Responding to Max Weber’s dour predictions, we enlist Antonio Gramsci’s optimism to suggest how culture can spike development. Weber’s sociological focus took culture to mean shared beliefs and practices. As a culture that derives from the Protestant Ethic, capitalism waged a “war on pleasure.” Weber warned that this unfeeling rationality would generate an “iron cage” to trap our humanity, but his book has been read, paradoxically, as a manual for the lock down. Gramsci, on the contrary, understood culture in its humanistic sense, as a field of aesthetic pleasure, innovation, and debate. For him, a precondition for transformational social change was the broad engagement of masses as empowered collectives (Weber favored charismatic leaders); and pleasure in idiosyncratic forms of artistic as well as rooted expression was the fuel for participating in personal and shared advances. This pleasure in art and collective interpretation contrasts with the exclusionary rituals of commodified pleasure typical of capitalist consumerism. Gramsci’s confidence in the transformational role of creative culture provides a framework for understanding a new wave of inclusive artistic practices that originate in the Global South and that revive the arts as vehicles for active citizenship. Participatory art can re-enchant today’s sorely disenchanted socio-cultural world of mature capitalism.