THE VIRTUE OF PROSPERITY: Finding Values in an Age of Techno-Affluence
Free Press, 284 pages, $26
While the street cleaners of Silicon Valley strain to dispose of all the confetti from "pink slip parades," very few people will be inclined to give conservative journalist and think-tank denizen Dinesh D'Souza's The Virtue of Prosperity the hearing it deserves.
More's the pity, because it's a decent piece of journalism. The introduction, "Anthropologist in a Strange Land," begins, "To see the new world that is being born . …" Not quite "It was the best of times" or "In the beginning," but it'll do.
In the introduction, D'Souza details a visit to an average party in Silicon Valley in late 1999. Dress is casual, a public-relations company supplies the handful of women, most attendees are under 30, nobody spikes the punch, and, if overheard conversations are anything to go by, everybody has resolutely refused to leave work at home.
"The normal purpose of a party—drinking a lot, saying funny things, and meeting members of the opposite sex—seems entirely out of place here," he writes. He's fascinated that the whole old social hierarchy has been inverted. The "alpha males" that people are drawn to are "nerdy little chimps," one of whom confesses, "We're not interested in women." And, even more intriguing, when he questions these very rich people, they invariably tell him, "I'm not in it for the money."
Hearing billionaires disclaim profit-taking is a bit like hearing Orthodox Jews extol the joys of pork. Consequently, D'Souza decided to investigate this strange new world of the techno-affluent and its effect on the rest of society. The thing that makes his book more than an extended puff piece is that he works so hard to ...1
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