An Essay Featured In The Fate of Beauty by O.G. Rose
The Artifex, Bourgeoisie, and Proletariat
Successfully, Karl Marx identified the bourgeoisie, the proletariat, and “the material dialectic,” but despite his emphasis on creativity, he failed to identify the artifex, meaning “creator class,” which is comprised of entrepreneurs, inventors, and artists. An artifexian, which is a term first introduced in this paper, is anyone who creates or recreates a means of production and/or a thing to be produced. Marx, it seems, conflated creators with the general proletariat, and consequently his material dialectic only halfway addresses the nature of socioeconomic change. The full dialectic by which society “marches” through history can be expressed as follows:
The Creative Concord
Creativity → The Material Dialectic
Creators → (Owners | Workers)
Artifex → (Bourgeoisie | Proletariat)
Defining the material dialectic, Marx argued that Capitalism was inherently contradictory, for it inevitably undergoes, of one kind or another, “creative destruction”: the businesses it produces destroy others, the resources it consumes leaves many lacking, and so on.¹ In other words, at the center of Capitalism is self-destructive paradox. Though Marx’s material dialectic properly delineates how socioeconomic orders change within a given creative epoch, it does not describe how such orders change through them. To allude to Karl Popper, history changes not in line with any kind of dialectic, but in concordance with unpredictable inventions, “eurekas,” and “creative acts.”² Marx, coming before Popper, missed this point, and so created a theory and system that may work within a fixed epoch, but not through multiple epochs. If Marx, as brilliant as he was, had been afforded an awareness of Popper, he would have likely recognized “the creative concord” and artifex himself. Failing to identify the creator class, Marx missed that Capitalism expands itself while carrying out creative destruction within itself. The proper dialectic isn’t just composed of creative destruction, but creative destruction along with creativity, which is the applied mental process behind innovation, invention, entrepreneurship, creation, and the like. Considering this, though a necessary perquisite, the artifex does not form merely from people thinking creatively but thanks to practiced creativity.
Moving forward, please note that when I discuss “the material dialectic” in this work, I am not talking about general “dialectical materialism” in the tradition of Hegel. Rather, I am focusing on the “class tension” that results from people’s relationships to material reality, as shaped by their socioeconomic system. For Marx, this tension inevitably led to the transformation of Capitalism into Communism, and the main concern of my argument is to explain why Marx could be right about so much and yet his determinism ultimately wrong. In one way, I am trying to explore topics like what concerned the Frankfurt School, thinkers like Adorno and Marcuse; I’m arguing that Capitalism maintains itself by “venting out” alienation through creativity and the artifex.
Marx claimed that alienation drives the working class (or proletariat) to revolt against those who own the means of production (the bourgeoisie). He was correct, making revolution eminent: the question remaining is how the revolution will occur. For the proletariat to seize the means of production and thus become like the bourgeoisie they rebelled against could be just as alienating and ironic as being forced to work on something that one doesn’t own. Both kinds of alienation could manifest in apathy, violence, and/or a desire to be “amused to death.”³ A forceful and violent revolution, as Marx “pointed to” and Lenin advanced, rather than overcome alienation, could cause alienation, which stimulated the revolution in the first place. Marxists and Leninists throughout history have often revolted in the wrong way: they’ve continually chosen a “French Revolution” over a “Glorious” one, per se.
The concept of revolution for Marx was set in motion by his axiom of the material dialectic. Again, in this framework, since the revolution occurs within the dialectic that caused the tension, a successful revolution only makes the revolutionists the new bourgeoisie. This is no revolution, only a shifting of chess pieces. A true revolution moves beyond the framework it occurs within: a “moving around of pieces” is only revolutionary if “chess” is the only game around. If means of production were not created but simply “were,” then to seize them would be an act of revolution. However, all means of production are created, and it is this very act of creation that is truly revolutionary.
To create is to revolt: the woman who starts a business claims that she has a competitive advantage over other businesses and seizes a means of production by creating a new means of production. Through creativity, she claims that she is part of the bourgeoisie without their permission. In creating what she owns and what she works, she furthermore chooses how she needs others by choosing which enterprise to create that requires demand, and so escapes both the enslavement of the bourgeoisie’s need for the proletariat and the proletariat’s need for the bourgeoisie. She becomes both — an artifexian — she becomes free. In this regard, the woman who pickets Big Oil doesn’t launch a revolution as effective as the woman who invents the alternative energy that obliterates its stock value.
Entrepreneurship is peaceful revolution.
Creativity is nonviolent resistance.
(Note that an artifexian isn’t someone who just thinks creatively, but who also realizes that creativity into being or enables others to formulate it. Unrealized creativity is nothingness. Also note that creativity is realized in structure. A society without structure is void, but a society whose structure includes organic activity and whose organic activity develops the society’s structure is a society that thrives. A purely artifexian society isn’t one without customs, laws, or rules, but one in which the limits enable limitless development.)
As there is a conflict between owners and workers, those who own and operate the means of production tend to be in conflict with those who create the means of production. Those who invent can render a system of production arbitrary, which is a threat to both the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Keep in mind that those who own the means of production are not necessarily the ones who create the means of production or who make them possible. Owners are many; inventors, few. Though Marx recognized the bourgeoisie and the proletariat caught in a tension, I believe he failed to identify the tension between both them and creators.
Yet as the owner is enslaved to needing his workers, so the creator can be enslaved in requiring a functional and efficient society and system of production. The creative person who has no food does not have time to create, and even if he does, without a means of distribution, his creativity cannot be received. It is the system of production that sustains a means of distribution for creators, but without creators, those means of distribution wouldn’t come into existence. The better and more stable the socioeconomic order, the more creativity can flourish (though not necessarily).
A creator requires an environment, but a creator doesn’t require others in the same way the bourgeoisie and proletariat require one another. The material dialectic fashions the environment that creativity occurs within, like a botanist preparing an environment for plant life, but the artifex ultimately transcends the dialectic by becoming that which feeds the dialectic material to construct its environment and itself, all while also teaching the dialectic how to do so.⁴ If there was no material dialectic, the artifex could create one, but the material dialectic couldn’t create the artifex. The artifex creates itself, while the bourgeoisie and proletariat create one another. They are arguably helpless without the artifex, but the artifex isn’t helpless without them. If the artifex needs them, it creates them. While the material dialectic forces people into the bourgeoisie or the proletariat, entrepreneurship and creativity offer a means for people to transcend this dialectic by becoming artifexians, owners and workers of their own makings. This transcendence is only possible in a free and creative Capitalistic society, while a society that is merely free likely undergoes creative destruction.
Unlike the material dialectic, the creative concord is not inherently conflicted or neurotic. The bourgeoisie and proletariat can choose to collaborate with the artifex and vice-versa. Thanks to the artifex, it is possible for the bourgeoisie and proletariat to likewise choose to collaborate with one another. The inherent tension of the material dialectic is thus eased and not inexorable. Through the artifex, the proletariat can transfer into the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoise into the proletariat without conflict. The relationship between the three classes can be expressed as follows:
A balanced and perhaps “good” society is equally B, A, and P. Without either B, A, or P, the system collapses. A growing society is one in which B and P lessens while A expands correlatively. It is never good for A to shrink, and always healthy for A to grow (considering people will naturally become different kinds of artifexians). An extraordinary society is completely A, and such a society, always self-motivated, is constantly growing and likely not plagued by alienation. Marx’s error was evolving Capitalism into Communism by melting B and P, rather than by growing A while B and P merged into it.
As depicted by the overlaying circles, some members of the bourgeoisie are also members of the artifex, as are some members of the proletariat. It is possible for a member of the proletariat to become a member of the artifex, and in so doing, transfer into the bourgeoisie without alienation, as a member of the bourgeoisie can slip in the proletariat and escape upper-class alienation.⁵ The artifex is both an overlapping and independent structure, and it can function as a transfer stage or as a class-unto-itself. By creating an enterprise, a person comes to own and work a good of his or her making. Unlike the bourgeoisie, who is alienated by not producing what they own, or the proletariat, who is alienated by not owning what they produce, the artifex is generally free.⁶ The citizen who travels within the material dialectic from the proletariat to the bourgeoisie or vice-versa, finding alienation in both conditions, hopeless, is very likely to fall into depression, tragically rampant in the modern world.
The artifex is both autonomous and freely collaborative, while the proletariat and bourgeoisie cannot have autonomy and are forced to “work together” due to the material dialectic, making true, un-alienating collaboration difficult if not impossible. Independence, freedom, and true community are possible with the artifex, and the stronger it is, the stronger the individual and the society as a whole. The more the individual can help the other without alienating or being alienated, the more able the individual will be to find that working with others can make the most of oneself.
As mentioned, unlike between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, a person can be part of the artifex while also being part of the bourgeoisie and/or proletariat. This is a significant difference from the material dialectic; in that schema, the owner of the means of production could not also be one of the proletariat (nor was the other way around possible). But in the creative concord, without conflict, a worker at a company can also be creating a new company on his laptop.
Not inherently self-destructive in relating to one another, the artifex, bourgeoisie, and proletariat can choose to transcend the material dialectic into the creative concord by working in concert. Rather than simply a dialectical relationship, creators and the material dialectic can harmonize. Until, that is, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat turn against the artifex, or vice-versa; then, the unity breaks down into a cacophony. Consequently, the creative concord devolves back into simply the material dialectic. It is only a matter of time then before the relationship between business owners and workers also collapses, just as Marx predicted. Clearly, the presence of the artifex is important for avoiding creative destruction by annulling the alienation caused by the means, management, and creation of production, while also offering a means for the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to shift or combine positions without psychological tension or violence.
The artifex both sees problems and envisions possibilities, and either addresses them or enables others with technology, knowledge, or motivation to do so. Others may not see what can be addressed or may address one thing and fail to realize anything else to do. Because the artifex sees what is to be done and often does it, it is the artifex and the creative concord which drives history in the Hegelian sense. This is because, with perfection always just ahead, there is always something to be done which drives the artifex. If prevalent and influential, the artifex also shifts the focus from the distribution of limited resources to the creation of new ones, from the health of today’s enterprises to the birth of tomorrow’s. Rather than a model that is at the expense of some and advantage of others, the creative concord generally benefits everyone. When the artifex is robust, Capitalism is “non-zero-sum”; when it is weak, Capitalism is more “zero-sum.”
Again, without the artifex, the bourgeoisie and proletariat will clash; without creativity, the material dialectic is all there is, and, stuck in creative destruction, it will devour itself. Marx, like Einstein in Out of My Later Years, was correct to note that at the core of Capitalism is a paradox that is both the source of its productivity and self-destruction. Capitalism is an economic system driven by a desire for profit that subsequently raises the standard of living through mechanisms of problem solving and/or possibility realization, but once those problems are solved or possibilities made real, unemployment increases. Without new problems or possibilities, the system stagnates. Even if the material dialectic continues to have old problems to keep solving and maintains low unemployment, without new possibilities or problems, the standard of living flat-lines. With this lack of development comes a raising level of boredom, alienation, and tension between paralyzed high and low classes.
Creativity is both a source of employment and unemployment. It is a source of creative destruction, and as long as it is present, so shall be creative destructive, and the material dialectic will not devour itself; at worst, to its benefit, it will lose itself in the creative concord. In a society where creativity is high, unemployment stimulates workers to be creative, and employment (especially for those feeling alienated by it) does the same. The jobs lost by creativity are made up by those created by it. If creativity was prevalent, when creativity caused an enterprise to close down and unemployment to go up, creativity would then set its eye on solving that problem. Unfortunately, in a society lacking creativity, unemployment and employment both cause alienation, alienation from which workers find no alleviation readily. These workers will want to revolt, but without creativity, they will revolt in a deconstructive manner and their personal lives may suffer. In a creatively illiterate nation, the creativity there causes jobs to be lost out of balance with job creation, and those who lose their jobs will find themselves helpless, unable to transition into the artifex. Consequently, the less creativity there is, the more creation can feel like a sin.
In a nation vibrant with creativity, the unemployment caused by the artifex would gradually motivate all members of the society to advance into the artifex, eventually causing the society to transcend alienation and the material dialectic. This makes society like Communism, but rather than obliterate class structure into a “universal class,” as Marx called it, it makes all people all classes. While the bourgeoisie and proletariat exist in conflict by definition, in the creative concord, the artifex eventually absorbs them into a harmonious family.⁷
The artifex also forces the owners of the means of exchange to invest more in variable capital than constant capital, addressing the concerns Marx raised in his theory on “the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.” While the bourgeoisie tends to invest in itself to maintain power (possibly and ironically stifling profit), the artifex forces it to invest in innovation and exploration by creating goods that put the value of the means of production that the bourgeoisie owns at risk. In other words, the artifex forces the bourgeoisie to grow the artifex. For this reason, if the artifex is large, it tends to become larger. However, if the artifex is small (as will be explained), it tends to become smaller. It is the proletariat, either for creativity or against it, which generally decides the directionality of the artifex’s development. Ironically, it is possible that the bourgeoisie will influence the proletariat against the artifex, but the proletariat can revolt against this manipulation by becoming creative and joining the artifex. A wise bourgeoisie will balance investing resources in the proletariat and the artifex, causing a gradual and sustainable rise in both the standard of living and rate of employment until the society is unified in the artifex.
Creativity both creates and solves unemployment while driving up the standard of living through the technological achievements or entrepreneurships it invents (to solve the problems which previous technological achievements or successful entrepreneurships may have caused). A society high in freedom and creativity, then, is inherently self-motivated. A self-motivated person is the opposite of an alienated individual and possible in a free and creative society. Depression might be practically guaranteed in a nation that is free and wealthy but not creative, while a nation that lacks freedom fails to foster creativity. Leisure without vision can be as alienating as work without ownership.
The value of Capitalism seems determined by the degree it enables creativity, which is tied to sustained productivity and prosperity. The system is self-destructive, as Marx admonished, without it. To the degree Capitalism is successful then is to the degree it enables and educates a strong creative class. The stronger the artifex, the stronger the economy and happier the people. Once creativity wanes, since the material dialectic will still undergo creative destruction, freedom must eventually also be lost. There is little liberty where there is no economy; the weaker the economy becomes, the more liberty decreases. This is because there cannot be much liberty where individuals do not have the economic capabilities to rise above their circumstances. Though economic freedom is not the only freedom, it is a necessary part of a free society that is lost when the material dialectic implodes; the other freedoms tend to follow. Great nations fall once freedom is gone, and the reason they give up freedom, rarely if ever realizing it, is by devaluing creativity.⁸
Left to the material dialectic, without creativity, a society becomes reliant on growth through repairing damaged goods, distributing limited resources, credit creation, and/or living off the fruit of past generations, none of which are sustainable.⁹ ¹⁰ While living on that past fruit, it is very tempting to stop emphasizing creativity, for there seems to be no pressing need for it. If the present is good, it’s hard to think about the future or to care about the past. Ironically, creativity is at least partially what makes possible this entitlement mentality, the making of the “broken window fallacy,” and so on, via the increase in the standard of living which creativity causes. In this sense, creativity is risky.
The less creative a society, the more threatening creativity becomes, as shares of a company become more threatening (and yet more vital) to one’s livelihood the more money the individual has stored up in that one basket. Take how Google is both viewed as a great blessing and a monopolistic threat. Yet regardless of how threatening it may be, a society must tap into that creativity, for economic growth is driven by it. Knowing they are enslaved to this source, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat can become increasing uneasy with the artifex, with alienation gradually setting in. This tension eventually leads to violent or unjust forms of rebellion against the artifex when business owners, for example, recognize they aren’t creative enough to adapt to creative innovations, such as the internet, and when the proletariat consequently recognizes their jobs are at risk. As an increasing reduction in the availability and abundance of the means of production accelerates the self-destruction of the material dialectic, so a reduction of creativity accelerates the shrinking of the artifex. This being the case, once creativity begins to fade in a society, it is probable that it will continue to do so. With that eventually goes freedom, and for this reason, though the present may be good, America might be in a dire situation.
Risk management is the practice of diversifying risk in order to reduce loses and increase profit. The more creativity there is across a society (as influenced by the school system, system of resource distribution, family structure, and the like), the more that society has invested wisely and diversified the risk of creativity. Yet the more creative a society becomes, the more it risks high unemployment if that creativity ever screeches to a halt or slows down (due to regulation, a drop in abstract thinking, etc.). Creativity always entails risk, and risk is necessary for value creation. Creativity is a double-edged sword, but a nation will only be cut by it if it freely chooses to stop paying attention. In the self-destructive material dialectic, regardless of what one chooses, an individual inevitably ends up slain. If America is to recover, it must take a risk and reform its education system and society to incubate creativity. Otherwise, its freedom will decrease.
Capitalism is driven by innovations that increase the standard of living, yet those innovations can make jobs obsolete, increasing unemployment. An innovation solves a problem, yet once that problem is solved, further creativity is needed to address the problem of unemployment caused by that innovation. Innovation both creates and destroys jobs — the question is does it do more of the former or the latter?
The material dialectic keeps problems involving material goods solved while often failing to address mental and personal problems. On the other hand, the creative concord solves and/or finds problems in the first place, while simultaneously liberating participants from alienation. Yet all classes need one another: if cars stopped being produced after Ford died, no one would be able to invent a new car that ran on alternative energy; rather, people would keep reinventing Ford’s original model. Though this may keep employment high, it would not raise the standard of living beyond what Ford already raised it.¹¹
Without creativity, the artifex disappears. Once that occurs, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat must clash and undergo creative destruction, for the material dialectic must work itself toward disappearing. This disappearance occurs fully, perhaps, during a draft, collapse, revolution, or in Marxism. In Marxism though, there is a new dialectic between the owner, worker, and the government. Though the problem Marx identified has changed form, I don’t believe it has been solved. Like the material dialectic, this “totalitarian dialectic” must also undergo a kind of creative destruction in which those who are forced into being both the owner of their labor and the laborer, feeling alienated by the government which forces them into this role, rebel against the governing class. The people do this to seize back the power to make an artifex class by choosing to be artifexian, rather than be forced into a similar but alienating non- or universal class. Though this society may be creative, lacking freedom, compensation, motivation, and/or resources, this society cannot readily will to be creative or maintain creativity, lacking a material dialectic to work in concert with, causing the artifex to vanish. Marxism fruitlessly tries to make citizens free by eliminating the classes of “worker” and “owner,” rather than enabling each to be a “worker/owner.” There is no true unemployment, so neither is there true employment: duty and altruism replace both. Consequently, neither employment nor unemployment can drive creativity and innovation, and though no jobs are lost by creativity, none are created by it either. Employment may be high, but the standard of living will likely be low.
In Marxism, bringing about a police state, the people rebel because there is no artifex that can create itself, but the same can occur in Capitalism. Once creativity dries up, so goes the artifex, and with that, the material dialectic self-destructs. Though Marxism can destroy the artifex by annulling freedom, the artifex’s existence is possible, but not necessarily present, in Capitalism. Capitalism does not inherently work, but it does have the potential to avoid creative destruction by maintaining a healthy and strong artifex. Unfortunately, the present American school system stifles creativity, as attested to by Ken Robinson, and many creative people are pressured by society to “enter the real world” of numerical chutes and corporate ladders. Self-destructively, this kind of peer pressure is a manifestation of the tension between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat against the artifex.¹²
As the proletariat is most likely to start the conflict between it and the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie is most likely to start the conflict between it and the artifex, though the bourgeoisie will only be successful if it can influence the proletariat to join it. Yet, unlike the proletariat, the bourgeoisie is not as likely to turn to violence and revolution to stop the artifex if creative individuals turn down their offers to be bought out or to sell their patents. The bourgeoisie is too comfortable, and though they may lose their businesses, they won’t lose their lives. In this regard, it is more likely that the material dialectic breaks down than the creative concord, though the creative concord is more difficult to achieve. Also, citizens can choose to keep the creative concord strong by choosing to join the artifex, while the material dialectic collapses inherently. All are alienated in the material dialectic, but in the creative concord, which comes into being by the choices of people, creative freedom can be exercised.
