Are Our Politics Creative Classy?

24 01 2007

Walter Jones, GA state bureau chief for Morris News Service, advises the creative class on how creativity-killing the “leadership” of power politics has been :

“Author Richard Florida has some observations. At the top is the need for leaders to foster an environment where members feel secure and confident to be creative. Florida’s argument is that it takes creativity to solve complex problems facing society or a business. The more people supplying creative suggestions, the better the solutions are likely to be.

Perhaps that’s intuitive, but just as intuitive is the traditional “chain of command” model in which the person at the top sets the direction and the people below do what they’re told. The way to foster creativity … is to encourage everyone to have a voice, to feel comfortable offering their own quirky opinions, even the weirdoes, the nerds and those in the minority.

They’ll be encouraged as long as what he calls the “squelchers” are kept in check. These are the naysayers, the guardians of the status quo. No one likes to be put down or have his or her ideas minimized.

The natural reaction is to stop offering suggestions when they’re repeatedly belittled or ignored.

“When you put that set of horrendous work conditions and external factors together, it creates an evil barrel. You could put virtually anybody in it and you’re going to get this kind of evil behavior. . .It’s not the bad apples, it’s the bad barrels that corrupt good people.”

— eminent situationist psychologist Philip Zimbardo

. . .We took women students at New York University and made them anonymous. We put them in hoods, put them in the dark, took away their names, gave them numbers, and put them in small groups. And sure enough,

within half an hour those sweet women were giving painful electric shocks to other women within an experimental setting . . .Any situation that makes you anonymous and gives permission for aggression will bring out the beast in most people. [JJ wonders: the Blogosphere??]
That was the start of my interest in showing how easy it is to get good people to do things they say they would never do.

In an anonymous environment nobody knows who I am and nobody cares, and I don’t care to know about anyone else. The environment can convey anonymity externally, or it can be put on like a Ku Klux Klan outfit.

And so I and other colleagues began to do research on dehumanization.
What are the ways in which, instead of changing yourself and becoming the aggressor, it becomes easier to be hostile against other people by changing your psychological conception of them? You think of them as worthless animals. That’s the killing power of stereotypes.

Do you demonize perceived rivals and try to shut them down, instead of listening carefully to understand why they ARE your rivals?

Are your dehumanized rivals Republicans and Christian conservatives? Democrats and California liberals? Southerners? Females? Gays? Immigrants? Non-union labor? Of what class or community do you disapprove, which communities do you disdain or downright fear enough, to demonize and demean individuals who live within it?

Seems to me political humans who protest loudest from deep inside their own evil barrels of vinegar, insisting it’s those OTHER barrels that need scrubbing out, are least able to help themselves or anyone else, much less enlighten the larger community and make progress toward any post-pickling future. Pickled political activists shamelessly manipulate arguments and ends, to justify de-means. (Pun intended.)

Some of these political barrels are so full of vinegar that after a long soak in their depths, actual assassination starts to taste justifiable as a logical extension of conspiratorial character assassination.

If enough of us can stay out of all the barrels no matter what color of bunting appeals to us most, maybe together we’ll figure out humane ways of cleaning out the worst barrels without climbing into them ourselves. (Or maybe they can be sealed up in some hazardous waste containment strategy?)

What if free will and self-governance actually meant each of us freely and creatively governing our own selves, respecting in turn every other person’s right and responsibility to do the same?

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5 responses

24 01 2007
misedjj

None of which suggests Hillary Clinton’s version is the way to go, when she says, “So let’s begin a conversation, have a cozy chat — about how you can help ME become the most powerful woman in the world, so I can get my revenge on everyone who ever refused to acknowledge my obvious superiority from the moment I was born.”
😉

24 01 2007
misedjj

Maybe there’s a coordinated release of this creative leadership editorializing? I just found it in my local community newspaper today with all the local perspective tied to Richard Florida too. 🙂

Mr. Florida said the most successful communities will be intellectually and artistically vibrant, as well as socially tolerant.

University towns have a great advantage, but colleges alone can’t create the most successful cities. They have to work in sync with their surrounding communities, which “must have the capacity to absorb and exploit the innovation and technologies that the university generates,” Mr. Florida wrote. He says the most successful places are ones that balance “the four T’s” of economic development: technology, talent, tolerance and territorial assets.

“The Creative Communities approach is based on identifying and attracting the kind of creative talent communities need to thrive and grow,” said Mike Pate, the Knight Foundation’s program director in Tallahassee. “This will be a great opportunity for members of the community to work together on mapping out new strategies to achieve a stronger, more diverse and sustainable economy.”

24 01 2007
misedjj

Or maybe they all went to the same regional conference, hmmm . . .

1 02 2008
Apple and Reich are SQUELCHERS, Oh My! « Cocking A Snook!

[…] resist and mock Reich and Apple , to stick with Howard Gardner’s real scholarship, oh and and Richard Florida’s creative class political thinking about SQUELCHERS: The way to foster creativity … is to encourage everyone to […]

20 08 2010
We Need to Sing Our Epics or Lose Them « Cocking A Snook!

[…] love truth and America instead of fighting over it, Don Beck and Ken Wilber’s memes, Richard Florida and his “creative class” plus meaningful movies from Milk and Mindwalk to Hairspray and Madagascar, not to mention Harry […]

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