Why do authoritarians attack the arts?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Landrum Kelly, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. Lannie, I don't think their conclusion is very convincing. The article says:


    "But we also need the arts as a protective factor against authoritarianism. In saving the arts, we save ourselves from a society where creative production is permissible only insofar as it serves the instruments of power."​

    By making art we are protected? How so? I'd say that in allowing the making of art we may be liberated, but not "protected."

    But the leading questions of this thread are well worth discussion. Here is Meyer Schapiro, writing in 1999, asking much the same question:

    "… why is modern art so disturbing to people? Aren’t we, after all, living in a world of freedom and individuality? Why under these circumstances and with this acceptance of the underlying values of modern art and of creativeness as vested in the individual, and in theory possible for everyone, why does this art strike the director of the Metropolitan Museum as meaningless or pornographic?​


    [line break added] Why does it disturb the president of the country, the former dictator of Germany, and the present dictator of Russia? There must be something very strange about it that keeps this art from reaching the world for which it was destined. Is it because, after all, we do not hold these values? Is it possible that we are not really devoted to spiritual freedom? Or that freedom in art is too difficult or dangerous for us?​


    "… why is modern art, which compels us to take our inner life more seriously, in some sense, not avowable? We have feelings of guilt or tension with respect to precisely that exploration of the self that the artist is willing to face directly and to evoke in his work. It leaves us uneasy; it brings into the foreground the real disparity between our inner demands and our actuality."​

    I think Schapiro's last sentence may get closer to the truth than that found in the linked article.

    [Lannie, your link doesn't work for me. Here is one that did work.]
     
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  2. Norman

    Norman Norman T Naffington

    art is, mainly, institutionalised creativity. everyone should attack it from time to time.
     
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  3. Thanks, Julie, for a link that works.

    art is, mainly, institutionalised creativity. everyone should attack it from time to time. --Norman
    Norman, is "institutionalised creativity" the defining essence of art in your opinion, or is that what you see as a contingent fact about this or that artistic community or establishment? On either interpretation, I think that such a statement needs to be argued for. It certainly is not self-evidently true, at least not to me.

    --Lannie
     
  4. Norman

    Norman Norman T Naffington

    pretty much so.

    [QUOTE="Landrum Kelly, post: 5552369, member:
    or is that what you see as a contingent fact about this or that artistic community or establishment?
    [/QUOTE]

    all communities and establishments should welcome criticism. it is how they grow. and, FWIW, IMO, TGIF, the artistic community is vast. $$ zillionaires and people teaching basic social skills thru art on a pittance
     
  5. Norman

    Norman Norman T Naffington

    font's gone crazy. :angry
     
  6. Authoritarians pick on artists at least partly because, in the mind of an authoritarian, artists are an easy mark. They often lack the kind of money and political power that is the purview of the authoritarian. Authoritarians need scapegoats. Artists can fit that bill.

    In short, I don't think it tells us as much about art or artists as it does about authoritarians. To understand the qualities of art itself, I'd look elsewhere.
     
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  7. I am no lover of Mr. Trump, the individual/politician. I disagree in detail and even spirit with much of what he has said or suggested, while agreeing in principle with the concerns of many people who voted for him. But I am rather appalled at the linked the article's implied comparison of our elected president with the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, and a raft of other, very diabolical and intensely evil dictators. Likening questions about funding for the NEA to the overt and extraordinary manipulation and suppression of art to a demagogue's purposes, and even the murder of politically contrary artists, does an extreme disservice to readers of this article and to the Nation as a whole. Yes, the NEA only represents a minuscule fraction of the Federal budget. Yet, Trump was elected, in part, by people who are very concerned about the massive Federal budget deficit. Every Federal program should be examined as to its expediency, the degree to which it meets real needs in proportion to its cost, and extent to which each of us, as taxpayers, should be asked to support it. This process is not and should not be construed as akin to the monstrous depravities of the Hitlers and Stalins of the world. I, for one, would not want my tax dollars spent in support of any artist whose work objectifies people, particularly girls and women. Others will feel differently. Let the public marketplace decide where our dollars should be spent and who they should support, particularly in an area as subjective as "art". Given how poorly government has proven to be in making sensible and valuable decisions in how our money should be spent, this is one area where I believe we should each individually vote with our pocketbooks, rather than allow Federal apparatchiks make the decision for us.

    As a practicing architect, whose work is to some degree considered "art", do I have a right to a government subsidy in support of that art? If so, to what degree? What if I disagree vehemently with the current PC attitudes, does my art still deserve support? Who decides? I make my living designing functional art, and I must do so in the marketplace. How does one draw the line between art and artists that should be subsidized by taxpayer dollars, and those who must make it on their own? This is a discussion that deserves to be had, and all sides deserve equal respect, since there cannot be a naturally and inherently correct answer.
     
  8. Norman

    Norman Norman T Naffington

    david, it's a sign of the times. my (formerly) beloved guardian newspaper ( once a cultural beacon) now a hate rag depends on click bait. " is theresa may even human, war against spain over gibralter is so wrong", etc

    bot, authoritarians ( apart from Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, the Cafflick church, chengis khan & hiz brothers) hate everything.
     
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  9. Hitler, too, was elected, and I'm quite sure many of his defenders mentioned that fact in reference to him. Someone's being duly elected doesn't make them any less evil than the most hated among us. Hitler started bit by bit. No one knew when he was starting out with certain draconian measures that it would lead to ovens. All I have to do is listen to Trump and one of his top advisers to be pretty sure of what I'm dealing with and no amount of voters who are taken in by him will change that.
     
