Friday, February 8, 2019

The Problem of Creative People and Power

The problem about being a creative person, our People of the Creative Self, is that it is hard. And what do humans tend to do when something is hard? We get tempted to take a short cut.

I think that this fact tells us a lot about the educated ruling class of the last 100 years. Oh yeah! Poor old working class, having a tough time in the factories and the sweat shops of the industrial revolution! Let's transform the political system to give them justice! 

Good idea, creatives. Now it happens that the working class of the 19th century was well into developing their own solution to the problem, with labor unions, fraternal associations, mechanics institutes: bottom-up human associations run by the people themselves. So why not help them raise their game with their own authentic institutions?

Somehow, that thoughtful and compassionate project got lost in the enthusiasm for what our last  president called "fundamental transformation."

You can see why. Where is the starring role for what was called in the 19th century "Educated Youth" in a mild project to recognize and support the authentic institutions of the workers? Intolerable! So now we have a massive administrative state that features lots of lovely jobs and power for educated people. And we have an activism culture in which educated people get to pretend like the rioting "lower orders" and call their riots "peaceful protest." Because justice!

But I would like to ask: what is creative about the administrative state? And what is creative about the activism culture and its "peaceful protests?" If you ask me, the love affair that the People of the Creative Self have with politics and protest is about 90 percent the love of power and merely 10 percent the love of  creating a new world of justice.

Because anyone with half a brain understands my maxim that there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. The obvious illustration of that truth is when someone goes to law after being tortiously harmed by another. There is obviously nothing the legal system can do to erase the harm and the injustice of the tort. The only possible outcome is some recompense that the victim will rightly say is a poor substitute for never having suffered injustice at all.

When I last discussed the Three Peoples and power I did not mention Nietzsche. That half-mad philosophizer has been carefully pigeon-holed as "the Nazis' favorite intellectual." So don't pay him no never mind, if you are a good little boy or a good little girl that has been carefully taught to hate and to fear anything that our ruling class finds uncomfortable.

I can see why. I interpret Friedrich Nietzsche as the prophet of the People of the Creative Self. He is saying that if you want to be creative you have to be hard. You also have to cast off the Christian culture of Good and Evil. That's because the creative project necessarily goes Beyond Good and Evil. It accepts the basic fact of all living things: the will to power; my life and my posterity over your life and your posterity. If I am to create something new, well, I will have to break some eggs to make an omelette. This is perhaps better understood in the Jungian notion that creation and destruction are two sides of the same coin; if you are working on a creative project then you are also involved in project to destroy something else.  This was made obvious for the economic sphere when Joseph Schumpeter wrote about capitalism being "creative destruction."

It's curious that our educated ruling class makes a big deal about protecting people from the ravages of the capitalistic creative projects of businessmen but never confront the issue of protecting people from the ravages of their creative projects, in art, in politics, and in culture.

If you seek examples of this problem, just look around you. There are plenty of people in the ruling class that insist that Donald Trump's program of higher tariffs is a destructive disaster. It's a good point. Does his program protect the American people from Chinese economic aggression, or does it beggar us all with the kind of economic war that made the Great Depression worse than it might have been?

OK. So what about Medicare For All? Does it deliver good health care for all Americans, irrespective of  wealth and income, or does it demolish the health care system by making it into a rigid bureaucratic hell? 

What about the Democrats' Green New Deal? Does it get us off the road to disaster by ending "carbon pollution?" Or does it destroy the economy by assuming that increased carbon dioxide (presently a trace gas at 0.4% of the atmosphere) will end life as we know it? And does it ignore that in a century we will likely have found new, presently unimaginable, forms of energy, that makes our current worries seem ridiculous? Do we really know enough about the Earth's climate to justify the gigantic political and economic project of completely transforming the energy economy in a decade? What are the creative possibilities, and what are the destructive possibilities? And what about the Precautionary Principle?

You can see that it doesn't take too much intellectual horsepower to see that the driving force behind all the creative projects of the educated ruling class is the delicious rush of the creative process. Let's make the world anew! And let's put People Like Us in charge!

And they understand my maxim that the only warrant for government power is existential peril. I saw a tweet yesterday making exactly that point, that climate change is an existential challenge. Of course it is; otherwise no warrant for a nice big government program.

Now I've been reading my Nietzsche and I have a point to make about his project to get Beyond Good and Evil. I say: Fine, Fritzi. You creative chaps want to transform the world in your orgy of creative power. But I don't. I think that the regime of Good and Evil is more than a dirty trick of "the priests." I think it was one of the most astonishing human achievements ever.

See, in the old days, people lived around their close blood relatives, and it is clear that humans instinctively tend to trust people the closer their blood relationship. But what happens when people move to the city and have to deal, day to day, with strangers that are not related by blood. Hey! How about Good and Evil and God's Law and God's Divine Justice! And all the rest of the Axial Age Religions. I think that the Good and Evil menu served as an immensely creative way of dealing with the problem of how to get people to live in peace in the city when nearly everyone is unrelated by blood. It is probably a good thing that we teach good little boys and good little girls not to hate on other people whenever something goes wrong, and to think first that "maybe I have a problem."

So I say that the license that Nietzsche gave the People of the Creative Self to go out and create without thinking about  the possible destructive effect on other people is a problem. I think that the creative culture should be mounted on the shoulders of the Good and Evil culture, and should abandon its project of replacing it.

But how do we teach the People of the Creative Self to have some compassion and understanding for the People of the Responsible Self when they have been carefully taught to practice compassion and understanding only for the workers and peasants and victims of the People of the Subordinate Self?

That is a problem for another day.

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