It is important to emphasize that the creative concord collapses when the artifex class vanishes, shrinks too much, or is greatly disabled, while the material dialectic breaks down because it is itself. The artifex class doesn’t have to collapse, but without it, the material dialectic must fall apart. It lacks a center. Therefore, the choice to give up the artifex is likely the choice to give up freedom and the society. With creativity goes everything.
To create is to revolt. To start a business is to create a thing to produce and a means by which to produce it. Revolution is always imminent: Marx was right. Schools decide if revolution is bloody or glorious. An analytical school system that stifles creativity in a Capitalist society is a strange, fatal paradox. Capitalism is failing today at least partially because the artifex is small and inhibited by regulation and guilt. Those who invent 3D printers put the lives of millions at risk who will be unemployed as a result of their genius. Realizing this potentially can put creators through an existential crisis when they should be receiving praise and gratitude. It is not the case that Capitalism must incubate the artifex: the system can work to turn Capitalism on the artifex and itself. In this circumstance, perhaps Socialism would be superior, but then Socialism must resist its own tendencies to shrink the artifex. No society is a machine that works on its own: we must work with it.
In our current socioeconomic order, once unemployed and robbed of creativity, a person is helpless. Enabled by school to be creative, upon losing their jobs, people would simply create new means of employment. In a creative society, unemployment stimulates technological advancement, because those who are unemployed are forced to create a new way for themselves. Unemployment results in numerous entrepreneurial start-ups, and seeing that small business drives the market, creativity would make unemployment healthy for the economy rather than terminal. By becoming an artifexian, each unemployed worker would stage a revolution and transcend alienation, social stigma, and the material dialectic. Sadly, by glossing over unpredictable, unmanageable, and organic creativity, schools have taught Americans how to revolt violently in trying to avoid the subject of revolution altogether.¹³
The “entrepreneur revolutionist” saves the bourgeoisie, the proletariat, and the society as a whole. The artifex enables social mobility, actual wealth creation, and a higher standard of living in economic, psychological, and personal terms. Making it easier to focus on the next project, artifexians don’t “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” Rather, they invent boots without straps.
¹Allusion to Joseph Schumpeter.
²See The Meaning of the Creative Act by Nikolai Berdyaev.
³See Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman.
⁴Allusion to “The Pretence of Knowledge” by Friedrich Hayek.
⁵See The Privileged Ones by Robert Coles.
⁶Political, educational, social, and economic policy and enterprise that enables this tri-relationship between B, A, and P should be allowed, while policy that disables it should be removed. Both the Right and Left have operated off an axiom of a material dialectic, in one way or another, and hence both have fallen short of proper policy that enables the creative concord. Liberals tend to grasp that Capitalism is self-destructive due to the material dialectic but offer Socialism as a solution, while Conservatives defend freedom while not noticing the paradox of Capitalism. Neither grasp that creativity is the solution: they were not trained by the school system or family structure to be creative.
⁷If Louis Dumont is right in his Homo Hierarchicus and humanity is innately hierarchical, it is impossible for society to be classless, and Communism runs against human nature itself.
7.1 Note that an artifex society is not one without dentists, doctors, etc. or one in which no one works for anyone else: any occupation that exists in the material dialectic is one that can exist in the creative concord. As in the material dialectic, someone must simply choose to create it. In an artifex society, to make an example, a dentist is one who starts his own practice and employs others to be part of it. While they are employed, each employee is working to start or run his or her own practice or independent enterprise (perhaps a coffee shop, a novel, etc.). At the practices these employees shall start, each shall hire new employees, each which will work to start a practice or enterprise of their own, and so on. This spreads employment, decreases alienation, and raises the standard of living for all. As old dentists pass away, new dentists shall take their place, and with an artifexian mindset, they shall revamp the old practice for the present age, making it their own. When employees leave an enterprise, the owner, creative, will either come up with solutions that address this decline in labor or move on to something else. If the owner moves on, this will make space for an artifexian who wants to fill the space and/or result in new employment opportunities when the migrating artifexian creates a new enterprise. Artifexians can also upgrade and “reinvent” old practices, increasing creativity.
7.11 Also keep in mind that a potential artifexian can work for someone else: an artifex society is not one in which people never work for or with one another. The difference is that while working for another, an employee is working on or toward something of his or her making. In this way, this phase of being an employee is a stepping-stone, and in such a circumstance, both the bourgeoisie and proletariat are within the artifex. Though the material dialectic vanishes, within the artifex, the two classes are still present but in a new way, freer of alienation, dependency, and in a manner that doesn’t cause society to implode. In a sense, one could view an artifex society as a society that takes Viktor Frankl seriously.
That said, more clarification is in order: is someone an artifexian who works on a small business idea after he or she gets home from work at a corporation? The person is certainly a potential artifexian, but perhaps not a realized artifexian yet. This person is creative but perhaps not an artifexian: the person has generated a project but perhaps not a means of production. Until the person develops something that can be sold, distributed, amass employees, and/or the like, the individual is only creative, for the creativity is not fully applied. Granted, I do think a creative person is less likely to be alienated than someone who isn’t creative at all, but it is not the case that everyone with projects are artifexians. And indeed, the bourgeois can exploit the working class by making them so busy and tired that they can never develop their projects into means of production, thus solidifying the power of the bourgeois.
7.112 Freeing many of a common existential crisis, in an artifex society, moving from college to a job would not be a “final step” upon which making there would be nothing to look forward to doing or becoming. Today, once a person becomes an employee, that person can of course advance up the ranks within the category of employment, but after years of working toward new categories to change into, there ceases to be any change to which to look forward. This can be psychologically devastating. The person has entered “the real world” or “rat race,” as society calls it, and though the employee can get married, have children, and take up new hobbies, the person cannot, within their work, change categories. Perhaps a person in the category of proletariat can move into the bourgeoisie, but this kind of supposed advancement is only a shift within the material dialectic. This being the case, the individual will not readily find alleviation from alienation. On the other hand, an artifex society is one in which any position of employment or ownership is a “step” toward becoming an artifexian, rather than another shift in the “rat race.” Keep in mind also that an artifexian is a person for whom every accomplishment is a “step” toward another one, every creation practice for a greater one. The work of an artifexian is never finished yet always fulfilling. This being the case, the artifexian drives productivity far and above the participant in the material dialectic. One could say, in a sense, that the artifexian creates and works enterprises that continue to generate revenue constantly, even after the artifexian has died. The fact the productivity of the artifexian can transcend even death perhaps hints at why they are so valuable.
7.12 Though it is outside the scope of this paper to address fully, it should be noted that creativity is innately communal, diverse, and particular. All scientists stand on the shoulders of those who came before them, as all writers stand on the shoulders of prior artists. Creators stand on the shoulders of white, black, Chinese, etc. creators so that white, black, Chinese, etc. creators may stand on their shoulders. To create, while autonomous, is to be prepared for humility and open to diversity. It is also to be generous, for to create is to give to the world. For these reasons and more, an artifexian isn’t individualistic, nor one who loves humanity at the expense of individuals (to allude to Dostoyevsky). The artifexian loves both, recognizing how one enables the other.
7.2 Whether a fully artifex society is possible or merely an ideal to strive toward is dependent on the function of the word “perfect.” The term can be deceptive, for it implies a “state of being” rather than an “act of being,” yet perfection is something we do, not something we are: it is about growing more so than it is about finishing up. “Perfect societies,” in a Platonic sense, are impossible, for the word “perfect” in that context is meaningless, seeing that there is no clear standard of what the society is perfect in relation to. If the word is meaningful, to loosely allude to Aquinas, a “perfect society” is one that “does what it was made to do.” Perfection, in regard to humans, is hence tied to anthropology, and if humans are innately creative (which I think there is reason to believe), humans are “perfect” when creative. Since a society exists to increase the standard of living, a society is perfect when it raises the standard of living, which is always thanks to some form of creativity. Therefore, an artifexian society is a “perfect society” in the only way the term can be meaningful.
7.21 The “perfection always ahead” that drives the artifex is “idealistic perfection,” while the act of growing toward this ideal is “practically perfection” (in the sense that it is “a perfection that can be practiced”). In this regard, a society can “practice perfection,” as one can practice medicine, and whether it can be achieved isn’t a vital question. In this regard, the “ideal of War and Peace” comes into existence with the writing of its first page. The “ideal of perfection” emerges simultaneous with the “practice of perfection”: the existence of one necessitates the existence of the other, as the cessation of one is the end of both. The “practice of” and “ideal of” are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, the “ideal perfection” is valuable not because it can be achieved, but because it can orientate and motivate the direction of a practice, thus giving that practice something “it is made to do” and a framework in which to be “practically perfect” relative to. In this sense, to strive toward a fully artifex society is to be perfect, even though the ideal isn’t achieved. The practice is achievement.
7.22 In a way, the whole language of “achievable” or “unachievable” is as meaningless as asking whether being a poet is “achievable.” Of course, one can be a poet, but whether a person can “achieve” the status is simply to ask, in a strange way, whether a person can write poetry. As one writes, the person has “achieved” the status of poet, but once he or she finishes, has the person “fallen from perfection?” It depends on how a person defines “perfection,” and even if the poet has “fallen,” it doesn’t matter. One can still be a poet even though the person doesn’t write poetry constantly, as long as the person is always working to write poetry. Likewise, a society can be perfect even with imperfections as long it is always working for perfection.
7.23 Note that an artifex society is something that a society should constantly be moving toward since new people are constantly being born. In a sense, the only way to “be perfect” rather than “practice perfection” is to stop pregnancies. It is doubtful though that anyone would call a sexless world “perfect.”
7.24 It is better not to use the language of “a perfect society”; rather, it is better to say “a society practicing perfection.”
⁸This is why it was foolish for Plato to unjustly bar the poet from his Republic, for this made the decline of the artifex inevitable and the collapse of his Republic within the material dialectic probable. By barring the poet, he removed the artists who inspire inventors, artisans, and entrepreneurs to create wealth. Consequently, he made it only a matter of time before the whole artifex dissolved. A society cannot have inventors without poets or poets without inventors: all creators need all creators. This is why the artifex cannot be composed of “just novelists,” “just entrepreneurs,” etc.: it is not possible to have one without the others. The science fiction writer gives the scientist the idea for the spaceship which results in the inventor enabling humanity to go to the moon. Without the inventor, society wouldn’t be stable enough for the writer to have time to record his vision. Some inventors write or do art for a hobby, and if not allowed to carry out this practice, they will not have exercised their mind creatively enough to think up a new invention that will benefit humanity. Though the poet makes “shadows of shadows,” Plato did not recognize that some shadows are better than others, nor did he grasp that the “shadows of shadows” can enable “shadows” to come to life
8.1 People are told to “think for themselves,” but since they are unable to think for themselves, deprived of this capacity by the society, they are unable to understand what this means. The phrase is the answer to a question like “What are you supposed to learn in college?” but isn’t meaningful in of itself. Because others tell them so, people, obedient, know they are supposed to “think for themselves,” and so claim that they can, but unable to think for themselves, they are unable to recognize that they can’t. People are always able to convince themselves that they can “think for themselves,” but it is the artifexians who force them to critically ask of themselves “Can I really?” beyond their own definitions and standards. The stronger the artifex, the more the society probably actually will be able to think for itself, and the more a society can do this, the more it will prove able to transcend the material dialectic.
8.11 Since people (naturally) think they can think for themselves, by barring the artifex from his Republic, Plato made it impossible to determine who actually was a Philosopher King (for everyone naturally thinks they are a Philosopher King and that they are able to recognize one). Few think of their self as a mere mortal. Also, by kicking out the artifexian, Plato removed from his Republic the source of creative thinking that a Philosopher King must personify to rule the Republic justly. Without poets, there can be no Philosopher King. Lastly, to be free is to not be boxed in, and to be creative is to be able to think outside the box. Therefore, by removing creativity, Plato removed freedom from his Republic. For this reason, it is increasingly easy to find parallels between American and the Republic.
8.2 A person who can be bored isn’t free, for that individual is enslaved to an external source he or she requires for motivation. In this sense, the person who has nothing to do the moment the internet stops working is someone who is enslaved to the internet. A creative person avoids being enslaved to surrounding goods, and this is a reason why there is no freedom without creativity. Without creativity, a person must be a consumer, rather than a “recycler” who gives back through what he or she consumes.
8.21 Dallas Willard captured the relationship between creativity and freedom beautifully when he wrote: ‘If we want to see freedom, we don’t look at a kid jumping around with nothing to do. We see freedom when we see an accomplished artist sit down at a piano and play something so beautiful that we can hardly stay in our seat. That’s freedom.’
⁹See Frédéric Bastiat.
¹⁰See Richard Duncan.
¹¹It is a common and unfortunate mistake to conflate “high employment” with a “high standard of living” (there is no necessary relationship). It is also common to fail to recognize that only those who create wealth create jobs, while those who distribute wealth distribute jobs.
11.1 As it is possible to become an artifexian, it is also possible to stop being one. This being the case, a society that becomes an artifex society must work to keep itself that way, which can be when it is most tempting to think there’s no work left to be done. This is because there seems to be no pressing need for it, since it appears that the “perfect society” has been achieved, but what is achieved in one moment can be lost in the next. Whenever an artifexian ceases to be one, the standard of living decreases; whenever someone becomes an artifexian or re-becomes one, the standard increases. It can increase either by current artifexians creating something new or by someone who isn’t an artifexian becoming one. The same can be said regarding actual wealth.
11.2 The artifex class includes anyone who actually enables or enhances production, say with an original idea or philosophical construct, even if they themselves don’t actually produce anything. This kind of person is an “indirect artifexian” and is different from an intellectual, who’s only product is ideas that do not relate to production. Any intellectual becomes an indirect artifexian as soon as their ideas enhance or enable production, and stops being one as soon as this isn’t the case. An individual, in this regard, may have to start as an intellectual to become an artifexian. For this reason, intellectuals are good for society as long as they work to generate ideas that benefit production or creation — which can be everything from a blueprint to a short story that reminds a reader that life is worth living — rather than just produce ideas. Of course, it is nearly impossible to tell which artists and intellectuals are “indirect artifexians” and which aren’t, and which will become “indirect artifexians” in time. This is why the best policy is a hands-off approach that increases freedom. If artifexians, like a police state, were to begin removing intellectuals and artists who weren’t “indirect artifexians” in their eyes, they would be sowing the seeds of their own destruction. Ideally, in time, the “indirect artifexians” work to be direct ones themselves, which would increase wealth. One could say that “indirect” and “direct” are two tiers within the artifex class, as “worker” and “manager” are two tiers in the proletariat. The best artifex society is one in which every citizen is both a direct and indirect artifexian: while creating their own works, each artifexian also enables or enhances the production of others.
11.3 It may enhance clarity to replace Marx’s language of “the means of production” with “the means of creation.”
¹²The most devious of all the bourgeoisie’s tricks might be getting the proletariat to dishearten the artifex so that the bourgeoisie won’t have their enterprises undermined by artifexian creations. Successfully, it seems the bourgeoisie has convinced most parents to encourage their children to take risk-averse lifestyles rather than become artists and entrepreneurs.
12.1 If you study the arts or humanities, you won’t be able to get a job after college: you’ll be able to make one.
12.2 Like the gardener described in “The Pretence of Knowledge” by Friedrich Hayek, a school system that incubates creativity grows prosperity, while one that tries to fix children, like a mechanic fixes cars, stifles it. Since creativity is innate in everyone (as will be expanded upon), creativity cannot be readily taught, only incubated. Governments and organizations can only “teach” creativity insomuch as they give people the freedom to experiment without fear of failure or judgment. Institutions must take a passive role, which takes more discipline than does being active. In other words, organizations should resemble gardeners, not mechanics.
12.3 The death of the artifex is the death of culture. It is not by chance that poverty followed China after the Cultural Revolution, that Russia fell into catastrophe after it banished European artists and intellectuals, and that America has declined during the replacement of culture with entertaining consumerism. Likewise, it is not by chance that Europe thrived after the Enlightenment and Renaissance or that countries prosper when a true system of liberal education is established. Collapses are often preceded by an exile, excommunication, censorship, and/or genocide of the artifex, while prosperity is preceded by their acceptance. The death of culture is, in fact, the death of culture.
¹³The question of whether all people are creative is an anthropological one that cannot be confirmed either way or even assessed until an artifex society comes into existence, for a few generations, which can be compared with previous societies like America today. Personally, I believe all people are creative; however, I also believe few manage to stay creative. With respect to Stuart Brown, Daniel Pink, and Ken Robinson, a reason I believe everyone is creative is because children naturally play; a reason I believe few remain creative is because most are pressured to act like adults, to not be “childish.” I believe if the education system were to enable creativity, the world would be filled with child-like people of every age and color.
1. Since unemployment stimulates productivity like employment, an artifex society doesn’t readily fear losing jobs to immigrants or technology. Considering Thomas Sowell’s The Economics and Politics of Race and how most immigrants are “unusual” in their drive and ingenuity, an artifexian society, in not being an anti-immigrant society, is a pro-productivity society.
2. Automation should be the goal of production, but it is often viewed as an enemy. Without creativity, at least subconsciously, society comes to fear what it should want.
3. ‘No one knows how to make a pencil’, claimed Leonard Read, but without an artifex, there might not be a pencil for anyone to worry about making. The artifexian doesn’t single-handedly produce a pencil, but the artifexian creates something (“a form”) for everyone to construct. This alludes to how the artifex needs the material dialectic and vice-versa, even though the artifex creates the material of the means of production, and how an artifexian society isn’t a society without a material dialectic at all (in the practical versus theoretical sense), but a society in which all who work and own the means of production are also artifexian in one way or another. In this way, the material dialectic is merged with the artifex, realizing “the creative concord.”
4. Many farmers and craftsmen are artifexians, for many both own and work their means of production. This alludes to the “Jeffersonian Ideal,” a society in which farmers read Ovid while plowing the fields (not that this ever existed)). Perhaps one of the great injustices of slavery, after the slave trade was annulled, was when plantation owners stopped also working their plantations, which ended the “Jefferson Ideal” and began a material dialectic. This made the institutions susceptible to the alienation Marx warned would inevitably lead to creative destruction, which Southerners ironically could see so clearly in Northerner factories but failed to see in themselves. Perhaps racism contributed to this blindness, for failing to consider blacks as human, Southerners didn’t recognize the alienation they proliferated. Perhaps all this suggests why it would be beneficial to understand the history of slavery in America through Marx.
5. People can be against studying what there seems to be no reason to study and to think that reading when there is no test is a waste of time. Furthermore, those who major in history, for example, are warned that they won’t be employable, even though it is common knowledge that history is important to study so that past mistakes aren’t repeated. Bent on being practical, society repeats past mistakes and shrinks the artifex, missing that history is always a practical study.
