Creative Destroyer


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