A few years ago, I went to see Thom Hartmann, author of, most recently, The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America—and What We Can Do About It. Hartmann is a brilliant analyst and I wanted to know more about the global economic model the wealthy are perpetrating on the world.
But I didn’t.
The event was controlled and manipulated. For over half the program, speakers other than Hartmann commandeered the crowd. (“Stand up. Sit down. Let me hear a ‘Yes!’”) The interview style limited Hartmann’s responses, couched them in his sponsor’s lexicon, and held audience questions in check.
As I watched, I witnessed Hartmann’s manipulative model of power re-enacted in miniature. Some in the audience were aware of the manipulation and attempted to break it, but they were reprimanded. I was sorely disappointed for I respect the sponsor’s mission and had expected more.
Juxtapose that model with one shared by Richard Florida in The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited. Speakers included notables such as Michael Dell, founder and chair of Dell Computers.
But unlike Hartmann’s program, “If you wanted to interrupt [Dell] with a question or comment mid-speech, you went right ahead,” Florida wrote. “All the trappings of status and privilege had been left at home,” including attire (everyone was dressed the same).
To level the playing field, the audience was also given plastic Wiffle© balls and encouraged to pelt the speaker if they didn’t like what he was saying.
These two events offer different models of power. They also caution me to stay vigilant. Otherwise, unaware, I may support the very narrative I am attempting to re-story.