January 6, 2008

Creativity is the way forward

Posted in International Economy · 22 comments ·
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We must use all means at our disposal to continue our economic success.

I am writing this from the beautiful city of Mendoza in western Argentina. The city lies at the edge of the great Argentinian plain, just before the flatlands are shockingly interrupted by the vertiginous Andes which erupt out of the plateau, throwing up an immense natural wall between the pampas and the Pacific.

Mendoza is the sunniest, yet also the most verdant, of all Argentina’s cities. But how can this be? How can the city that gets the least rainfall in the country sustain boulevards with row after row of huge sycamores which give this parched metropolis the breezy feel of a well-ventilated city in northern Europe?

More importantly for the region, how can a place with a desert climate be the centre of Argentina’s water-hungry wine industry, the fifth largest in the world? Without proper rainfall, vines simply won’t grow.

Here, thanks to a most fascinating invention, nature provides all the sun the vines need, all the water their roots can drink, and – as a result of the abundance of trees in the city – all the shade that the locals require to sit outside, enjoy their cafes and still remain industrious in 90 degrees of heat.

The key to this lies in the city’s architecture. Mendoza’s streets are lined with deep canals between the footpath and the road.There are 4,000 kilometres of canals in all. Each canal is overflowing with freshwater, thanks to an invention that is over 1,500 years old. The inventors were the Huarpe Indians, the indigenous civilisation that thrived here before the calamitous arrival (for the Indians, at least) of the Spaniards.

The Huarpe dominated the region because their agricultural harvests were so bountiful, allowing them to increase their population rapidly and thus breed the manpower necessary to kick lumps out of their neighbours. The secret of their strength lay in the fact that they had figured out how to trap the melting snow from the Andes in a series of dams high in the mountains.

From these dams, they operated a sophisticated number of locks which they opened and closed when necessary, feeding into thousands of irrigated canals, allowing water to cascade down into the fertile valleys. In short, the Huarpe made the desert green, and their potato and corn crops yielded many times that of their parched neighbours.

The Spaniards and, later, the Argentinians adapted the ancient Huarpe innovation. Today, 70 kilometres outside the city, high up at 2,000 metres, a huge dam traps the melting Andes snow, releasing water into the city and the region, and ensuring that Mendoza is one of Argentina’s premier agricultural areas. The city is possibly Argentina’s finest.

The Huarpe system once again underscored how crucial innovation is to keeping a tribe, region, company or individual ahead of the pack. It also reiterates how the whole system of capitalism is one great battle between innovator and innovation, where the innovators are constantly trying to outwit the status quo.

Therefore, an economy is not in a state of equilibrium, as textbook economics suggests, but quite the opposite. The natural conclusion from ongoing innovation is that the economy is in a permanent state of change. We are in a state of almost constant chaos, where new products, techniques and ideas are constantly undermining existing ones.

This is what Joseph Schumpeter, the Austrian economist, termed ‘‘creative destruction’’. This implies that recessions are the necessary product of innovation, and what Schumpeter was implying was that capitalism eats its young and, in so doing, it constantly renews itself.

Think about the ‘‘new’’ iPod Nano, which was introduced this Christmas by Apple, one of the most innovative companies in the world. It set about replacing the last model, not because it was specifically designed to do so, but because innovation can’t do anything else. To be successful, it must cannibalise.

Schumpeter’s ideas are now becoming more and more mainstream. Many economists are hailing him as the biggest unrecognised thinker in the science. Larry Summers, the former head of Harvard, has suggested that ‘‘if Keynes was the most important economist in the 20th century, Schumpeter might well be the most important in the 21st century’’. (If you are interested in this carry-on, see a recent article by the influential J Bradford De Long, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, entitled Creative Destruction’s Reconstruction: Joseph Schumpeter Revisited. )

For countries, the implication of both Schumpeter’s ideas and of the triumph of Mendoza in Argentina is that we shouldn’t be afraid of innovation. On the contrary, we should embrace it. Much of our political debate over the years has centered on how to protect certain sections of society from this ongoing process. But if you subscribe to the ‘‘constant flux’’ idea of capitalism, then the idea is to join the innovators.

