Art today should strive to reject the aspects of Social Darwinism so inherent in our Western culture. As society gets further into crisis as a result of this deeply flawed worldview helped along recently by 30 years of Reaganomics, the time has come to reverse the effects of Social Darwinism which have resulted in deeper isolation and individualism, and replace it with the effects stemming from cooperation. This is and always was the only way by which human societies have developed. The idea of cooperation was deeply entrenched in the early civilization of ancient Egypt, which as a result remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Contrary to what we get taught in history classes all over the country from high school to college, ancient Egypt was for the majority of its existence relatively free of conflict and war. Its people exercised cooperation as a means for developing a high culture when most of the peoples on Earth were hunter-gatherers. It was not until much later when invading cultures introduced warfare and disseminated false ideologies of materialism and individualism among the Egyptian public that the slow deterioration of Egyptian culture began, as each successive governing body got more corrupt than the one preceding it, in an attempt to amass more wealth and power at the expense of its people. Ancient Egypt is a classic example of the way that Social Darwinism destroys civilization from within, by pitting its citizens against one another in an impossible fight for survival.
Artists therefore should strive toward cooperation rather than competition. The powers that drive societies toward crises stem largely from the Social Darwinist ideology of scarcity and fight for resources. In America today, this worldview, though rarely acknowledged as the main undercurrent of our society, finds major proponents in the worlds of business (especially those who favor free trade agreements), media (Hollywood and television, especially the falsely named “reality” television), politics, and yes even the art world.
This is then perhaps the most important ethical dilemma of artists today. It is the job of the artist to be at the forefront of ethical development. In times of crisis, art always served to set society on the right path. Artists should never become the tools of a society which seeks to enslave and marginalize them. The power of Social Darwinism and the ideology of "survival of the fittest" with wealth and fame as its reward had a disastrous effect on the most recent generations of artists who tend to operate under the notion that they too will become rich and famous overnight. The media goes a long way to propagate this false belief. Art created under such conditions is seldom good and rarely results in anything other than a temporary distraction. Therefore it is absolutely essential that artists today stop creating only art that fits within our society’s narrow worldview, and start to make art which by its nature shapes that worldview.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
All art is useless unless it operates out of a moral imperative. It seems as though that in the past few decades we have completely lost this essential quality of art and forgot what a true moral imperative really is. Instead artists have turned to creating art in response to current trends. Unfortunately, trends are by their nature short term and easily disposable, and as such, art created out of this imperative is itself disposable. As if this isn't bad enough, another set of artists continue to make art which is supposed to be shocking or "controversial", either by it's content or by the nature it gets created. Art created within this single mindset, to the exclusion of everything else, is at best art that should be overlooked, but is at worst a poison slowly killing our collective unconscious.