The man who coined the terms “post-industrial” and “information society” has died. Daniel Bell, a 91-year-old sociologist, was one of the major public intellectuals of the 20th century, forecasting an economy built upon technology and services and the diminished appeal of Marxist economics.
He started young: this Washington Post obituary reports that at 13, he spoke publicly in support of socialist presidential candidate Norman Thomas and told his rabbi (after stating that he was an atheist) "Tell me, do you think God cares?" But he quickly came to believe that socialist views would have no traction in America. Later, he opposed the Vietnam War “but also detested the 1960s counterculture, which he considered selfish, totalitarian and intellectually empty - built on ‘the shambles and appetite of self-interest,’ as he put it.”
Describing himself as "a socialist in economics, a liberal in politics and a conservative in culture," Bell thought of himself as a “specialist in generalizations” and taught at Columbia and Harvard.