This goes for every one of us, whether you are a teacher, a journalist, a bricklayer, a company man or a sole trader/investor trying to outfox the next lad: use the technology and think up new ways to communicate ideas and to execute plans. In other words, join the permanent revolution.

This idea has huge implications for the way we approach enterprise in Ireland. If we have signed up to a club which demands that all of us be in a permanent state of flux, then the state should be investing more and more in the creative talent of the population. This means that, in the years ahead, the most important ministry in the country will be the Minister for Enterprise, because he or she is the one who will facilitate a framework for national creativity.

The downside of this ‘‘creative destruction’’ idea is that there will always be losers. The people, like the Huarpes’ neighbours, who did not innovate, who saw the Andes as an inhospitable threat rather than an agricultural opportunity, will lose out.

Now that the world is open, new ideas are coming at us from all angles, and we in Ireland have to respond with financial, technological and material smarts, using everything at our disposal.

As the property mirage of the past five years evaporates, 2008 will be the year Ireland has to start thinking its way out of our present economic dilemma. I can’t imagine a more refreshing, challenging way to start the New Year.


  1. Great post David. You might be interested in CreativeCamp which is happening in Kilkenny on March 8th.

    It is a variation on the BarCamp unconference idea where the attendees drive the agenda for the day. Most of the irish BarCamps to date (Cork, Waterford, Dublin, Belfast and Galway) have had a strong Tech/Business focus. However the success of PodCamp in Kilkenny (opened by the Junior Minister, John McGuniness) highlighted that bringing the “creative community” into the mix enriched the experience for everyone.

    The best place to see creative destruction in action is in the whole area of tech stat-ups. The closure of Motorola was not the disaster predicted by many, it has resulted in at least 5 new start-ups who, if the DEC experience is anything to go by, will end up employing more people than Moto ever did.

    If you want to see the energy at the heart of the Irish start-up community then you should try and make it to CreativeCamp. Alternatively you might pop into a regular OpenCoffee (see jaiku.com/channel/irishopencoffee) in Cork/Limerick/Dublin and also keep an eye out on web2ireland.org for the next DemoBar.

  2. anthony corrigan

    Hi David,

    Just a few lines to encourage your take on creativity.
    I enjoyed your article very much it echoed my own thoughts.
    Please keep on reminding us that we need to be creative and to have a vision for our society going into the future.
    Your explanation of the Huarpe peoples harnessing of their resources offer us an example of what can be achieved through creative thinking allied to a common purpose.

    Yours Sincerely

    Anthony

  3. VincentH

    Hmmm, and can all play, or does it mean that wage inflation is fixed as if we were still on the gold standard. Get a bloody grip, we have people in this island who nip off to Bequia, Barbados and parts further, while whining about the cost of ironing.
    Agus, give a thought to the slaves of the Huarpe, it takes a while for their blood -used as a cement agent- to seep. You never Know, it may well impart that little revenge via the vine.
    Anyhoos, wishing you good travels, and as important cast iron gibblets, no point in having a stomach cast in iron when things pass onwards. It’s a bit like having a stove with a paper chimney.
    Try Mayreau, your kind of place, perhaps.

  4. Henry De Butler

    The way to kick start innovation is by using the most important piece of technology known to mankind: the human brain.
    Until we teach our children how to think and not what to think we will always be losing potential. Our schools should be teaching science not superstition. If our future prospects are not in the potential of the new minds arriving not been allowed to build on the shoulders of all who have gone before then where?

  5. David, I just returned to the USA from Canada, where my wife and I spent ten days visiting with old classmates and friends in the Toronto area. Canada is starting to focus on the need to innovate. In fact, Richard Florida, whose “The Rise of the Creative Class” is now a classic study of the sociology of innovation today, moved to the University of Toronto in 2007 from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburg, USA. His views are getting huge play in the national press there. As he argues, innovation in the end is the result of culture, values and related mindsets. Florida’s work “fleshes out” the insights of Schumpeter. I recommend Florida if you have not already read him. Again, I thank you for your insightful writings. You are one of the few persons worth reading today. And I am in Madison, Wisconsin typing this! What does that say about the culture of innovation around me here? Happy New Year to you and your readers!