6. A wise and just bourgeoisie will balance investing resources in the proletariat and the artifex, causing a gradual and sustainable rise in both the standard of living and rate of employment until the society is unified in the artifex. This wisdom is found in the reality that investing in the artifex will provide more creative solutions, increasing the bourgeoisie’s profit, while investing in the proletariat will allow for the proletariat’s growth into the artifex. However, this requires a certain type of investment in the proletariat, an investment designed not to placate and satisfy (to avoid violent revolution, perhaps) (say through entertainment or welfare), but to advance, educate, and encourage the proletariat in its own creative endeavors. A bourgeoisie that understands the creative concord will understand that this focus will increase its wealth in every sense of the word.
7. To borrow from Thomas Sowell, life isn’t about problems and solutions; life is about trade-offs. Most decisions have both positive and negative dimensions to them, not just benefits or negatives. Often, if a country has a problem (say in healthcare), it looks for a solution to the problem versus the best trade-off. Consequently, it can refuse to accept any policy that entails any negative consequence, retarding development and prosperity. There will always be downsides: the question is, in the long run, what kind of policy can channel the negatives toward fueling positives. One could say that a nation prospers not to the degree it solves its problems, but to the degree it strategically manages trade-offs. This insight is also key to understanding the need for a redefining of what is meant by “perfect.”
7.1 In an artifex society, high in technology and robotics, there will be a shift of capital toward creative people. Individuals will then be pressured away from jobs like manufacturing toward being creative, threatened by a lack of capital otherwise. Today, people can be pressured away from being creative toward jobs like banking because creativity isn’t perceived as profitable. In an artifex society, this “problem of pressure” isn’t necessarily erased, but rather redirected to favor creativity.
8. Erich Fromm and Victor Frankl both make it clear that without purpose and creativity, a person cannot work at the level, efficiency, joy, and speed necessary to compete and thrive in the “idea economy.” Nor is it possible, without creativity, to integrate one’s social and work life together, which will continue to become increasingly necessary as global competition intensifies.
9. There is indeed an “invisible hand,” as Adam Smith noted, but it isn’t inherently benevolent. In a Banktocracy, Creditism, mixed market, etc., the “emergent order” can work a society toward collapse. Overall, the invisible hand is amoral, and it seems to me that its benevolence is dependent on the degree a society is artifexian. For one, in that society, the majority isn’t consciously or subconsciously depressed, apathetic, thoughtless, or suicidal. In a depressed society, the invisible hand constructs bombs; in a driven one, it uplifts the improvised. It’s up to the people, seeing that the invisible hand belongs to them: the invisible hand simply increases the effectiveness of whatever is occurring: it maintains and accelerates, but doesn’t choose, trajectory.
10. America’s system of Intellectual Property Rights needs revamping: it seems to be one of the prime culprits for the failure of society to incubate a strong artifex. Like the unfortunate ability of banks to “make money off of money,” the current ability of companies or people to use patens as a way to make money, rather than using patens to protect profitable goods, is detrimental for a nation to allow. The practice can make those seeking to become artifexians afraid they are breaking the law in creating, shrinks the artifex, and renders a nation susceptible to the self-destruction of the material dialectic. How exactly the system is to be revamped to efface “patent trolls” or “patent troll”-like activities (for which companies from Apple to Intellectual Ventures are guilty) is outside the scope of this paper, but a start would be to make it so that people couldn’t own a patent for a product that they haven’t first produced, nor allow a company or individual to own a patent for more than a year or so without making clear efforts to create what they’ve patented. A patent that a person doesn’t use should be revoked in favor of someone who will use it. What exactly would define “use” is outside the scope of this paper, but perhaps “making a thing buyable by average citizens” is a good place to start. Also, if an associational thinker desires to create an invention that brings together all the parts of different inventions, he or she should be allowed to do so easily, as T.S. Eliot could bring together numerous thinkers and references to construct The Waste Land: the creator should be responsible for simply referencing where he or she got the parts. Current laws may ruin associational inventors.
10.1 The fact that an oil company can own patents on alternative energy to keep that alternative energy from being produced is a threat to national security, considering the threat the material dialectic poises to a country without a strong and growing artifex. Patents are used now by companies to keep out superior competitors, threatening the market system. Current patent laws may break the arm of the invisible hand.
10.2 Perhaps as grounds for change, it could be the case that current patent and copyright laws infringe upon freedom of speech, especially of the “corporate persons” of startups. If individuals don’t believe that startups are corporate persons (that they aren’t big enough to achieve the status), this strikes me as discriminatory. If current intellectual property laws keep startups from beginning, yet those startups have no realistic way in which to know whether their ideas have already been patented by a company like Intellectual Ventures, then the current system of laws restricts their rights of expression.
10.3 All that said, unless the society emphasizes creativity, creativity will continue to be a threat (as already touched on), and the current system of Intellectual Property Rights will likely remain (faulty philosophies necessitate faulty systems). The current patent system keeps new technologies (like 3D printing) from being released on a mass scale and raising unemployment until it can be delayed no longer, which seems problematically necessary in an uncreative society. In a way, the current system of intellectual rights is needed to maintain the status quo for a society that lacks the vision and/or capacity to move forward. It preserves comfort, but comfort is lost as soon as it is made a goal in of itself. Both the education and patent system should be changed simultaneously, for both need the other rightly ordered to beneficially grow the artifex.
10.4 If a company in the 80s had patented scrollbars, where would computers be now?
11. As discussed by PlasticPills in “Marx: Alienation in Capitalism,” if I make a song, even if you buy it, we still understand that it is “my song.” But if I produce a Nike shoe, we consider it “the company’s shoe” — isn’t this strange? We seem to have a double standard when it comes to intellectual property, and this suggests that perhaps Marx was right that workers always “own” their labor. If a song always belongs to the audience, why shouldn’t a Nike shoe always belong to the producer?
Marx’s error is to believe that it is the “product” a person always owns, when actually it’s “the idea embodied in the product.” If I produce the idea for a song, then even if you buy my song, the idea still belongs to me. Now, if you let someone borrow your CD with my song on it, then that is “your CD” that the person owes you back — it is not “my CD” even if the songs on it are “my songs.”
It is ideas that always belong to the person who generated them, not products, and if I produce a product that doesn’t embody any of my ideas, then I don’t own the product. I am paid for “my labor,” but I am not paid for “my idea.”
Items are usually a mixture of ideas and products: it’s usually difficult to draw a line between the two. A table I buy at Walmart is probably just “a table,” but a table made by a master craftsman is probably “a Smith table,” per se. Both are tables that have similar functions and are products in terms of their functionality, but the Walmart table is “more of a product than a work of art,” while the Smith table is “more of a work of art than a product.” When a product is more a work of art than a product, the blurry distinction between “creation” and “product” is embodied in our language: we tend to name it according to the maker.
The fact that what always belongs to me is “my ideas” versus “may labor” can also shed light on why Marx was wrong to conflate the artifex and proletariat (if he indeed did so). An artifexian creates “an idea” that is embodied in a product, while a proletarian only makes a product (and yes, these two classes can mix). Perhaps a good test for determining if someone is an artifexian is to ask if it feel’s right to say that their product “is a Smith table” or if we can only say “it’s a table.” Perhaps the more “it feels right” to christen the product with the name of the creator, the more reason we have to think the creator was indeed an artifexian.
12. On autonomy: ‘The true opposite of obedience is not disobedience but independence. The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. The true opposite of control is not chaos but self-control’.A Keep in mind that autonomy is not the same as selfishness; in fact, a lack of autonomy can cause a rise in selfishness. The autonomous individual recognizes the autonomy of his or her neighbors and so becomes selfless. Furthermore, I think that it is between autonomous individuals that the strongest relationships can be found: the dependent individual fails to recognize the autonomy of others and consequently can become selfish. While the autonomous person controls his freedom, the selfish one can be controlled by it.
AQuote from Jay Griffiths
12.1 There is potentially a correlation between the degree children are allowed to roam outdoors and their degree of creativity. One of the great causes of the decrease in the artifex may be the loss of free and open spaces like farms and cities children can explore.
12.2 Overbearing and overprotective parents may restrict the growth of the artifex. Creativity requires risk and a free spirit, but as Hara Marano warns in “A Nation of Wimps” and Jay Griffiths reports in “Why Parents Should Leave Their Kids Alone,” modern parents seeming to emphasize safety and comfort at the expense of creativity and personal development. The burdensome concern of parents could be making the youth mentally, physically, and psychologically fragile, setting them up for depression in college (where administrations, out of guilt, may use grade inflation as a means to help students cope, not wanting the psychological state of the student body to bring down the university). The benefits of play seem to have been replaced with the benefits of concern, experimentation with schedule, self-regulation with collecting experiences, and drive with desire. Fueling these problems, the cell phone enables parents, in love, to make sure that their children “do what’s best for them” twenty-four hours a day. If children cannot make decisions, caused by love, anxiety will rise.
12.3 In a creative nation, parents wouldn’t have to worry so much that their children must earn straight As in order to receive a good career with benefits. If helicopter parenting decreases creativity, perhaps one of the causes of over-protective parenting is an increase in the stakes of doing well in school, which incentives more over-productive parenting.
Today, failure in school can seem like the same as failure in life. In a creative society, like unemployment, failure in school would drive productivity, and though grades would define the difference between life courses, they would cease feeling like they were a matter of life and death. This being the case, in a creative society, parents would likely be more willing to let their children fail, recognizing that failure isn’t irredeemable. Stress would be reduced for all parties, increasing freedom and creativity.
12.4 Creativity may help end “endless adolescence,” so a growth in the artifex may help save marriage and restore the family. If strong families help incubate creativity, the growth of the artifex helps itself grow. On the flipside, if the loss of creativity hurts families, and hurt families decrease creativity, then the reverse is also true. Thanks to the invisible hand, both trajectories seem self-fueling.
13. I believe the potential for a strong artifex is increasing, but it is perhaps the case that the increase of this potential, through technology, innovation, and so on, to the degree left unrealized, is to the degree the fabric of society decays. In an age of increasing potential, it seems to be the case that those who “get it right,” really get it right, but those who “get it wrong,” really get it wrong. Since the potential for a large artifex seem that they must increase (for technology and knowledge must inherently compound through time), it is not an option to restrict the artifex. The only option is the development of character and creative capacities; failure to do this seems like it will inevitably cause social decline.
14. In a society lacking creativity, freedom can manifest as “rebellion,” for it must be this way to gain the creativity it needs to be “constructively” free. To be peaceful and beneficial, freedom and creativity require one another. The loss of one could be the loss of the other.
15. All investment is spending, but not all spending is investment. It is human nature though to want all spending to be investment, for this premise gives humans a sense of control over the economy (especially with a central bank). Any premise that humans want to be true, will be true (seemingly), for humans choose the lens through which they interpret evidence. It is also the case that there will be less opportunities for investment than spending in a society lacking creativity, making it easier to (want to) believe the noted premise (a premise which also makes creativity seem secondary to consumption).
16. René Girard describes Jesus Christ as someone who rejects the scapegoat mechanism precisely in making it visible. The scapegoat mechanism is what René Girard described as a “sacred violence” on which societies were founded on until Christ, the belief that an individual can be sacrificed to save the group and it be just. This is a key point: the scapegoat mechanism only works if it is invisible, and it is by believing the scapegoat deserves to die, that the execution is just, that the scapegoat mechanism maintains invisibility. Jesus Christ is visibly a scapegoat and denies that his crucifixion is just; Jesus “takes on the sins of the world” in the open and refuses the “sacred violence” on which societies can found themselves. Girard does not deny that scapegoats can indeed unify people and hold societies together, but Jesus denies this option.
In denying sacred violence, Jesus upholds the dignity of the individual, and makes it clear that if a society can hold itself together through sacrificing individuals, alternative means will have to be discovered. Sacrifice is no longer an option, which if people can’t handle, Girard notes we could end up in a worse situation than before Jesus.
Regarding to artifex, the point I want to make is that if we are no longer allowed to solve our problems by sacrificing our problem-causes, perhaps Christ’s rejection of the sacred violence forces societies to be more creative? If we must learn how to get along, and if we cannot kill individuals to solve problems for the sake of the group, then we cannot run from our problems. If we believe we can sacrifice a person to make it rain, there is no need to invent irrigation systems to keep crops watered. If we believe we can imprison and exile minorities who destabilize our social order, there is no need for us to understand them or find common humanity.
Please don’t mistake me as saying that Christians have always rejected sacred violence and exhibited incredible problem-solving capacities, but I do wonder if a rejection of sacred violence and emphasis on “loving our enemy” helps a society develop a culture of creativity. If this is so, Christianity or at least Christian values could be advantageous for the development of the artifex.
17. Education should enable students to make jobs, not just get them. Perhaps high schools, or “different kinds of colleges,” should focus on “getting,” while college could focus on “making,” which means colleges wouldn’t be able to promise anything. Perhaps in this world, people really would be able to believe they weren’t necessarily better off for going to college: the kids who didn’t attend college might end up better off more often. More importantly, if college kids did create wealth, the value of college wouldn’t be so easy to question.
17.1 Ironically, when the goal of college is to give people jobs, college seems fail; when the goal is to foster humanity, college enables individuals to make and acquire jobs. If first things come first, seconds thing follow (to allude to C.S. Lewis). It should be noted that as creativity dries up and jobs with it, there is a high likelihood that people and institutions will panic and so start stressing the need to “get jobs” at the expense of creativity. This increases the likelihood that the trajectory will stay the same (if not accelerate). Furthermore, as Peter Turchin discusses, when colleges produce creativity, they can fight their tendency to contribute to “elite overproduction.”
18. A benefit to creative destruction is that it naturally irons out monopolies: large companies are regularly undermined by new technologies and entrepreneurships. This is perhaps why many companies today buy up as many intellectual property rights as they can (and why a broken system of intellectual rights is such a threat). With market mechanisms thrown off, antitrust laws must be created to atone for the failure of other laws. Ironically, such laws tend to inhibit the free market and creative destruction which address monopolies, cartels, and various forms of price-fixing, which results in evidence that antitrust laws are needed (and where creativity is low and intellectual property rights broken, they are).
19. To allude to Hayek, if a thousand people are looking at a text in Arabic, and one person knows the language, everyone can know what the text says. Cumulative knowledge always exceeds individual knowledge. Thanks to the internet, if one person discovers something, humanity can discover it too. The freedom of each individual can benefit every individual.
19.1 In a society where individuals are free to learn what they want and how they want, there is a much higher probability that creative solutions will be achieved to unforeseen problems. If everyone is forced to learn the same material, say through standardized tests, fewer unpredictable problems will be overcome. Creativity is the opposite of standardization; by emphasizing creativity, schools would enable students to contribute to the whole of cumulative knowledge, rather than just take from it. Any school that doesn’t enable students to solve problems that its administrators don’t even know exist doesn’t prepare its students for the future, and arguably there is no other way to prepare for unknown problems then with creativity.
20. The “desire to know” is a threat to freedom and enabler of it. The desire can be one of control or growth, but without creativity, it goes in the direction of the former more so than the latter. If toward control, the desire works to make complexities (like people) understandable and predictable (when those complexities may function most profitably when left alone). The desire can also be directed toward making people all the same, which inherently limits individual freedom (because freedom is ultimately always individual: there is “group freedom” only insomuch as group activity enables individual liberty).
20.1 The “desire to know” can also manifest in the form of deterministic philosophies (rightly or wrongly), and Marx, to some extent, committed this error. Perhaps history is deterministic insomuch as people believe history is deterministic and live out their presuppositions into history, and perhaps it is always tempting to believe such a view, as a sense of control is always a temptation. For this reason, it is also tempting to devalue creativity, for creativity is unpredictable.
20.2 In line with “Concerning Epistemology”, when the “desire to know” does rear an ugly head, it tends to manifest through arguments for “safety” and hypothetical situations. For example, in regard to putting up a large “warning sign” where a crosswalk is located: “What if a child gets hit by a car? Isn’t it better to spend the money on a sign and make the street a little less aesthetically pleasing than risk a child’s life?” To this point, no argument can readily stand. Consider also similar arguments that have been made in support of laws for seatbelts, alcohol, food codes, healthcare, drugs, etc., and how so much of “the lawsuit industry” seems to find its lifeblood from safety concerns or attempts to keep dreadful things from happening. Once a concern for safety or wellbeing is raised (usually through “what if” arguments), it is nearly impossible to put the concern back down — it always has an emotional advantage. This sort of argument is a manifestation of the “desire to know” that a given “dreaded thing” won’t happen, and the more safety measures that are taken, the more an individual is able to feel that he or she “knows” something bad will not occur. It’s always loving to sacrifice freedom to safety, yet similarly fatal.
20.3 The “desire to know” can be virtuous when directed toward the right end — liberty. Liberty is necessary so that what can’t be predicted can be prepared for and occur. Though humans aren’t omniscient, freedom overcomes fallibility.
21. Marx seems to have believed that as prices inevitably fell, consequence of the overproduction necessary to give everyone a job, the income stream to the working class would dry up and revolution would happen. If people weren’t given jobs and prices stayed high, revolution would also occur, because people would still lack income and be unable to purchase the overpriced goods. Revolution being inescapable, Marx figured it was best to go on and get it over with.
Despite this deterministic prediction (that perhaps stimulates revolutions to make the prediction accurate), it is important to note that in more Capitalistic nations, where Marx predicted revolution would occur, revolution hasn’t happened. Rather, revolution has tended to occur in impoverished nations like Cuba, China, and Russia, where Capitalism has lacked vibrancy. Worse yet, adding insult to injury, Marx was wrong that the State would fade away once the universal class was achieved. Rather, the State tends to refuse to give up power (though nations like Singapore have proven that it is possible for a nation to have a benevolent dictator, at least for a time). Revolution doesn’t occur in industrial societies nearly as much as it happens in pre-Capitalist nations. Nonviolent revolution through creativity, on the other hand, is prevalent where Capitalism is successful. Though Marx was wrong about the inevitability of revolution, revolution seems inevitable where creativity is lacking. However, it’s not inevitable that creativity ceases to flourish, which makes revolution non-deterministic.
The very fact that revolution seems so rarely destined suggests that people are naturally creative. It’s also evidence that the internet has made it the case that once creative person can make up for the lack of creativity of a million others, which decreases the likelihood of military conflict significantly. As creativity enables “nonviolent revolution,” so it enables “nonviolent wars.”
22. It is not Industrial Capitalism that may cause revolution but Industrial Revolution education.
23. ‘You have nothing to lose but your chains’ applies regarding why people should be creative: “you have nothing to lose but your boredom.”
24. According to Feuerbach, because humanity is alienated, humanity creates God to save it. Though Karl Barth addressed this critique theologically, it should be noted that “disembodied religions’ or “escapist doctrines” alienate an individual like circumstances. Creativity is a “projection of divinity” not out of the world but into it, making the world more “godly.”
25. In school, if a child fails math, society tells the child to study more, because the system believes that all should be “rounded out.” In the “real world” though, when someone isn’t good at something, society tells that person to do something else, recognizing that “people are different.” This causes neurosis. On top of that, the system tends to fill students’ time with classes they will never use at the expense of opportunities for play and creativity. Yet, if a student fails to do well in all areas, that student is denied access into a college where he or she will be allowed to pursue his or her passions. It doesn’t seem sensible that a genius should be denied a chance to study literature at Oxford due to a C in high school math.
