January 28, 2010

"To be a great artist is inherently right wing."

What I said in the previous post reminds me of something I said back in 2005:
To be a great artist is inherently right wing. A great artist like Dylan or Picasso may have some superficial, naive, lefty things to say, but underneath, where it counts, there is a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that.
I got a lot of pushback on that, but 5 years later, I still believe it.

199 comments:

ricpic said...

I would go further and say that anyone who consciously cultivates his individuality is inherently right wing.

rumtumtugger said...

gibberish. it is, in fact, impossible to name ONE great artist who is right wing OR left wing. people like ms. a see political division everywhere, and assume everyone does the same. meanwhile, i'm listening to mozart's k.542 piano trio 'the limbaugh'.

Henry said...

The corollary: to be a medicore artist is inherently left wing.

Historically there's no truth to that idea. But at the moment, as our universities hand out BFAs to a great swath of average talents, all of whom dream to be the one in the litter who will find a public teat, I'm suspicious that my corollary is true more often than not.

rumtumtugger said...

also, re: "..but underneath, where it counts, there is a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that."

i know plenty of left wing people who do this. or are they not left wing if they merely identify themselves as such, vote democrat and support unions, the aclu and so on? do you, ms. a, know them better than they know themselves?

Peter V. Bella said...

There is a story about Picasso. A well known collector and acquaintance visited his studio. He saw a painting he liked. He asked Picasso what the painting represented. Picasso answered "about one hundred twenty five thousand dollars American."

Montagne Montaigne said...

Althouse's conception of ideology boils down to, "What I believe is awesome. And people who disagree with me are naive and superficial."

Hey, I got your left wing right here, Anne.

jaltcoh said...

Doesn't this assume that only right-wingers care about freedom and individuality? To make that assumption is inherently right wing. I think this says more about your views of the political spectrum than about artists.

traditionalguy said...

Acknowledging that there is good in life, good in people, good in community institutions, and good in revealed truth IS in favor of conserving those goods for ourselves and our family. That appreciation of good is not allowed in the expressions of the Change Agent who wants the existing world he experiences to be trashed so that an ideal perfect world will replace it. These two attitude makes one into a right wing or a left wing follower of leaders in the political arena. The artist who creates a work then wants to see it preserved as a good thing, and not trashed. For example, the earthquake in Haiti was left wing because it trashed everything and it all must be replaced. A right winger would have seen the good in Haiti's city and people living there pre-earthquake and conserved them. The artist invested in a gallery of his art done for Haitian people pre-earthquake would also oppose the earthquakes trashing of the place, although he loves his freedom to create.

David said...

Everyone's conservative about what they know best.

rhhardin said...

Stanley Cavell's point long ago in Must We Mean What We Say?.

Look inside, search for "dilates," on page 236, bottom paragraph.

Games are places where intention does not count, human activities in which intention need not generally be taken into account; because in games what happens is described solely in terms set by the game itself, because the consequences one is responsible for are limited a priori by the rules of the game. In morality, tracing an intention limits a man's responsibility; in art, it dilates it completely. The artist is responsible for everything that happens in the work - and not just in the sense that it is done, but in the sense that it is meant. It is a terrible responsibility; very few men have the gift and the patience and the singleness to shoulder it. But it is all the more terrible, when it is shouldered, not to appreciate it, to refuse to understand something meant so well.

rumtumtugger said...

yes, mister mountainous, occasionall that does appear to be the case. what would 'right wing / left wing' even *mean* when trying to classify someone like, say, donatello, or chaucer, or wagner, or milton or indeed *any* artist whose moral and intellectual character was in the least bit complicated?

Meade said...

@ Montagne Montaigne [sotto voce]: That's.Not.True.

Joseph said...

I agree that great artists often embody "a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world" and that dovetails with a certain brand of conservative political rhetoric but I would not go so far as to define that as "right wing". Perhaps libertarian, but not right wing. Lefty values also support individual rights and responsibilities and some right wing values undermine and oppress the individual (policing the bedroom, promoting inherited wealth at the expense of a more meritocratic society, increased government surveillance and secrecy).

kcom said...

I've always believed this - or at least some variation of this. I think a successful rap star has more in common with a successful banker than he has in common with the fans he's supposedly "representing". The same goes for other successful (i.e. commercially viable) artists. Notice how they tend to hang out with other successful people, no matter their field, rather than with the people they came up with. Basic human instinct kicks in. Like finds like.

rumtumtugger said...

"For example, the earthquake in Haiti was left wing because it trashed everything and it all must be replaced." hey, traditionalguy, was this what they meant when they said that obama's election was a political earthquake?

Rockeye said...

Maybe the larger question is it an inherently left-wing trait to be a collectivist? Is is an inherently right-wing trait to be an individualist? Righties certainly prefer to see themselves as individualists. Those who self-identify as a rightie and also have deep convictions in collectivist religions would be an apparent exception.
It does seem that at the heart of both modern conservatism and liberalism is a different view of the role of the individual. Liberals are generally of the "ask now what my country can do for me, ask what I can do for my country" persuasion, and conservatives are generally of the "that which governs least governs best" school of thought.
I've always wondered how elite athletes could have collectivist mindsets. Everything that those athletes have achieved was the result of their own effort. While collectivism might assist them in some ancillary way, only the power of the individual can build an athlete. What good is the collective when performing a bench press, or running a sprint? Yet it seems evident that many athletes (and artists)self-identify as political collectivists.
The explanation lies somewhere with man's ability to live, albeit poorly, with internal contradiction. Everything about the elite athlete and the elite artist screams "individualist" while they are surrounded by mediocre athletes (and artists)screaming "collectivism." That is to say, environment and peer pressure. Perhaps that internal conflict is what causes many of these people to be so strident in their views, as if somehow shouting instead of speaking their collectivism will make them really feel it inside.
Or maybe I took too many psych classes in college. Your call.

Henry said...

I agree with rumtum and co. that the words "left wing" and "right wing" are pretty meaningless in this context.

We could substitute "individualistic" and "collectivist."

When a great Ego like Diego Rivera stands up for Stalin, what's left to analyze?

Meade said...

@jaltcoh: Making assumptions is inherently left wing. Testing assumptions is inherently right.

elliott said...

Yes, rumtum, you did not know this? It's justification of what *I* admire while dismissing context. It helps me feel smarter and more enlightened than the rest...

Lincolntf said...

"The corollary: to be a medicore artist is inherently left wing."

Anecdotal proof is available in the hundreds of Hollywood stars and starlets who embrace whatever Lefty cause is hot at the moment in order to distract from their arrests, DUI's, and other various misdemeanors.
You want guaranteed good press? Slap a color-coded ribbon on your lapel and you automatically become Albert Schweitzer, no matter that you regualrly beat your wife or run people off the road with your Ferrari.

Fred4Pres said...

Picasso and Warhol were all about self promotion, marketing and espeically sales. Right wing--well certainly in the monetary sales of their product within their life times. Picasso and Warhol were definitely not about dying poor.

Montagne Montaigne said...

Fatuousness and self-satisfaction are right wing. Compassion and mercy are left wing.

Cruelty and vengefulness are right wing. Civic-mindedness and cooperation are left-wing.

Over-the-hill men in late middle age who cry during cowboy movies and have deeply repressed homosexual feelings are right wing. Angels and puppy dogs are left wing.

I like this game!!

rumtumtugger said...