  6. John Q. Public

    It seems that most graduates are only versed in one skill upon leaving University: how to type out their CVs and post it to all the multinationals in the hope of being taken on as a small cog in a huge machine. Certain graduates still emigrate in this country because making ends meet is difficult after tax at 41 %, PRSI, pension contribution, rent, light, heat, car loan repayments, tax, insurance and petrol etc. All the more reason to ‘innovate’ you might say but Uncle Sam is always more attractive on a wet Monday evening in your pokey one-bedroom flat when you can’t afford a house. On the other hand you will meet some young people with brilliant ideas for start-ups but can’t compete because of thier lack of capital/collateral.

  7. Kevin Buckley

    G-d spare us from any Minister of Enterprise. She will surely take the creative out of any creative destruction. Government is nearly always the problem not the solution.

  8. John Alan

    To read J. Bradford’s article
    “Creative Destruction’s Reconstruction: Joseph Schumpeter Revisited”
    visit http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i15/15b00801.htm

  9. Ed

    Creative Destruction is the norm in industry – Industries become stale with time and go into decline. In my 40years experience, the greatest innovative changes occurred in the late 70s when European and American Industries were being held back by remnants from the Luddite era. American and European workers wouldn’t accept automation and some of their favourite lines were “ robots wont buy may cars”. The Japanese went for broke with automation and wiped out a lot of the old established western companies in consumer electronics. The one that I worked for had been in existence for forty years and was still profitable, but failed to embrace the new microprocessor technology – it found itself up against the emerging Japanese companies with a labour advantage of 30 to 1 – that’s right, one worker for every thirty we had – needless to say it was goodbye time for all three thousand workers.

  10. Mojo

    Kevin Buckley posted:
    “Government is nearly always the problem not the solution.”

    Brilliant idea. The State should stop giving free cash through grants to small businesses to engage in innovation and R&D, it should stop pouring millions into research in ICT and Biotechnology, it should stop making subsidised incubation office and industrial premises available for start-ups. These are clearly holding back innovation and creative destruction in the country.

    I’m sure you would be complaining if there was no government support for such things.

  11. Con Morgan

    Might I second the Richard Florida recommendation above. This stuff should be compulsory reading for every City Councillor, planner and associated decision maker in Ireland.

    He has a viable vision for innovation which is less rat race and more about creativity and human connections.

    As a bonus, (but very much an aside), his work provides compelling arguments against the folly which is decentralisation.

    Website @ http://creativeclass.com/

  12. Ed

    Con Morgan

    Richard Florida is very interesting judging from his talk on-line – he is, however, talking about America where the economic activity is all generated internally and doesn’t have to factor in the motives of large outside companies whose primary goal is profit. The multinationals are not really concerned with the quality of life in the countries to which they outsource jobs – decisions are made at their headquarters in their own countries. To apply his thinking to us would require either, a greater population in Ireland or a massive export drive to give our activities some critical mass – he certainly has good ideas.

  13. Con Morgan

    Ed – i couldn’t agree more with your points on multinationals. However I’d rather see Florida’s vision less a one that doesn’t fit for us but more an alternative vision for us.

    The multi-nationals have been crucial to Ireland’s recent past, but they’ve given us a platform to graduate and create our own innovative society (apart from anything else with outsourcing trends, it’s what we need to do). It’s over time we did just that and Florida (although at times utopian) can be a vital informer for how this should be done to benenfit our lives as much as our pockets.

  14. Ed

    Con Morgan

    I agree that it’s time that we started to move on to the next plane from the multinationals. The difficulty is to get people to leave well paid jobs and start from scratch – being pushed through closure is the main source of start-ups here, but that’s not enough for a sustainable vibrant society. I don’t know if our attitudes towards failure are changing, but it’s part of the entrepreneurial process and that’s a major barrier. The other problem is the availability of venture capital – there appears to be no problem in investing in foreign property,(50 Billion), but local enterprise doesn’t rate at all. The Enterprise boards and Enterprise Ireland are curtailed because of the rigid rules they must follow and can appear to be an end in themselves. We’ve a lot of growing up to do if we’re to succeed at going it alone.

  15. Ed

    Con Morgan

    To add to the difficulties of starting up in absence of the available venture capital – the Banks don’t have the necessary knowledge/experience to evaluate projects and will only back ventures that are approved by the state bodies in the assumption that they know what they’re about. So instead of forging ahead with the project, priority must be given to the application process and the crazy thing about this is, that you have to gain grant approval whether you want a grant or not. There must be a better way of evaluating risk than through a state agency.