26. Without new possibilities or problems, the standard of living flat-lines, and alienation can set in (“is this all there is?”). Since new issues must constantly be identified, utopia as a “state” is not possible on earth, because fulfillment is found at least partially in finding problems and figuring out possibilities to fix them. Once there are no more problems, there are no more possibilities. Therefore, the creative concord isn’t a “miracle elixir” for a problem-free world, but a system by which problems can be individually overcome with the human mind and creativity: it’s a way to manage an unstable situation. It doesn’t mean hurdles won’t come, but it does mean the mind will be ready.
26.1 If meaningful, the word “utopia” refers not to “perfection” but “a movement toward perfection” (a process). Any policy, hence, that stops “movement” (or artifexian growth) could be anti-utopian. Ironically, when people seek to create a state of utopia, they can lose utopia; when they seek only to move toward utopia, they can achieve it.
27. Someone who identifies problems is pessimistic only to the degree that individual isn’t creative. Creativity helps negate pessimism.
28. There is such thing as “disembodied creativity,” which occurs (for example) when an individual forces another to make art by threatening to give that person a bad grade. If a person is forced to be creative, that individual can be alienated in the same way he or she is when lacking creativity altogether. To be true, creativity requires freedom. I would also argue that “forced creativity” is a contradiction and will inevitably dry up, while free creativity keeps growing freely. Creativity occurs in incubators versus under controllers.
29. Though both creative acts, a distinction can be drawn between the terms “innovation” and “creation” (not that I personally always hold this distinction). Innovation increases the capacity of a preexisting entity to achieve its end, while creation gives rise to an entirely new entity with an entirely new end. In a way, innovation improves upon what exists while creativity adds to what exists. Innovation is also, in some ways, less creative than creation (but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as valuable; in fact, it can be more valuable). This is because innovation is not as tied to “personal expression” as is creation: a true act of creation cannot be done by anyone but the individual who does it, while an innovative act is one that anyone can do. The exact way that innovation occurs, though, will have personal touches that only the particular innovator could have added. In Aristotelian terms, the innovator personalizes the accidents of a substance, while a creator personalizes both the accidents and the substance. Of course, a given innovation can actually be a creation, regardless the term prescribed to it, as a given creation can actually be an innovation.
29.1 Every individual needs to do something that he or she feels is truly “mine,” and the more personalized the activity, the more that act will overcome alienation. Therefore, it’s better to be a creator than an innovator, yet any given innovator might be a creator. Only they can know.
29.2 An invention is both an innovation and a creation or one or the other: it depends on the particular invention. The same can be said of artwork.
30. Whether a given creative act is detrimental or constructive for a society is a subjective value judgment. One person will believe the invention of the gun has increased the standard of living, while another will believe the opposite. Creativity can be good or bad, and what one person finds wonderful, another may find awful. For every person who believes Starbucks has been a blessing, another finds it a tragedy. Regardless the subjective value assessment, creativity drives growth through the artifex, and in that way is good, but it’s another question to ask if it’s (in a given instance) a moral good. It doesn’t seem every creative act can be said to be good, for there is no clear standard by which to determine good in a moralistic sense.
30.1 The more creativity there is, the more it seems there will be a kind of “creative competition” (like free market competition) that will increase the good over the bad. This is why it is especially tragic for creativity to be limited, for in this state, there is a higher likelihood of low-quality or detrimental creativity, for there is a lack of competition to kick out the bad. Creativity then is directed toward making new weapons of wars, for example, rather than toward solving the problems that lead to wars (like food shortages, poverty caused by a decrease in creativity, a lack of clean water, etc.). In seeing this, it will be harder for the people to believe in the value and importance of creativity, for all empirical evidence can suggest the opposite. Consequently, it will be difficult for creativity to grow and to keep the system from undergoing collapse in the material dialectic. The same seems to occur regarding the free market: the more limited it is, the less it works, which makes it harder for people to believe it will work if left to its own devices.
30.2 Though most startups fail, as do most artists, all creative acts contribute to creating the environment of “creative competition” that helps generate excellence, and if out of a million people, one creates something that succeeds, everyone can benefit. Excellence occurs where there is competition and pressure in the right direction, and it is needed in the market as much as it is needed in the drawing-room. Unfortunately, competition can direct focus in the wrong direction (such as when children compete to see who can make the craziest YouTube video, which seems creativity but suggests a lack of it), but creativity can help guide competition to be “non-zero-sum” versus “zero-sum.” Again, the “invisible hand” isn’t inherently benevolent, but it can lift us up.
30.3 Quitting, not failure, is more likely to be bad. Failure sweetens and enables success, while quitting makes success impossible.
30.4 Thanks to the internet, the creative genius of one individual will make up for the lack of countless others. If one person comes up with a new idea, everyone practically does. As a result, it can seem as if creativity is prevalent when it’s not, for it can seem that the million came up with the idea just like the one. Likewise, because of a few successful businessmen, it can seem like the entire economy is doing well. However, neither might be the case — the economy could be struggling as creativity could be drying up.
30.5 Further evidence that people are naturally creative is YouTube: it is bursting with videos of all kinds.
31. To expand on what it means that creativity becomes a “sin” in an uncreative society: when the minority, creative individuals are made to feel guilty for seeking creativity opportunities (seeing that it, for example, denies their parents the opportunity to tell neighbors that “John is working for Goldman Sachs”), for not taking life seriously, for wanting to play instead of work, for doing what doesn’t easily fit into an explainable box, and so on.
32. If we do not have the skill to build a house, we are, in a way, enslaved to the man who has that ability. If we learn this skill, we regain our freedom. In this sense, skills are liberties. Likewise, if we aren’t creative, we are enslaved to the individual who can create: if we can’t create wealth, we are dependent on those who can. Government policies that restrict creativity react against the government’s lack of liberty by taking liberty from others. In this transaction, no liberty is gained; liberty is lessened. In the free market, skills, abilities, etc. — “liberties” — are exchanged for one another. A person who lacks one “liberty” can gain it by exchanging the “liberty” he or she has with someone who needs it. Yet as “liberties” can be gained through free exchange, they can also be learned. Since all individuals have the capacity to learn (even though people have varying material “liberties”), all people have the capacity to be free. Keep in mind that no one is free in the same way, for no one has the same exact set of skills.
33. Freedom, as a whole (versus types or dimensions of freedom), is not easy to define; it’s easier to recognize.
33.1 Freedom entails a capacity to transcend alienation. Achieving freedom requires government, economic, educational, and social consent to individual liberty. Though a poor nation may have a Democratic Republic, the people will not be readily free, for they will not have the ability to rise above their circumstances, nor may they care that they are free (to some extent). In a dictatorship, the people are not free to rise above a government they disagree with; in schools that don’t teach students to think for themselves, the students will be enslaved to the commands of superiors. Economic strength tends to make way for all liberties as economic weakness tends to limit them; that said, a strong economy doesn’t mean that there is total freedom, only a trajectory toward it. Freedom, like utopia, must be reached toward perpetually (which sounds like we’re not free to stop reaching).
33.2 Freedom entails doing what an individual is made to do, not just what an individual wants to do. A boat is not free when used on the street: it is misused. What a given person is made to do is up to that person, but only wants within the framework of that purpose will be acts of liberty. Without purpose, nothing readily defines a free act from a mere act: a meaning of life seems the prerequisite for a liberated life. Making a purpose entails creativity, and if it is the case that humans are anthropologically creative, then it is by being creative that a human does what he or she was born to do.
33.3 Freedom is like success and a person feels free as he or she approaches success. The possibility for success entails being part of a system, game, mission, etc. where failure is possible, and what entails success is up to the individual striving for it. It is only by having a purpose in life that one can have a standard by which to determine success or failure in life. This is not to say an individual can’t have successes without purpose, only that a person can’t have success. Freedom is possible only where failure is possible, and there can be failure only where there is purpose. Thus, freedom requires risk and facing fear.
33.4 Freedom is seeking what is sought.
34. It is easy to inflate the success of an individual Capitalistic with Capitalism as a whole. Though many succeed, many also fail. Many suffer, as many suffer in any system. Capitalism isn’t a perfect system, only perhaps the most perfect system. Capitalism doesn’t make everyone successful, but it may tend to increase success. Of course, those who have been successful are those most likely to point this out, while those who have been unsuccessful are most likely to disagree. This is why the question becomes whether the system is, in fact, the best. Hopefully, this paper has made it clear that Capitalism is the superior system only to the degree that creativity occurs within it.
‘Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried,’ claimed Winston Churchill. Likewise, Capitalism I think has a claim to be the best-of-the-rest economic model. Yet, as Democracy only achieves this state of superiority if people vote and work to be informed, so Capitalism achieves its apex only when people are creative.
35. Herbert Marcuse, a renowned supporter and critic of Marx, recognized that the Enlightenment project, which arguably occurred to make humanity more rational and fearless of the unknown, resulted in humanity being more afraid and more dogmatic than ever before: IT led to the theatre of the absurd. Marcuse recognized that a society full of rational individuals is overall irrational. This seems to be a point that obliterates Hayek; however, it must be recognized that there is a distinction between a rational society and a free society. Hayek doesn’t propose that every individual needs to be rational, but rather claims that the net product of free individuals is superior to the genius of any single person or group.
Whether a society is full of rational individuals is irrelevant if that society isn’t free, for then it isn’t possible for there to be a net collection of knowledge that guides the development of the society organically. Marcuse is right to identify that an increase in rationalism leads to irrationalism (for, in line with “Concerning Epistemology,” it is natural that rationalism leads to a restriction of freedom and central planning). As rationalism increases, freedom can decrease, even though rationalism could empower freedom. It is the decrease in freedom then, as a consequence of the rise of rationalism, which can lead to overall irrationalism in the way Marcuse warns. In the end, Marcuse’s findings can actually serve as evidence for Hayek’s proposals.
The more intelligent one becomes, the more one can come to believe that intelligent people should make decisions over those less intelligent (and the individual mostly likely has plenty of experiential evidence to support this belief). Also, as one increases in intelligence, it becomes harder to believe that the net sum of others is intellectually superior to oneself. Accepting this requires a faith and humility that the individual has little reason to assent to, and seeing that the person has been taught to question and doubt everything in being taught to be rational, accepting Hayek’s findings may go against what that person has been taught is right. Therefore, as a society becomes more rational, it may become more unlikely that the society will be Hayekian. Consequently, it is increasingly probable that the society be irrational in its total workings, even though it be rational on an individual basis.
It is also important to note that just because a person is rational doesn’t mean the person is wise in determining which framework to exercise his or her rationality within. If one, for example, decides that only that which can be observed is real, one has created a problematic framework in which to exercise rationality, making rationality an expression of that problem. It may also be the case that the more rational a society becomes, the more it fails to recognize the existence of various frameworks or the necessity of thinking about which framework is best.
36. Another way to determine if everyone is creative is to make everyone try Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.
37. The loss of the artifex is perhaps at least partially due to the alienation of the introvert, as written about by Susan Cain.
38. It’s not possible for businesses to predict innovations like the internet, so creativity is necessary to respond to unpredictability. In this sense, creativity is practical like a fire alarm: it’s often not needed, but when it is, it can be deadly not to have.
39. Society needs doctors, for example, but society may not need to emphasize its need for doctors. Society needs artists, engineers, scientists, etc. — no occupation is readily more valuable than any other. Without doctors, we lack the health to embrace creativity, but without creativity, life loses its liveliness (and the economy slips into the material dialectic). It is common today to emphasize the need for scientists, doctors, and engineers, but it is this very declaration that causes a shift of focus from occupations that generate the happiness and creativity necessary for a society to thrive. When there isn’t creativity, society may need more engineers in order to maintain the economy via “broken window fallacies”; when there isn’t happiness, there may need to be more doctors in order to address the increase in depression and stress. The very emphasis on doctors can generate the need for more of them, as the very declaration for needing more scientists and engineers can be what causes the society to lose innovation and so leaves no one else to turn to for economic sustainability. When artists are lost, depression can increase, and this functions as proof that society, indeed, does need more doctors, fashioning a self-justifying “loop” (a paradox touched on in both “Emotional Judgment” and “Self-Delusion, the Toward-ness of Evidence, and the Paradox of Judgment”). This is another reason for why when the artifex class shrinks it is probable that it will continue to shrink.
40. America is the ‘place where people do new things,’ according to Peter Thiel, yet the moralizing of “getting a stable job” could threaten “the nation of artifexians.” Passion results in mastery and creativity, but in a nation which labels the passionate as irresponsible (and even immoral dreamers), mastery and creativity may dry up. Creative thinking is hard enough in itself, let along without the pressures of a society that dismisses creativity as childish. Society tends to do this in the name of “practicality,” but it is creativity and wealth creation which makes it possible for a nation to have practical avenues at all. “Practicality” can impractically bite the hand that feeds it.
41. Since unemployment drives economic growth in a creative nation like employment, creativity grows the economy more than employment or unemployment.
42. It has been argued that technology contributes to inequality, because new technologies tend to creatively destroy the jobs of the less educated and lower classes while increasing the opportunities of the more educated and upper classes. If this is the case, won’t a growing artifex worsen the material dialectic and increase the likelihood of class struggle?
If the artifex is growing, then there are more people who are part of the artifex and outside of the material dialectic, but perhaps the intensity of the material dialectic will increase “along the edges” of the artifex? Though the probability of the material dialectic erupting within the artifex will be less, perhaps the probability might be higher outside or around the artifex? Perhaps, but even so, the size of the class revolution will be increasingly smaller the more the artifex expands.
Do note that the solution to the displacement caused by technology is education, for this increases the capacity of everyday people to work more advanced jobs. As the artifex grows, so too will expand educational opportunities, for a keyway the artifex grows seems to me to be through education. If the growth of the artifex matches the expansion of education, then the growth of the artifex will in a sense be the expansion of education, which can be a mechanism of reducing job displacement. Hence, it will be unlikely that the growing artifex will contribute to class tension, though certainly a stagnate artifex could, which again suggests why education is so important.
43. Creativity generates resources for economies to allocate. When creativity is low, the environment must suffer. The material dialectic will devour something, even itself. However, anarchy doesn’t necessitate the protection of the environment; in creativity, a technology for saving nature could be found.
44. Colin Woodard, author of American Nations, claims that America isn’t a Union, but eleven nations with cultures that have always been segmented (to some degree), a division which has only intensified with time. Today, more and more people are moving into communities with like-minded people, avoiding discomforting differences. Perhaps immigration in the past helped mitigate some of this problem, but that is no longer the case. Not only does this not bode well for democracy, but it may also be a problem for creativity and wealth creation. According to Randal Collins, author of A Global Theory of Intellectual Change, creative, philosophical, and innovative thought emerges along the border where two groups of opposing thought meet (it is in the space between Aquinas and Averroes where genius emerges, per se). In a divided nation, creativity dries up, the artifex shrinks, and the economy implodes.
44.1 To know we aren’t bipartisan, we have to be bipartisan; to know we aren’t a critical thinker, we have to think critically; to know we aren’t creative, we have to be creative. This paradox results in societies thinking they are brilliant when in fact they are foolish. In a society lacking cross-pollination, where the truly creative can encounter the noncreative (and so forth), the noncreative will likely never have any reason to think that they lack artifexian capabilities. Consequently, the people will think they are artifexians, and yet the society will reflect otherwise.
45. A problem with Capitalism is its tendency to gravitate toward a world in which consumers can choose to only be presented with options they want to see. Creativity is often a result of stumbling upon ideas as a result of encountering phenomena that are outside a person’s current scope. When consumers can choose to not confront that which makes them uncomfortable (or when the system caters options to personal histories), it is likely that creativity dries up.
Individuals with opposing political perspectives are starting to move away from one another, and Google is beginning to customize search findings relative to browsing history. Furthermore, citizens can watch stations and read newspapers that will confirm what they already believe, and colleges and businesses are gravitating increasingly toward specialization. This doesn’t bode well for the artifex class and may lead to an impulsion of the material dialectic.
45.1 A person with options isn’t necessarily a person who’s free.
45.2 A person with choices isn’t necessarily a person with different kinds of choices. Every framework contains its own set of options. Freedom is movement between frameworks, not simply between choices.
46. A society without a freedom of speech is a society that will lack creativity. The First Amendment, more so than individual expression, guarantees the right to an environment in which one can express themselves freely without fear. “Pub culture,” in a sense, is what the First Amendment protects. Considering the work of Randal Collins, without this freedom, it is going to be difficult for a nation to innovate and grow the artifex class. Furthermore, a culture that lacks conversational skills will also struggle. Perhaps this is another reason why television culture, as Neil Postman writes on, is so devastating to society: the television robs culture of the capacity to overcome the material dialectic.
46.1 Since conversation incubates creativity, we should be graceful to the people we speak with. The freer they feel around us, the higher the likelihood they will exercise creativity.
47. Creativity might gravitate toward producing nonsense. What is nonsensical can be filled with the imagination and mean whatever viewers want it to mean. Furthermore, it is enjoyable to participate in a collective joke. Take Gangnam Style: eventually, the line between where the joke begins and seriousness ends fades (perhaps a similar point could be made about Capitalism’s tendency to blur holidays).
Creativity may also gravitate toward vulgarity because popularity can feel better than greatness. Vulgarity feeds natural, animalistic tendencies, while art might feed less natural dimensions of human beings.
Absurd and vulgar expressions of creativity (especially in a society lacking in character) might be more popular than creativity that expands the artifex class. Consequently, demand can shift toward fueling creativity that doesn’t keep the economy from self-imploding (via the material dialectic). Once such creativity becomes popular, it may be impossible to shift demand the other way again before economic collapse.
(These thoughts will be expanded upon in “Should We Get Rid of the Internet?”)
48. What Money Can’t Buy by Michael J. Sandel warns that market societies (defined from market economies) are growing, which are societies that are willing to value everything through market terms (even at the expense of other values). Sandel warns that for a thing or action to be given a market value transforms how humans perceive and interact with that phenomenon. Money changes the meaning of goods, and this can be for the good or the bad. The moment I try to pay children to read, they may view reading not as a good in itself, but as a means to an end. Though money often incentivizes, Sandel notes, it doesn’t necessarily incentivize toward the end an “employer” has in mind. When I begin giving children $2 for every book they read, this may incentivize them not to become better readers but to read shorter and easier books.
Monetary values aren’t always bad, but they aren’t always good either. Money shouldn’t be involved in areas that will corrupt rather than improve (which areas are which requires discernment and character to determine). Professor Sandel points out that money can crowd out civic duty and self-motivation. Since self-motivation, in line with the thought of Daniel Pink, is the engine of right brain and creative thinking, a failure to keep market economies from expanding into market societies can result in a dwindling of the artifexian class, the impulsion of the material dialectic, and collapse of the market economy.
Creativity can cultivate the capacity to discern values other than monetary values, for creative individuals must have vision and drive toward the end of their creation long before money is involved. A creative person has to value what he or she envisions for his or her self: though it may generate revenue eventually, this internal value has to come first. Creativity cultivates character, and it is through character that people can discern values other than market ones. Creativity also forces individuals to stand by what they believe in, and so to take their beliefs very seriously.