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  10. Norman

    Norman Norman T Naffington

    a lot of westerners are easily freaked out these days and i don't think trump is any more anti stuff ( eg art, to keep it OT) than the previous bozo the US voted for, reagan, who, in fact, liberated art (in a round about way)
     
  11. Jeez, Fred, I have thought for some time in the aftermath of President Trump's victory that there are alternate political universes, particularly as regards hysterical responses on the left -- Hitler!?? I spent 8 miserable years under the previous scandal ridden regime without rioting, demonstrating or publicly reviling anyone.

    I sympathize with what those on your side are going through having "done my time" under Obama and his minions,

    I am in the best humor today since the election results came in -- a conservative constitutionalist on the Supreme Court to replace Justice Scalia, -- yet another campaign promise delivered, victory for the rule of law. The future is as bright for those of us on this side as "Hope & Change" was for those on yours. In Mr. Obama's words, "Elections have consequences" it wasn't ever going to be a liberal. After all, just Biden's rule.

    In re: the OP, Taxpayers should not have to subsidize clearly biased "Art" that they disagree with -- NPR leading the pack. One of a number of things we can no longer afford due to the debt accumulated in the past 8 years.
     
  12. Fred, yes, Hitler was elected. But Stalin was not. That's not the point.

    My point in quoting his election is that a major issue in the election was the choices we make and the priorities we set in the spending of taxpayer dollars. How about addressing my question in response to the OP: How should we decide where tax dollars are spent, and what makes government the valid arbiter of what art deserves support by the taxpayers, versus what should be oppressed? Isn't that what this is really about? And I reject the assumption that a failure to support art with taxpayer money is the same as dictatorial censorship and oppression.
     
  13. David, the state supports churches, by giving them tax exempt status, and we don't dictate what messages priests may give from the pulpit. I think as much public good comes from art, which the state should have an interest in supporting, and neither should we dictate the messages artists may put out.
     
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  14. Hitler was never elected. Nor did the Nazi Party ever win an election or gain a majority in the Reichstag (German parliament). What actually happened is that the Nazi Party won a sizable minority, so Hitler was invited to join the government as Chancellor. From there he gradually undermined the republic and established himself as dictator.

    Also, authoritarians are not necessarily hostile to the arts. In fact, they often spend lavishly on the arts. But those arts must support the viewpoint of the state and serve its purposes. Hitler and Stalin were great benefactors of state-oriented arts.
     
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  15. But those arts must support the viewpoint of the state and serve its purposes. Hitler and Stalin were great benefactors of state-oriented arts.
    Since "those arts must support the viewpoint of the state and serve its purposes," these dictators certainly were not supporters of the arts in general. They supported "art" for its propaganda value.

    I would conclude from this that they repressed art in general. Therefore I do not think that it is particularly helpful to say that "authoritarians are not necessarily hostile to the arts." Their overall manipulation of the arts toward their authoritarian ends does mean, in my opinion, that they were indeed "hostile to the arts."

    --Lannie
     
  16. Below is my final version of my post, before the machine locked me out:


    But those arts must support the viewpoint of the state and serve its purposes. Hitler and Stalin were great benefactors of state-oriented arts.
    Since "those arts must support the viewpoint of the state and serve its purposes," these dictators certainly were not supporters of the arts in general. They supported some "art" for its propaganda or political value--and repressed other art for political reasons as well.

    I would conclude from this that they repressed art in general. Therefore I do not think that it is particularly helpful to say that "authoritarians are not necessarily hostile to the arts." Their overall manipulation of the arts toward their political ends does mean, in my opinion, that they were indeed "hostile to the arts" qua art.

    --Lannie
     
  17. Lannie -- do you think that art should be / needs to be on the dole? How about Free market art? Lots of artists, left and right, have done darn well, producing beautiful marketable work. Can't recall too much propaganda art, ex the Che shirt, commemorating a sociopath killer that sells well. Of course, anyone who is subsidized...different rules. Otherwise, if no one buys, the market has decided.
    In re: art as propaganda, believe the left has a lock on that BTW, it was the National Socialist Workers Party Adolf ran.
    Soviet art -- quite an interesting museum in Minneapolis, some of it quite good.
    Coke or Pepsi.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  18. BTW, it was the National Socialist Workers Party Adolf ran.
    By whatever name, Sandy, Hitler's party was definitely not a socialist party. Hitler was rabidly anti-socialist, but he was not above manipulating words for the sake of garnering political support.

    As for the rest, I do believe that it is possible for the arts to be sponsored in a neutral manner, along with the humanities in general. I do not see "the Left" as having a lock on art that is sponsored with public dollars. If there is a leftist tilt to art, it exists quite apart from state sponsorship, in my opinion.

    "Free market" art is alive and flourishing, but I do not see anything inherently evil about state subsidies for the arts, humanities, PBS, or NPR, for what that's worth.

    --Lannie
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  19. Alternate, imiscible political universes -- we each see what we choose to see.
    Actually,Hitler was rabidly anti Communist.
    Interesting, the academic reflex in debate, lock in on a minor point.
    No offense, no hard feelings -- I went to college when no subject of conversation was off the table and there were no safe spaces.
     

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