A lot of people have world-built (no pun intended) fictional countries, etc, that are based on the fact that creativity deserves to die; in other words, if you get caught doing creative stuff (like what artists and writers do; maybe even just drawing stuff in the dirt) you effectively sentence yourself to some degree of punishment. How well would such a civilization fare in comparison to other countries like the United States, Canada, and others? There are a lot of fictional texts based around a world of no creativity, but I would like to see how different such a country would be from the others in the real world.

EDIT: I'm referring to mostly the strong, the smart, the brave; the best people alive, whom are mostly able to solve problems that arise by the book; people able to militarily, strategically plan out solutions without doing something creative; doing what's needed and nothing more. That is the sort of creativity limitation I'm looking at. For those who might need an example to help you with what's allowed and what's not:

"Hey, these children need entertainment. I'm going to go write them a storybook--" and then the government says, "--They don't need entertainment! They need intelligence! Strength!"

"There is a crime wave going on right now. If we enforce this system... These laws..." "Smart. You get a promotion."

Thank you for any answers.

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    $\begingroup$ True story, thee was a religious cult that believed in complete celibacy for males and females. Procreation was completely prohibited. They also did not allow new converts. Totally closed society. Of course, extinction was inevitable., $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ Most fiction I've seen where creativity is punished or repressed are using those actions to telegraph a rather undesirable, miserable dystopia. Why bother comparing such shorthand fiction to complex real life? $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ Paradoxically, a question like this and the corresponding StackExchange to answer it would count as creativity and is therefore punishable in this fictional world $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 3:43
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    $\begingroup$ Too short to be an answer, but: Vogons, from Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Their role in the story was to be Douglas Adams' best answer to this question. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ You might be interested in some of the points made in answers and comments to my old question What conditions might cause a natural language to be completely literal? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 6:40

5 Answers 5


The Sentinelese are perhaps the most famous of the stone-age tribes still living on Earth. That's at least 4,000 years of absolutely nothing. That's what you get without creativity. No wheels. No metal objects of any kind. No significant art, literature, or music. No science or philosophy. Just fear of what is outside your own little world.

And there's 50-200 of them left... in a world of nearly 8 billion.

That's what a lack of creativity will get you.

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    $\begingroup$ "just fear of what is outside your own little world" sadly applies to a larger set than the Sentinelese. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 4:52
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch, well that's an honest truth. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 5:38
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    $\begingroup$ This seems very unfair on the Sentinelese. How do you know that they don't have any significant art, literature, or music? How do you know that they don't have any creativity? If it demonstrates anything, it is what happens if you limit exchange of ideas with the wider world. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ @user2390246 what stone-age examples of art, literature, or music that the world knows about would you compare? What evidence do you have that your perspective is valid? I'm aware of no literature, no music, and crude cave drawing, treasured not because they're great works of art, but because they're old. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 14:44


That is the short answer.
The long version is: Creativity is not only painting and drawing. Is to find different ways of doing something. For example: problem solving.
Imagine a society where firefighters could not find creative ways of saving people (each fire is different, and it is impossible to cover all the fire cases and situations in a manual).

Or a surgeon who cannot figure out a creative way to solve an unexpected situation in the middle of an operation.

Or any other person in the society who will not be able to solve any problem in his/her life, beyond the solutions originaly learned (and authorized by the government, of course).

Besides, imagine the law enforcement problem: The police CAN’T be creative because it is against the law. But criminals can use happily plenty of their creativity because they don’t care.

And finally, if any sign of creativity is punished, there won’t be any advances in medicine, technology or any other field. They will be doomed.


It would basicly fare like Europe during the Dark Age, only worse.

People solely relied on religious scriptures and transcriptions of ancient roman text books for information. Anything that was not mentioned in those sources did not exist. Anything the bible mentioned, like angels, demons and mythical lands was real even though noone ever saw proof of its existence.