48.1 Rampant marketization may be a result of a society’s desire to escape “the big questions,” perhaps evident by the loss of public discourse and democrat debate. Marketization most certainly (like our technological distractions) helps us avoid angst and existential crises, for when the markets decide our values, we don’t have to decide them for ourselves. If we did decide them, we would have to pick standards of value by which to make these decisions, and this would cause anxiety and be an additional hardship to add to our already-oversized pile of responsibilities.
Creativity, on the other hand, can force an individual to take on “the big questions.” An artifexian must ask, “Why am I doing this?” “What if this doesn’t work out?” “What will other people think?” etc., questions which ultimately lead to questions like “Who am I?” “What matters to me?” “Why am I here?” etc. It is not by chance that the loss of creativity and dwindling of the artifex class has coincided with a loss of philosophy and political discourse.
48.2 Unless they perhaps educate themselves out of it, humans cannot avoid wanting purpose and asking, “What’s the point?” Creativity enables an individual to synthesis all experiences and phenomena in one’s life into a produced whole, hence making it possible to give everything in one’s life “a point.” Nothing in a creative life ever must be pointless: an artifexian can direct anything and everything “toward” a point of his or her making. Nothing lacks the potential for value.
The movement toward market societies and the monetization of everything is perhaps an effort to fill the void left by the loss of the individual capacity to add creative values to life. Since people have lost the capacity to add values, people require the market to add it for them. This line of thought will be expanded upon in “On Materialism, Purpose, and Discernment” by O.G. Rose.
48.3 The creative individual has a standard by which to determine what he or she should consume (“What contributes to my project?”). In this sense, creativity equips an individual with “Creative Judgment,” which has a teleological basis. Through creativity, an individual can determine which things “fit” the ends of his or her making. Also, what is consumed by a creative individual is usually directed toward a project and so “recycled” into it. A noncreative individual, on the other hand, may decide what to consume through emotions (which can lead to problems expounded upon in “Emotional Judgment” by O.G. Rose), or may use reason, but without creating wealth to replace what is consumed.
(These points might shed like on why many creative individuals are involved with environmental and sustainability movements.)
48.4 Monetary incentives, in a society lacking creativity, will incentivize not creativity and so market sustainability, but materialism and market self-implosion. If incentives only direct individuals to produce or consume, rather than create and recycle, wealth will be distributed until it runs out versus created and multiplied. Capitalism requires not only incentives to produce and consume, but also incentives to create and creatively recycle. Creative incentives tend to be self-created, so a free environment that encourages and cultivates self-motivation is necessary for a Capitalistic system (versus the socioeconomic environment of America today that labels the creative as reckless, insensitive, and impractical). Social constraints can be as damaging as governmental restrictions.
48.5 Creative incentives can usurp monetary incentives. Monetary incentives work when they contribute to a person’s sense of purpose and creative end, but not when they replace purpose and creativity. The woman who takes care of children because she believes it is her purpose in life perhaps will be insulated by monetary compensation (unless she needs it to keep taking care of children), while a woman who needs money to paint will be motivated by it. Every situation is different.
48.6 There is no perfect system through which to allocate resources. However, creativity can perfect the imperfect, or at least build it toward something better. What enables creativity should be the standard used to determine which system of allocation and/or incentives to use relative to a given phenomenon.
48.7 Monetary incentives to get children to read, for example, only jumpstart their love of learning if the incentives intentionally guide the children to a state where they can cultivate creativity and purpose for themselves.
48.8 As money changes our “toward-ness,” so may licensing.
48.9 It is possible that the introduction of money to an artist for his or her work may transform the artist’s “toward-ness.” Consequently, it may become more difficult for the artist to enter the “flow” state (as expounded upon by Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi), which may negatively affect creativity. Expanding this thought out, it is possible that once artifexians begin creating wealth, the artifex class will become less “artifexian.” Ironically, the profitability of the artifex may ruin it. That said, the artifex class is still the only way to keep the material dialectic from collapsing the entire system; therefore, the cultivation of character and self-motivation are of the utmost importance. It is one of the greatest challenges to develop individuals who are not negatively transformed by money, but this is paradoxically necessary in order for wealth creation to continue and expand.
49. According to Sugata Mitra, mastermind behind “Hole in the Wall” experiments, education is a self-organizing system. This means that a structure of education arises without any intentional organization and that learning is an emergent phenomenon. Teachers do not need to make it happen; they need to let it happen. According to Mitra, if students are equipped with the ability to find answers (which is globally possible now thanks to Google and the internet) and presented interesting questions, children will do the rest. All a teacher must do is encourage and inquire. On their own, children learn, master divergent thinking, and cultivate creativity, which are all necessary for the growth of the artifex class and avoiding economic collapse.
49.1 As price mechanisms, when left alone, provide the guidance for participants to self-organize the economy (according to Hayek), so encouragement and questions from teachers guide students to self-organize education. Considering that this might be all a teacher needs to do, it is fair to question if unions and bureaucracy are needed.
49.2 The internet and Google have made it unnecessary for people to use large parts of their brains to store up facts, leaving large parts of it empty. If these parts are not directed toward creative endeavors, children will slip into boredom and depression. Considering rising depression medication and Adderall prescriptions, there is evidence that this is already happening.
49.3 The very nature of standardized testing forces schools to be managerial. If Mitra is right, this is the exact opposite of what education needs. It is perhaps the case that government is inherently managerial and antagonistic of any self-organizing system.
49.4 It is possible that teachers who are themselves not very creative or in need of management (perhaps after being brought up through a managerial school system that stifled their autonomy), will not value and even discourage creativity and autonomy, which will stifle the self-organization of education and creativity (to the determent of the artifex class and society as a whole).
49.5 If education is self-organizing, it is evidence that humans are anthropologically and inherently creative.
49.6 Mitra’s work, I believe, provides evidence for reconsidering the value and role of Employment Testing, which will be expanded on in future work. For now, it can be said that schools are Employment Tests in disguise (though everyone seems to know it, because the main reason people encourage children to go to college is in order to “get a good job”). If, on the other hand, it was less legally risky for businesses to offer these tests, schools and colleges could focus on creating an environment where children taught themselves rather than focus on building resumes. Concerns about tests ruin education as do concerns about resumes. Considering this and Mitra’s work, a college that functions also as an Employment Test seems to be a terrible paradox.
49.7 The political theory of “liberty,” which America is founded on, is a theoretical construct for government similar to Mitra’s theory for education and Hayek’s theory for economics, all of which seem reminiscent of the work of Mandelbrot.
49.8 Considering “On Thinking and Perceiving” by O.G. Rose, the act of thinking can be a threat to all self-organizing systems, such as the economy according to Hayek and education according to Mitra, because a self-organizing system, by definition, cannot be fully comprehended. The very act of thinking about such a system is that which creates a perspective and framework in which management and central planning can be “proven” necessary. If we think about children teaching themselves alone in a classroom, we will likely envision chaos and errors more so than success (in line with thought expanded on in “Concerning Epistemology” and “Self-Delusion, the Toward-ness of Evidence, and the Paradox of Judgment”). Since it involves children, we are also primed for “emotional judgment” and fears that arise from “what if” concerns (“What if the children don’t learn?” “What if this doesn’t work?” “What if something bad happens?” etc.). The very act of teachers confirming that children are learning (even if the teachers are truly neutral and bipartisan) can create evidence that “proves” education isn’t self-organizing (say by giving a test after a period of self-organization, which scares the children and turns off their brains). Therefore, teachers must be careful before trying to be “scientific” about their classrooms. When it comes to education, rather than think about what’s best for children, it’s best for teachers to simply guide and watch children do what’s best for themselves.
50. Considering “Don’t Send Your Kids to the Ivy Leagues” by William Deresiewicz, it is possible that civilization has wired the best and brightest brains of the generation to be unable to join the artifex.
51. When a society is lacking in creativity (and especially when colleges have a monopoly on credentials, as discussed in “Innovating Credentials” by O.G. Rose), it is probable that programs like Affirmative Action will be controversial. This is because when a society lacks creativity, much of its hopes for succeeding rest in succeeding in college and/or following the prescribed course set by the society, and when people feel as if they are denied access to college because of their race, they can become resentful. With creativity though, as it is with unemployment, the denied individual — not that it is necessarily easy — adapts and makes his or her own way.
52. America, at least in the past, has been the most creative nation in history. Yet Americans aren’t smarter than other peoples; in fact, they might be stupider. The difference is that America creates an environment in which creativity and the artifex class can flourish. Immigrants who come to America who “weren’t creative” in their home countries can suddenly become business leaders in America. It is not their intelligence that changes, but their environment: they come to a place of liberty where they can self-organize.
52.1 Following Deirdre McCloskey, the rate that the standard of living has increased for the entire world over the last three centuries outpaces every period that came before it. Computers, cars, airplanes, etc. all were invented in America and then distributed to the rest of the world, benefiting the globe. Before America, thousands of years passed with only moderate technological advancement. This isn’t to say there weren’t major inventions, only not as many or as frequently. America has single-handedly raised the quality of life for the world because its societal structure incubates an artifex class. However, in such an environment, we must keep in mind the warnings of men like Neil Postman: not everything technology does is good.
52.2 Errors in Capitalism are contained and solutions distributed, while both errors and solutions in Central Planning are dispersed. Through time, therefore, it is probable that Capitalism prevails. Perhaps Central Planning may leap ahead of Capitalism, like the hare racing the tortoise, in the end, the tortoise still wins.
53. If it is true that, anthropologically, humans are creative, a teleological, social ethic, as Aristotle would have it, can be established. Since government and law cannot decree that people be creative or how they should do so, and since creativity thrives in freedom, it is then just for government and society to increase freedom as much as possible. A truly free society, then, is a just one. Also, if human nature is creative, then it is human nature to define the purpose of this creativity. Consequently, humans aren’t bound by their natures, and the nature of humanity is liberty from nature. This being the case, if humanity is anthropologically and ontologically creative, liberal morality and teleological morality blend in creative acts.
53.1 Nikolai Berdyaev deserves wider recognition; to this point, if humans are indeed anthropologically and ontologically creative, Berdyaev may help us understand how “the creative act” can help us overcome the alienation Marx warns us about. According to Berdyaev, humans are “beings of freedom,” so where freedom is lacking, humans aren’t what they are: to remove freedom is to remove being. In creative acts, humans make their freedom and “being meaningful’ to them, for the creative act is the most individual act — only we can create what we can create. A sociopolitical order that reduces freedom alienates individuals, but so does one in which people are not free to be creative and thus make their “being of freedom” meaningful to them.
According to Marx, under Capitalism, ‘[t]he worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion the devaluation of the world of men.’A The more work people do, the less value people have; the more hours people clock in, the more alienated they will feel. ‘The alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labor becomes an object, an external existence, but that it exists outside him, independently, as something alien to him, and that it becomes a power of its own confronting him […]’B Consequently, ‘[t]he worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself’.C
Not all work has to alienate though: there is freedom in creativity. “Creative acts,” to use Berdyaev’s phrase, increases the external world with the internal world of men — it’s a “non-zero-sum gain.” Marx believed the way to bring about a ‘transcendence of human self-estrangement’ was through Communism, by the ‘return of man to himself as a social being.’D Marx saw humans ‘just as much [a] totality’ as they were ‘particular individual[s],’ and that the reorientation of humans as social beings would bring about freedom from alienation.E Berdyaev disagreed, and saw the solution in a return to Christ and engagement in creation. Berdyaev believed both Capitalism and Communism treated humans as purely materialistic beings, and so neither could “return people to themselves,” for both failed to treat humans for what they were: material and spiritual. Whether we disagree with Berdyaev on this theological point, it should be noted that Berdyaev believed creativity played a crucial role in making human’s material/spiritual ontologically meaningful to themselves.
As Marx believed money ‘reduce[d] everything to its abstract form’ — to be valued in terms of monetary value alone — rendering everything ‘merely quantitative,’ so Berdyaev believed was ultimately the fate of civilization without creativity (and thus a meaningful sense of the divine): humans inevitably came to think of everything in terms of numbers, efficiency, monetary value — mere materialism dominated.F Marx believed ‘[m]oney abase[d] all the gods of mankind and change[d] them into commodities […] depriv[ing] the whole world, both the human world and nature, of their own proper value.’G, H Berdyaev believed the problem was more so materialism, regardless if Capitalistic or Communistic, and even warned that Christianity lacking creativity — a reminder of God’s work in the world — would likely become materialistic itself (it should be noted that he was critical of all philosophical and theological thought that was trying to become scientific and hence “present oriented” and lacking “creativeness”).
Made in the image of God, God being a Creator, Berdyaev didn’t believe humans could be fully and freely themselves — reflections of God — unless they were creative. Indeed, Berdyaev agreed with Marx that what humans made reflected their essence — ‘[e]verything external, material, everything of the object, is only a symbol of what is taking place in the depth of the spirit, in man’ — and that if humans weren’t working creatively, they were suffering alienation, but Berdyaev disagreed on the solution.I Creativity was the answer, both artistic and sexual (the two of which Berdyaev saw as deeply linked, claiming ‘[a]ll true genius [was] erotic’): where there was creativity, there was a desire to change society, but without violence: there was “glorious revolution,” per se.J ‘Nothing but man’s liberation from himself will bring man to himself,’ and only in creativity could humans achieve self-transcendence — joining some social totality wasn’t enough.K
Marx believed God contributed to alienation — he wrote ‘[t]he more man puts into God, the less he retains of himself’ — while Berdyaev believed the exact opposite — the more humanity put into God, the more humanity retained itself.L And for Beryaev, the way humanity “put into God” was through creative acts, for creativity ‘strives toward the transcendent, towards passing beyond the borders of the given world,’ let alone ‘human self-estrangement.’M ‘Creative life is life eternal and not life corruptible.’N
‘The less you are, the more you have,’ Marx claimed, ‘the less you express your own life, the greater is your alienated life.’O For Berdyaev, the less you create, the less you are, and creation is the only way to “express your own life” (which for Berdyaev was only possible thanks to Christ). ‘Money is the alienated ability of mankind,’ Marx admonished; for Berdyaev, all uncreative acts were “alienated abilities.”P Berdyaev saw creativity as the only way to true change; the kind of revolution Marx wanted to bring about was seen by him as ‘psychologically reactionary […] a reaction against the old, without creating something new.’Q Without creativity, to Berdyaev, revolution could only be a circle; revolution could only conserve.
AThe Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978: 71.
BThe Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978: 72.
CThe Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978: 74.
DThe Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978: 84.
EThe Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978: 86.
FThe Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978: 93.
GThe Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978: 50.
HIt is possible that Ayn Rand’s “money speech” by Francisco d’Anconia was in response to these claims by Marx.
IBerdyaev, Nicolas. The Meaning of the Creative Act. Semantron Press, 2009: 20.
JBerdyaev, Nicolas. The Meaning of the Creative Act. Semantron Press, 2009: 201.
KBerdyaev, Nicolas. The Meaning of the Creative Act. Semantron Press, 2009: 13.
LThe Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978: 72.
MBerdyaev, Nicolas. The Meaning of the Creative Act. Semantron Press, 2009: 36.
NBerdyaev, Nicolas. The Meaning of the Creative Act. Semantron Press, 2009: 165.
OThe Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978: 96.
PThe Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978: 104.
QBerdyaev, Nicolas. The Meaning of the Creative Act. Semantron Press, 2009: 280.
54. When larger businesses come to a community, it is argued that they bankrupt small businesses and destroy the community’s culture. This equates culture to small businesses, when in fact culture, more essentially, is creativity. Yet it isn’t so much the closing down of small businesses that causes the end of culture, but the loss of creativity, which can occur simultaneously with the arising of big business. Not because big business destroys creativity, but because as the economy grows, there is less emphasis on, if not antagonism toward, creativity. As creativity drops, so goes both wealth and culture (which seem inseparable).
54.1 If the culture of typewriters was still around, the world wouldn’t necessarily be a better place. Culture isn’t an inherent good, though life without culture hardly lives.
55. Our behavior changes our ideas more often than our ideas change our behavior (to borrow from Peter Selby). This means that society will probably not understand the importance of creativity (and what exactly creativity is) until it itself starts being creative. A leap of faith might be necessary, which the society will see no reason to take (and, being uncreative, lack the imagination to envision and conceptualize). Unfortunately, this is often why society doesn’t appreciate creativity until after an implosion of the material dialectic and/or economic collapse, which then forces the society to consider new ways of doing things. Creativity tends to follow destruction, not because such is fated, but because humans more often react than prevent.
56. Steven Levitt in his TED Talk “The Freakonomics of McDonalds Vs. Drugs,” perhaps offers an insight into what Capitalism devolves into without a strong and growing artifex class.
57. If creativity emerges from the subconscious mind more so than the conscious mind, this suggests that humans are anthropologically creative.
58. To reference the thought of Steve Keen, Joseph Schumpeter, and Hyman Minsky, Capitalistic societies are inherently unstable. When they achieve supposed “states of equilibrium” and/or tranquility, the societies forget about the last crisis and begin speculating again, resulting in another crisis. The success of Capitalism inevitably leads to times of excessive debt and destabilization. Instability is an inescapable dimension of the system.
Along with this, Capitalism is unstable because Capitalism is driven by creativity, and creativity is organic and unpredictable. Creativity is a stabilizing instability that balances the destabilizing stability of Capitalism. Capitalistic stability occurs when this instability is prevalent, and Capitalistic stability destabilizes when this instability is absent. Creativity is Capitalism’s necessarily instability: the structural and the organic require one another. Creativity, which occurs on the level of micro-economics, changes socioeconomic environments, which are on the level of macro-economics. What needs to be created is relative to these environments, so as environments change because of creativity, the goals of creativity also change. Creativity recreates creativity. Consequently, there is a constant instability between micro- and macro-economics.
Furthermore, during times of tranquility and Capitalistic success, the creative can be chastised. They are frowned upon, for example, by parents and friends for being impractical, weird, and not pursuing stable lifestyles. Arts and humanities graduates are scoffed at, entrepreneurs branded as dreamers, writers deemed fools — the list goes on. When the economy begins to fail and people realize they have no choice but to create jobs for themselves, entrepreneurship and creativity can make a comeback, but usually not before then. Before then, creativity is turned on in the name of economic stability, which can ironically cause economic instability. Unfortunately, rather than restore creativity, societies tend to turn to the financial sector to cover (but not fill) the hole of a missing artifex with debt. When the artifex class shrinks, societies tend to grow the financial sector to replace it.
Debt and speculation rise during times of tranquility while creativity falls. Though correlation don’t necessitate causation, there seems to be a relationship between debt and creativity. It could be the case that as creativity falls and instability increases, the society turns to debt and speculation to stabilize it and to artificially create wealth. It could be that the society becomes materialistic and turns to speculation regardless, and that creativity cannot keep up.
It seems that the instability caused in tranquility leads either/both to speculation and/or creativity. During times of stability, it seems that it will be possible to finance debts in the future, and since debt is easy and creativity hard, it is likely that a society tends toward speculation versus creativity. As creativity drops, the society must rely more on debt to make up for (and hide) the loss of wealth creation. The shrinkage of the artifex class seems to cause, or at least accelerate, the transformation of Capitalism into a Creditism and/or Banktocracy.
Not all instabilities are equal, and while the instability of creativity leads to wealth creation, the instability of debt leads to booms and busts. Capitalism, being a dynamic system, requires some instability at its center to drive it, and either the instability of debt or the instability of creativity will do. Both can exist in a system at the same time, but they’re not identical. Debt from financial sectors must be backed ultimately by the creation of wealth to keep from imploding: the instability of debt needs the instability of creativity to maintain stability. Unfortunately, because creativity, in its nature, is unstable, and because the society tends to turn against it during good times, to Minsky’s point, stability seems to destabilize.