  16. Con Morgan

    Ed – your insights into the availability of capital are spot on and is a topic that should be subject to FAR more journalistic and political commentary. But I think the point you make about attitudes towards failure is the bigger point – solve this and perhaps the availability of risk capital takes care of itself?

    We are such an insecure society, constantly looking at our neighbours, buying the biggest cars we can etc. – At the risk of stalking – I go back to Florida’s alternative vision, where imagination, creativity, community & connectedness regain their rightful importance.

  17. Mojo

    A few clarifications on the theme of Start-up and Growth Capital. Firstly, its is not entirely true to say there is no venture capital available. In the first 6 months of 2007 alone, Irish VCs invested more than €66M in Irish businesses. Many businesses also attract investment from overseas VC funds (It is a global financial market after all).What may be true is that the risk appetite and scale of investment by Irish VC funds is modest by International standards. Also, bear in mind that VC investment is not always the best source of funding for a company – it depends on growth potwential and stage of development.
    As for the Banks, well they dont consider themselves to be in the ‘risk’ business. The will only lend against assets and on business they feel are a ‘sure thing’. Its hard to argue with that position, and banks in other countries are unlikely to be much different.
    What Ireland really lacks is a strong private investor / business angel community. There is no shortage of private investment capital about, the problem is that it is all going into overseas propert. The country needs to disincentivise this type of investment relative to investing in businesses.

  18. AndrewGMooney

    Eire 2008: Is that pint half empty, or half full…..Paddy?

    Warning: This post is a lengthy roller-coaster ride around ‘The Jargon Factory’. Seat-belts. Crash-helmets. Sick bags to the ready. Here we go!

    David, you make a number of ‘challenging statements’ in this article regarding the Meso-American Huarpe civilisation. But it’s not clear what anthological evidence supports your views. It would be helpful to understand which references you used from texts such as ‘The Cambridge History of Latin America’ by Leslie Bethell to support your propositions.

    In fact, there is no reliable cultural anthropology for the Huarpe: It’s impossible from this historic vantage point to decode which values and ideologies kick-started their irrigational ‘giant-leap forward’.

    It may well have been a religious, philosophical or cultural catharsis that pump-primed economic innovation and renewal – rather than some ‘utilitarian competitive ideology’ that we could meaningfully equate to any post-modern concept of Capitalism.

    The ingenuity of the Huarpe would, surely, have allowed them to establish wealth and power through trading relationships with their Inca and Puelche neighbours in the Cuyum Mapu, rather than by overt warfare and hostility, embedded as they were within a wider networked Incan civilization.
    I am not aware of any texts which delineate adventurist warmongering expeditions from outside this federation, but I assume you are.

    Technological, and thus economic, hegemony probably arose from within cultural and philosophical self-definitions. Then, presumably, economic and military forms were manifested to protect and / or prosecute the dictates of the path-finding cultural elite. What’s changed? Er, nothing.

    The visualisation you offer is of economic algorithms operating independently of cultural constraints, and also that ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ principally or primarily comes from economic rather than cultural innovation. In Northern England, that would be called ‘arse over tit’.

    It’s just as valid to propose that culture drives economics: And economic entrepreneurs swim in the slip-stream of cultural and societal innovation, which is the real ’wealth creation‘: Rather than being the ‘prime movers’ / drivers by dint of their econometric reactions to societal dynamics.

    An analysis of the poem ‘Ode‘ by the Anglo-Irish poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy is opportune here.

    ‘We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams,
    Wandering by lone sea-breakers, and sitting by desolate streams.
    World-losers and world-forsakers, on whom the pale moon gleams,
    Yet we are the movers and shakers, of the world for ever, it seems.
    With wonderful deathless ditties. We build up the world’s great cities,
    And out of a fabulous story. We fashion an empire’s glory:
    One man with a dream, at pleasure, shall go forth and conquer a crown;
    And three with a new song’s measure, can trample an empire down.
    We, in the ages lying. In the buried past of the earth,
    Built Nineveh with our sighing, and Babel itself with our mirth;
    And o’erthrew them with prophesying, to the old of the new world’s worth;
    For each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth.’

