Is Insisting On Creativity a Nonsensical Idea?

All this “we need to create an atmosphere where innovation thrives” talk strikes me as empty.

And yet – why should it strike me as empty? There are areas where innovation is necessary. Try being Steve Nash or a jazz musician. Old problems demand new solutions. Better ways of doing things are always required.

It is precisely that necessity that makes me skeptical.

In our world, there’s art/technique – the application of knowledge to the perfection of something – and then there are the institutions which specialize in the art/technique. Since the institutions are different from what they utilize, they are always looked upon as “resistant” to change.

They’re looked upon this way, of course, even though they are by definition resistant to change. Get it? If they changed every second, they wouldn’t be using an art to perfect a good. They would be changing ends as often as they changed means.

Innovation occurs within a context, that of a problem which needs to be solved. Libertarians actually, for all their problems, do tend to be sensitive to this: if the market is pressing or lucrative enough, it creates the incentives for the new to emerge.

The trouble with the article above is that it says that institutions within the market can plan for their future wisely (it contends this, even while using rhetoric like mine above beforehand. I obviously don’t think that rhetoric is essential to the argument there). But I don’t know that a capitalist institution can plan for its future until it is too late. The end is the acquisition of money; as long as money keeps coming in, rethinking everything isn’t a genuine option. Lesser profits can be dealt with by aggressive marketing. Future planning committees have to concede their own viability to the success of the present.

Furthermore, prudence is purely a political virtue, as it is tied to a moral insight always. Prudence isn’t just being effective, it’s being effective with regards to values of some sort. Notice that a basketball player that distributes the ball effectively is pretty much a leader; a musician or a fine artist uses a style that pays homage to certain influences. Even new movements are comments on old movements, and not entirely clean breaks with tradition.

Survival in the marketplace is not a value, and if you really think through what I’m saying, you’ll see clearly why business leaders make lousy, lousy politicians. An industry can only plot for the future if it feels something greater than itself is at stake. If the media feels that it needs to respond to tomorrow’s challenges today (ugh. talk about “le cliche”), then it needs to be clear about what it stands for and what modes of human expression it feels are most key. It might have to make a judgment about what is expressed, not just how it is expressed. It needs to be clear that whatever it comes up with may not be profitable, but by the same token may be profitable, as it is different from what is happening today, which is a slow-bleeding where the profits are doomed to run out given the current state of affairs.

Note: While charity expresses a sentiment of goodwill, it does not strictly speaking express a specific value. Between charity and profit there is a middle ground, which is enterprise.

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