Dramaturgy of Capitalist Civil Society

John F. Welsh on Carnegieism (Social principles developed by Dale Carnegie, e.g. famous book “How to win friends and influence people” which sold 15,000,000 copies)

“Carnegieism is an ideology which legitimates and encourages people to interact strategically. It does not encourage those who must suffer the social conditions of capitalist civil society to question or alter those conditions, but it does show people the underlying logic of the social system and how to use this logic for private advantage. Carnegieism further assumes that there is an essential and natural harmony between the value of making money, which is the commonsense expression of the underlying logic of the capitalist system, and other human values, including: enthusiasm, friendliness, helpfulness, cheerfulness, and sincerity. Thus, the book, as well as the entire capitalist presentation coaching movement, has been able to present Carnegieism in a proud tone and with a vocabulary which almost succeeds in making the privatized dramaturgy appear ethical. For instance, Carnegie tells us to become genuinely interested in other people. Being genuinely interested in other people is a human value that is not always in harmony with the capitalist value of making money. It is obvious that the values of making money and being genuinely interested in other people are frequently in conflict. What Carnegie is really saying is that if one wants to make money, becoming genuinely interested in others helps. This genuine interest is not a value but an instrument for making money. Functionally, because Carnegeism assumes the ahistorical givenness of the logic of capitalist civil society, it necessarily subordinates genuine interest in others to the making money and, whenever conflict between the two arise, making money wins out.”


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