    The ‘movers and shakers’ were, and still are, the artists, ’priest/shamans’ or other ‘cultural engineers’. The philosophers and poets. Not the economists or politicians.

    With regard to any supposed ubiquitous and agreed ‘rules of completive engagement’: Within post-modern capitalist societies there is no uniform agreement as to what ‘competition’ means, and considerable diversity over what limits to set on capitalistic competition to prevent a Hobbesian War of All Against All.

    How many Polish plumbers are there in Lyon? How many NAFTA / EU tariffs preventing ‘free trade‘ from African nations? Etc.

    American, French, Chinese and Japanese models of capitalistic innovation conceptualise themselves within an historical and philosophical ‘weltanschauung’ which deliberately sets limits on economic effectiveness to preserve ‘cultural forms’. Thus their differentiated versions of ‘Gemeinschaft’ and ‘Gesellschaft’. What will be Ireland’s unique take, USP, on C21st Capitalism? Innovative? Unique? Congruent with its’ impossibly rich history and culture? Or just a botch-job welding of American, British and European models?

    From my viewpoint here in England, it will be interesting to observe how Ireland handles this first big test of it’s recent astonishing success. Will it revert to pessimistic and energy-sapping cultural analysis/paralysis, exhausting itself in a political ‘blame game’ for the duration of the downturn?

    Or will it look for it’s inspiration to the astonishing revolution of the last two decades which, finally, allowed the country to shake off the moribund cultural, political and economic constraints which had kept it from even competing in the race, never mind having any credible claim to be the possible winner.

    If creativity is the engine of future success, then some current fields of creativity simply have to be protected. David, you mention bricklaying, which used to be a skill, but modern construction methods do everything possible to avoid the use, nurture or retention of such skills. If a wall of bricks can be pre-built, pre-pointed and simply hoisted and bolted onto the foundations: It will be.

    Who, then will learn how to repair a dry-stone wall. And why? There’s no exact ’economic justification’ for saving the fields of Gloucestershire or Mayo from ruination, other than some ‘intangible’ heritage-culture-touristic calculation which wouldn’t survive any forensic analysis. Preserved so that those hilarious Irish Tourist Board adverts featuring well-to-do Dentists from Antwerp fishing for salmon can still have a budget.

    Teachers are increasingly prevented from ‘innovation’ with standardisation to central, national curriculum standards the absolute driver of success. ‘Creativity’ in such a vocation is hardly welcome anymore, is it?

    I’m amused at the idea of journalists being ‘free economic agents’, ’creative innovators’ and ’knowledge entrepreneurs‘: Rather than indentured servants, pawns of vested political interests and monopolistic capital empowered owners. ROFLMAO!

    Creativity is an active hindrance to a successful journalistic career.. Bloggers perhaps. But journalists? Ok, John Pilger and Robert Fisk I’ll accept. Not many others though.

    We have no idea how the Huarpe conceptualised ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in their societies. It is just as likely that they saw ‘losers’ as essential contributors to their future prosperity, rather than demanding they walked around with tattoos saying ‘Soy un perdidor’. In Huarpe, not Spanish. Obviously.

    Saying ‘We must use all means at our disposal to continue our economic success’ pre-supposes that everyone in Ireland has been lifted by the rising tide, enjoyed subsequent retail binge euphoria in Dundrum, and gives a shite about anything other than traditional ‘loser‘ compensations of beer, fags, bets, a boogie and a bonk. And with no ‘national cultural project’ or ‘trans-generational solidarity‘: Why the fc-uk should they?

    Sorry, but widely distributed societal equity and economic prospects are not self-evidently visible in the Ireland I see when I visit. And it’s not obvious in the Birmingham or London I know, either. Maybe I just hang around the wrong postcodes.

    ‘Winners’ and ‘losers’ don’t just arise in an economic, Social Darwinist vacuum. They arise within a matrix of genetic, social and political factors which ensure some dullards win whilst some gifted grafters lose. Dublin has it’s own Trustafarian class, it’s rentier class and it’s professional educated elite class. These groups have already ‘gifted success’ to their offspring through good nutrition, childcare, housing and health: Before they even meet the urban ‘unter-mensch’ at school. That’s if they ever do.

