“Coolhunting for the World’s Thought Leaders” is an actual academic paper by actual academics (Peter Gloor at MIT; Karin Frick and Detlef Guertler at the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Switzerland). Its purpose: To create “a novel ‘Thought Leader Map’ [that] shows the select group of people with real influence who are setting the trends in the market.
Today, inbetween the identification of operational risks and internal controls (my daily job nowadays), I came across this article about the biggest ‘thinkfluencers’ of 2012.
For my surprise, one of the trend setters happened to be this guy named Thilo Sarrazin, described as someone who wrote a “bestselling book arguing that genetically inferior Kurds and Turks were dumbing down Germany”.
I was surprised not because of the apparent popularity of such arguments in Europe but instead because of the lack of refinement, the rawness, of his discursive practice.
Sarrazin, a trend setter in 2012, is a good old-fashioned, no non-sense, straight shooter racist, using classic xenophobic language in public in ways that few germans have since the Holocaust.
That explains, in big part, his success: he’s breaking the taboo and trying to capitalize from being a frontrunner.
And that’s about it, mostly because his arguments are total shit.
Sarrazin defends two main stands of view: he’s “anti-euro” (“Europe Doesn’t Need the Euro”) and “anti-immigrant” (“Germany Does Itsfelf In”). His book “Germany Abolishes Itsfelf” sold over 1.3 million copies, proving that unconvincing books can convince quite a few readers (here in Portugal such books tend to be read by people who have yet to meet an immigrant).
He’s anti-euro because the southern economies of the euro zone are not ready and have culture and mentality issues that lead to lack of discipline. Because corruption, mismanagement, and indolence are endemic to southern European culture and Germany is being “black-mailed” to bail them out because it perpetrated the Holocaust.
Sarrazin defines himself as a man of numbers; but also as a man of poor sensibility. He believes that human life follows strict rules such as “hereditary factors”. Muslims and southern Europeans are hopeless because there are relevant genetic differences among ethnic groups working against them.
Some, like him, still (choose to) believe that some born smart and some born stupid. Traditionally, those belonging to the elite tend to think they born superior as a mean to justify their priviledges.
I don’t know if intelligence (or economic performance, for that matter) is hereditary.
I think one may have all the potential in the world but he’ll need the right conditions to make it grow. Inteligence (another arguable concept by itself) can be a difference maker in a world in which we all share equal opportunities; but it plays a minor role when we compare individuals in different contexts.
The real magic happens when people have the creativity and the ability to transcend the rules and prove reductionist theorists like Thilo Sarrazin wrong.
Let’s hope to get inspired by more open-minded, forward-thinking trend-setters in the future. Let’s get inspired by those who approximate people, instead of separating them; by those who work to find solutions, not to agravate the problems (normally promoting their own personal agenda).
As for us Europeans, an isolated Germany serves no one.