Since the 2008 Crisis, and, in the seven years following it, the almost complete economic passivity of the dozen advanced countries of the world, several authors have come out with theories why and how this has happened. My own hypothesis is that the industrial revolution in England was actually a unique occasion and has largely played put by the 1980s. Nothing remotely like it was ever to be repeated.
But leaving my own view on one side, some think that the present lassitude is due to a drying up of creativity as a whole. In a recent op-ed,”Progress is bunk . . . “, the writer opines that nothing new is being created in modern times. I dispute this. The dearth of innovations since the 1980s is a falling off only of new status goods, not of everything else.
By “status goods” I mean the goods we buy at the highest price we can afford at the time in order to show our social status — homes, cars, furnishings, clothes, personal ornamentation, entertainment, etc — to our friends, colleagues, neighbous and anybody else we wish to impress. All of us have a great need to show pretty well exactly where we are — or where we think we are! — in the pecking order.
As for all other innovations, creativity continues. We can instance mental and physical labour-saving tools, more efficient infrastructure — particularly of energy — more pleasant environment, editing harmful genes, carbon compound equivalents to metal-based items, health care, breeding of exotic species, space travel. All this follows from a continuing explosion of scientific research.
The Revolution is dead. Long live the Revolution.