    I wonder how well the Irish Medical and Legal professions will respond to any attempt at ‘creative destruction’ in their hierarchies. Rather like their British counterparts, I suspect: Pull up the drawbridge and load up the canons.

    The gormless, remorseless re-configuration of the Ipod Nano is not a ‘success story’ in everyone’s eyes. By continually tinkering with a successful brand, Apple may well confuse and disorientate more consumers than they attract. The ‘form factor’ of the new Ipod Nano is risible in the hands of a grown man. Ditto: The IPhone. I’m sure 10 year old girls will have a great time txt’in mt8’s in D4, but for the rest of us: Don’t bother. It’s rubbish. Give it six months and everyone will wake up. Back to life, back to Nokia, etc.

    Successful societies do not achieve stability and longevity by being in continual escape-Earth-orbit propulsion mode. Economic success only means something within a wider contextual framework of moral values and cultural forms, or there is no point discussing ’Ireland’ as a separate place from ’Great Britain, or ’France’, etc. It’s just S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G as The Pet Shop Boys famously sang. From Shanghai to San Fran, shop till you drop in air-con homogenized all weather emporiums that only distinguish themselves by a bogus historical patina of ‘authenticity’.

    I’m sure the Easter Islanders were in smug, self-congratulatory mode thinking they were creating Ipod marvels when they built those statues. Shame they burnt down all the trees and lost the topsoil to do so, thus destroying their culture, ecology and generativity. I wonder if you flew back from Argentina via The Pacific and maybe looked out onto that desolate monument to a failed cultural project?

    So: Where next for Ireland? I don’t know, but a useful starting point for any renewed, sustainable burst of cultural innovation would be the recent past.
    Ireland has comprehensively re-invented itself once, it can surely do it again. Finland did after a catastrophic housing-related economic meltdown in the late 80s. And from that, arose: Nokia. Is there a nascent Irish Nokia? If there is, I’d like to invest in such a company.

    Governments ‘facilitate a framework for national creativity’? But, in Finland: Which came first? The ‘facilitation’ of economists and Government‘, or the re-emergence of buried Finnish cultural / folkloric values of hard work, innovation and gritty determination?

    Did Finlands’ economic renaissance emerge from away-day whiteboard blue-sky thinking, or was that the consequence of more visceral, tribal energies re-igniting from within the locus and matrix of ‘national’, i.e.: cultural life?

    There will, indeed, need to be ‘creative destruction’. As ancient Celtic texts tell us, the Wheel Of The Year is a metaphor for life. The Huarpe too may well have realised progress is not necessarily linear but may be cyclical and iterative, with failure and setbacks entirely necessary preconditions for future growth.

    David: Are you a ‘Utopian Cornucopian’ or, like me, a ‘Dystopian Cornucopian? Do you see a parasitic relationship of Capital to host society or a sustainable symbiotic one? Or both? Simultaneously…..

    Could Adam Smith possibly have envisaged our apocalyptic world from Auld Reekie?
    What would Jane Austen make of modern soaps?
    How many of your readers have actually read ‘The Wealth of Nations’? Percentage -guess-estimate? And how many have read the much more important text ‘ The Theory Of Moral Sentiments’? Without which it is impossible to understand what informed his insights.

    As for Schumpeter’s lauded ‘creative destruction’: Well done! So, the ‘economists’ have finally given up playing with their plastic toys in the sandpit and are trying to join me and the big kids in the main playground. But do they have the cojones and the pubes to do it? I think not.

    Hindu civilization realized all this many thousands of years ago and encoded it in The Goddess Shiva. It is the basis of all existence, and ‘modern Schumpeterian economics’ is a laughably juvenile attempt to encode these verities. Anyone who’s read ‘The Tiger That Isn’t’ will recoil from any meretricious ‘economic’ or ‘statistical’ interpretations of reality given by economists or politicians. It’s the artist/shaman/philosopher who moves life forward. Then the rabble, including the economists, retrospectively try to decode what has happened at the quantum level.

    http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/aa031002a.htm
    http://plus.maths.org/issue45/features/tiger/

    Larry Summers must be a pessimist is he seriously thinks that 2099 will see Schumpeter hailed as a ‘visionary’. Bof! Zut alors! You’re surely ironically taking the urine sample! Economics? A science? Nurse: The screens….. In any event, anyone with ‘smarts’ will shout out the name Leo Strauss at him and explain that ‘economic activity’ is only one leg of the chair that keeps societies stable. The others are politics and ‘religion’ (or ethics, philosophy, values, whatever!).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Strauss

    Kind regards.