We know through archeological findings that knowledge about mechanical devices and mathematical theories was lost during this time and had to be rediscovered later. Development of new technologies took a long time until the printing press was developed (aiding the spread of information).

If a country prohibited any kind of creativity, all people would have the same knowledge that becomes very outdated very fast. Think about Europeans invading Japan with steel battle ships and gattling guns and meeting an army of samurai armed with swords. That kind of outdated.

They could survive more or less well in complete isolation, but exposure to outside ideas would spur creativity in at least some of the people. Ideas might be kept quiet, but they are unstoppable.

  • $\begingroup$ Actually they would not. See, all those religious text and scriptures and roman text books actually are the result of creativity, sadly ;) $\endgroup$
    – TomTom
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 6:23
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    $\begingroup$ @TomTom Well, without any act of creativity in their entire history, they would still be apes in trees. The OP clearly states that there should be some development in a socienty that lead to the punishment of creativity, but not to the ban of formerly recorded rules, strategies and knowledge. $\endgroup$
    – Elmy
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 6:27
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    $\begingroup$ That is a gross exaggeration for the 'dark ages'; There were significant cultural and technological advancements made during this time, people didn't just suddenly wake up in the renaissance having done nothing for nearly a millennium. $\endgroup$
    – Cubic
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 10:25

A lack of creativity means a lack of innovation. Technology and science only advance because someone thinks of a new idea, looks for a new solution to a problem, or thinks of some new theory for how the world works. Creating something new is creativity, and requires imagination. Art and stories are how people develop creativity in their childhood. If you are raised to only think by the book, and never be creative, that will apply to all aspects of your life.

A society could potentially exist indefinitely without innovation (in isolation), but only if they also aren't growing larger. Larger populations require innovation to support - better food production, better healthcare, better waste disposal, better housing - or else they will steadily decline. The more people there are, the greater the population density will be. The greater the population density, the more resources are spread thin. Without innovation leading to greater resource generation, or some way to prevent the population from growing, a lack of innovation would eventually lead to collapse.

Even if the population did stay constant, however, a lack of creativity/innovation will lead to surrounding nations that aren't so limited to quickly advance beyond the stagnant one.


What comes to my mind is 1984 from George Orwell. A world in which even emotions are regulated and controlled by the state. Creativity is only a tool necessary by those who are firmly approved to be loyal to the ideology in order to spread it through propaganda. Yet, it is not about expressing emotions, beauty, provoke thinking or creating something innovative or revolutionary - quite the opposite. The nail which sticks out has to be hammered down for the sake of the collective and the "higher goal."

Creativity and uncontrolled emotions lead to wrong-thinking, a harm to the cause, which cannot be afforded. We are not even talking about "free speech" - that's basically a crime. Emotions which do not serve the purpose of the state, like collectively shouting at a foe presented on a screen by the higher ups, are sanctioned. Being in love, wanting freedom, privacy, being skeptical or just wanting some difference is like being sick. If it's not sick, it's ignorance. If it's not ignorance, it's malevolence.

It's a grayish world and the hollowness is the consequence of the ideology ruling with a totalitarian state. A world of true equality - equity - at least for the lower class, which is the vast majority of people. And that grayishness is actively favored by the ideologues. Colors of any kind, like those found in nature, can invoke wrong-think. That's the reason why people live, work and traverse through underground-like structures with no windows - and there was no television or entertainment either - just the cycle of work and rest, and the occasional dull conversations about politics and work.

How well would it fare?

Oh, terribly. It's as inhumane as anything can be that is built upon freedom, morality and free speech. Total tyranny, rampant amorality, massive stagnation, starvation, misery are consequences of tyranny, for those who are and have always been truly exploited: Tax paying citizens who have to obey every law or face punishment. The incentives of working hard and well and with ambition will be minimized, thus inevitably cause the entire society to be dragged down in the sinkhole of its own creation.

There will be a point in which citizens will become even cheerful and thankful for any other nation that liberates them from the tyranny of their own society... even if the only thing they do is leaving behind a wake of death and destruction.


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