58.1 Another reason Capitalism might be inherently unstable is because wealth production is usually driven by (creativity through) science and engineering, which can cause a positivistic and materialistic worldview to spread. Creativity, by its nature, cannot entirely fit into the parameters of scientific verification and method, and its unstructured nature stands in contrast with rigid science. Since during times of tranquility stability is valued, science, in being stable, can come to be valued at the top of a social and academic hierarchy. As a result, due to social pressures, the artifex class can shrink, the material dialectic break down, and instability rise.
58.2 Because creativity is disregarded during times of tranquility, and because creativity, which drives wealth creation, is innately unstable, Keen, Schumpeter, and Minsky are right to assert that Capitalism is inherently unstable. That said, keep in mind that “stability” and “equilibrium” are associated with “good,” while “instability” and “unpredictability” are associated with “bad” because of societal values, not because stability is actually superior to instability. To say, “Capitalism is inherently unstable” isn’t to say “Capitalism is bad,” as to say “creativity is organic” isn’t to say “creativity should be done away with.” The statement simply reflects the nature of Capitalism, which arguably is no different than the nature of life (which is unpredictable and unquantifiable). Stability isn’t a virtue, but simply a state of things, as is instability.
58.3 Arguably, it is not inevitable that, during a period of tranquility, a Capitalistic society disregards creativity and causes the artifex class to shrink, and so perhaps Capitalism isn’t inherently unstable (though it might have instability driving it at its core). However, it can at least be said that it is inevitable that social pressures against creativity increase, and so likely that the artifex class shrinks. The very fact that this tension is inevitable could be said to verify that instability is unavoidable.
58.4 If creativity remains constant and grows, there will be a creation of new wealth to back up debt and speculation amassed during tranquility, and so instability will be avoided. Unless, that is, speculation greatly exceeds wealth creation, which is very possible, if not likely. However, in a truly creative society, since a creative individual tends not to be a materialistic individual, desiring to steer most if not all efforts and purchases toward projects, lasting debt and speculation may have little soil to take root in.
58.5 In line with Hayek, a society must create an environment in which “stable instabilities” can freely flow and self-organize. Equilibrium occurs when creative, unstable, and unpredictable forces push against one another, resulting in a balanced tension which drives “creative competition” (as has already been described). This can only happen in a free environment, while controlled systems stifle creativity.
58.6 “Instability” must be the finding or conclusion of any model that accurately depicts a self-organizing system, not because the system itself is necessarily unstable, but because the model cannot handle it. Models are not economies.
58.7 Arguably, instability is more frightening than stability, but it cannot be said that stability is superior if it never forces individuals to overcome their fears. In fact, the opposite could be argued.
58.8 There is a need for a distinction between “production” and “creation.” “Creation” is the making of novelties; “production,” the reproduction of once-novelties. Creation, not production, drives the market.
58.9 Debt that can be paid off by production isn’t as much a problem as is debt that can only be paid off by creation.
59. Public debt keeps private debt from collapsing. Yet, public debt can cause a bond market crisis and threaten the value of the currency. Both public and private debts are problems in their own right. Both are addressed not by increasing debt, but by increasing creativity (though this isn’t to say debt cannot fund creativity).
60. The Efficient Market Theorem may only be true when the market is creative. Likewise, government stabilizes, but this stabilization is sustainable only to the degree that creativity arises to back it.
61. The economy is optimally a balanced environment in which creativity can emerge and flourish. Variables like inflation, public debt, etc. should be judged against the degree they will enable creativity rather than grow the economy by themselves (for all such growth is temporary and unsustainable).
62. The market is “rational” insomuch as it is creative, for the creative person predicts the future insomuch as he or she creates it.
63. Determining if one car is more valuable than another is much more difficult than determining if a car is more valuable than a horse (though that isn’t to say horses are bad, keeping in mind that “value” is relative to “end”). New technologies are easier to value against present technologies than present technologies against one another. This is both true in deciding if a new technology “adds value” or if it “doesn’t add value”: naturally having an attachment to “what we are used to,” we will only change our ways if the new alternative is “significantly better” than what we already have (which is relative to the individual).
When creativity is plentiful and so technological advancement abundant, it is easier for the market to be rational in a way that is actually valuable. Creativity aids rationality. Without creativity and a growing artifex, the efficiency of the market will drop
63.1 Even if the market is rational, that doesn’t necessarily mean the premises which the market is rational “relative to” are true premises. Financial crises make it clear that, even if the market is always rational, the market it isn’t always right (however, this doesn’t mean that the free market isn’t “good” and/or “the best system,” which is a different question). Creativity is a better driver of “efficient markets” than rationality without it.
64. If Capitalism is unstable, it is inevitable that Capitalism leads to totalitarianism either because freedom is lost down a “road to serfdom” or because the market collapses. Capitalism is unstable without creativity and will inevitably fail; however, if creativity stays high, this unstable environment in which creativity is possible will hold together. Things will not fall apart — the center will hold.
65. Lord Keynes concluded that Capitalism has no economic safety nets. This is true in a sense, yet if human nature is creative, then perhaps the system has a “recovering mechanism” embedded into it insomuch as people participate in it who have a “creative nature” embedded into them. The system, in of itself, is unstable, because the system is creative people. With people, there are no guarantees: one day they are like gods; the next, monsters.
65.1 The “recovery mechanism” of Capitalism is creativity, and perhaps this is a reason artists are associated with starving.
65.2 Unstable, creativity sets the bar of equilibrium higher and higher.
65.3 Sometimes, the horror of their deeds can bring out the divinity in people.
65.4 Keynes concluded that Capitalism had no automatic safety nets. Since Capitalism’s “fail-safes” are the reactions of organic people, the very act of looking for safety nets (and so “thinking” about them, in concordance with “On Thinking and Perceiving”) results in individuals being unable to see them. The opening of a seed to observe its mechanics, even when in hopes of learning how to help it grow, kills it.
66. Like Democracy, the greatest threat to Capitalism is success. When successful, people become complacent and lost in short-term goals and benefits. Consequently, problems arise which must be addressed. People, in solving problems, then create new problems to be solved; hence, the system is self-motivated. Since both are “stably unstable,” Democracy and Capitalism seem fitting for one another. The worst combination with one of these is either a government or economy that requires more steering: this throws off the self-motivated process. Of course, this means a main drive of the system is failure and mistake. Ironically, therefore, governmental or economic models that try to solve problems, rather than let people solve them, beget the larger problem of a broken system. In trying to solve problems, they can expand them.
67. Imagination threatens our way of life.
68. Where there is no demand, there is no economy. Demand manifests through spending, which is a means by which a person achieves the end he or she demands. If a man lacks a house, his “demand” manifests through his spending to purchase a house. If there was no demand, there would be no spending, and so no economy.
If there was no lack, there would be no demand, but since humans are not gods, there will always be some kind of lack. Hence, there will always be an economy. However, as basic needs are met and as problems are overcome, there will be less and less “lack” and so less and less demand. This will result in a reduction of spending and production, which will hurt the economy. Ironically, the more successful the economy, the more the economy can fail.
Unless the nature of demand changes, that is. Demand most typically manifests either because a person has a problem he or she needs solved or because a person wants something that he or she doesn’t have. Yet demand driven by problems or lack, as the economy advances, is demand that will shrink. Fortunately, there is demand driven by creativity, which is infinite.
The creativity of one person can never be the creativity of another: it is profoundly individualistic. Humans will always lack the creativity of one another, considering creativity is the manifestation of a person’s “one-of-one-ness.” Hence, because there is creativity, there can always be demand. However, that assumes the presence of creativity; in a society where creativity is lacking, infinite demand will also be lacking, and so a paradoxical economy — one that succeeds “toward” failure — will be present (at least in the sectors lacking or law in creativity).
68.1 Creativity, often considered economically impractical, is economically necessary. Without it, demand cannot last.
68.2 Demand driven by problems or lack, as the economy advances, is demand that will shrink. To revitalize demand, the government may reduce the spending power of the currency, doing so by putting money in people’s pockets through various means of stimulus that simultaneously makes saving the money illogical. Though this may revitalize demand for the short term and “buy time” for creativity to be incubated, if creativity does not emerge, this stimulus will not, in the long run, work. This isn’t to say stimulus can’t work, but that it can only work to the degree it stimulates the artifex.
In the act of spending, “spending” and “demand” conflate, but the reasons one demands and spends vary. A person who spends to address a need or to invest is not the same as a person who spends because he wants to use his money before it loses value; the person who already has a demand is different from the person who looks for one. The second person is less likely to spend his money “well” — he is more likely to simply spend than he is to spend/invest — and so his money is less likely to benefit the economy as much as it could.
All demand requires spending, but not all spending requires (real) demand (though, in the act of spending, the difference between “real demand” and “demand” cannot be determined). One can spend and not really want something; they can spend because they force themselves to want something (because their money is losing value). In a sense, demand can be inflated as can money; by inflating money, the government can create demand that isn’t there. Not all demand is good; when demand is toward spending at the expense of investment, demand drives a paradoxical economy in which success and failure become two-sides of the same coin (as already discussed). Demand isn’t an inherent good — it depends on what is demanded — and acts that stimulate demand toward spending over investment are detrimental. However, stimulations which orientate demand to growing the artifex are beneficial.
68.3 All investment is spending, but not all spending is investment; conflating “spending” and “investment” has been an unfortunate mistake. Yes, investment needs spending to function, as the artifex needs the material dialectic “within itself” (via sublation), but when spending replaces or passes investment, spending fails (as the material dialectic self-destructs).
Perhaps causing the conflation of “spending” and “investment” is the idea that all spending is someone’s income. Though this is the case, the income of a bartender does not affect the socioeconomic order the same way as does the income of an inventor. When an inventor makes money, more technology may be invented, expanding the artifex and keeping the material dialectic from collapsing. On the other hand, when a bartender makes money, his livelihood is maintained, but he doesn’t necessarily help the material dialectic avoid self-destruction. This isn’t to say bartenders shouldn’t make money, only that all incomes are not equal. And lastly, if everyone were to spend their money at a bar, though all the spending would be the bartender’s income, this would not be good for the economy. The spending has to go “toward” investment (by being the income of an artifexians, etc.), and though all spending might be income and though all income might be beneficial to the one receiving it, not all income grows the artifex. Of course, the income of a bartender may eventually end up, through his spending, in the hands of an artifexian, but this will not be as efficient and guaranteed as a more direct route (which is increasingly probable as increases the “thoughtfulness” of the spender, which may decrease as stimulus increases) (on this point, consider the work of Hayek). Furthermore, the artifexian might be out of business before the bartender gets his income to him, having already run out of money.
68.4 Though one would still have to determine the best rate to spend money so that the economy could most efficiently absorb it, if spending a dollar always resulted in the creation of a dollar or two dollars worth of wealth, spending would always be beneficial or, at the very worst, neutral (which, this being the worst that could happen, would make spending always rational, since, through time, probability would have value inevitably emerge). And for spending which “is” investment, this is indeed the case, but not all spending “is” investment. The question then emerges: which spending is more likely to be investment? Spending by the State or spending by the society?
68.5 Though all spending is someone’s income, not all spending solves problems and/or increases the quality of life. Economies exist primarily to solve problems; providing jobs “spills out” from this function. Spending which only provides jobs but doesn’t increase the artifex is spending that, though addressing problems within the material dialectic, does not simultaneously address the problem of the material dialectic itself. Spending may provide someone income to address present expenses, but investment does this as well as contribute to addressing future concerns.
68.6 Spending that results in creativity is good, even creativity that fails, for all creative spending at least contributes to an atmospheric incubator of creativity and the artifex (if for no more reason than tearing down the societal pressures against being creative).
69. Creativity is incredibly valuable: a single invention, like the car, can create enough wealth to finance jobs for a hundred years. The power of creativity is immense, and a little bit goes a long way. Even if there is only one Steve Jobs in the entire world, Apple can still change everything. Unfortunately, this being the case, the amount of creativity present in a society can seem more pervasive than it actually is: the artifex class can be shrinking and the society have the delusion that the artifex is not just stable but growing. It is in creativity’s nature to conceal its erosion: creativity catches itself off-guard.
70. It is not demand that creates wealth but creativity. Demand is directed toward wealth that already exists, while creativity is directed toward making exist what currently doesn’t exist. Creativity expands the parameters in which demand operates. Creativity grows Capitalism beyond itself, while demand keeps it growing within itself. Both are necessary, but a tree that stays alive but doesn’t grow taller ages,
71. Tradition might be to creativity what memory is to consciousness.
72. Is it necessary to increase the standard of living? Though always economically beneficial, on a personal level, that is a subjective question. That said, it is, by definition, always good to increase the quality of a person’s life relative to the values of the person for whom the increase occurs. How often this needs to occur is again a subjective question, but, by definition, it is always good when it occurs. Therefore, the more it happens, the better.
73. It is important that the economy becomes ecologically sustainable, but it is also important that we do not cause a “French Revolution” to achieve that end. When faced with a crisis, we are always urged to do something immediately, but racing forward, even when to save the world, can make matters worse. To save our environment, we must grow and expand the artifex; after all, it seems a keyway we will save our environment without destroying our societies is through technology and creativity. A quick glance through World Changing by Alex Steffen gives one a sense of how artifexians can solve our environmental problems. The more creativity in the system, the quicker and more brilliantly our environment can be saved. It is tempting to use legislation, but legislation can hinder creativity and lower the quality of life, trading our problems for new ones. Though legislation may treat symptoms, creativity treats causes.
It is tempting to blame Capitalism for our environmental problems, and there are grounds for this critique. The paradigm “economics is the distribution of limited resources” versus “economics is the creation of limited resources” has had a heavy price. That said, Capitalism is the system in which the artifex can be incubated; if it isn’t, it isn’t so much Capitalism’s fault as it the fault of those in the system. Furthermore, Capitalism has phases, and the phases of the past must be overcome by the phases of the future. When we are a child, it is necessary that we be, to some degree, dependent on our parents to survive; as we get older though, it is necessary that we learn not to be so dependent. What helped us survive in the past is the very thing we must overcome to thrive in the future. Likewise, the technologies that enabled Capitalist nations to prosper are the very technologies we need new technologies to evolve out from; otherwise, our development will stagnant. Creativity keeps the evolution going, and where it drives up, Capitalism devolves.
74. If creativity is high, monetary and fiscal policy both become secondary. If there is too much inflation in the system, creativity will eventually catch up to it; if there is too little, creativity will bring prices down. The “boom and bust”-cycle becomes a much smoother, cyclical process, defined not so much by there being too much or too little spending or saving, but by the catching up of money to creativity and/or the catching up of creativity to money. High creativity smooths out the curves upwardly.
75. According to Hayek, a function of prices is to coordinate the distribution of resources. He argues that the free market is more efficient at distributing wealth than government, and that government involvement causes inaccurate pricing, throwing off the process of distribution. If this is true, according to Hayek, a free market might be the most efficient way to realize John Rawls’ desire for a society that is “just” because it is “fair” (which Rawls argues for through his “veil of ignorance” hypothetical).
That said, if a free market lacks creativity, alienation and the material dialectic might render price mechanisms worthless. Therefore, in order for price mechanisms to fulfill their function, a society should be creative. Prices alone, though they may efficiently distribute resources, cannot create wealth.
76. Social entrepreneurship can make us believe that the more we consume, the more we alleviate poverty. Creativity, on the other hand, in providing something to consume, provides solutions to poverty.
77. The question of whether Capitalism inevitably devolves into a Banktocracy — similar to the question of whether Marxism inevitably devolves into Leninism — depends on whether or not it is inevitable that government expands (ironically). If it is inevitable that government grows, because it is inevitable that business corrupt (and then cheat through) a large government, it is inevitable that Capitalism, like Marxism, fails. If this is the case, at the very least, creativity and an expanding artifex class could delay this inevitable spoiling.
78. Creativity necessitates freedom, but freedom doesn’t necessitate creativity. It is not freedom that primarily defines Capitalism from Communism, in my view, but creativity, which entails freedom. The focus on “freedom” by Capitalists versus “creativity” has resulted in confusion and inefficiency in regard to policies and purpose. Freedom without action is empty, while freedom with action can be world-changing. Furthermore, it is not freedom that results in wealth, though it is the environment in which wealth/creativity arises; rather, it is creativity. By focusing on freedom over creativity, Capitalists have overlooked what makes Capitalism so great. This is an easy mistake, seeing that freedom is so appealing in its own right, but by “putting seconds things first and first things second” (as C.S. Lewis would put it), Capitalists have failed to show a complete picture of Capitalism or present clearly why Capitalism is good for societies.
79. To address Antifragile by Nassim Taleb, humans are made creative by disorder: disorder begets artifexians. Much of creativity emerges through cross-pollination across disciplines, encountering the unpredictable, being outside of one’s comfort zone, etc. Without disorder, there is no incubator for creativity; consequently, there is no artifex, and the economy self-destructs.
Humans and societies need volatile environments; otherwise, humans weaken. If humans spend all their time in room temperate, other temperatures more easily harm them, as a child that is never exposed to bacteria is more prone to get sick. Disorder strengthens, as trial and error order benefits. Unfortunately, the benefits of disorder are undividable from its downfalls, as trial and error, by definition, requires error.
Humans evolve through suffering, yet don’t want to suffer: what evolves is averse to evolution. This irony is common: often humans want an end without the means. We want money without working, championships without practice, and treasures without searching. Before our modern age, though humans didn’t want to suffer, they didn’t readily have the technology or intelligence to create environments that shielded them from it. Never before has humanity been able to protect itself from the volatility which strengthens it. Until now, stability and comfort were never so realizable temptations.
As humans are prone to fall victim to short-term gratification over long-term success, humans are prone to fashion stability over volatility. Furthermore, it seems irrational to prefer the volatile, seeing how comfortable and pleasant stability feels. Considering this, what is rational is not always beneficial: to say, “the market is rational” doesn’t always mean “the market is good.”
As humans create more stable environments, they not only make themselves more fragile, but also less creative. Creativity is to uncertainty what smoke is to fire. Where there is a lack of stability, the fragile — those reliant on predictability and stability — will likely break, and the antifragile — the creative, the entrepreneurial, the artifexian — will emerge and thrive. The robust will maintain their trajectory. Considering this, in uncertainty (which is ultimately unavoidable in an imperfect world), a fragile system, like a fragile people, loses a lot and gains little, the robust loses and gains about the same, and the antifragile gain a lot and lose little.
A creative system is an antifragile system, and a society with a large artifex class is a society that benefits from (inevitable and natural) uncertainty and volatility. Furthermore, an artifex society is one that has a lot to gain and little to lose. As it is rational to be antifragile, it is rational to be artifexian. To be creative is to be antifragile, and so it is to ultimately be rational, though comfort and stability feel rational. Uncertainty and volatility are inevitable in an imperfect world, especially one that is increasingly complex. Hence, to be creative is to be ready for the inevitable; in other words, to be creative is to be practical.
79.1 In a sense, the robust serve as the basis from which the artifexian can spring off from, while the fragile are the ones who eventually fall away. In other words, the robust maintain wealth, the antifragile create wealth, and the fragile lose it. Keep in mind that, though antifragility entails robustness, robustness doesn’t necessarily entail antifragility.
