The Resistible Rise of the Creative Class

By Goonewardena, Kanishka | Canadian Dimension, September-October 2004 | Go to article overview

The Resistible Rise of the Creative Class


Goonewardena, Kanishka, Canadian Dimension


"The Creative City" should immediately strike one as an odd phrase, one that we could very well do without. Because it has become such a buzz word since the publication of American consultant Richard Florida's urban economic policy manual The Rise of the Creative Class, however, not everyone may feel this way. Indeed, we forget too easily in the company of our "bohemian" neighbours that cities have been creative places for much of human history, and especially so after the rise of capitalism; and that creativity itself is a fundamental feature of human nature, at least according to Karl Marx's view on the matter.

Who except Florida and his clients could talk about creativity and class without attending to the contradictions of capitalism? Certainly not Marx or Engels. In The Communist Manifesto, they famously praised the bourgeoisie for having "played a most revolutionary part" in history; for being a class that "cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society." That is to say, "constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones"--by any conceivable index of "creativity," "innovation," or "growth."

Yet the same historical process, Marx observed, also creates the proletariat, the massive working class concentrated in cities, upon whose exploited labour arise the bourgeois "wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals," such as Florida's favourites: "Nokia cell phones" and "Lord of the Rings movies."

While acknowledging bourgeois accomplishments, Marx also defined true wealth in the Grundrisse as "the absolute working-out of [human] creative potentialities," which fully accords, as Terry Eagleton notes, with his "absolute" moral criterion: the unquestionable virtue of a rich, all-round expansion of the capacities for each individual. Capitalism fails to deliver it, as many have discovered; and so it is the task of those whose creative humanity is denied by this social order to create a better one, with nothing less than a revolution.

The revolution to liberate "human creativity" is now happening right before our eyes, according to Florida's considered opinion. In case we haven't noticed, he urges us to join it: "it's up to us--all of us--to complete the transformation" begun by the world-historical agency of the enviably bohemian "Creative Class." "The transformation now in progress," Florida writes in the new preface to the paperback edition, "is potentially bigger and more powerful [than the] great transition from the agricultural to the industrial age." Such a staggeringly hubristic hypothesis would represent a reckless historical assessment even if professed by a yuppie on drugs. Coming from a Columbia University-educated professor of "economic development" full of liberal chutzpah for cultural and sexual diversity, it is positively irresponsible.

Clearly, Creative Class intends to address not students of history or cities, and definitely not revolutionaries. As Peter Marcuse remarks, it reads rather like a series of "after-dinner speeches" tailored for business elites and "civic leaders" suffering from their late capitalist anxieties. What does Florida offer them? Basically, some numbers (in the form of "indexes"--on "talent," "technology," "tolerance," etc.--correlated to "innovation," "creativity" and economic "growth" of city-regions) and anecdotes (explaining exactly how "cool" "cool" people are, and why our wonderful cities would be doomed without them) that not only motivate, but also flatter. The lecture-circuit audience has responded to Florida in kind, as evidenced in the website selling his book--www.creativeclass.org. Just click on the modestly labeled button: "The Praise. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Resistible Rise of the Creative Class
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.