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Toronto: Are we just a bunch of Bobos and Fauxhemians?

Mark Kingwell is harsh, and brutally so. If you're a "bobo" (i.e. bourgeoisie bohemian), or of the ilk, his latest essay in the Walrus may make you choke on that non-fat, no-water, tazo chai latt&eacute of yours.

Toronto: Justice Denied is an important read for any Torontonian, bobo or not. In his biting essay, Kingwell dismantles the "creative class" logic endorsed by Richard Florida.

Many may be familiar with Florida by now, the bobo-loving Cultural Economist whose best-selling books have found their way into our social consciousness, and more importantly, have given us the green light to pat ourselves on the backs for contributing to our cities urban transformation.

If Florida is saying, more creative types in a city = more economic growth = successful city. Then Kingwell is saying, more creative types in a city = more economic growth = so what?

What Kingwell is interested in is not debating whether Toronto is a creative city, but rather, how our idea-based economy will affect our ability to be a just city. A just city, according to Kingwell, is a city that has a radical openness to the other; has the ability to help the less fortunate; a city where a person can pass by someone in the street without averting ones eyes (apparently we're notorious for this).

I recommend you read the essay. Yes, the man may be mean. Sure, he unfairly boils us down to walking-creative-nodes and has an obvious discrimination issue with people younger and hipper than him. But despite all this, Kingwell only wants what we all want: a compassionate city to call home.

(Mark Kingwell is an author, cultural theorist and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.)

Photo: "yonge street, toronto" by blogTO Flickr pooler decks_and_drums_and_ rock_and_roll (in Innsbruck)


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