Sunday, December 18, 2016

Equality, Elites and the Arts

Scott Lasch wrote a book called "The Revolt Of The Elites." What he did not tell you is that America owes its nationhood to one. America's founders such as Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin came from the aristocracy, and they created America's statehood. The ideas for America's democracy came from English and French aristocratic intellectuals such as Locke and Voltaire. And without these elitist intellectual, an average American would be tilling a 2-acre plot of land, living till age 30 and having his sons drafted into the military and his daughters into domestic servitude.

What would happen if Thomas Jefferson came to America today? Most likely he would be regarded as an elitist and a snob. Even more likely he would be regarded as dangerous, even narcissistic or psychopathic. Most certainly people would think that he is arrogant or "thinks he's better than everyone else." And then of course there would be any number of others who think that he does not live in the real world.

Anyone from any kind of background can be bad to someone from another background. People from higher born groups can be bad to people from lower born groups; but the opposite can happen as well. I knew a woman who came from English royalty, who married a man from a bad background. He made her spend 6 hours a day cleaning the house and would come at her with fists whenever he found a speck of dust on the floor. To him, she was a trophy wife. To her, he was a complete tyrant - one who did not come from any kind of aristocracy and who behaved in a much more tyrannical manner than most men who are high-born.

Now there are any number of people who want equality; but equality can mean any number of different things. If a woman wants equality with men, then that means that she will have to deal with what men deal with - competition, violence, war. With racial equality, there are also demands on the person; white people demand a lot of one another as well. But these are not the things that I want to talk about the most. I seek to talk about this: Culture.

Probably the worst feature of America is its lack of respect for culture and the arts. At one or another point some people decided that there is some kind of incompatibility between culture and equality. This is wrong - totally wrong. One does not need to be an aristocrat to value culture or to produce culture. I have seen excellent work produced by people from lower-income backgrounds, both black and white; and it is wrong to see culture as something that is a luxury of the elites.

In France, culture is something that is held in high esteem, and not only by the highly educated. Even the manual workers there have use for the arts and the thought. There is absolutely no reason why America should not do the same either. American people are just as talented and intelligent as French people. The only problem is their attitudes.

What are these attitudes? One, once again, is seeing art and thought as luxuries of elites. They are no such thing. Without them damn snob intellectuals such as Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, America would not exist. As for prosperity, it also owes vastly to intellectuals, particularly Adam Smith who articulated the philosophy of capitalism and economists such as Milton Friedman who brought it back when much of the world embraced socialism. There has been magnificent architecture in America, and there has been beautiful machinery built in America. Art and culture can exist anywhere and regardless of background, and it is wrong that a nation of 300 million people with per capita GDP of $50,000 a year should not have art comparable to that of Renaissance Italy.

Another is a stance of denigration of beauty. This has been especially strong in feminism. A belief that some people appear to have is that beauty is incompatible with being a good person. This is a terrible belief. There is no reason whatsoever to see there being any kind of relationship - good or bad - between being beautiful and being a good person. Some people will be both; some will be one or the other; and some will be neither. The idea that there is something incompatible between such things is nothing but a license for women who are neither to abuse women who are either or both. And in the real world, it translates into there being no demand for beauty, to result in very little beauty being created in the country.

Another thing that adds to reduction in beauty in the country is the trends in academic art. Postmodernism and avant garde poetry are absolute abominations. There is no beauty to them whatsoever; indeed they are against beauty. When Jewel wrote a poetry book, the media establishment maligned her terribly, when her poetry in fact was far better than anything that they publish. Having written poetry in classical and romantic styles on Internet forums - and having been viciously attacked for it by people claiming academic associations - I know just what faces someone who actually strives to produce beautiful work and how hard it is to get it to people who would derive benefit from reading it.

Most certainly Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin would have taken objection to the anti-artistic stance. They would have corrected their followers, telling them that equality is not the same thing as sameness. They would have told their followers that accomplishment isa good thing, and that also means artistic accomplishment.

They also would have taken objection to the stance that calls people dangerous for thinking differently from those around them. They would have said that freedom means freedom, and that means first of all: In thought. They would have said that just about everything to which the world owes what it has started in original thought; and original thought is something that starts in original minds - the very minds that the recent trends have been trying to portray as dangerous.

So now America has a president whom psychology describes as a narcissist, and who is a self-made billionaire with excellent taste. Maybe it could be possible to work in such a climate to build a culture. Maybe it could be possible to confront the academic abominations. Maybe it will be possible to make America beautiful again. And maybe - just maybe - it will be possible for there to be a demand for beauty, to result in those who are capable of producing beauty doing so - and those who seek such a thing having in their lives the beauty that they seek.


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