“Slave Class” and “Creative Class”
For millennia thinkers have been trying to categorize humans into different “types” in order to explain their otherwise inexplicable differences in personality.
This is another such model, albeit without zany attempts to give it some tangible rational basis. It’s just what my eyes tell me — and what can most easily and usefully be applied to personal development. It is also very rough without much dressing.
Slave class is 80% of the population. They don’t much like being slaves, but the alternative, for them, is much worse: a life without structure and rules. They need authority. They need to be told what to do. They will choose bad authority over no authority at all. For slave class, life is about picking the lesser of two evils: doing something routine-based that they don’t like (slave work), or being a slave with no master (terrifying freedom — total uncertainty, total fear). The lives of the slave class are mainly predicated on conflict.
Creative class is 20% of the population — although I’m not sure it’s even that high. Maybe it’s more like 10% or 15%. But things tend to follow 80-20 so let’s stick with it. The creative class like to learn for no reason, and create with no tangible goal (e.g. money). The act of creation itself is fulfilling. However if they can make money via their creation, the best of both worlds is achieved. That is a sensible goal for creative class individuals.
Bipolar, ADHD and OCD occur when you make a creative class do slave work. Forget all the psychobabble you have heard about such conditions. If you get a creative class doing the creative work they are meant to be doing, all those conditions magically, instantly become what they are supposed to be. Bipolar: bursts of productivity followed by rest and reflection. ADHD: of course you’re bored with slave work (school, 9–5); this transforms to focused attention when you are doing what you love. OCD: obsession and compulsion are required to complete any significant act of creation. Not an illness. These conditions are only conditions when viewed through the lens that slave work is “normal”. Turn it around, view it from the other lens, and the apathy and conflict of the slave class appear to be more the real mental illnesses.
The lives of the creative class are mainly predicated on creative contribution.
If you are slave class, you won’t be reading this anyway. I’m sure Big Bang Theory is on or something.
If you are creative class, this is going to be a very short guide to help you be happy. Firstly, start creating. It doesn’t really matter what. If it’s just one hour a day after work (although I recommend before work, when you haven’t wasted your energy on slave work yet) then that will be enough to tune you in to your creative frequency and start feeling good for no reason. Then, through trying a few things, you’ll find the bits you really like. For me it’s composing music and writing (especially comedy), but I’m rather happy with most creative acts including design and even programming!
For the chronically depressed, motivation and confidence seem to be two major issues. For motivation, just start. Creativity is a snowball rolling down a hill. Give it an hour and see how you feel. For confidence, do things for yourself at first. When you inevitably start to think, “Hang on, others might get something out of this…” (creatives are driven by a need to contribute) then it’s time to start a blog, or a SoundCloud, or a deviantART.
Social is almost as important as creation. What you’ve got to firmly understand and accept is that creative class and slave class don’t really speak the same language. Slave class only go into subjects at an extremely shallow superficial level, whereas creative class tend to want to explore deeper (slave class don’t like this and will resist, possibly because it threatens to reveal to them that they have no soul). The bottom line is, you are going to need to find other creative types to hang around with if you want a fulfilling social life (often initiating the wonderful-yet-different world of co-creation). You can continue to fit in with slave class types where necessary by talking about football, booze and babes. And of course slave work. But networking with other creatives needs to be your primary social strategy. You need to find out where they go, and go there. Also, talk about your art to everyone you meet. If they ask what you do and you say your art instead of your job, you will either get enthusiastic creative exchange (creative class) or apathetic eye roll (slave class). They don’t understand you, and they never will, and that doesn’t matter, because the rewards for finding other creative types are infinitely higher.
Creative types also tend to be more withdrawn and introverted, whereas slave class tend to be loud and extroverted (saying a lot about nothing).
Finally, one more point about handling slave class. This was the most difficult one for me to understand and accept, but once I did, everything became clear. If you can just remember that their lives are predicated on conflict, you will be all right. Why? Because you can bring the conflict as required. Slave class are like a fish in water, except the water is conflict. It forms the basis of their lives, it’s all around them, and they don’t even know it’s there. Even a simple interaction without conflict would not feel right for them. It makes them uneasy. To maintain the implicit conflict in your interactions with them, and thus keep them happy (as happy as they can be), simply place necessary distance between yourself and them psychologically. Keep the guard up. Approach the interaction from the position of establishing and defending your status. They are all about status defence, and whether you slot in “lower” or “higher” than them, they are happy(ish). They are least comfortable with someone who does not make the attempt to establish status — even if it’s because you see the futility and pointlessness in it all. They will view you with distrust.
This is the main reason creative types get hurt by slave class — they bring their actual selves to the table. Slave class don’t. They bring their ego shells and fire mortars at each other from across the room.
The upside of this is that, when you’ve found a creative type (a skill you will trust more as you get better at it), do speak from the heart. Do bring yourself. Do go deeper, do talk about things that matter. That honest communication is like a switch in the creative type’s mind: “This person speaks my language! S/he’s like me!” This is how you start to build your tribe. Creative types often have similar tastes in music, art and film. If they have a difference in opinion, they also know why and can appreciate others’ points of view (slave class can’t; it becomes a conflict trigger — a dividing line for loyalties to fall each side of). Creative types also tend to have a similar sense of humour and can laugh at taboo things (this makes slave class very uncomfortable, especially when done in public). “Going against the grain” tends to be the sole reserve of the creative class.
Where do these “classes” come from?
I said I wouldn’t make any zany attempts to rationalize this model, but I didn’t say anything about not using other people’s ideas. 🙂
Koanic Soul and Tex Arcane have models which say that the 20% (creative class in our model) are humans expressing Neanderthal genes. The remaining 80% are closer to pure Homo Sapiens (also called “Saps” on Tex’s site, and Cro-Magnon and “Cro-Mags” on Koanic’s). Search Google using the following term to find Tex’s Neanderthal posts: site:vault-co.blogspot.com neanderthal
It’s a compelling idea, and I do follow developments in our understanding of the Neanderthal as a result. But I treat it as any other model and therefore do not subscribe to it 100%.
Interestingly, there is a gene associated with ADHD, bipolar, OCD, and other mental processing styles (“illnesses” depending upon which lens they are viewed through) called DRD4-7R, which is believed to have come from the Neanderthals.
Regardless of its origin, I have found the delineation of people into two general groups to be very helpful for me both socially and creatively, and for understanding myself and my purpose (creative contribution).