Meade, i'm presuming jaltcoh was joking? making and testing assumptions are not the preserve of any particular 'wing' - are right wing christians any less assumptive than die-hard chomsky-ites? also, politics is NOT binary, as the 'right wing / left wing' formulation tries to pretend. in fact, to believe such a thing is highly assumptive...oh no, does that mean that the people who use the formulation are left wing? it would appear so. ms. a will never be a great artist - pity her lefty ass.

Fred4Pres said...

Art!

Scott M said...

First off, it really depends on what your depends on your definitions of what constitutes left-wing and right-wing politically.

Personally, I adamantly defend the viewpoint that it simply doesn't get more complicated than bigger government/less individual responsibility on one side and smaller government/more individual responsibility on the other. You can parse that all you want, but what it boils down to is tyranny at one end and anarchy on the other.

I have no idea how this fits into whether an artist is left-wing or right-wing as I don't believe the question fits into the context of political thought.

Plus, as the old joke about atheists go, I don't believe there are any left-wingers in foxholes. In other words, it takes a disconnect with the every day drudgery of life to be a great artist (judging by the biographies I've read). Having to hold down a job and raise a family isn't typically part of the mix.

master cylinder said...

What happened to all that "nuance" and grey area you were touting oh so recently? Is this line of thinking based on that?
I dont see it.

"In politics, right-wing, rightist and the Right are generally used to describe support for preserving traditional social orders with a view favoring a more stratified society.[1][2][3][4] The terms Right and Left were coined during the French Revolution, referring to seating arrangements in parliament; those who sat on the right supported preserving the institutions of the Ancien Régime (the monarchy, the aristocracy and the established church).[5][6][7][8]
The concept of a political Right became more prominent after the second restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 with the Ultra-royalists. Today the term the Right is primarily used to refer to political groups that have a historical connection with the traditional Right, including conservatives, reactionaries, monarchists, aristocrats and theocrats. The term is also used to describe those who support free market capitalism, and some forms of nationalism."

Great artists have always upended the social order, and some of them made money....doesnt make them right wing.

traditionalguy said...

Rockeye...The popularity of stories like Survivor, Lost, and Robinsons Crusoe are about individuals that are alone and free, but soon seek a community that humans are designed for life among. The reality is that we never live for long without major communal support systems. The early years at the Jamestown settlement and at the Plymouth Plantation are as close as our European ancestors, fleeing the vestiges of the Roman Empire, ever got to living alone. Their good social order that submitted to a community selected leadership meant their survival. The local tribes were an early source of food for trade goods for them, except when a local Tyrant Chief would decided to torture and eat the grown male colonists as a power display and enslave their women and children. So it was a community ready to defend itself that became our role models in the New World. They conserved their lives by acting in a community.

Opus One Media said...

bullshit. you know better than that..or i hope you do...or you know damn few artists.

Flexo said...

True art is about transcendence. Going beyond mere appearance, going beyond the superficial, rising above and beyond -- transcending -- the "reality" of the world, and seeing or hearing the hidden reality within, the "real" reality. All of which, of course, is closely related to God.

Are those on "the right wing" more religious? Certainly conservatives tend to be more religious than liberals.

As for artists, to be sure, much of the greatest classical art has been specifically motivated by faith. Even pre-Christian classical art, the art of the Romans and Greeks, was often based on the idea of higher truth, such as the ideal human form.

It would not be surprising, then, if the artists of today were of like mind and belief. Which does tend to put them "on the right wing" in spirit, even if they might claim to be politically on the left.

G Joubert said...

They're often pretty good rock-ribbed capitalists too. Bob Dylan and many others too numerous to list.

Scott M said...

@master cylinder

While historically correct, the French origins have very little to do with contemporary discussions of what it is to be left or right. I agree with the last two sentences, concerning free market capitalism, nationalism and artists. However, trying to make the claim that the modern right somehow includes monarchists and aristocrats is completely off the mark. Case in point...the DNC's use of superdelegates in presidential primaries. There is simply no bolder example of a modern aristocracy that I can think of.

Without going so far as to agree about theocratic leanings, I would grant you that the evangelical wing of the right co-opted conservatism over the last 20 years. I'll point back to my original point. Tyranny on one side, anarchy on the other. As much as I'm pro-life, using the power of the government to enforce a ban on abortions is a very leftist view. Likewise using the power of the government to enforce a ban on gay marriage. The thought itself isn't left or right and may be described as "traditional values", but using the government to enforce such things is decidedly tilted toward the left, or tyranny.

The Crack Emcee said...

"To be a great artist is inherently right wing."

*cough, cough*

I resemble that statement.

master cylinder said...

Great classical art was paid for "by faith". Art for art's sake is a fairly modern idea.

Flexo said...

I support using the power of the government to enforce a ban on murdering Scott M.

Does that make me a communist?

Scott M said...

@flexo

the "reality" of the world, and seeing or hearing the hidden reality within, the "real" reality.

But it's not the real reality because all art is completely subjective. Thus, you're not getting closer to God in any objective sense (ie reality) because what one person sees in the ripples of a pond is not what another sees.

Sure, they may both be closer in touch with divinity when doing so, but even that is subjective. In the context of the conversation, though, I'm not so sure this applies.

Scott M said...

@master

Art for art's sake is a fairly modern idea.

Explain cave paintings then.

master cylinder said...

Scott, you sound very reasonable. I like your thinking.
The definition I provided was too broad, yes.

master cylinder said...

Touche. Paintings and Sculpture that is attributable to artists or schools, like we see in "art" books, were financed by religion or government.

traditionalguy said...

@rumrumtugger...The election of Obama was a new executive with a chance to build up or to tear down our life as far as Congress went along with him. The Banking Crisis became his opportunity, and with it he is targeting all middle-class American's assets for liquidation and redistribution among his accomplices around the globe. But he has not had Congressional cooperation needed to pull the final trigger on his scheme for our destruction is upon total lies about the harmless trace gas called CO2 calling it evil CARBON POLLUTION. This is Obama's weapon of mass destruction he expects to use to finish us off. That is the fight that we cannot lose, or we will end up like Haiti after the recent earthquake.

Scott M said...

@master

Danke.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I have to disagree.

While a great artist must be a strong individual, being a strong individual does not make someone left or right.

It seems to me that the relevant difference is that people on the right believe that everyone can be a strong individual, and that the large majority of people can succeed based on their own abilities. People on the left appear to believe that the common man cannot succeed without the help of the government. It is this condescension that is the hallmark of the successful liberal artist.

former law student said...

Holy Ayn Randhouse!

Howard Roark aside, the artist must produce, and must believe his creations are good. But I don't see that a strong ego drive is inherently right-wing.

Ann Althouse said...

"Opus One Media said..."bullshit. you know better than that..or i hope you do...or you know damn few artists."

No, read my statement more carefully, and this time take account of every word. Words have meaning. I'd like you to focus in particular on the word "great" and the phrase "may have some superficial, naive, lefty things to say, but."

Before your resistant mind clicks in again, allow yourself to hear the whole thing and to think about what was actually said before you do your knee jerk reaction.

Now, get out there and try this time. I'm giving you a rewrite on your F paper. Take advantage of my mercy on you.

Oligonicella said...

"To be a great artist is inherently right wing. A great artist like Dylan or Picasso may have some superficial, naive, lefty things to say, but underneath, where it counts, there is a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that."

Taking responsibility for focusing on being an artist? When one writes, one focuses on the writing. Doesn't make you right wing.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Great artists tend to be big believers in capitalism. They may not believe it is good for the unwashed masses but it's a different story when it comes to selling the fruits of their own labor.

