Friday, January 18, 2008

The Creative Class and the Value of Tolerance and Diversity

While eristic-ragemail has focused on exploring the flawed and racist thinking behind nativist and anti-immigrant commentators there is a flip side to this coin. Namely, commentators have pointed out that cosmopolitan and tolerant centers are more vital economically and culturally than less-tolerant places. The most well-known proponent of this theory is Richard Florida, Professor of Business and Creativity at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, and author two national bestsellers, The Rise of the Creative Class and The Flight of the Creative Class. His books before that, especially The Breakthrough Illusion and Beyond Mass Production, paved the way for his provocative looks at how creativity is revolutionizing the global economy. Florida basically posits that cities with greater tolerance and diverse environments advance while those that are intolerant and narrow-minded will wilt. It is a provocative idea.

Florida maintains a blog where he sets forth many of his ideas. ( Of most interest to this site is a view that pro-diversity and a pro-immigration stance is good for the country and serves as an antidote to the daily harangues set out by the nativist crowd. See for example, Great video of Google's VP for People Operations Laszlo Bock -- a Romanian immigrant -- testifying on Capitol Hill regarding the practical benefits of immigration to Google and the US. It is a great testimony and confirms much of what we know on immigration and talent. ( Florida posits a host of provocative ideas which run counter to so much established anti-urbanist and anti-immigrant cant, so pushed on Americans by right-wing radio and cable-vision “news shows.” One article that I found especially intriguing was his analysis of how the neo-cons actually started as anti-urbanists and only later became associated with a hawkish foreign policy. (; “Tearing Down the Towers: The Right's Vision of an America Without Cities,” By Jeremy Adam Smith, (The Public Eye Magazine - Winter 2006) One Nation, Two Futures? ( For those looking to affirm a progressive and more humanitarian view on immigration and other issues, I strongly advocate giving his articles a read.

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