Aesthetics / Art / as if / Creativity / History / Ideology / Kitsch / Philosophy / Politics / Religion / Science

Power and Creativity

Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-14597,_Berlin,_Opernplatz,_Bücherverbrennung.jpg (2933×2229)

The human mind and human societies can be viewed as programmable systems. The way we think, i.e. process information, can be influenced by other information we absorb or create, so the rules or laws that act upon the information we perceive consist to a great deal of information perceived before or after. As a result, there are no fixed, unchangeable laws of  thinking and of culture. The way we think and the way our societies work can be changed. This applies both on the biographical level of our individual lives and on the level of the history of societies. Creativity can be viewed as the ability to reprogram ourselves and our societies.

As information can spread between individuals, individuals can cooperate to form societies and cultures. With society, I mean a group of people who share a culture. With culture I mean the entirety of the information shared among these people and influencing their thoughts and actions. Inside a society, different individuals can assume different roles. As a result, some people can acquire a position of power in which they control the resources, the actions of the society and its members and the flow of information within the society.

The creative nature of the human mind enables humans to innovate and change the way they think, look at things and interpret them and the way they act and work together. Therefore, creativity and innovation might destabilize the status quo and hence the power of the powerful. As a result,  it is quite typical for systems of power to suppress creativity and innovation. Free thinking, philosophy, science, scholarship, art and literature are dangerous to the powerful. As a result, in suppressive societies, the arts are typically either suppressed completely or they are canalized into some officially accepted, controlled, institutionalized and censored form. Artists who are not willing to subject themselves to such a system are suppressed or banished in more or less violent forms, their works forbidden or even destroyed. An example is the burning of books in Nazi Germany (see picture). For the arts, this means that creativity and reflection are hamstringed and replaced by some system of stylistic and political rules. This will inevitably result in some form of kitsch.

File:2005-08-10 Rainbow Raduga Monument Kiev 137.JPG

In philosophy and scholarship, the phenomenon corresponding to kitsch in the arts is ideology. In an ideology, free, creative thinking is forbidden. Thoughts have to follow certain predetermined paths. Akin to kitsch in the arts, ideology is cognition without reflection. Under the control of an ideology, the creative, alterable human mind degenerates into an algorithm-like fixed structure. Ideology causes people to become stupid by blocking creative thinking. This way of thinking is spread by propaganda (making use of kitschy pseudo-art, often creating strongly emotionalized ideological symbols) and enforced by brute force.

Ideological systems will even try to get science under control. Science might be suppressed altogether or partially replaced by some pseudo-science. This often happens in religious ideologies, but examples like the “Deutsche Physik” (German physics) of the Nazis or the anachronistic theories of the biologist Lysenko in the USSR are examples of ideology meddling with science. Another way of a power system to control science is the sharashka system in the USSR, where scientists, engineers and technicians were interned in special labor camps in order to develop science and technology. In this way, science was both controlled and monopolized.

In our economic system power is increasingly accumulated in the hands of big companies and their owners. There are tendencies to monopolize scientific and technical know-how, to privatize information and resources that used to be in the public domain and to replace free journalism with kitsch and propaganda. There are tendencies to increasingly control people. These tendencies can easily result in the overturn of democracy and in a new age of tyranny. Artists, philosophers, scholars and academics of all kind, including students, journalists, writers and scientists as well as citizens in general should therefore watch out for signs of attempts to impede free thinking and the free flow of ideas as well as signs for developments undermining civil rights.

It is also important to watch out for the way events and phenomena are interpreted and our perception of them is manipulated by ideological language. E.g. a term like “crowd control” sounds harmless and might even impart a feeling of security, until you understands that a crowd is a group of citizens like yourself and somebody else might do the controlling (see Ideologies are as-if-constructions of a dangerous kind, reprogramming our thinking and perception according to the interests of others. We should keep our critical thinking, watch out for manipulative language and retain the right and ability to do that programming job ourselves, the way we want it.

(The first picture, showing the burning of books in Berlin, Germany on May 11th, 1933, is from,_Berlin,_Opernplatz,_B%C3%BCcherverbrennung.jpg

The second picture showed a soviet time statue in Kiev, from The original has been deleted from Wikimedia Commons. I will replace this with another example.)

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17 thoughts on “Power and Creativity

  1. Very well spoken and delivered. Also highly observable in many modern day socially dynamic situations ie; the playground, team building retreats both, corp and spiritual.
    Thanks for sharing your intellect and information.

  2. Terriffic post. Thank you for standing on the soapbox, soon to become barricade I fear. Artists are subversive, they disturb the status quo when their creativity informs society. They are the canaris in the coal mines. A toast to subversion, creativity and your genius, Nannus! 🙂

  3. Eloquent as always Nannus. I strongly believe it is up to each of us to take a conscious stand to protect the freedom, not only of art but of all that remains free. It is a service, and you certainly do your duty in that respect. It is articles like this that remind me that I am on the right path. Thank you.

  4. I particularly like what you’ve written about society. It reminds me of what my trans daughter is busy doing on twitter and in other spaces – educating people about trans people and issues and challenging ideologies. It’s nice to see that many seek to learn and become allies in breaking down barriers.

  5. Pingback: Prometheus | The Asifoscope

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