HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Why Authoritarians Attack...

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 08:27 AM

Why Authoritarians Attack the Arts

Last month, the Trump administration proposed a national budget that includes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA operates with a budget of about $150 million a year. As critics have observed, this amount is about 0.004 percent of the federal budget, making the move a fairly inefficient approach to trimming government spending. Many Americans have been protesting the cuts by pointing out the many ways that art enriches our lives ó as they should. The arts bring us joy and entertainment; they can offer a reprieve from the trials of life or a way to understand them.

But as Hitler understood, artists play a distinctive role in challenging authoritarianism. Art creates pathways for subversion, for political understanding and solidarity among coalition builders. Art teaches us that lives other than our own have value. Like the proverbial court jester who can openly mock the king in his own court, artists who occupy marginalized social positions can use their art to challenge structures of power in ways that would otherwise be dangerous or impossible.

.................................................................................

American observers shook their heads in disapproval when the performance artist Danilo Maldonado was arrested and jailed for criticizing the Castro regime, and when the Chinese sculptor and photographer Ai Weiwei was placed under house arrest and had his studio demolished by the government. But closer to home, it is imperative that we understand what Trumpís attack on the arts is really about. Itís not about making America a drab and miserable place, nor is it about a belief in austerity or denying resources to communities in need. Much like the disappearance of data from government websites and the exclusion of critical reporters from White House briefings, this move signals something broader and more threatening than the inability of one group of people to do their work. Itís about control. Itís about creating a society where propaganda reigns and dissent is silenced.

We need the arts because they make us full human beings. 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. When the canary in the coal mine goes silent, we should be very afraid ó not only because its song was so beautiful, but also because it was the only sign that we still had a chance to see daylight again.


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/opinion/why-authoritarians-attack-the-arts.html?smid=fb-share

32 replies, 3323 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 32 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Authoritarians Attack the Arts (Original post)
ehrnst Apr 2018 OP
NewJeffCT Apr 2018 #1
DemocracyMouse Apr 2018 #17
NewJeffCT Apr 2018 #18
DemocracyMouse Apr 2018 #23
spanone Apr 2018 #2
Locrian Apr 2018 #3
mountain grammy Apr 2018 #5
malthaussen Apr 2018 #11
NJCher Apr 2018 #15
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2018 #12
Locrian Apr 2018 #20
Fred Sanders Apr 2018 #22
barbtries Apr 2018 #4
dembotoz Apr 2018 #6
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2018 #10
Shipwack Apr 2018 #16
sheshe2 Apr 2018 #7
bronxiteforever Apr 2018 #8
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2018 #9
Hortensis Apr 2018 #13
Wounded Bear Apr 2018 #14
DonCoquixote Apr 2018 #19
DemocracyMouse Apr 2018 #21
WhiteTara Apr 2018 #24
BobTheSubgenius Apr 2018 #25
DetlefK Apr 2018 #26
Bayard Apr 2018 #27
Achilleaze Apr 2018 #28
ladjf Apr 2018 #29
MadDAsHell Apr 2018 #30
Orsino Apr 2018 #31
RandomAccess Apr 2018 #32

Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 08:34 AM

1. I hope if Democrats can win the presidency in 2020

that we not only bring back the NEA, but give it a huge increase in funding so public schools can have bands and orchestras in addition to football teams, they can have classes in painting, sculpting and drawing in addition to basketball teams and do plays and musicals in addition to soccer, baseball or track.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NewJeffCT (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:32 AM

17. But football is an art! It' a generative art form celebrating the body in perpetual war conditions

The truth is that we fund a lot of art forms as a nation, but avoid and, often censor, the kind involving critical thinking.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to DemocracyMouse (Reply #17)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:34 AM

18. I didn't say to cut football

I said to have more arts on top of sports programs.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NewJeffCT (Reply #18)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 11:04 AM

23. No worries... I was being facetious

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 08:41 AM

2. folks in the arts tend to be free-thinkers....authoritarians can't handle that

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 08:47 AM

3. I think on a psychological level...

they don't like the artists "freedom" and sense of what is important.

I think the authoritarians generally LIKE the "seriousness" of fear and war - and don't appreciate the more thoughtful / playful nature of art.

I really think they need the fear and urgency to feel "alive" - they LIKE it.

And I'm sure sex plays into it - the jealousy of the artist etc getting the girls / boys, etc. when THEY (the serious, righteous, etc) should.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Locrian (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 09:24 AM

5. I agree.. and, on a psychological level

it's terrifying, but the wealthy who are in "favor" will fund the "arts" they want us to see.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Locrian (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:02 AM

11. Authoritarians get plenty of booty, though.

But usually only from gold-diggers or persons as serious/boring as they. What they have trouble getting are the free-spirited and carefree types.

Authoritarians are into dominance -- whether dominating or being dominated, it doesn't much matter. So naturally the only art form they enjoy is parades.

-- Mal

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to malthaussen (Reply #11)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:12 AM

15. LOL

that is one of the funniest--and truest-- posts I've read in a long time!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink



Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #12)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:48 AM

20. I always thought fear was high...

But I thought nobody would LIKE to be afraid.
I think authoritarians LIKE begin in fear mode - they like the excitement of it or whatever.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #12)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:54 AM

22. Frankly, fear is the juice that drives all cults, Trump's is no exemption. And the fear level at

Fox is off the charts.

