Why Fascists Fear the Arts…and You
Let’s start with the basics.
First, let’s go to the Oxford English Dictionary for two definitions:
Art: “Works produced by human creative skill and imagination.”
The Arts: “The various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.”
…a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
Honestly comparing and contrasting these definitions should provide us a pretty clear view of why Fascists fear the Arts…and you:
The Arts encourage human creativity and imagination, the free and limitless pursuit of expression in order to expand the body, mind, and spirit, and conceive of the universe’s endless connections. Fascism demands a loyalty to a single nation, often a single race, and an authoritarian repression of freedom of thought and expression. Simply stated: The Arts teach us HOW to think. Fascism teaches us WHAT to think.
So it’s logical why Fascists find the Arts terrifying. A population left free to think and act will begin to understand their suffering from repression, and eventually get organized, educated and active in revolting against it — either peacefully or violently.
Dictators must corral free thinking
This is why, throughout history, when dictators come to power, they immediately go after and corral the free thinkers, primarily the artists, writers, and teachers. Hitler did it. Stalin did it. Today, Turkey’s democratically elected president-turned-dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan is doing it.
In recent years, the United States has been caught up in a creeping form of this repression, seen particularly in our handling of higher education. Government and corporations have touted a STEM education. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — vital pursuits on their own to help make a society sustainable. But without the “A”, the Arts, turning STEM to STEAM, you won’t have a sustainable society. Because the Arts lead humans’ creative thinking to demand free expression, true democracy, and respect for human rights.
Fascism can’t afford that, including in its recent American form of Oligarchic Capitalism. Here we send money to a few and force slave labor on the many.
In higher education, we’ve created the racket of more highly paid administrators and fewer adequately paid professors, depending more and more on part-time teachers who’ve received their advanced degrees but can’t find a full-time job with salary and benefits. And when administrations decide to cut college budgets, the first programs to go are in the arts, in the “A”, not in the STEM, which they consider big moneymakers. And that’s what American higher ed is about today, big money.
This has led teachers, like most other American workers, to try to live on credit, with government allowing Wall Street to seep subprime lending into home loans, credit cards, auto loans, and small businesses.
Banks and government have also colluded in placing a generation of college-educated students into long-term debt, with college-loan debt now over $1.3 trillion, larger even than the $779 billion Americans owe for credit cards.
Government, industry and media tout America as the world’s exceptional economic leader, but insightful economists are constantly preaching that global private and public debt are the highest in history, and that the unhealthy debt will lead to another global economic meltdown.
All this is the result of government and corporations, especially the major media, encouraging the population to be herded unthinking into debt with delusional promises of future prosperity.
And now we’ve moved from decades of industrial production and profits for the few to a world experiencing a dangerous climate change that Fascists can’t afford to acknowledge. To do so would be admission that the Oligarchic Capitalism is failing not only the people, but the planet.
All this is at the basis of the Trump administration’s new budget, introduced last week. It includes eliminating the chief federal agencies involved in encouraging humans HOW to think: a variety of education-grant programs, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The proposed budget slashes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency; in fact Trump had already erased from the White House website any mention of climate change. And the budget greatly increases the Department of Defense monies, more for Homeland Security, and encourages the development of fossil fuels.
It is a budget which even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks, an avid espouser of free markets, condemned:
They’re investing in everything that’s hard power…threat and fear. And disinvesting in everything that has to do with compassion, care, thinking and innovation.
That pretty well summarizes both Fascism and the Trump budget. It will take you getting organized, educated, and active in demanding that the Millionaire Congress oppose both of those destructive forces, which unfortunately the Millionaire Congress is a part of. Some observers believe Congress will oppose such deep budget cuts. But if you want to rely on politicians supporting you without hearing from you, then as legendary broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow used to say: “Good night, and good luck.”