Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Creative Class Defends Obama in Witty Song

This send up of a Gilbert & Sullivan tune is well worth watching. It is brilliantly conceived and executed. It almost makes me feel bad about beating up on our corporate-war-torture supporting president, who is now the leader of the elite faction of the Democratic Party that others and myself are calling "The Weimar Democrats." (Note to Father of MF Blog proprietor: Don't worry, Dad, I'm still voting straight Democratic this time!)

Nonetheless, the song and film also highlight something we should think about more, which is the rise of the Creative Class in our society. Richard Florida's book on the subject is good, but not great, for the reason that a reviewer at Amazon.com correctly argues. Industrial jobs did not disappear in the US because they were no longer "interesting." They were shipped out like so many television sets. Still, the demographic point Florida raises, and its political, cultural and economic implications, is important that there is a new strata of voters who can be defined beyond income lines and beyond levels of power in our society. The creative class can include people who are Democrats or Republicans, too. Instead of income, power or party affiliation, the Creative Class can be discerned through levels of education and creativity.

The corollary of course is the rise of the anti-Creative Class and anti-intellectual politics. That is the other side of the divide between information haves and have nots. And that anti-Creative Class or anti-intellectual politics is currently represented by Sarah Palin. She and the mostly white Tea Party candidates and pundits speak emotionally to those, again, mostly white Americans who are without desire or access to detailed information or scientific oriented analysis (We should not assume these folks are "dumb", though it is something that I have caught myself saying when I am particularly frustrated at the way issues are discussed or not at all).

Palin's entire attack on the elite starts and ends with, "You think you're so smart!" Now that is really not a bad way to begin to challenge elite opinion in this nation (as David Halberstam's book, "The Best and the Brightest" was saying in its own way!), but the problem is that Palin and her ilk never get beyond that initial attack. Worse, the views she and others express are backward in terms of scientific learning, and devalue the very idea of a debate over competing public policies. It is why my negative view of Sarah Palin goes beyond mere disagreement with any particular political position she holds. She represents what I recently linked to in another post, which is the sense that she fosters authoritarian responses as in the play Rhinoceros. She also represents American white resentment at seeing the color of the nation change to something we may still call "multiracial." And that is why it is so deeply tragic when too many white folks use ethnicity and race, not income and class trends, to try and track the cause of where their jobs and income have gone.

Also, if we do not believe the Republican pollsters and "creative minds" at FoxNews have not already ingested Richard Florida's analysis and are actively using it to promote their party, the modern Republican Party, then we are not watching very carefully. The entire structure of the various campaigns around the country, from Fiorina in California to Rubio in the State of Florida, are carefully orchestrated to appeal to anti-intellectual or anti-Creative Class people as well as ideas. "You think you're so smart!" is what Delaware senatorial candidate, Christine O'Donnell, is saying to those who dismiss her, and it represents an appeal that goes back to fascism in Europe (There is a book by Alistar Hamilton, "The Appeal of Fascism," which explains how certain members of a creative class in early 20th Century Europe led the way to fascism, such that those Americans in the creative class who support the likes of FoxNews, poison-talk radio and the modern Republican Party should already be wary of what they are unleashing).

These are scary times, not because something bad is going to immediately happen, but because it is one more step in the decline of American society that shows we are less like ancient Rome than medieval Spain, when Spain began its decline in the late 1500s. Our corporate centrist leadership in Washington DC has an almost fatal failure to understand that not acting clearly and boldly to rebuild our infrastructure and industrial capacity is only making it harder for our nation to compete and succeed against the emerging large populated nations China, India...and Brazil. And the more the Palinesque style takes hold of our nation, the more we will fall behind scientifically and eventually creatively, as Richard Florida began to think about in his later book about the flight of creative people from the United States.

Note One: Florida is not saying precisely what I am saying. Florida has many corporate capitalist assumptions in his work, which blame individuals for their failures instead of understanding how larger forces shape and limit our choices. While he nicely says immigrants bring creativity to our society, he fails to see that there are plenty of creative people in less diverse places from South Korea to China, just for starters. Florida needs a good sit down with Christopher Jencks or William Julius Wilson. Despite the fact that both Jencks and Wilson would be defined as "leftists" in the US corporate media (though not anywhere else on the planet), the great thing about their respective work is that, regardless of whether you are "liberal" or "conservative," their studies and analysis lead to much more meaningful and fruitful discussions regarding public policy. The problem with the modern Republicans and FoxNews is the sneering at public policy while they talk about tax cuts and fetuses as if part of a cult. There is a mindlessness promoted in their manner of discussion.

Note Two: Sarah Palin is a harbinger and representative of an authoritarian anti-intellectual politics, but she will not be president in 2012 or ever. She merely represents a longer trend. As I have always said about her, she really does not want to be president, either. She wants to be on television as a talk show host like Oprah or Larry King, not even political in any larger sense. She is all about "feelings" in a way Ray Bradbury understands and Neal Postman understood.

(Edited)

4 Comments:

At 8:49 AM, Blogger AnnoyingJoe said...

Great Post. It's amazing how powerful a motivator an inferiority complex can be.

Did you see the recent comments from the Chancellor of Germany? I just posted about it today, it's right in line with what you are talking about.

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Mitchell J. Freedman said...

Amazing that Merkel said that. With the weight of 20th Century German history, and my previous sense of her inner moderate decency, I am shocked and saddened by her statement.

 
At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You think you're so smart!" Now that is really not a bad way to begin to challenge elite opinion in this nation (as David Halberstam's book, "The Best and the Brightest" was saying in its own way!)

Halberstam was saying, "You're not smart and here's why". Palin and the teabaggers are saying, "We're superior because we're stupid".

 
At 7:14 AM, Blogger Mitchell J. Freedman said...

Absolutely correct, Anon. Palin and the Tea Party Know Nothings are reveling in their Idiocracy, to reference the film of the same name.

 

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