I believe that many of them pay lip service to lefty ideas because they feel guilt over their own riches and success.

Scott M said...

I believe that many of them pay lip service to lefty ideas because they feel guilt over their own riches and success.

This is very true of the one and only example, in my life, of an artist that has made it huge. Local rock band that became hugely successful. This was basically the sentiment of each member of the band and, interestingly enough, it took about two years to really set in.

No I won't mention who because this is a public forum. Let's just say they just got back together recently.

There was also a great Bloom County strip about this very subject after Billy And The Boinger's went platinum.

Anthony said...

rumtumtugger --

>meanwhile, i'm listening to mozart's k.542 piano trio 'the limbaugh'.


Mozart was a red.

Chris said...

You define "right wing" in such a way that encompasses every functioning human.

rumtumtugger said...

seems like ms a. can't be bothered to defend her rash statement, which is surely wise. also, it should be noted that the sentence "To be a great artist is inherently right wing" is barely grammatical. did she mean, "All great artists are inherently right wing"? or, "To be a great artist one must be inherently right wing"? or, "To regard oneself as a great artist is an inherently right-wing position to adopt"? or something else entirely? it doesn't really matter, though, as however parsed, the sentence is bunk.

Bob_R said...

I think I agree with Henry's comment that your aphorism depends on definitions close to
right wing = individualist
left wing = collectivist.
Probably a pretty good short definition of current spectrum.

In the original definition the right was for preserving the current hierarchy (nobility, church), the left for tearing it down. Today the left loves the current hierarchy in government, academia, media, so that definition doesn't work for modern politics. But maybe it still works for art. Doesn't a great artist shake up the current hierarchies? Isn't that a definition of greatness in art. In that sense aren't all great artists left wing (French revolution version).

downtownlad said...

Another homophobic remark by Ann. The vast majority of gay people are left-wing, since they believe in freedom. But Ann equates left-wing with being weak. Thus, Ann thinks most gay people are weak.

TosaGuy said...

I know a number of artists and artistic types. The artisically worst of them are political first and use their art as a means of expressing their politics.

The good ones do think of themselves as liberal and that has some influence on their art, but they don't create art as a means of being political. As a result, the are capible of bringing in conflicting aspects to their art -- the resulting tension makes it better.

Those not in the freeloader grant world and make a living off of selling their art are some of the most pure capitalists alive.

rumtumtugger said...

anthony: you say that 'Mozart was a red'. i don't understand what point you're making: he couldn't have been a communist or a red state republican, as neither notion existed in the late 18th century. he was a freemason, but wasn't really that political a fellow at all. or were you referring to the little-known fact that he played third base for cincinnati in 1789?

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

"Views are held by those who are not artists." -- Oscar Wilde

peter hoh said...

Rockeye wrote: Liberals are generally of the "ask now what my country can do for me, ask what I can do for my country" persuasion, and conservatives are generally of the "that which governs least governs best" school of thought.

I suppose that's why ag subsidies are as popular in the red states as they are in the blue states.

Scott M said...

@peter

I suppose that's why ag subsidies are as popular in the red states as they are in the blue states.

I would agree with you among those receiving the subsidies. Very few are principled enough to turn down free money.

Adjust your statement to only include those paying into the subsidies and I think we'd get a clearer image of left versus right.

Jim S. said...

Arlo Guthrie's a Republican. http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2009/07/im-having-arlo-guthrie-day.html

traditionalguy said...

Art is an expression of the truth that each artist sees in his soul and places on view among men. Like an opinion, there is no such thing as a bad art so long as the expression engages others at their soul level on the subject matter. Some are lost in translation except to a few sharing the point of view of that artist himself. Witness the Bob Dylan legacy that is not understood by today's youngsters, but may behonored as a great artist by a future generation facing a similar world to what Bob Dylan faced. But we need to preserve that art until the generation as yet to be born arrives. Hence artists will trend to a conserve it and not destroy it all attitude. Being sexually immoral or chaste is a side issue that artists wrestle with like everyone else does.

peter hoh said...

Scott, I don't quite understand what you are getting at.

Support for ag subsidies comes from across the political spectrum.

Where does federal money come from, and where does it go? This chart is as good a starting point as I can find. At the bottom, there are a lot more blue states than red.

bagoh20 said...

A true left wing artistic work would be the product of a committee and adhere to government guidlines. Good luck with that.

peter hoh said...

And a true right wing art work would not offend Rick Santorum.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
XWL said...

I think Virginia Postrel framed the left/right divide in terms that make more sense when applied to artistry (and other forms of commerce).

Given the confusion of the terms left/right with DEM/GOP it's better to think of the political continuum as having opposite poles of Statism versus Dynamism. Statist prefer 'state' solutions to problems, deferring individual rights (in exchange for less individual responsibility) to the greater good of collective actions and collective results. Dynamist prefer 'individual' rights (and responsibilities) over collective goals, even when that individuality might conflict with group cohesion.

Disruptive art is necessarily dynamist in orientation, even when the message might be statist in nature. A current example of this strange dichotomy is Avatar. The message is strongly statist (the enviro-nutiness of its 'noble savage' nonsense is Rousseauvian "Natural Man" stupidity at its most destructive), while the artist himself is the epitome of an individualistic dynamist in the Howard Roark mold (James Cameron is an anti-capitalist idiot philosophically, but as an artist he is a single-minded, ultimately capitalistic, individualist willing to take risks that few other filmmakers can even conceive of).

For the most part, collective art is crappy art, and almost all great art (and artist) is highly individualistic in the nature of its production (even when the how of that art conflicts with the message).

rcocean said...

Most great artists were monstrous egoists who had to do it "My Way."

I guess that makes them "Right-wing".

Freeman Hunt said...

To create great art is to repudiate collectivism. True.

Collectives do not produce great art. Individuals do. True.

I think Ann is absolutely right. Remember the Chinese Cultural Revolution? It was about this.

Freeman Hunt said...

To create, to judge, to master, these are acts of the individual.

rumtumtugger said...

hey freeman - what we're after here is evidence, not assertion. 'to create great art is to repudiate collectivism'. really? so beethoven's op131 string quartet (to pluck an example out of the air), or beethoven's writing of said piece repudiates collectivism? show your workings, please.

bagoh20 said...

Subjugation of the individual is the central abomination of leftism from which all other failings develop.

It's deeply disappointing that Americans in particular would ever be drawn to this.

If we ever lose our love of freedom, it will survive somewhere and our history, as it was in Tienanmen Square, will be a beacon. It would be a very sad thing that it no longer shined on us.

Freeman Hunt said...

rumtugtugger:
Please cite for me a great collectivist work of art.

A great painting where anyone was allowed to add to it?

A great piece of music where all comers could join in?

A great movie directed by a committee composed of anyone who wanted to try his hand at it?

In your example, Beethoven wrote the piece, that is the art of the whole. The performance of it is not even collectivist. It is the performance of an individual's work of art, each person giving his individual performance and selected as the best to give it. You would not hand the violin to, say, the oboe player, and say, "No one is better than anyone else. You can play as well as anyone." You would hand it to a violinist. Unless, of course, you were part of the cultural revolution.

Great art is inherently individualistic.

Freder Frederson said...

to be a medicore artist is inherently left wing.

Historically there's no truth to that idea. But at the moment, as our universities hand out BFAs to a great swath of average talents, all of whom dream to be the one in the litter who will find a public teat, I'm suspicious that my corollary is true more often than not.


