[Report] War as a continuation of creativity by other means

18 December, 2018 KAJITANI Shinji

Dan Öberg is Associate Professor at the Swedish Defence University, Stockholm, and on the 1 November 2018, he held a UTCP seminar entitled “War as a Continuation of Creativity by Other Means.” The event was well attended with close to 20 participants from both within the University of Tokyo and beyond, which provided for lively discussion during the Q&A session.


Prof. Öberg’s argument proceeded from the observation that we live in an era characterised by creativity. It is evident in organisational models that emphasise creativity as central to the efficient management of corporations, the self-help culture that depicts it as a tool for any and every ailment, or commercials that invoke creativity to sell products. Indeed, the seminar kicked-off with a video on two marketing campaigns by Adidas, where many of the world’s leading sportspeople showcase their skills and relate their success back to their creative edge. (By Bregham Dalgliesh)


If creativity is the panacea of the day, might it also be amenable to providing an intellectual framework for its antithesis, killing? As chilling as this might sound, Prof. Öberg explained to the audience how discourses on creativity have been incorporated as part of the waging of war. Since the enlightenment era, war has been considered a phenomenon characterised by a tension between creativity and linear conduct, and the ideal military commander as someone with the vision to overcome this. By analysing contemporary military discourse, Prof. Öberg illustrated how it emphasises war with a reference point in experimental artistry, which typically idealises creativity as an objective. Based on this analysis, Prof. Öberg explained how warfare conceived as a continuation of creativity by other means risks spilling over into the global dimensions of social and political life, thus blurring the lines between war and peace behind a veneer of creation that has death as its goal and justification.

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