    AndrewGMooney 11.09.1960. Birmingham. Eng-Eire-Land.
    Copyright: Exclusive to http://www.DavidMcWilliams.ie. All other rights reserved.

    Footnote:

    The Significance of Shiva’s Dance

    This cosmic dance of Shiva is called ‘Anandatandava,’ meaning the Dance of Bliss, and symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy – creation, destruction, preservation, salvation, and illusion. According to Coomerswamy, the dance of Shiva also represents his five activities: ‘Shrishti’ (creation, evolution); ‘Sthiti’ (preservation, support); ‘Samhara’ (destruction, evolution); ‘Tirobhava’ (illusion); and ‘Anugraha’ (release, emancipation, grace).

  19. David Mc Williams

    Hi Andrew, thanks for the post. You make so many observations that I don’t know where to start. On the Huarpes, my source is local knowledge – no books no reference – just chats with Huarpes/half Huarpes in cafes and bars. On the primacy of economics, I suppose that’s what I know; so I try to stick to it. I don’t believe that it is anything other than a partial rather than a general, all encompassing worldview (or ‘weltanschauung’ if you prefer) but it is at least a framework.
    On whether journalism is creative, I think it is – maybe Pilger/Fisk are more creative than most (your view) – but we all try! Best of luck, David

  20. Ed

    “ Necessity is the mother of invention” and this can apply to a race under siege (Britain during WW2 )or to a driven individual who wants to leave his mark on society (Thomas Edison). What drove the Huarpe to build dams in the Andes is anyone’s guess – more than likely it was survival. England came up with the cast iron cannon when the couldn’t get or afford bronze ones . Invention/innovation has always been driven by necessity for all sorts of different reasons. – survival or ambition being the main ones. Now that we’re entering a difficult period it’ll be interesting to see how we respond – will we innovate and prosper or die a death?

  21. Brendan Walsh

    David, again you have metaphorically put another pussy amongst these gormless Muppet’s who share this small bit of rock here in north europe, the land of saints and scholars the cost you have incurred with your jaunt to south america to look at a few canels for myself and many others working the current wheels and cogs of Irelands Service industries must put in prehaps 80 hours of labour just to cover your flights. So tell the saps who buy the journals you greece your palms with, to print the trurth ?. This week my greek doctor friend who brought me to a lap dancing club on my first night in Athens ( too many there,hot and catholic ? ) Texted this week .. appartment and pub in city costs 25,000 . And his girlfriend is Argentinean what a small world, eh. And with the soiled fees exchanged with your morrissey media tell me why if there is nicotine in potatoes, peppers and several other plants like tomatoes. Why do our current Medical Board class Nicotine ‘patches’ as over the counter products? Simple answer here for all you bloggers out there, The Health campaign to promote less consumption of tobacco is sponsored by a pharpcuital leader who has by the way, a product in the UK been blamed for suidal deaths, and We, yes US great paddies don’t question this either.
    Yet today while you promote ipods, I have one on my lap top to make even cheaper world wide calls, so I don’t need to buy the ‘current’ model when it gets over to Eire.
    We need a siclon valley here not just to create world necessatity items, but to hide before our Health Ministral Decomrat ,Eats US!
    In America , pesificitaly Los Angles you can today purchase a bottle with nicotine and guarda to drink while your in those situations where you can’t or shouldn’t smoke and you can buy this drink in their airports and take it through security on their flights, yet our ‘Medical Stalewarts installed here still go by old definitions of substnces and class Nicotine as ‘poison’ to quote a yong female chemist from Cork, If this is the case and if true then we are all truly screwed for without our potato we will again starve and be forced to begin another cicyle if it’s banned from our counters
    So what if a few block layers get made redundant the developers still have hidden money and politicans will always read with some kind of spin. Yet why we elect and over pay men and women who when knowing they are been recorded do still, read the words from pages. In school we are thought to Debate yet today these ‘Leaders, don’t know their lines to the opponents pre pared also speeches.
    The as you Media people call it, this economic slow down within the housing market, is simply down to ineptly trained unionised civil servants and their Diageo pals.We currently don’t need any more housing until we develop more long and short term industries, when I tried to bring employment for one hundred and fifty , My local councilor informed me , the Factory was taken, but sure he couldn’t tell me by who, if you know what I mean!. Today the 20 th jan. 08. it’s raining in waterford , but could be worse it’s freezing in michans waterford and they have just went through their canidates , will they lead them out of their current ‘economic recession’ ? And has our plant up the road from me been worked yet ?
    And since I’m getting a few things of my chest here, whats the story ,really with Matt Cooper going on and on about Broad band where I live it’s here, For Years, maybe I should listen to some other station, and RTE re showing twenty year old mike murphy shows, when they are not showing the wild life series ?, regarding using expats? well today ‘on the green’ to quote another hck!, Rises The Red squirel Vazzi, ,will his call to action be heard or will paul williams win and make us all saints, like he is. ?
    Finally for Fraks sake as the final 40 odd thousand Galactica’s would say it’s time Old Eire woke up it’s dead and like those other clever south aericans once did, get rid of the annorak man and fat Harney Man !!. Truth is Dublin ,never really was, in Celtic years our capital any way !
    Internet people check out ribbitt dot com , ipod me arse, and go to cubictelecom before your next coke induced sking trip too.
    Amen for today , It’s sunday must bring my mother to her first love. ,
    Of Course I could go on, but now I heard ‘they’ are cracking excel , so I have bigger issues to deal with here. Call Vitacost.com and ask why they take or money and send us dreams with the wrong wall plug?
    Brendan , finding my self on this emerald isle

