Creative Destroyer

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Tyler Cowen, the George Mason economist and occasional reason contributer, is laudingly profiled in today's Los Angeles Times.

An excerpt that gets to the heart of Cowen's (and this magazine's) arguments about the supportive relationship between culture and markets:
In his latest book, "Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World's Cultures" (Princeton University Press), Cowen continues to offer answers. This time he tackles globalization, arguing that despite such tragedies as lost languages and cultural submersion, international trade accounts for much of the planet's cultural vitality—and always has.

"If we consider the book," he writes, "paper comes from the Chinese, the Western alphabet comes from the Phoenicians, the page numbers come from the Arabs and, ultimately, the Indians, and printing has a heritage through Gutenberg, a German, as well as through the Chinese and Koreans."

In fact, Cowen believes that commerce and art are allies. And he contends that because commerce is driving technology, ideas, goods, services and people across borders more freely than ever before, we are in the midst of an unprecedented boom in artistic creativity all over the world. The quality, quantity and variety of cultural output is greater than ever; if there is more dreck, there is also more genius. And more people have more access to it than ever, at lower prices, regardless of where they live

NEXT: Fat for Life

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  1. The only people who claim that Art and Commerce are in opposition, or that Art and Commerce *should* be in opposition are either lousy at Art, or lousy at Commerce.

    It is manifestly clear to anyone with any knowlege of Art History that the two are completely intertwined.

  2. Good luck convincing anti-globalists of the idea though. They’re the sort of people who are all for cultural commercen when it means an Australian Aborigine playing a digeriedoo (sp?) at the local college campus, but dead set against it when it means teenagers in Laos bying Britney Spears and Levis.

  3. “Good luck convincing anti-globalists of the idea though. They’re the sort of people who are all for cultural commercen when it means an Australian Aborigine playing a digeriedoo (sp?) at the local college campus, but dead set against it when it means teenagers in Laos bying Britney Spears and Levis.”

    Ahhhh… But that Aborigine is so “quaint” and “multi-cultural.” We selfish, materialistic Westerners have sooo much to learn from them. Meanwhile, those Laotian teens are losing themselves and their culture to the corporate greed heads who do nothing but profit off of cultural imperialism.

    At least that’s how they see it.

  4. Ohhhh, I almost forgot the following:

    After all of their 60’s Peace Corp dreams of bringing the Third World up to “Modern” standards, the Left has back-peddled and embraced the notion that primitive cultures should remain so despite the starvation, sickness, and destitution that comes with them.

  5. Hey, it really is OK to capitalize the name of your magazine when you’re referencing it in text. In fact, it’s not only OK, it’s preferable. Why force readers to slow down, even for a half-second, to stumble through your sentences because the word “reason” abruptly pops up in unexpected places? (“Oh, OK, they’re talking about the magazine there…”)

    The lower-cased version of “Reason” is a graphics device. It’s a logo. And it’s fine for the cover of the mag. But just as your text doesn’t reproduce the word “Coca-Cola” with all those familiar swirls and curls, or the word “NBC” with peacock feathers nearby, it doesn’t need to lower-case the title of your own magazine.

    I like Reason. And I like reason. But there’s a clear difference between the two, and a wise writer will keep it in mind.

  6. the U.S. is not forcing American culture on anyone. It’s giving people what they want. How is that bad?

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