In a conservative society, anything new is automatically treated with fear and suspicion if it contradicts current social norms. Homosexuality, for example, is still an issue the State beats about, even until today. It is still socially unacceptable to be a homosexual, just because one does not have the same sexual preferences as most other people, for some strange reason.
Conservatism is backed by one thing, and one thing only: everything that has worked in the past has worked and made things safe; there is therefore no need to change. This inductive logic works all the way until the moment it does not. It assumes a kind of permanence in the world, but in reality, the world is in a constant state of flux. The advent of globalisation has merely made this more apparent: behold the fall of once-mighty superpowers and the rise of formerly-thought hopeless cases, meaning, of course, the former USSR and Singapore post-secession from Malaysia.
The conservative mindset would, therefore, in the long run, be ineffective, for it does not allow one to adapt to changing times. Despite this, Singaporean society is still reportedly conservative, and so it shall stay until this mindset is abandoned for a more dynamic one.
At the same time, it must be remembered that our so-called ‘Knowledge-Based Economy’, as outlined in the previous edition of Social Studies textbooks, is based on an analysis of our globalising world. As stated earlier, the fast-adapting man is king. Knowledge is a valuable commodity only as long as it is relevant to a rapidly developing field. Once that field’s promise has dried up, and interest moves on to another field, anybody who is left behind is in for a tough time.
Unless, of course, he can create a new breakthrough that re-incites interest in that field, but such a person is usually driven by passion, not by money, as stated above. People who do move on are usually not bound by a conservative mindset, i.e. he should take up only certain jobs because they are high paying, high status, or whatever; or a rigid one, i.e. he has been in this field previously, so he should find the same job somewhere else, unless of course it is his passion.
Instead, he has a different mindset: he takes up a job because it interests and excites him, in whatever way; and if something better comes along, he should take it to further his own goals. In this way, he takes risks by doing something very few, if any, people have done before, taking the chance that he might fail.
Conservatism is opposed to this risk-taking, for it favours the sure-fire tried-and-true, which remains true until it does not, as opposed to the novel and new that might possibly fail, yet pay off handsomely when successful.
The fear of failing
Those who overcome this fear of failure, make the right decisions, and are appropriately flexible, become heroes of a sort. Those who do fail are laughed at for their failure. Those who do not take the chance remain in the status quo, or perhaps are left behind in a deteriorating field. The first scenario is the ideal. The second is the more realistic, but contains the possibility of evolving into the first if the person picks himself up and carries on, unafraid of failing. The third is the worst-case scenario, because the person does nothing to improve his lot, and remains where he is for the foreseeable future and beyond.
If Singapore were to survive, she must have a high number of entrepreneurs, as defined above. The blueprint of Singapore’s economic survival, indeed, that of every nation in our interconnected world, must begin with an entrepreneur with a bright idea.
Using his creativity, he brings that idea to fruition. He is then faced with rigidity, and perhaps opposing Orders, which he then attempts to overcome by magnifying the strength of his creative force through taking risk, in order to increase the magnitude of the physical manifestation of a hoped-for success; and by imbibing his creative force with his will, to force himself through the layers of rigidity he faces. He may choose to join forces with other like-minded individuals to enhance this. By fighting against rigidity, he is applying his knowledge and ideas in an effort to combat opposing knowledge, i.e. that which prevents him from executing his ideas, in the same way as described above.
Breaking out of the “Order”
If he succeeds, he breaks out of his current Order, and forms a new one, drawing upon the creative aspect of his will to power. If he were lucky, he and his associates would have weakened the rigidity he had to face, perhaps even falsifying some of its underlying ‘knowledge’ through a combined effort, over a period of time. He then markets this new Order that he possesses, by taking up or creating a job based on its application, to benefit whomever he wishes, most probably himself and others. It could, for example, be something as simple as setting up a shop run by cancer patients in a hospital, or something as complex as establishing a billion-dollar media empire. This cycle then continues with a new breed of entrepreneurs, in the same or different fields, as more innovations and insights take place.
As stated earlier, Singapore needs creativity in order to survive. But in order for this to happen, we must first overcome the greatest barriers in this country: our mindsets. If the entrepreneur can overcome the materialist mindset (better yet, not even possess it, or be motivated by it instead of being constrained by it), he would not be overburdened with financial concerns, and would be more willing to take more risks with a lower capital. If the entrepreneur can overcome the conservative mindset, he could break new ground in existing Orders, or create new, probably niche, areas that are marketable in the KBE. This is, of course, assuming that said entrepreneur is creative and intelligent enough to see his ideas to fruition.
But this is survival in the economic sense. What about in the cultural sense? A nation is merely the sum total of the cultural influence of a country. We do not have much of a culture to speak of; therefore we would not have much of a nation, if we even have one. In order for us to have a powerful culture, one that creates a nation, we need artists. Note that I use ‘artist’ very loosely: it comprises of philosophers, directors, writers, musicians, just about anything that is driven by ideas, expands on ideas, and raises new ones.
These entrepreneurs are, perhaps, the more abstract form of entrepreneurs: business entrepreneurs use existing ideas to back their business, while artistic ones draw their business from their ideas. The former, for example, is like a man who runs an art gallery that sells paintings; the latter is akin to the painter who creates those paintings before selling them to the former. Naturally, there are fields where these two entrepreneurs come together, and some people have displayed qualities of both.
Despite this, it is the artistic entrepreneur who has the hardest time, anywhere in the world. His creativity is undeniably purer than even the business entrepreneur: the businessman bases his actions on at least one goal, meaning earning money, which is an unoriginal idea; the artist does not care about money, and instead strives to exercise his creativity by creating creative works based on his original ideas, and nobody else’s.
To be continued in part 3.