And The Walls Came Tumbling Down.

Four European countries this week.

And (outside of work) two main topics of conversation.

VW and immigration.

The world doesn’t need another trite, quickly put-together piece on ’10 Lessons From The VW Crisis For Brands’.

But it, and Europe in particular, does need to talk honestly about immigration.

As people working in the creative sector, we have a special responsibility here.

Because one of the parents of creativity is surely the diversity that emerges from the movement of people and the consequent exchange of ideas.

The more ideas, things and people we are exposed to, the more we can make connections between those ideas, things and people – and start to innovate.

An institutionalised ability to think different, to welcome the new, has been the hallmark of all great movements, ‘flowerings’ and civilisations.

Take the golden age of Islam, where the caliphs sought to fill their jasmine-scented courts with astronomers, doctors, mathematicians, physicists, philosophers and thinkers because they recognised that the technologies and truths that would emerge could strengthen their power and dominance. And dominate they did, not only geographically, from Spain to what is now Pakistan, but intellectually and scientifically – from the development of algebra to the identification of smallpox and the design of the Alhambra.

Or take the Scottish Enlightenment, when James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, the economist Adam Smith, the pioneering chemist Joseph Black and the philosopher David Hume got together every week ‘to inquire… to communicate knowledge and ideas to each other’. So powerful were some of those ideas that they went on to inform the thinking behind the creation of the United States.

Today, the melting pot that is California – synonymous with ‘the new’, spawning social media, Hollywood, a huge music business and more – owes at least part of its success to being a home to ‘refugees’ from around the world. It has made the last half-century its own, encouraging everyone, guru to geek, Huxley to Zuckerberg, to ‘go west’ and to contribute to California becoming the eighth largest economy in the world.

The more we seek challenge, the more we encounter fresh ideas and enrich our lives – intellectually, creatively and, probably, financially. The sum is greater than the parts: gesamtkunstwerk, as Bauhaus director Walter Gropius put it.

It’s about breaking out from the soulless groupthink and self-reinforcing homogeneity that did for Kodak, Blockbuster, HMV and so many others.

Welcoming more people to our shores is not only the ‘right’ thing to do; exclusively humanitarian and magnanimous.

It is also selfish.

Because immigration is how we will renew our businesses, our nations, and the European continent as a whole.

– this piece first published by The Marketing Society

Monticello LLP

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