  22. Thaigah

    Andrew G Mooney

    I can’t understand everything you say, but the parts which I do understand I tend to agree with. The people driving great new ideas (the computer, the cell phone, the internet, in-vitro fertilization, etc) and those who then bring them to the masses (e.g. Sinclair, Nokia, Microsoft, Bourne Hall, etc) I agree are more “movers and shakers” than the politicians and economists.

    You ask whether Finland re-emerged because of government policies or because of
    the reemergence of Finnish values of hard work, innovation and gritty determination?

    Does it matter? What if the two can go hand in hand and feed off each other? Here in South Korea the country re-emerged spectacularly at the time of a hardline government which encouraged both successful institutions (like the company “chaebol”) and an ethic of we-want-to-be-the-best-or-at-least-better-than-Japan. And in Ireland our boom coincided with an open-door, tax-incentivized policy and the arrival of mutinationals looking for highly-educated, English-speaking labour.
    I don’t think it’s that important whether the chicken or the egg came first.

    What I think is more important is the answer to your questions: Where next for Ireland? and What will be Ireland’s unique take on 21st century capitalism? Questions which David asks (and sometimes answers) week in, week out.

    I don’t think we can do that much about producing the ‘movers and shakers’ like Dermot Ryan. They just happen, and would that they happened more often. But surely we can all do what David does, look in at ourselves and ask: what do we Irish people do better than others, and can I or my kids contribute in one of these ways?

    OK, repairing dry stone walls – which you mention – is an unusual example, but following that train of thought, we can surely take some credit for being good at both farming and building. And I’m sure we could list many more positives which, if given more emphasis and encouragement, could lead to a continuation of the good fortune of the last few years (once the current dust settles).

    As David says above: “We in Ireland have to respond with financial, technological and material smarts, using everything at out disposal”. I hope it will soon seem smart once again in Ireland to own a farm, not because of the value of the land on the property market, but because the earth is good and there is a huge market for healthily-grown/raised Western food. Come and have a look at Korea. They’ve covered every available piece of flat land with greenhouses and sell strawberries in the shop at 5 quid a punnet starting in November.

    But really, we don’t need to copy any other country. Just become more aware of what we do best and develop even better ways of doing these things. Teaching more creative thinking (de Bono?) and business skills in schools, holding think-tanks including even the Minister of Enterprise, facilitating the raising of venture capital, OK
    maybe I’ve been out of the country too long, but I just hope, like you Mr Mooney, that
    the country doesn’t revert to paralysis. In fact I don’t believe it will.

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