Can not fight fear with fear...no idea how.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 08:51 AM

4. empathy, appreciation, approach of wisdom

we're humans, we need it. authoritarians want to squash us. we're "resources" not people.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 09:31 AM

6. it just money...if the funding gets cut we open our wallets and support the arts

leaving less cash to support candidates

discretionary income only goes so far

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dembotoz (Reply #6)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:01 AM

10. No. Much more than money. At issue is also respect for the arts and leading for educating kids.


If the nation from the top down respects the arts, then education in the arts for children becomes more supported and a higher priority.

Educating children in the arts is vital for mental health, career opportunities, and social harmony.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:15 AM

16. +1 nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 09:33 AM

7. K&R

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 09:50 AM

8. K&R. Vital read. The arts make us human.

Artists depict our mortality, our frailty, our callousness and our fallibility. Truths autocrats deny.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 09:58 AM

9. Thank you for posting this. Good read. Bookmarked for reference. . . . . nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:06 AM

13. Yup, yup, yup. These people don't just want to take us back

to the 1800s, they want to undo the Enlightenment of the 1600 and 1700s from which our beliefs in humanism, democracy, education and the arts arise.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:06 AM

14. Authoritarians need to have "art" support and defend their interests...

That, of course, diminishes the art itself, turning it into mere advertising.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:48 AM

19. Thisis also why they polish a Ted Nugent, or

any artist that proclaims praise for them; they want to be able to say "we are the pones that can create culture, not our enemies!" Of course, this was a pattern long before America, as Hitler and Stalin were both failed artists, who took it out on successful ones. They also cultivated pet artists whose mission was to remake their art in the image of their leaders: Stalin had Maxim Gorky, a novelist that would help punish other novelists, and Hitler had Carl Orff, who would rewrite new versions of music that would replace Mendelssohn, a great composer, and a Jew.

What is worse is that Americans tend to interpret funding as a sign of virtue, which is why the authoritarians try very hard to be the only source of funding for art. Go ahead and watch a film called "the art of the steal" a film about a 20 billion dollar art collection where the wealthy went to disgusting lengths to determine ownership Note the (after of course taking it way from an Afro-American college.) Note Alice Walton's museum in Arkansas. Yes, the idea of showing art to an area that doe snot have it is noble, but she targeted art that was held by public institutions, making sure everyone that wanted to see "Rosie the Riveter" had to of course thank the rich old lady that killed someone while driving drunk:

https://mic.com/articles/79039/the-untold-story-of-alice-walton-s-dwi-incident#.molzTaGMf


Walton is notable for another reason: whatever her good intention may have been to bring art to her area, the whole mess became a very nasty mess that became propaganda for the authoritarians of all stripes. Of course, the Dixie folks made it a point to tweak those
Yankee elites, and that fed into the endless hymns to those good old humble southerners who were going to take over the country, including the culture. To be fair, the Yankee elites did not make anything resembling a good showing, as they threw in hayseed insults, and also were all too happy to let those public institutions get robbed, the same ones that they spent the rest of the year cutting funds from because they were offended that some artwork offended them.

https://alcalde.texasexes.org/2013/03/art-for-the-people/

The tragedy is, that art becomes the horse to pull golden carriages, while it should be our vehicle to new, better ways of thinking. That is why I would have a totally free internet, because it alone may be the way we get to see art. It is also why, to be fair, I laughed at artists crying poverty over napster; If you were really concerned about the poor artist trying to make it, make labels, it is what hip hop did. Now, the Metallicas were just happy that they got THEIR slice of the authoritarians gold, anf could then sing the one tune every authoritarian wants the lower class to sing "I'm allright jack, keep your hands of my stack."

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 10:48 AM

21. Then again....

How critical and cutting edge is the NEA? The most innovative crowd of artists and musicians in the New York area in the last 25 years, the Immersionists, didn't get a speck of official arts funding. They made a home in a bullet-ridden section of Brooklyn (Williamsburg), jump-started a collaborative, environmentally inclusive culture (with some fairly wild elements), and paid for it with low rents and freelance gigs. As for the officials in Manhattan Ė not only did they not provide arts funding for these community oriented creators, they literally sold their post-industrial base right out from underneith them. Re-zoned for highrises and gave tax abatements to the same development dumpers ("devdumpers" ). It wasn't gentle at all (hence "gentrification" is out as a term and "devdumping" is in).

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 11:09 AM

24. The first thing tyrants do is eliminate

the intelligensia. Anyone who thinks critically is a danger to authoritarianism.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 11:28 AM

25. Look at empires from history, and what do we admire about them?

Art, of all kinds. Sometimes, their engineering is a marvel to behold, given what they had to work with - Roman aqueducts, for example. Even those aqueducts had artistic elements.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 11:42 AM

26. The same reason they attack science: They doubt and they explore.

I see science and art as siblings. They are not alike at all, and they don't always get along, but they share an ancestry.

Authoritarians hate science because it has the audacity to deliver answers they don't want.
Authoritarians hate art because it has the audacity to portray things in a way they don't want.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 11:50 AM

27. Self-expression, individualism, and beauty

Can't have that.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 11:53 AM

28. Thanks for posting

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Achilleaze (Reply #28)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 12:26 PM

29. Good discussion. Du needs more like this. Nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 02:14 PM

30. We need the arts, but with a financially practical approach.

When schools are jacking tuition up double digits, Iím skeptical of installing 7-figure public art sculptures on campus that the schoolís own art majors probably could have created for free.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 02:59 PM

31. Art is something rich people buy if they want.

When we budget for its production using money that the rich want in tax cuts instead, we piss them off.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Apr 9, 2018, 04:45 PM

32. Yes -- we definitely need the arts

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread