For years, Richard Florida preached the gospel of the creative class. His new book is a mea culpa.

Sam Wetherell

Geographer David Harvey has argued that the biggest shift in urban economies over the last forty years has been the move from managerialism to entrepreneurialism. City governments that once provided services for their residents in the form of welfare and infrastructure now market themselves to global pools of capital, tourists, and educated workforces.

The notion that creativity could solve these urban problems — either from above, with monumental art galleries, or from below, with bearded clusters of hipsters, is a symptom of this profound transformation.

Richard Florida was right when he said that the “creative economy” is the new way of the world. But its development didn’t happen how he imagined. Rather than launching humanity into a new phase of prosperity, the new economy simply holds the different elements of late capitalism together — making it palatable for some but deepening its crises and contradictions for others.