of material desire prior to the full dominance of the immaterial? Or is the latter just a superstructure, unavoidably dependent on the former (this might be the argument of the Netlab’s research into logistics, for example)?

 

 

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