Doesn't Althouse have a BFA? And isn't she sucking at the public teat (albeit not in her first chosen profession)?

She does subject us to her mediocre photography.

Maybe she is still a lefty at heart.

Freder Frederson said...

Please cite for me a great collectivist work of art.

The Battleship Potemkin

Please cite for me a great capitalist work of art.

Beth said...

I would go further and say that anyone who consciously cultivates his individuality is inherently right wing.

Unless he says "I" or "me" alot when speaking. Then he's a commie.

Chris said...

Obama is a right winger according to Ann's definition. Or Lenin. Or Stalin. Dylan is interesting because he came from the left wing tradition of folk singers like Woody Guthrie and broke the hearts of people like Pete Seeger because he refused to be pigeonholed by the tradition. From that anecdote Ann produces an interesting hypothesis that fails as more data is added to the model. The only way to save it is to move the goalposts by defining right wing so broadly as to be meaningless.

Freeman Hunt said...

Freder, per Wikipedia
The Battleship Potyomkin, is a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein

Is Sergei Einsenstein the name of a collective? No, it's the name of an individual.

I didn't ask for a piece of great art that came out of a country with a collectivist government. I asked for a piece of great art created by a collective.

Chris said...

That said, it is still an interesting topic of conversation.

Beth said...

Righties certainly prefer to see themselves as individualists.

They may see themselves that way, but they require a great deal of community reinforcement daily. That's why they listen to Rush - ditto! I enjoy communicating with my more conservative friends here and in other online formats, but I'm struck by they fill hours on Twitter, for example, beating their chests about politics and conservatism. It's one big football huddle - I'm an individual! Go Team!

To be a rugged conservative individual requires much care and feeding from the herd.

Freeman Hunt said...

To be a rugged conservative individual requires much care and feeding from the herd.

Ha. You cannot possibly be asserting that conservatives as a whole, require more of this than liberals as a whole.

Chris said...

There is a huge argument among film scholars about things like the auteur theory. Some think it takes a great individual to make a great movie and others think that we overrate individuals and should pay more attention to the group. When I pick a movie I tend to rely on the auteur heuristic. On the other hand, is Pixar a collective? They make some great movies.

rumtumtugger said...

freeman, you seem to be a little confused. you cite 'collectivism', which is a philosophical notion that stresses interdependence. you then point out that players in a string quartet are interdependent. you use that to reinforce your point that no art is collectivist. oops.

furthermore, beethoven (as he himself admitted on many occasions) never acted alone: he built on traditions reaching back centuries in creating his art. in addition, he had an audience, patrons and was friendly with many of the musicians who performed his works. he was also a conductor and impresario - definitively collaborative enterprises. like every great artist, he is an example of an individual closely colluding with a community of fellow artists, living and dead, in order to fashion great things. this doesn't mean he was left wing (although he was by some standards). he wasn't right wing either.

you seem to be as blinded by ideology as ms. althouse. genuinely beautiful ideas in art are beyond the reach of politics. indeed, when politics and art collide, art is invariably the casualty.

Paul said...

Althouse has it exactly right, and as usual the lefties totally miss the point.

She is paring down, to the bone, the very essence of "left" and "right in the modern American political and philosophical context.

And that would be collectivism vs. individualism.

Any clear thinking individual needs to grasp no more than that to get her point.

For the artist it has to do with the structure of his personality and character. This has little to do with conscious political affiliations, which more often than not are determined by milieu.

The more potent the artist, the more he must follow his own instincts and wander away from the herd. This is inherently individualistic and anti-collectivist. He may very well profess to be a leftist but that is because his predilection is art, not political philosophy. Were he as well versed in political philosophy he would know that in the true leftist-collectivist society his individuality and artistic impulses would be forced to conform to the agenda and goals of the collective.

And he would hate it.

Freeman Hunt said...

freeman, you seem to be a little confused. you cite 'collectivism', which is a philosophical notion that stresses interdependence. you then point out that players in a string quartet are interdependent. you use that to reinforce your point that no art is collectivist. oops.

The oops is your own in that you can't read. Collectivism is not "a philosophical notion that stresses interdependence." Most all individuals would consider themselves interdependent with other individuals. You are rewriting collectivism.

When the Cultural Revolution was in force, there was an effort to extinguish individual difference. Why should you, the master actor, take the lead in the opera? There is no best. The collective is best. Any member by take the lead. All have equal merit. To say that one is better than another is to be an enemy of the collective.

And that is what I mean by there being no great collectivist art.

Freeman Hunt said...

Paul put it perfectly.

rumtumtugger said...

Freeman - i advise you to look up what 'collectivism' means then return to the fray.

Theo Boehm said...
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rumtumtugger said...

the main error the righties are making in this thread is as follows: they think that people who we might define as left-wing are no different from maoist communists. this is clearly false, but it's no surprise that that's where they get to: ideologues are the enemy of subtlety, nuance, delicate shading, empathy - which is why are not artists.

Beth said...

Freeman, I am asserting that conservatives live on a diet of it, yes. And would rather die before admitting it. The question isn't whether liberals do, too. Most people who share some values shore them up with one another. Conservatives are about as collective a bunch as I've ever seen.

garage mahal said...

Just don't be too individualistic, like, say wear a t shirt that "says bong hits 4 jesus". Then it must be removed, or covered up.

rumtumtugger said...

Theo: "imputing to it a lefty Pinky Positive at the Council Meeting". i didn't do this. at all. and beethoven's late quartets are inward spiritual journeys *as depicted in art*, so necessarily also dependent on their re-creation in the minds of others, performers, audiences, scholars, other composers etc. they also contain elements of fugue, sonata form, dance forms, antique tonal systems: they speak of the future with a voice sourced from the past. of course they do: they're great art.

Freeman Hunt said...

Rum, I'm well aware of the different uses of the word "collectivism." Try to follow the way it is being used here. Read Paul's post.

Beth, you're equating collectivism with forming social groups. I don't know that I would do that. I think the type of collectivism under discussion is the type that seeks to envelope all, to tamp down those differences and distinctions.

Paul said...

"Conservatives are about as collective a bunch as I've ever seen."

You would do well to learn what the term means in a political sense before you try to obscure its meaning by something as banal as a group of people who share some common beliefs.

Politically it has to do with the center and direction of flow of power.

You just make yourself sound ignorant.

Penny said...

We are all great works of art in progress, who fortunately have met many great artists along our way.

rumtumtugger said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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former law student said...

At the moment of orgasm we are all right-wing.

rumtumtugger said...

Freeman: i tried to get through paul's post, but it's unreadable ideological claptrap. it again equates 'collectivism' with some weird sort of ultra-maoism, and then attempts to tar anyone a tiny bit left of ayn rand with that brush.

also, there's this: 'For the artist it has to do with the structure of his personality and character. This has little to do with conscious political affiliations, which more often than not are determined by milieu.' what?? so he's saying conscious political affiliations are no indicator of how someone identifies? it's all in the 'structure of personality and character'? or that artists are often dependent on their milieu in the development of their political ideas? so, the argument EITHER adds up to - 'look, i know this shit's right, cos i can see that it is, whereas no-one else can', OR 'artists are very dependent those around them in the development of their political ideas'. whichever way you read it, it's a chaotic mish-mash of piffle.

Scott M said...

@Beth

There are some things that are inherently human nature and aside from politics. Forming social groups around common ideals would be one of those.