Without antifragility, when uncertainty occurs, not only can a society not benefit creatively from it, but the society can only survive to the degree it is robust. Without robustness, unpredictability breaks it.
Finally, though the event that breaks a society cannot be predicted, its fragility can be measured by how much its size exceeds its artifex class.
79.2 A free market is where disorder and chaos are not prevented by an over-arching manager of any kind. It is a system where the fragile ultimately break, the robust survive, and the antifragile thrive. It is a system where those who are antifragile blossom to the benefit of all, and where the fragile collapse before becoming “too big to fail.”
79.3 To borrow an example from The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, if a turkey is fed for a year and then killed before Thanksgiving, the turkey, unfortunately, lives a pretty good life (and may die before realizing anything bad happened). Likewise, the lifestyle that makes a person fragile is, unfortunately, enjoyable, and the lifestyle that makes one antifragile is, unfortunately, uncomfortable (and so seemingly irrational). Though there is much downside to fragility and little upside, temptation, feeling, and “emotional judgment” are “toward” consistency, comfort, and fragility. The more humans can control their environments (ironically thanks to creativity and antifragility), the more short-term rationality and emotion will drive humans to make themselves fragile, all while making themselves feel increasingly less fragile. Furthermore, the more humans benefit from creativity and antifragility, the less they feel a need to value them. Human nature is “toward” fragility, and even uses antifragility “toward” that end.
79.4 A society that equates wealth to stability is a society that, in becoming wealthier, will probably become less antifragile. If such a society undergoes a “black swan”-event, the unpredictability and turmoil the society undergoes, rather than make it stronger, will possibly destroy it. Furthermore, the wealthier such a society becomes, the less antifragile it will probably be, and the more the creativity it does have will be used to create stability (or “wealth”) and for selling products that stabilize environments, further accelerating the loss of creativity.
Ironically, humans must create companies and products that are profitable and efficient, but not comforting and stabilizing in a manner that ruins creativity. Grasping this may take a shift in the society’s philosophy and values.
79.5 We cannot predict what will break a cup, though we can tell how fragile it is; likewise, we cannot predict what will devastate a society, though we can predict how likely it is to undergo self-destruction by the amount of creativity and antifragility in the system. All this being the case, when it came to letting the banks fail in 2008 and considering how America has moralized stability and established an uncreative education system, had the government let the collapse occur, America probably would have been too fragile to handle the shock.
Unfortunately, since 2008, I believe American has become increasingly fragile, and fundamentals seem weaker than ever before. However, on the upside, there has been a renewed interest in entrepreneurship (perhaps in reaction to the lack of employment). Furthermore, perhaps to be optimistic, the greater the collapse and destabilization, the more the antifragile growth from it (assuming it doesn’t kill us); hence, if another financial crisis occurs, even if there is little antifragility in the system, the antifragility present might benefit tremendously from it.
Ironically, there is an advantage to a bad economy, especially in a country where stability and comfort are moralized as wealth. Disorder breeds creativity. Likewise, the more debt a nation has, the more fragile it becomes and the more destabilizing the “black swan” when it occurs; consequently, the more the event strengthens the antifragile. Furthermore, a bad education system (if it doesn’t totally demoralize them) can motivate the antifragile and creative to become more artifexian. This doesn’t mean that it is good to have inefficient systems (for it is possible to have both wealth creation and a strong artifex), only that thunderheads have silver linings.
Furthermore, there can be a sort of disadvantage to creativity that arises inspired by, and in, bad systems. This creativity can be geared “toward” stabilizing the disorderly system and hence effacing the environment that incubated the creativity (and that the creativity might be reliant on, perhaps for inspiration). Creativity that emerges during good times has a chance of being more “pure,” per se, and less reactionary. This makes the creativity stable, in a good and true sense. Ultimately, humans must be antifragile during good and bad times. They cannot be reactionary, but this requires incredible character to avoid. Otherwise, creativity creates its grave, and to be human is to be ironic. Hopefully, knowledge can help us, but to what degree knowledge about human nature can change it is unknown to me.
79.6 To be an Austrian is to not intervene to stop collapses and to pray there is creativity in the system, while to be a Keynesian is, in a sense, to accept the loss of creativity. Considering America’s lack of creativity, does that mean it was right to bail out the banks in 2008? Banks have fundamentally shifted American Capitalism to a structurally different phenomenon (which I call a Banktocracy), and had the banks been allowed to collapse, it is possible that the collapse would have shattered the entire socioeconomic system. It is hard to say whether or not this would have, in the long run, been a good thing.
To take up debt is to buy time for creativity to create wealth. Debt that fuels spending maintains the status quo or worsens the problem, but spending that gives rise to investment and creativity prospers. Without creativity, ultimately, it won’t matter if a country is Keynesian or Austrian; in the end, the population growth will exceed the creation of wealth, and the standard of living will plummet. Monetary and fiscal policy can’t make a country prosperous, because neither monetary nor fiscal policy are creative in of themselves.
Monetary and fiscal policy can establish an environment that incubates creativity and/or buys time for creativity to flourish, but nothing more. To be an Austrian is to create an environment for creativity, while to be a Keynesian is to buy time for its development. Ironically, Keynesian can simultaneously create an anti-creative environment by making the socioeconomic order fragile, rendering Keynesianism counter-productive. Keynesianism, which spends to unleash investment, in that very act, can replace investment with spending.
However, theoretically, if creativity grew in Keynesianism, Keynesianism would work. Keynesianism succeeds if creativity (or wealth creation) eventually backs the stimulus spending, but, paradoxically, the act of spending itself can result in a decline in creativity and increase in system fragility, making it unlikely, though not impossible, that this backing occurs. On the other side of the debate, though Austrianism doesn’t inhibit creativity, if there is no creativity in the system, Austrianism still fails. Though the free market, as Austrianism preaches, incubates creativity, it isn’t guaranteed that creativity will be present (which can be influenced by everything from family values, social biases, religious convictions, and other, unpredictable variables). The free market doesn’t work by default, only if humans are creative (however, it might be the case that the lack of creativity may force individuals to become creative in order to survive, which will mean the free market entails a sort of failsafe). Furthermore, if the powers that be do not intervene and stimulate the economy, without creativity, all the savings of the citizenship will be dried up as the market declines (as Keynes warned), making it so that no one can take advantage of the lower prices once the market reaches bottom. Then, without creativity, once the market bottoms out, it won’t climb back up, not, at least, until creativity reemerges (which cannot occur if the plummet proves fatal).
Keynesianism works that funds creativity without infringing upon Austrianism, per se, and which doesn’t efface the creative incubator; however, this sort of ideal Keynesianism may not totally exist, if even in spurts. To the degree Keynesian spending results in artifexian investment is to the degree Keynesianism works, and to the degree it reduces the artifex and makes the system fragile is to the degree it fails. Pinpointing where the line is that divides these two sides of Keynesianism though might lie beyond the realm of intelligibility (as Hayek might warn). Furthermore, fatally, if a Keynesian model is followed long enough (perhaps to give intellectuals the time to “pinpoint” the noted line), the system will be made fragile and antifragility will vanish. Then, when interest rates begin to rise and spending must be cut, there might be no creativity to produce wealth, and hence the economic catastrophe the spending attempted to avoid will resume (perhaps worse than ever). Hence, overall, Austrianism seems better (though a time can come when it is no longer a realistic possibility), for it does not readily seek to prevent “stress tests” to the system, helping combat the development of fragility. On the other, to cut spending when there isn’t any antifragility in the system to pick up the slack can still be fatal, so the answer is not a simple “return to Austrianism.” In my mind, the question of spending versus saving (as with the question of government intervention versus leaving the free market alone) is not as important as the question of whether or not creativity is present (not that this is easy to determine). The main issue must maintain the primacy of our focus.
In Austrianism, there are supposed to be no Fatal Depressions, only (small, mild, large, etc.) collapses — there is suffering but no Apocalypse. In Keynesianism, where collapses are prevented and so larger collapses made possible, Fatal Depressions are possible but never supposed to manifest. Their very possibility though keeps Austrians perpetually nervous, and rightly so, for surely everything fragile must eventually break (though perhaps not for a hundred years, the Keynesian could reply, or perhaps not at all if “debt deterrence” is strong enough). Furthermore, if Keynesianism is followed for a long time and then a nation switches to Austrianism, this can cause a Fatal Depression (especially if there is no creativity and/or antifragility in the system), another point that could upset the Austrian, believing the board is stacked in favor of the Keynesian.
If Keynesianism does in fact cause fragility by avoiding “stress tests,” which makes possible a Fatal Depression while simultaneously drying up antifragility, then when antifragility is needed most, it probably won’t be present. Austrianism, if it follows years of Keynesianism, will be a return to an environment that incubates creativity, but after so many years of making the system fragile, that switch could prove fatal (which would seem to be evidence that Austrianism doesn’t work). However, keeping a Keynesian policy indefinitely may cause the artifex to gradually shrink, resulting in the self-destruction of the system. It seems that the problem with Keynesianism is that, one day, without realizing it, there is suddenly “no exit.”
To review, if the powers that be let a system undergo creative destruction, as they must to avoid making the system fragile, but there is little creativity and antifragility in the system, then the system may collapse. To allow creative destruction is to gamble with the Apocalypse, which, considering Pascal’s Wager, never seems rational. The less a nation has allowed Keynesianism, the higher the likelihood this gamble will turn out to be profitable, but the longer a nation has engaged in Keynesianism, the higher the likelihood a switch to Austrianism will have devastating consequences (which will make Keynesianism seem superior, and perhaps it is). Yet a nation that doesn’t convert to Austrianism is a nation that will likely shrink its artifex and undergo self-destruction via the material dialectic (perhaps through hyperinflation or civil unrest). When it comes to Keynesianism, if we take it too far (as Lord Keynes himself was well aware), at some point, though no one can say when, we’re damned if we do, and we’re damned if we don’t. A fireman who starts a fire to keep from freezing to death can still at any moment be burned alive.
Ultimately, that all said, though monetary and fiscal policy are important, they are not as imperative as the presence of creativity. In my view, whether Keynesianism or Austrianism works ultimately comes down to whether creativity is in the system. Rather than spend our time debating between these two schools of thought, it would be best to address the core issue. This isn’t to say the economic environment isn’t important, but it is to say that it won’t matter if, in the end, we all fail to grow the artifex.
79.7 Whether a nation tries to cut or grow out of a debt crisis, without creativity, the effort will fail. In this circumstance, if the nation cuts, it will be able to claim that “had we grown, things would be different,” and if the nation grows, it will be able to claim that “had we cut, things would be better.” And both will miss the point.
79.8 As there is no such thing as a perfect system, there is no such thing as a completely non-functioning system, because any system that has absolutely no benefits or functionality whatsoever wouldn’t exist (for, at such a nadir, it would collapse and cease to be). Hence, as we will always find problems in Capitalism and Socialism, Austrianism and Keynesianism, etc., we will always find benefits. Seeing problems and benefits isn’t what ultimately matters: what matters is how well the system works in sum. Furthermore, since there is no perfect system, antifragility will always be beneficial and fragility always detrimental. Only in a perfect world do the fragile never break; in an imperfect world of imperfect systems, the development of antifragility and creativity will always be of the utmost importance.
79.9 Humanity seems fundamentally creative, and creativity, at least in socioeconomic terms, tends toward irony. Creativity is used to stabilize, which means creativity is used to inhibit creativity, without which Capitalism self-destructs. Ironically, antifragility tends “toward” fragility, for creativity produces that which allows people to create a stable world. An uncreative caveman cannot invent a thermostat with which he can control a room’s temperature; he must adapt — he has to be antifragile — or die. To create stability is to create the environment in which creativity is threatened: it is to use antifragility to produce fragility. And yet if environments are too unstable, creativity will also struggle to manifest: a “sweet spot” has to be struck.
In a free market, since stability feels good, it is this kind of creativity that is likely to sell and spread, tipping off the balance. Perhaps knowledge of antifragility, the importance of character, and the artifex can prevent this ironic tendency, but knowledge doesn’t often beat feelings, “emotional judgments,” and/or concerns across large bodies of people. It may take something more.
80. Coming Apart by Charles Murray, if correct, outlines a diminishing of the artifex class. If the New Upper and New Lower Classes live virtually separate and different lives, creativity, being a phenomenon that emerges organically across differences and diversity, will drop. When those with high IQs never encounter the limits of what IQ can do, the geniuses of a society will rarely think “outside the box”: there’s no need. Furthermore, they might never doubt the limits of what brilliant people can manage and coordinate, having never encountered an instance where their brilliance fell short. Lastly, if Charles Murray is correct that the New Upper Class has a tendency toward central planning, rather than turn to creativity to solve society’s problems, it will turn toward management and bureaucracy, which will dry up creativity and cause the material dialectic to self-destruct.
80.1 The New Upper Class seems to have the resources to rebound from foolish behavior and/or failures, while the New Lower Class does not. Since creativity requires failure, if the New Lower Class cannot fail and recover, the New Lower Class will be limited to the degree it can experiment and try to incubate participation in the artifex. Consequently, it will be limited in its capacity to create wealth and to increase not only its quality of life, but the quality of life for all. Furthermore, the New Upper Class, by definition, is already successful, so there’s less motivation, though having the ability to fail without totally failing, to attempt anything new and/or risky. Hence, the New Upper Class, though having a monopoly on the ability to fail, will likely fail to use this advantage (of being able to fail and recover) for achieving creative ends, resulting in a decline of the artifex.
80.2 To save our socioeconomic order, as Charles Murray claims we need to make those who raise a family feel as if they are doing something meaningful which the community honors, we should make the creative feel they are doing something important, rather than imply they are wasting their time and need to get a “real job.”
81. Defending self-education and trusting in the curiosity of children, Astra Taylor, in her talk “The Unschooled Life”, notes that school makes boredom something we are used to so that we can do a job we hate. A school that is boring isn’t a school that fails; in fact, boredom is intentional. Astra argues that the modern school system is designed for the sake of making children into workers for a Capitalistic system, so that they will, without question, do soul-sucking jobs that the economy needs them to do so that the Capitalistic machine will keep running. If this is true, which I fear it is, the school system, for the sake of Capitalism, was designed into the exact opposite of what Capitalism needs to create wealth. A school system that’s ethos is boredom is a school system that doesn’t incubate the development of an artifex class, and so it’s a system that contributes to the self-destruction of Capitalism. If this school system was created to support Capitalism, it seems to do the exact opposite.
Astra Taylor was “unschooled,” meaning her parents, rather than send Astra to school, facilitated an environment in which Astra could pursue her own creative interests and drive her own self-education. Yes, Astra eventually chose to enroll herself in public school and university, sure that “being an idiot with a degree” was better than being a genius without one, and notes how quickly she went “from a lover of words to a lover of standardized tests.” She notes how her creativity and intellectualism suffered, but how she found pleasure in “handing over agency” and having a rubric within which she and others could “know” she was doing well. No longer was she judged by others as being uneducated, and yet now, for the first time, she felt uneducated.
Astra’s experiences point out the short-comings of modern education, and that education that incubates artifexians might be a system that resembles “unschooling” more so than many universities. I myself am not well enough versed in “unschooling” to say for sure that it is the best model, but I am convinced that we need to trust more in the curiosity of autonomy and children to be guiders of their own education. Astra notes that everyone participates in “unschooling” whether they realize it or not: the boy who comes home and plays video games is learning how to play that game on his own, like the stockbroker who studies Dante in his free time is self-motivated to master The Divine Comedy. There is no such thing as a human that isn’t “unschooled” at all, and perhaps if we put more faith in people to educate themselves, artifexians would become increasingly common.
Astra quotes John Taylor Gatto, who wrote: ‘[…] genius is as common as dirt. We suppress genius because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.’ I’m concerned that if we don’t overcome our fear of being unable to “manage a population of educated men and women,” our society will collapse, destroyed by the self-destruction of the material dialectic. What we fear is what comes unto us, I believe, and if we don’t stop fearing destruction, destruction will come.
82. “Sublation,” according to Marx, is the process by which existing things “turn into” new things. According to Marx, history is a “sublation” through which old things aren’t thrown out but integrated into the new. For example, on religion, Marx believed that religion entailed a true pain of the citizenship, even though religious creeds, practices, etc. were falsehoods. Hence, Marx believed religion could be “sublated” into the society, keeping the true pain (in order to address it) while leaving behind the dogmas (which often just preserved the hardships). Likewise, it could be said that “sublation” is the process through which the bourgeois and proletariat “turn into” the artifex. The “true dimensions” of the classes are not lost, but the “falsehoods” or “bad parts” are effaced. For the bourgeois and proletariat to be absorbed into the artifex isn’t to say they are destroyed but “turned into” something better.
As technology opens up more creative avenues, it can simultaneously destroy our capacity to be creative. Yet as technology advances and perhaps eliminates more jobs by increasing the quality of life, humans will have to find means of gaining income either through creativity or government provision (the latter of which, if not creative, will work against progress). Creativity gives rise to technology which can destroy creativity unless creativity and intrinsic motivation are incubated within the people. For the sake of progress, incubating the artifex is pivotal; otherwise, sublation of the bourgeois and the proletariat into the artifex cannot occur. Frankly, without creativity, it seems to me that there can be no sublation, only deconstruction.
83. People of different ethnicities, political leanings, etc. who find one another genuinely interesting, smart, engaging, etc. are people who will overcome differences. Considering this, I don’t believe it is by chance that an age lacking in creativity is an age in which discrimination, sexism, racism, partisanship, etc. worsen. Creativity overcomes differences: an un-creative society — a non-artifex society — will probably be a society plagued by conflict between differences, lacking anything genuinely interesting by which to be genuinely attracted to one another (and so genuinely feel attractive) over what divides us.
84. The relation between creation and production may be similar to the relation between Being and being(s), as noted by Heidegger. Where Being is unveiled, it hides behind being(s); likewise, where creation occurs, it hides behind production(s). So too seems to be the relation between consciousness and unconsciousness(s), intentionality and non-intentionality(s), and debt and money(s).
85. “Marching through history,” creativity might more so be “Geist” than rationality.
86. Creativity can counter “status anxiety,” to allude to the thought of Alain de Botton from his wonderful Status Anxiety. Where this is a lack of “creative drive,” unfortunately, “status anxiety” can manifest as a makeup-motivator. “Status anxiety” isn’t necessarily bad, but I do think it tends to motive “money creation” over “wealth creation,” per se (for money garners status well enough), which doesn’t grow the artifex and contributes to “opportunity gaps,” a fall of real wages, and other problematic “gaps” warned about by Robert D. Putnam. Additionally, those who are creative virtually must overcome “status anxiety,” because being creative so often requires a person to be an “outsider.”
87. There is a common debate over what people do when they don’t have to work: some believe people sit around and do nothing, others believe people pursue creative and productive ends. I think the answer depends on the person in question, but I would argue that the more creativity that exists in a system, the more people, when free to do what they want, will use that free time creatively and productively. Seeing as the goal of work is ironically to free us from work, this makes creativity paramount; otherwise, society won’t be ready when the end it works for is achieved, nor will it be able to handle various government programs.
