Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Conservatives Need Art

Conservatives are really good at discerning the realities of human nature and human behaviour. They understand that the individual is usually the person best informed to make decisions for himself.

However, I believe conservatives are grossly blind to what is needed to sustain a social system of personal and political freedom.

Because conservatives do not value art.

By art, I include "high art" produced by the academe and "serious" craftsmen, and "entertainment" in all its various forms. I do not need a research team to prove that every aspect of the artistic enterprise, from its creation and distribution to its evaluation (through critics and awards) is overwhelmingly the affair of The Liberal.

In order for freedom to be sustained, it requires Truth. Any system that is not based on Truth will ultimately implode and fail. Truth cannot simply be an intellectual pursuit; it must be psychologically reinforced. People need to experience truth and develop their moral imagination through Art in its various forms. Through this process, people learn how to make decisions in their lives, because are thoughts are not merely the product of deductive reasoning, but also of our emotional responses, i.e. "the heart".

If individuals are going to choose morally correct behaviour that does not require government supervision to make up for human weaknesses, their hearts must be attuned to Truth. Moral choices must not only be intellectually correct in their minds, but emotionally satisfying, at least in the long term.

This formation of hearts cannot be done by religion alone. Human nature not only loves, but needs stories and metaphors to vicariously live out the Truth. Not for escape, but for transcendance sake.

As it stands, unless an individual has a religious background, he tends to be liberal. His ideas tend to be informed by the overwhelmingly liberal zeitgeist that he encounters on a daily basis in his culture. As his heart is informed by liberalism, his decisions tend to be based on liberalism, especially as it pertains to life-and-death issues and the family. The cumulative effect of these decisions is social disharmony and the perceived need for government to interfere in order to make up for human weakness.

If conservatives ever hope to soundly defeat liberal ideas, they simply cannot remain on their own turf. They must take on liberalism where it is strong. Right now, Culture and Art are the great liberal strongholds. If it is Liberals who create art, market it and educate people on what is good and not good, then of course that is what the people will learn to like!

Conservatives must invest in the artistic enterprise. There is no way around this. It's a tall order, given the vast predominance of liberals in this field. But if conservatives are willing to shelve out countless millions to invest in think-tanks to promote its policy, it's not a stretch to invest millions in foundations that will patronize conservative artists to produce film, television shows and literature. Naturally, this undertaking would be a charitable undertaking in the beginning. But as conservative artists develop their craft through these opportunities, learn to market and create networks for audiences, then naturallly, they will be able to lay the groundwork for eventual commercial success, just as liberals have done.

If we want to fight the power of artists, we must use the power of artists. Besides-- what kind of conservative society would it be if it did not value Beauty?

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