Take goth kids, for instance. The funniest thing about that group is if you ask them why they dress like they do or pierce like they do, they'll invariably say something equivalent to expressing their individuality. However, if you see them in a group, they're as similar as a bowling team.

Beth said...

Nothing will make you a Republican, or at least a libertarian, faster than trying to run or to work for a small business

Theo, I know many small business owners who are liberals, not Republicans, nor libertarians - including my partner, who runs her own business from our home. I suppose one's mileage varies, depending on a range of criteria.

Scott M said...

@FLS

At the moment of orgasm we are all right-wing.

I always thought we were either primal scream therapists or world-class weight-lifters.

Freder Frederson said...

No, read my statement more carefully, and this time take account of every word. Words have meaning. I'd like you to focus in particular on the word "great" and the phrase "may have some superficial, naive, lefty things to say, but."

Before your resistant mind clicks in again, allow yourself to hear the whole thing and to think about what was actually said before you do your knee jerk reaction.

Now, get out there and try this time. I'm giving you a rewrite on your F paper. Take advantage of my mercy on you.


No, I'll give you an "F", because you have apparently redefined conservative to mean "a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that." Of course only in the deranged world of Ann Althouse is that the definition of conservative. If being "a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that" is all being a conservative is, then probably everyone--even Mao, Lenin, Lennon, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Gus Hall, Mighty Mouse, Madonna, and Saddam Hussein--will claim to be a conservative.

The definition is meaningless.

rumtumtugger said...

Theo: i've been a sole trader for fifteen years. i'm neither a republican, a democrat nor a libertarian. i am an anti-ideologue: i have difficulty with people who claim all good for their ideology and ascribe all the ills in the world to their political opponents. the righty / libertarians in this thread seem to be animated by a recognisable furious zeal. it probably makes them feel good in the moment, but will ultimately end up eating their souls.

Beth said...

Scott - I'm in Goth central, here in New Orleans. We're a big Goth magnet, possibly starting with Anne Rice. You're spot on in your critique.

I'm aware of the human instinct to bong over shared values. I just get a giggle out of the conservative fantasy of rugged individualism, when it's so dependent on continual dittoing and daily "hey, liberals are so X! But not US! We're not like THEM!" It's funny, amusing, and silly. You can laugh or you can be offended at my laughing. I'm individualist enough not to care one way or the other.

Scott M said...

Wrong again, rumtumtugger. Speaking as a Libertarian and for the Libertarians I know and campaign with/for, no body is happy with this sorry state of affairs.

For you to think otherwise shows a lack of empathy undeserving of a good, solid liberal, doesn't it?

Freder Frederson said...

She is paring down, to the bone, the very essence of "left" and "right in the modern American political and philosophical context.

No she is resurrecting an archaic, tired (and completely unoriginal) cold war slur of the American left--that they are nothing but mindless collectivist stooges of soul and individual crushing Soviet Communism. it wasn't true in 1953 and it is even less true now. It wasn't even true about the Soviet Union itself.

Beth said...

I think the type of collectivism under discussion is the type that seeks to envelope all, to tamp down those differences and distinctions.

Mebbe so, but if that's the case, you can rule out Democrats. They may try to do that, but if they can't pass legislation with a 60 vote majority, they're not succeeding.

And I've seen the term RINO thrown around enough to know it means people who run as a Republican but are too different and distinct on issues that inflame the rugged individualist base.

Scott M said...

@Beth

I'm aware of the human instinct to bong over shared values.

Mispelling or good ol' subconcious slip o' the fingers? LOL

That's the second, good, laugh I've gotten since this comment from Ghost about the speech.

If this is the way Obama "pivots" after losing the 60th vote in the Senate I shudder to think what he will be like for his next State of the Unicorn speech. He may just stand up there and scream, "Get these bugs off of me" for an hour.

Beth said...

to bong

Ha! I had Goths on my mind.

I meant "to bond" but what the hell, bonging is bonding.

rumtumtugger said...

but scott, i'm not a liberal by any definition you'd care to name: i was in favour of the iraq war, am pro-life, am opposed to capital gains tax, estate taxes and high income tax rates, i'm anti-UN, in favour of gun ownership --- want me to stop? it's unfortunate that you feel the need to apply labels to things with such unthinking facility. but then again, most ideologues doggedly cling to their key texts and manifestos because they want an easy way out.

Beth said...

Scott, I laughed at that one, too.

rhhardin said...

Lady bugs and chickens both eat aphorisms.

Scott M said...

@rummynameistoolongtotypeoverandover

Labels? Like this?

the righty / libertarians in this thread seem to be animated by a recognisable furious zeal.

You're dothing your prostest a bit to much there.

Comrade X said...

Beth, conservatives have nothing against freedom of association. The difference is that they also believe in the freedom to not associate.

Henry said...
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rumtumtugger said...

scott: that's not a label, is it? the people i was talking about self-identify as libertarians (e.g. you) or are clearly right wing. you called me a liberal. i'm not a liberal by almost any measure you'd care to name.

if you want me to back up my perhaps over-heated adjectives, read Freeman's posts, for example: zealous much?

Paul said...

"'For the artist it has to do with the structure of his personality and character. This has little to do with conscious political affiliations, which more often than not are determined by milieu.' what?? so he's saying conscious political affiliations are no indicator of how someone identifies? it's all in the 'structure of personality and character'? or that artists are often dependent on their milieu in the development of their political ideas? so, the argument EITHER adds up to - 'look, i know this shit's right, cos i can see that it is, whereas no-one else can', OR 'artists are very dependent those around them in the development of their political ideas'. whichever way you read it, it's a chaotic mish-mash of piffle."

My mistake is to think people are clear thinking and logical. Silly me!!

His character and personality are what makes an artist an artist, and a go his own way individual.

His cultural milieu more often than not determines his political affiliations, being that he is most likely so absorbed in his work that the superficial arguments and groupthink of those around him are a sufficient investment in his thinking and energy to draw his political conclusions.

Once again collectivism and individualism in this context is about where power is centered. Top down vs. bottom up. Central planning vs. individual decision making. Everything in our modern political struggle emanates from these two opposite views of how power should be apportioned.

This is embodied most blatantly in modern American politics in the opposing viewpoints of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi triumvirate and the Tea Party people.

rumtumtugger said...

paul, i love your characterisation of 'the artist'. i hope you think that it applies to every artist, living or dead, anywhere on the planet ever, because that what makes it so hilarious.

as for your thumbnail sketch of the way power works in america: i'm still grappling with its complexity. i'll get back to you when i've fully comprehended the grandeur.

Freeman Hunt said...

Me? Furious zeal? You must be new.

Paul said...

Dude, I am an artist.
Professional musician since my teens.

You?

rumtumtugger said...

Paul, i'm a novelist, playwright and screenwriter. your conception of what an artist is seems to me absurdly cliched and narrow, whatever job you do.

peter hoh said...

to bong together

As in, "What have those people been smoking?"

Paul said...

You got a day job too?

We are speaking in generalities. I know scores of artists of course. Some, like me, are politically libertarian-conservative. So what? The point of the post was the artist as a free ranging individualist was "right wing". You either get or you don't.

I did.

rumtumtugger said...

paul, but presumably your political affiliations are dictated by your milieu, so i shouldn't take them seriously? or are you one of those blessed few who have seen the truth, and thus hold precisely the political views all artists should?

as for my day job, i've been a professional writer for ten years. i'm taking the day off, because i have flu - which is the only reason i'm hanging out in this weird semi-deranged whispering gallery.