88. Deirdre McCloskey points out that the human quality of life skyrocketed two centuries ago; this isn’t to say there wasn’t innovation up to that point, but that the rate and size of the innovation over the last few thousand years was nothing compared to what began then. This is “The Big Event” — one of the most important secular events in history — and McCloskey’s work centers on finding out what caused it. According to her, Capitalism is responsible, but that still leaves us with the question of why.
One of McCloskey’s most important points — which I completely agree with and hopefully pointed out in my own work but perhaps not as well — is that the success of Capitalism is not caused by the accumulation of capital. Capital provides us with money, but it doesn’t increase the quality of life: rather and importantly, it provides a means by which we can participate in the increasing quality, makes possible a price mechanism system which is paramount for resource distribution (as Hayek argued), and also makes possible a market in and through which products, services, innovations, etc. can be tested (as discussed in “Equality and It’s Immoral Limits” by O.G. Rose). As McCloskey puts it, there must be a market to test technology or it’s not obvious that it’s an advancement. Capital doesn’t create wealth but more so creates the test by which we determine what wealth is in fact “wealth.” So yes, capital is important (and arguably necessary for strong sustainability and fast rates of innovation), but capital, in of itself, isn’t what increases our quality of life: creativity, innovation, and technology are responsible. Capital is simply the stage upon which creativity performs. Without a stage, it’s hard for actors to perform, but without actors, a stage is nothing but empty space.
The belief that capital constraints are why an economy doesn’t develop has led to thinking that expanding Wall Street, offering financial aid to the impoverished (domestic or abroad), increasing wages, etc. (possibly at the expense of creativity), will lead to a higher quality of life. This isn’t true — as I fear should be evident by the damage caused to our economy by “Big Banks,” what I consider the failures of Johnson’s “War on Poverty” to end poverty, and the failure of rising wages to lead to “real wage” increases — and it’s proof that one’s fundamental beliefs have a massive influence on how the person thinks about proper policy. Failure to identify creativity and its incubating conditions as the cause of “The Big Event” has contributed to us enacting educational, governmental, and social thinking and policy that works against the very creativity that makes our society what we want it to be.
Yes, capital constraints can make it difficult for creativity to flourish, but the availability of capital can do the very same thing: it can turn us into consumers over creators, disregard the importance of culture in favor of entertainment, etc. And most certainly, just because capital alone doesn’t improve the quality of life, it doesn’t necessarily mean there shouldn’t be welfare systems (that’s a different question); however, it does mean that welfare alone cannot be the whole answer. Ironically, it’s the very success of creativity (which lessens capital constraints) that can give rise to the belief that capital is responsible for Capitalism’s success. Considering this, I agree with McCloskey that the word “Capitalism” has given us a lot of trouble, only further entrenching the dogma that Capitalism’s success is thanks to capital. It would be better if the word “Capitalism” was replaced with something like “Creativism” — perhaps that would entirely change our perception of the system. Words have power.
An incredible increase in technology, creativity, and innovation are why “The Big Event” occurred, but what caused the incredible increase? What happened two centuries ago that changed the social environment in such a way that creativity was so incubated that the quality of human life skyrocketed and “The Big Event” occurred? McCloskey argues that it was because of the granting of liberty and dignity to ordinary people, which was pioneered in the West and spread around the world gradually. This prominent role of liberty falls in line with modern psychologist studies on what causes creativity, studies which have been emphasized throughout “The Creative Concord” and its additions. Was there innovation before America? Yes: China was the king of innovation for over a thousand years — inventing gunpowder, paper, fireworks, etc. — but China’s rate of innovation was much slower than what emerged suddenly during “The Big Event.” What happened two centuries ago was incomprehensible, and “The Big Event” was thanks to a change in ideas about liberty and human dignity.
To fully understand how liberty and dignity lead to a “Technological Renaissance,” I would encourage you to study the McCloskey corpus.
88.1 Capital can help give rise to leisure, for it can make it possible for a person to purchase that which makes life more leisurely, and it is during leisure that creativity can gain a space in which to flourish (though that isn’t to say leisure is the only space). Hence, in this way, capital can help facilitate creativity, but ultimately creativity is that which makes life more leisurely (such as air conditioners, cars, etc.). That said, if everyone in the world lived lives of endless leisure, this wouldn’t necessarily mean that the car would be invented: many kings and queens lived before Henry Ford. However, leisure does create a space in which people can “daydream,” per se, and it is through “daydreaming” that much creativity emerges (as has been discussed and studied by Daniel Goleman, Howard Gardner, and others).
The expansion of leisure across an entire society can be a result of hard work, and yet ironically when a society works hard, it can conflate “leisure” and “lazy”: the payoff for the hard work is socially frowned upon. Also, where there is widespread “hard work,” there tends to be more “extrinsic motivation” than “intrinsic motivation,” which also can lead to people in times of leisure not knowing what to do and doing nothing, helping bring about the conflation of “leisure” and “lazy” (as discussed in the additions of “Joy to the World” by O.G. Rose). Bertrand Russell, in “On Praise of Idleness,” notes that one of the greatest questions of a society is what it does during times of leisure, and unfortunately the expansion of capital and success of Capitalism — made possible thanks to creativity — can lead to periods of leisure that facilitate “doing nothing” more so than “doing something creative, intrinsically motivated, etc.” And so the success of Capitalism can lead to a shrinking of the creativity that made it successful, all in the name of being more productive. Adding to the irony, consumption can distract us from innovation, and yet innovation creates things we consume.
The belief that Capitalism is successful due to productivity and capital over creativity and ideas has led to costly and ironic consequences.
88.2 McCloskey argues that it isn’t science that created the modern world — it’s technology and creativity, as unleashed by “the bourgeois virtues” — and she points out that we have married “science and technology” as if they share a causal and symbiotic relationship (she notes we’ve created the phrase “science and technology” as if the relationship is a given). She says this should be clear to us if we just think about what exactly science does: it tends to be about more esoteric ideas such as Newtonian Physics, the Higgs Bosom, and so on. Most innovations are not a result so much of scientific thinking as they are creative insight and “tinkering” and/or “experimenting.” Of course, science advances by experiments, but not all experiments are scientific. A man whose house blows down every time there is a storm will try to find a substance that makes his house stronger, and he will go through a period of “trial and error” trying out different materials. Not a single scientific thought may enter his mind: all he may think about is “How do I solve the problem and make my house stronger?” Granted, knowing science and which chemical compounds are stronger will very much make his experimentation easier and more effective, but that scientific reasoning isn’t necessary. To touch on our modern circumstance, thinking it is necessary may lead to an educational system that emphasizes science at the expense of the curiosity and creative thinking that science needs to bring about innovation and technology. It seems to me that “creativity and technology” is a better phrase than “science and technology”: the first entails the second, but the second doesn’t necessarily entail the first.
I don’t mean to imply all scientists aren’t creative or that science doesn’t value creativity — my point is only to emphasize that the relationship between science and technology isn’t as causal as we think. Considering that science can give us a better grasp on how an innovation and/or technology works, science can help us know how to think so that when a “eureka moment” does happen, we can better implement it. Science can help us create a method and “solidify” the findings of experimentation, hence making it easier to replicate and build off that creativity, but science, in of itself, isn’t the cause. Also, science cannot readily give rise to insights where there is a lack of freedom and dignity, though it can where such philosophical premises are prevalent.
Science and technology tend to be corollary — they tend to rise together — but they don’t necessarily cause one another, though they can help one another (similar to the relationship between leisure and technology). I think the relation to science and creativity is similar to the relationship because capital and creativity: science helps, and it’s very difficult to be innovative without it, but it isn’t necessary (though it is arguably necessary for “fast” rates of innovation).
88.3 I believe science often comes after innovation to explain how the innovation came about and why it works; in a sense, as free will is “dressed” in determinism (to use a point from “Words and Determinism” by O.G. Rose), so innovation is “dressed” in science (due note that “determinism” and “science” are closely-linked). In a sense, when we look at innovation, we “see” science, as when we look at free will, we “see” determinism. Because of this “dressing,” it is natural to think technology occurs “within” science, as it is easy to think freedom occurs “within” determinism. Furthermore, it seems that our brains are wired for “low order complexity” over “high order complexity” (as described in “Experiencing Thinking” by O.G. Rose), and so we seem wired to find a “linear” explanation for technology over a “dynamic” one. Since both technology and science are more so “low order complexities,” we tend to associate them together, when it is more so “high order” creativity that gives rise to both “low order complexities.” The phenomenological experience of the “concreteness” of science and technology also tricks us: they both being more “tangible,” we associate them together, while art, which is more “abstract,” seems out of place alongside them. Additionally, science fiction has helped us further think of science and technology as causal when creativity causes them both. They are corollary, and what is corollary isn’t necessarily causal (though it’s a natural mistake to make).
88.4 Like science, McCloskey points out that a rise in rationality also isn’t the cause of the increase in creativity and technology. Both science and rationality existed since the Enlightenment, but it wasn’t until the American Experiment that they seem to have helped and increased alongside technological and creative breakthroughs. McCloskey also points out that the human ability to reason and “plan out” the future has proven to be rather poor: take the World Wars, for example — the Enlightenment didn’t stop those from happening. Reason helps creativity, but “being reasonable” isn’t the precondition for “being creative.”
Ironically, it seems to me that the current socioeconomic order, which wasn’t created by science and rationality, but creativity, has somewhat turned against creativity in the name of rationality and science.
88.5 If when claiming “corporations should only focus on profit generation” one means by “wealth generation,” and seeing as “wealth” only exists thanks to creativity, and seeing as creativity often leads to a holistically fulfilling way of life for those who are creative, then by all means, let corporations focus on profit, given that they do so within moral and legal standards set by the society (as Milton Friedman argued — pointed out by McCloskey — though he has been unfairly been paraphrased as saying otherwise).
88.6 If McCloskey is right, I fear that our habit today of “choosing determinism” — a topic taken up in “Choosing Determinism” by O.G. Rose — works against the liberty and dignity we need to be creative, which can result in a shrinking of the artifex and self-destruction of the socioeconomic order.
88.7 The eruption of entrepreneurship and emphasis on creativity following the 2008 Financial Crisis is evidence that the socioeconomic environment of liberty and human dignity can “give rise to” creativity regardless the restrictions on capital. It may also be evidence that Capitalism is the best system, precisely because even when Capitalism is gravely corrupted and “loses sight” of what it’s really about, Capitalism can still manage to “come back around” to what counts (though that isn’t to say our economy isn’t still in severe danger).
88.8 McCloskey is interested in the question of whether a person can live a full and moral human life and be Capitalistic, and I think the answer is yes, for a Capitalistic can be an artifexian. But does Capitalism necessarily make a person live a full and moral life? Absolutely not: good choices must be made.
88.9 Inspiration for these points primarily came from McCloskey’s “2012 Annual Robert Heilbroner Memorial Lecture” at The New School, which can be found here:
89. Only creativity can stabilize an economy, and creativity is essentially unstable.
90. Perhaps some Marxists would argue that the artifex class is a means that Capitalism keeps people controlled and enslaved because the hope of becoming an artifexian keeps people accepting of their circumstances. This is certainly a possibility, but the hope of being a member of a “universal class” could likewise keep citizens accepting of the shortcomings of Marxism or Communism. Hope can always disempower, but it can also empower.
91. Though “Cultural Marxism” is a derogatory term used by Conservatives to describe some theories of intersectionality, what would be the artifexian equivalent in Cultural Marxism? Perhaps those who combine, deconstruct, and/or transcend cultural binaries like gender, race, etc.? And as the bourgeois and proletariat can turn against the artifex, so those within the binary can turn against those outside of it due to how outsiders destabilize the “givens” of the society (a topic discussed by Philip Rieff)? The line of thought seems worth pursuing.
92. In On Classical Economics, Thomas Sowell argues that “breakdown language” in regard to Marxism is based on a misinterpretation: Marx believed that Capitalism was full of contradictions that created tension which would transform Capitalism into Socialism, but Marx did not believe Capitalism would breakdown because of these tensions. Marx believed the crises of Capitalism would expand but not increase in severity and that Capitalism was inherently unstable, but he did not think that this instability would lead to its collapse. Rather than deconstruction, Marx believed the tensions of Capitalism would bring about its evolution.
Sowell points out that readers of Marx fail to understand that Marx used the term “contradiction” like Hegel: not to mean “negation,” but to imply “tension” and even “dialectical tension” that would necessarily lead to self-transformation. For Marx, Capitalism wasn’t erased and replaced by Socialism; rather, Capitalism became Socialism, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Without Capitalism, there could be no Socialism: for Marx, Capitalism was a necessary component of its structure.
Considering this, if Sowell is correct, I have erred in “The Creative Concord” in using the language of “breakdown,” “self-destruct,” “collapse,” and so on, though I hope the overall idea of the paper is still salvageable. Perhaps unlike Sowell, I do think it is the case that Marx believed that the inherent tensions of Capitalism could lead to social collapse. It may be the case that he did not think Capitalism would necessarily self-destruct, but it does seem that he believed it would necessarily give rise to revolutionary activity that would bring about the evolution of Capitalism, and that if this revolutionary activity wasn’t properly implemented, channeled, or developed, the nation would suffer.
Though I think Marx is correct that “the material dialectic” leads to societal alienation and tension that manifests in revolutionary form, if it is the case that Capitalism doesn’t necessarily lead to Socialism and/or Socialism doesn’t work, then it is the case that this revolutionary sentiment will bring about socioeconomic collapse in practice, seeing as it cannot bring about the evolution Marx predicted. “The material dialect” still exists in Capitalism, but without the evolutionary redemption that Marx believed Capitalism necessarily entailed (according to Sowell). On these grounds, I will hold to my “breakdown”-language in “The Creative Concord,” though not without admittedly engaging in intellectual gymnastics. Furthermore, even if I have misinterpreted Marx, I believe I have properly used elements from Marx to argue a thesis that I believe is true even if based on a misinterpretation, though it would not be the first time I was wrong.
93. To use a point by Bernard Hankins, when you turn on the news, how often do you hear people referred to as consumers versus creators? Our very mindset works against us.
94. What Marx means depends on to who you talk. If a given reader of “The Creative Concord” doesn’t feel that I have been fair to Marx, I’m more than willing to admit my potential shortcomings. When it comes to interpreting Marx, to borrow the words of Matsuo Basho, I ‘seek not to follow in the footsteps of old men; [I] seek what they sought’. Even if my critique of Marx is flawed, I would defend the overall message of the work: creativity drives the economy; without it, the economy must collapse.
95. This paper doesn’t mean to make the artifexian out be a kind of John Galt. An artifexian can be a peasant and even an immoral crook. This paper doesn’t believe artifexians are superior to others, inherently nobler, more moral, loners who don’t need social support, etc. They’re simply different and in need of definition.
96. Although entrepreneurs are likely to be part of the artifex (the growth of which is required for Capitalism to function), as William Baumol argues, it is not necessarily the case, seeing as there are both “productive” and “unproductive” entrepreneurs. The larger the State becomes, the more incentive there is for entrepreneurs to use means of the State to generate wealth, which though it’s not the case that a State-involved entrepreneur necessarily lacks innovation, it does increase the probability. Thus, where State is large, there is likely to be an increasing number of entrepreneurs who are not also productively and/or meaningfully artifexians (a strange situation). Worse yet, if Baumol is correct, incentives can shift to make entrepreneurs destructive to a socioeconomic order, as opposed to creatively destructive.
97. If technology is ruining Capitalism (versus say Communism), as geniuses like Eric Weinstein have argued, and considering that artifexians generate new technologies, then what keeps Capitalism from destroying itself is ultimately what destroys Capitalism.
98. Upon completing “The Creative Concord,” reviewers brought to my attention similarities between my work and Richard Florida’s. I have also been informed that “The Creative Concord” might have overlap with the work of economist Robert Solow and implications for neoclassical economic thought. Though I am unfamiliar with these thinkers, I desire to acknowledge my potential indebtedness to them, if for anything, for reasons described in Waking Life (Chapter 5: Death and Reality) and toward the end of Arts and Physics by Leonard Shlain.
99. Who is someone who owns and works a means of production but didn’t create it? This would seem to describe many small business owners. Indeed, I think this is a class of people who also don’t fit neatly into Marx’s “material dialectic,” and might be further reason why Capitalism doesn’t inevitably transform into Socialism. When people who work for someone see the boss out in the field working with them, the alienation the workers feel could be alleviated (though perhaps not entirely), for the workers could feel like they are in the same boat as the owner. And in fact, they might perceive themselves as better off, for they don’t have to bear the “risk” of the enterprise like the owner, and risk can bring about a lot of psychological hardship. While the worker can go home at the end of the day, the boss must take work home with him or her.
Perhaps this group of “small business owners” do more to save Capitalism than even the artifex (or at least more to quell alienation)? Perhaps, though I would note that I think many small business owners are also artifexians, for they tend to create what they own and work. And perhaps this suggests that a mistake of the material dialectic is to suggest all members of the bourgeois own large enterprises that they themselves don’t work, and certainly this can describe large corporations in America. But in my view, Marx doesn’t make clear space for the “small business owner,” and that’s a deficiency (not to say all “small business owners” don’t cause alienation or that they all work equally alongside their workers). However then, that doesn’t mean Marx is wrong so much as he is incomplete, but if the majority of dominate businesses in America today are corporations, that incompleteness is likely inconsequential.
100. Please do not think that artifexians are only found in Silcom Valley: to allude to Peter Thiel, in today’s world, to associate creatives only with the world of “bites” versus also with the world of “atoms” is an easy mistake. All fabrics, buildings, roads, etc. had to be “thought up” and then invented: behind them all are artifexians, and many if not most small business owners are artifexians. But do most small business owners create entirely new means of production? This brings to our attention a key question: does an artifexian have to invent something entirely new?
After the first venue, the idea for a wedding venue cannot be entirely new, but if there are no wedding venues in Bedford VA, then the creation of one there would be “new” relative to Bedford and thus perhaps be evidence of a(n) (relative) artifexian. But what about the second venue? Well, if the first wedding venue is built on the south side of the town, the second on the north, then in a sense the second wedding venue is still “new,” for it’s the only one on the south side of the town, but admittedly it’s (in a way) less “new” than the first venue.
Whenever a new business is started, there is something artifexian about it, but it’s hard to say how much and to what degree it produces value. The problem here is that we enter a gray zone in which we would have to start rating “how new” and/or “how artifexian” something is, which then gets us into qualitative assessments I’m not sure how to make. To be safe, I’d rather simply incubate a society that encourages and inspires creativity generally and prevalently; that way, we would not have to worry about measuring degrees of artifexian presence (a calculation which likely transcends knowability). Instead, we could just be confident that the collapse of the material dialectic was being avoided.
101. Is it possible for an artifex to create a means of production and not own and/or work it? Yes, but just so much as someone owns/works it, the artifex will be expanded, but this suggests why not all artifexians necessarily alleviate alienation equally.
102. Is the artifex a distinct class? Within the terms of the material dialectic, I think so, for the artifex creates the means of production, while the bourgeois owns the means and the proletariat works them, an act I think is distinct enough to warrant a new category. I do not think artifexians should be conflated with the proletariat, and I think the fact it helps explain why Capitalism has not deterministically collapsed is evidence that there shouldn’t be a conflation. But even if I have not convinced you that artifexians should be their own distinct “class,” their presence within the proletariat or bourgeoisie would be enough to sustain the argument of this paper. This is because they would still have the function of “venting out” the alienation driving the material dialectic, recognized as their own class or not.
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