Scott M said...

@rum

As an aspiring writer, I would love to see some links to published works.

Por favor...

Freeman Hunt said...

Rum, you're looking at this too narrowly. We're not talking about American politics. This isn't Democrats versus Republicans or Libertarians.

We're talking about basic philosophy. We're talking about pure collectivism (ultra-Maoism as you put it) versus individuality. At least, I think that's what Althouse was getting at which she provocatively labelled right and left wing.

bagoh20 said...

Theo said: "...as I write this, I am at my workbench, trying to make flutes."

I like that. It makes me smile. You lucky soul. Then again, I'm sure it was not just luck that put you there. Carry on and do it well.

bagoh20 said...

The basis of left versus right is values:

The right's highest value is liberty.

The left's is equality.

Ann's point makes sense in that context, which I think is an accurate one.

rumtumtugger said...

Freeman, she wrote "to be a great artist is inherently right wing". it's pure nonsense, and barely actually makes grammatical sense. if she had said "you can't be a hardline maoist-collectivist and be a great artist" i might not have disagreed with her so strongly.

Freeman Hunt said...

Rum:
Heh. She's provocative that way.

If you think of it in terms of extremes like bagoh defines, it makes sense.

Paul said...

"paul, but presumably your political affiliations are dictated by your milieu, so i shouldn't take them seriously? or are you one of those blessed few who have seen the truth, and thus hold precisely the political views all artists should?"

No. I am one of the few artists I know who has studied political philosophy, so while my milieu is one of leftist groupthink I have a different viewpoint. One which I have learned to keep to myself as the very collectivist mindset I refer to is rather fascist in it's punishment of individuals who do not ascribe to the politically correct world view.

Don't professional writers use complete sentences or proper punctuation anymore?

bagoh20 said...

"she wrote "to be a great artist is inherently right wing".

Yes, to be even more basic, for an individual to be great at anything is right wing. Being great means better than others, which means not equal.

The goal of pure leftist ideology would be to take some of his greatness and spread it around until all are equal.

Scott M said...

@Bagoh20

The basis of left versus right is values:

The right's highest value is liberty.

The left's is equality.


That's too simple a quip. I value my liberty very highly, but not at the expense of treading on those same liberties in other citizens. That being said, I reject out of hand equity of outcomes. Freedom means the freedom to succeed or fail. That fact that we're none of us equal in abilities or starting point is a secondary concern.

rumtumtugger said...

no, Freeman, it makes NO fricking sense AT ALL. most artists don't finely calibrate their equality v liberty weigh scales each day, or even at all at any point in their lives. and no artists i know of feel the need to be less in favor of liberty, just because they're in favor of equality. there may be eight people left on earth who believe in equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity, and perhaps a few more who are opposed to the former - but only an ideologue could see this debate as entirely, or even chiefly, as a zero sum deal.

btw, althouse didn't even say "it's more likely that a great artist will be right wing". she said "to be a great artist is inherently right wing". that's not provocative, it's merely untrue.

rumtumtugger said...

paul - "Don't professional writers use complete sentences or proper punctuation anymore?" not when communing with pseudo-intellectuals in the comments section of a second rate blog, no.

bagoh20 said...

I was intending to be simple as was Ann, I think to distill it down to find some basic truth.

The values difference is clear, when you consider what left and right are willing to sacrifice all for if pushed.

The right believe liberty is worth killing and dying for, and as shown in every leftist struggle they believe equality is worth killing and dying for. Even destroying their own culture for.

"I reject out of hand equity of outcomes. Freedom means the freedom to succeed or fail."

Then you my friend are a wingnut hillbilly, welcome.

Scott M said...

@rum

there may be eight people left on earth who believe in equality of outcome

All due respect, but how can you to believe this is true?

Any links to your published works by the way?

Henry said...

Collectivist writers don't use caps.

Actually, rumtumtugger, I appreciate your posts. As this thread has progressed I find the definitional problem of using any politically charged words to be rather hopeless.

Even if we move the terminology from right-wing vs. left-wing to individualistic vs. collectivist (as I suggested, once, much earlier), I don't know that much is accomplished. At some point, all humans are individualistic. Steve Martin once wrote a parody of bohemianism in which his bohemian family expresses themselves creatively in every aspect of their lives, starting with the turds they leave in the toilet (no two alike). As in this story, the meaning of the use of the term "individualistic" in this thread has become so generalized that as an attribute of something supposedly unique -- a great artist -- it tells us almost nothing.

Freeman, by shifting the definition of "left-wing" from "collectivism" to "pure collectivism" you have defined an artistic space that contains no artists. Not even Madame Mao.

I'm thinking of an entirely different set of examples. The architect of Chartres Cathedral, for example. There was a single architect, a great artist, who put his talent in the service of a collective enterprise. Left-wing or right-wing? That's just a bizarre question.

Or Jacques Louis David -- not just a great artist, but a great artist of political propaganda. Clearly a man with a raging ego and an extremist sensibility. Clambered for position in the ancien régime's Royal Academy, voted to behead the king, painted flamboyantly heroic portraits of Napoleon.

What political box is supposed to contain this troublesome artist? Is he inherently right-wing because of his individualism? Yet that label severs the artist from his art, which, at its height was wholly in the bloody service of the French Revolution.

Paul said...

"The basis of left versus right is values:

The right's highest value is liberty.

The left's is equality.

Ann's point makes sense in that context, which I think is an accurate one."

Yes.

And those values are reflected in the individualist vs. collectivist view on where power should be centered.

bagoh20 said...

BTW, I would like to be called a pseudo-intellectual too please. Actually I'm anti-intellectual as is clear by now, I hope. I don't really belong here, but they haven't noticed me yet.

rumtumtugger said...

scott: who are the people outside the north korean politbureau who truly believe in equality of outcomes. and even they know it's a pile of baloney, because they're fully aware that they're a million times better off than the citizenry.

as for links: i call myself 'rumtumtugger' in this comments section because i want to remain anonymous, not because my parents were crazy-snakes t.s. eliot / andrew lloyd webber fans

Paul said...

"paul - "Don't professional writers use complete sentences or proper punctuation anymore?" not when communing with pseudo-intellectuals in the comments section of a second rate blog, no."

Pity. In my line of work I always strive to be as impeccable as possible regardless of the caliber of audience. But then I'm an artist and my music means everything to me. I am playing for myself really and if I do it well enough people will enjoy it and pay me.

I think you are a poseur though. You don't write well enough to get paid for it. There are plenty of people commenting on this "second rate blog" who write circles around you, and me too, though I don't pretend to be a writer.

bagoh20 said...

"...who truly believe in equality of outcomes. and even they know it's a pile of baloney,..."


Well, of course, that's why I don't buy it, but most people who push it, do it though their insistence that things are unfair because they are unequal in outcome. That's the whole argument left vs right. If you wanna say the left is lying, then OK, but that message is till the weapon used and the justification for it.

rumtumtugger said...

paul, as you're a better writer than me, i'd give up the day job - particularly as you're probably not making much scratch playing entirely for yourself.

rumtumtugger said...

but bagoh, you're remorseless pursuit of the binary upends you again: 'equality of outcome' means that everyone ends up with the same amount of money. what the left say is that 'the rich should pay more tax'. this would still leave economic inequality, just a little less (they think).

almost everyone left in western civilization believes in both individual liberty and equality of opportunity - the political conversation is largely about means - and even those means are identical for the most part.

Scott M said...

@Paul

Oh, I dunno...he said the only people still around that believe in the equality of outcomes are all in North Korea. Perhaps he really has been tucked away writing somewhere for ten years. Nothing published, it seems, but certainly tucked away writing.

For the record, there are a disturbing number of people in this country, some of them even in high elected office, that believe in equality-based outcomes.

bagoh20 said...

"That's too simple a quip. I value my liberty very highly, but not at the expense of treading on those same liberties in other citizens."

Of course not, your liberty is just as important as mine, this is the only place were equality can be sustained without sacrificing liberty and is the limit of liberty.

Freeman Hunt said...

rum said...
not when communing with pseudo-intellectuals in the comments section of a second rate blog, no.

LOL How nice of you to go slumming with us.

And there are plenty of people who believe in equality of outcome. I used to be one of them, and I never felt lonely.

rumtumtugger said...

paul / scott: find me an elected official in any position of authority in america (or anywhere) who believes in 'equality of outcomes', i.e., that everyone should be exactly as rich / poor as anyone else.

or are you saying that you reject 'equality based' thinking of all sorts? that's fine, but you'd probably need a pretty strong following wind ever to get anyone elected ever.

bagoh20 said...

Don't blame me; it's the universe that's in "remorseless pursuit of the binary".

Of course we agree on things, but the difference is the issue at hand. I think I stated that rightly. It is how left and right differ that's instructive in this question.

Scott M said...

By your own definition, then, you fail. The ruling elite in North Korea are far more wealthy, in both monetary and "stuff", than the average pitiful NK citizen.

Further, for the record, equality of outcomes doesn't necessarily mean wealth. Get out of the cave a little more and you'll understand that.

There's a high school district in California right now that's cutting back on lab science hours offered specifically because not enough minority students were signing up for those courses...creating a gap in test scores. They are attempting to create an equality of outcomes based on test scores and, in the process, limiting those who would like to learn their way around a lab.

bagoh20 said...

Rum,
If you're suggesting we're all the same in our political pull of gravity then, of course Ann's
wrong, but I think that's a harder case to make.

garage mahal said...

paul / scott: find me an elected official in any position of authority in america (or anywhere) who believes in 'equality of outcomes', i.e., that everyone should be exactly as rich / poor as anyone else.

Bueller?

Chris said...

Equality of outcomes overstates things a bit but it is definitely a left wing desire. The reason the left wing supports equality of opportunity is that they believe this will lead toward equality of outcomes. This isn't just a left wing ideal. In pretty much every western democracy, policy debate revolves around outcomes. It is very hard to sell deontological arguments to people who can vote. Even Reagan sold his economic policy as trickle down.

Freeman Hunt said...

Henry, for collectivist art, I was thinking of things like community projects where everyone adds or alters however he sees fit. But in Ann's old post, she is talking about artists having a strong focus on communal goals.

I think there may be many instances where she is wrong, in the creation of various propaganda films like the one Freder cited for example or in all the great religious art of the past.

Or maybe I'm reading her wrong. Maybe she'll write more!

rumtumtugger said...

garage: Ferris?

Scott M said...

Obama himself. The comments made are painfully easy to find. Did he call for rum's draconian version? No. Did he say that people with more money need to give it to people with less? Yes, repeatedly, and while changing the amount that they considered enough to go after.

Scott M said...

@rum

You haven't answered the NK comparison yet. Why should I feel compelled to answer you next challenge when you leave one on the table?

Paul said...

Rum I didn't say I was a better writer than you, though now that you mention it.....

I couldn't make a living as a writer and I'm hard pressed to take you at your word that you do either judging from your examples here.

I do quite well playing for myself thank you very much, as it is in front of paying audiences ;-)

Synova said...

"i.e., that everyone should be exactly as rich / poor as anyone else."

Putting the "exactly" in there is giving an guaranteed out. It's an absolute and absolutes (with a few theological and math/physics exceptions) do not exist.

Most things involving people are about degrees and tendencies, not absolutes.

Words about "fairness" usually betray a tendency toward viewing an equality of outcomes as desirable and something that should be worked toward, at least to see improvements in "fairness".

But frame it as "exactly" and the fact that "fairness" as a value is promoted often can be ignored.

Scott M said...

See, Synova...we're having a perfectly good debate and you have to come and insert reality into it.

rumtumtugger said...

scott, even under a flat tax, wealthier people would of course pay more tax. taxation is always redistributive to one extent or another. or do you want to get rid of taxes altogether? if not, then you have to acknowledge that very nearly 100% of all people agree that with obama, that rich people should pay more tax than poor people. the argument is about 'how much', i.e., it's a sliding scale, not a zero sum game.

Beth said...

Rugged individualist scam artist James O'Keefe squalls "I am but a child!" when arrested and held to account as a "strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that."

rumtumtugger said...

scott: re NK - i made the point way back up the thread:

"scott: who are the people outside the north korean politbureau who truly believe in equality of outcomes. and even they know it's a pile of baloney, because they're fully aware that they're a million times better off than the citizenry."

i adduced this as evidence that no-one believes in absolute equality of outcomes any more, remember?

bagoh20 said...

Maybe I'm wrong about the left - now they don't seem to value equality either. It's snark they value highest, so there you go, enjoy it.

bagoh20 said...

No self respecting leftist is going to defend the North Koreans. They are not pure. It's not leftist philosophy that's deficient - it's the people who have tried it so far. We just need to try harder.

Paul said...

"Maybe I'm wrong about the left - now they don't seem to value equality either. It's snark they value highest, so there you go, enjoy it."

Bingo.

bagoh20 said...

Even the leftists on this hillbilly blog are wingnuts with there right-to-be-rich ideas.

Scott M said...

Ah, point to you on that one, I misread the comment.

That doesn't change the fact that there are plenty of people that believe in outcomes rather than opportunity. They tend to be paternalistic and assume the great unwashed can't do for themselves. It reeks of soft tyranny.

For the most part, people don't need fish. They need fishing poles and the knowledge of how to use it.

former law student said...

Not equality of outcomes, but a floor below which no one will fall.

bagoh20 said...

"Not equality of outcomes, but a floor below which no one will fall."

Even if we have to tear down the whole house to build it.

Scott M said...

FLS, if that were merely the case, I'd not have such a beef. The problem is, though, that if that were merely the case, people wouldn't be constantly clamoring about gaps. As people do clamor constantly about gaps (for certain groups...I don't hear a lot about 40% college graduation rates for men), I have to believe that a safety-net-only theory isn't the goal.

Lynne said...

"His character and personality are what makes an artist an artist, and a go his own way individual.

His cultural milieu more often than not determines his political affiliations, being that he is most likely so absorbed in his work that the superficial arguments and groupthink of those around him are a sufficient investment in his thinking and energy to draw his political conclusions."

Ok, here's a long comment at the end of the thread that probably won't get read:

As I look at the arguments back and forth, I think a good example of an artist to use is George Balanchine.

Balanchine fled Russia after the revolution. As a boy he was schooled in the official Russian ballet system in the final years of the Czar.

He rejected all or part of both milieus.

He was famous for letting his dancers chatter during rehearsals because he said he hated the strict discipline of his Russian teachers.

On the other hand, he hated Communism with a passion. When he finally succeeded in taking his company to tour the Soviet Union, he had to leave the tour early and flee to the U.S., because he was tormented by nightmares and fears that he would be trapped there forever.

He became a naturalized citizen who remained a lifelong patriot of the U.S. He used to tell people it was a *pleasure* to pay taxes to such a country.

On the other hand, he was outwardly liberal, staging ballets on subjects such as the assasination of Martin Luther King.

He was a unique artist who took a traditional format- ballet- and shoved it into the 20th century, abandoning stilted traditions like elves, fairies and sentimental stories.

But at the same time his art required a collectivist sense- each of his ballets was the creation of a single individual, but required multiple artists in their own right to perform.

He was a devout Orthodox Catholic who nonetheless was married 5 times.

And, possibly most contradictory:
He proclaimed the independence and supreme power of the female dancer, but his independent ideal was motivated by very conservative religious and gender ideals. As he put it: "God creates, Woman inspires, and Man assembles."
And also:
"Ballet is woman."

Sometimes you can be independent, collectivist, conservative and liberal all in one big bundle.

And then the world hates you because they can't find an easy handle.

Chris said...

Even some libertarians are willing buy into the floor concept. I'm pretty sure the aim is practical--give the left a limited welfare state in exchange for economic freedom. It isn't very feasible because the people who hate the floor are those who hover just above it.

bagoh20 said...

"I have to believe that a safety-net-only theory isn't the goal."

The President said last night that college for everyone should be paid for by others if you don't pay in 20 years.

That's a pretty fancy floor on the backs of others who may not care for that deep pile shag.

Chris said...

Making other people pay for college is low on my list of bad redistributivist policies. It might be a bad idea for other reasons though like moral hazard.

bagoh20 said...

We already have the floor built. It's not perfect, because they can't be. They are nowhere in the world, which is why many still leave their nations' floors for ours.

We are going way past flooring at this point. We are taking out multiple equity loans on our decent home and building a jacuzzi in every room with crystal chandeliers. Now, the kids in the house are demanding that the parents get second jobs so they can get some new ipads in every room.

For the left, the floor is never good enough, and parents keep too much of their income for their retirement.

KLDAVIS said...

Sounds like a suicide pact. Don't sign me up.

Paul said...

Lynne you make my point. He left the stifling POLITICALLY collectivist USSR for the POLITICALLY individualist USA. He had an individualist and independent spirit, which he was better able to express without the pressure of the collectivist authoritarianism of the Soviet system bearing down on him.

Again if you look at the terms politically in how power is apportioned it all falls into place.

I know quite a few Russian expatriates and they all are horrified with Obama and his agenda.

k*thy said...

Good post, Lynne. Life is not so black and white, is it? We feel better about ourselves when we think we've categorized someone (maybe to help categorize us, someplace else), but the truth is it's always more complicated than that.

bagoh20 said...

As you ladies are displaying, this post is not really about the conscious political opinions of artists, but the process of creating art and the mindset of the artist when doing it. Very different things and usually at odds in the artist, which is what I think Ann was getting at.

Penny said...

"Rugged individualist scam artist James O'Keefe squalls "I am but a child!" when arrested and held to account as a "strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that."

Beth, I noticed that yesterday, when his attorney referred to him as a "kid". Today I read he would need to stay with his parents.

Growing up is no easy matter!

Sadly, O'Keefe's "artistic journey" will be on hold for awhile, but I do like his spunk.

garage mahal said...

"Rugged individualist scam artist James O'Keefe

Well, even Ann agrees artists are inherently right wing.

Penny said...

"Well, even Ann agrees artists are inherently right wing."

She didn't "agree", garage. She stated it boldly, many years apart.

Both times her statement resulted in some excellent dialogue.

Lynne said...

Thank you, K*thy and Paul.
Balanchine was a man entirely constructed of contradictions, fascinating and infuriating and instructive all at once.
I highly recommend Bernie Taper's "Balanchine" as an examination of his life.
One final story: Having just emerged from the starvation of the Russian revolution, Balanchine was entranced by the plenty of America's markets. He once bought an entire wheelbarrow of fresh vegetables at a market, and instead of packing them in bags, insisted on walking home with all of them piled in the wheelbarrow. He declared he wanted to feast his eyes on them all the way home.
A similar thing happened to my in-laws when they hosted a young exchange student from the Soviet Union during he glasnost period. My mother-in-law took him to a supermarket once day, and he timidly picked up an orange and asked could they buy it. She barely looked up from her grocery list and said: "Oh, my, yes. Go over there and get a whole bag. We need some."
He burst into tears.
Later he wrote a bragging letter to a friend back home: "Here in America, I drink juice and eat pineapples *every day*!"
He's a naturalized citizen now, living in New York.

Chris said...

John Lennon didn't much like taxes.

knox said...

Nothing will make you a Republican, or at least a libertarian, faster than trying to run or to work for a small business, even one so "artistic" as making musical instruments.

I have a very left-wing friend who used to work for UT (in TN) in the counseling center. When she quit to start her own private practice, she surprised me greatly by telling me that she was going to refuse TennCare patients. Because she'd get paid pennies on the dollar for her counseling services.

From lefty to righty in one fell swoop!

Penny said...

And that might be good news, knox, except so many are reaching the magical age of 65 at lighting pace.

Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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Cut It said...

I started coming to this blog to get away from the incessant one-sidedness of the instapundit POV.
But you too have become a broken record, Ann.

I would identify myself as a liberal, though I certainly hold some conservative points of view.

Left-wing = Bad
Right-wing = Good?

Really? Because that's all you've been selling lately, Ann. I suppose the fact is that the allure was always your commenters. Their posts (whether I agree or not) are generally far more nuanced than yours.

But there's apparently no room for civil and polite debate and disagreement.

Oh, well. I guess I need to spend more time at the gym anyway.

Toodles.

Nick said...

Positively Nabokovian here, Althouse. I approve wholeheartedly.


A strong sense of individualism is inherent to any great artistry. The temptation to fall into a robotic, chernyshevskyan-type advocacy in one's work is the hallmark of political and social groupthink.

The quoted comment is truth. Some of the above are misunderstanding it, I think. And I'm not even entirely sure that Althouse means it in the way that I see it to be true.

It isn't to say that "To be a great artist is inherently right wing"

To be a great artist is to be inherently right wing.

Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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Penny said...

"I suppose the fact is that the allure was always your commenters. Their posts (whether I agree or not) are generally far more nuanced than yours."

Cut It prefers his talk "nuanced" and his body "chiseled".

Not a thing wrong with that.

Theo Boehm said...
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Meade said...

@Cut It: I hope you're not leaving for good.

Come back anytime.

GraysonHill said...

Eric Hoffer said the same thing about being a revolutionary. You play to the masses (and play them as well), but inside, you know it counts on individual effort.

cameron said...

"All artists are aristocrats in a sense," says Clive Bell, "since no artist believes honestly in human equality; in any other sense to call an artist an aristocrat or a democrat is to call him something irrelevant or insulting."

Leonardo C. said...

'Collectivism'. I don't like that word. And I'm sure as hell am a left-winger.
Be free and let others be free. Guarantee Human rights for everyone. And that's it.
I find preposterous the asserting that the left shuns individuality. Much on the contrary.

I do feel sometimes that to be on the left and to be a force is thrice as much work as on the right.
Because we have some ground rules. While you righties have excuses.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.

John Smiths said...

Picasso and Dylan are clearly not right wing! A statement like that only shows a strong right wings misconception on reality.

John Smiths said...

Picasso and Dylan are clearly not right wing! A statement like that only shows a strong right wings misconception on reality.