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Supporting Art & Culture
by Alfred de Grazia


Would you agree, to begin with, that "culture"has two meanings: practically everything that is done in a society, i.e., say, what the Eskimos do as much as "the higher, better things of life"? (1) If you agree, then might you also agree that "the higher, better things of life" is actually the object being sought in the framing of a national policy of culture support? (2)

But suppose someone says, "Science is not part of culture in this sense. Science is a methodical truthfinding; culture is fun and games!", would you grant him the point? (3) And then comes another named Paul who preaches that love and charity are "the higher, better things of life"; might you now be stuck with responsibility for all the great virtues in your culture-support policy? (4)

Or would you prefer to argue along lines that science and morals are good and high things of life, that we should examine how far they may enter into "culture," but that culture is larger and more vague and has to do with all the symbolic, aesthetic, and philosophical behavior of people; and culture overlaps with everything else that is happening in society even while it centers around such latter activities? (5)To be realistic, wouldn't you have to adopt something like this last response in order to carry on a discussion of national culture-support policy? (6)

Would a national culture-support policy then be an attempt by whoever represents the country to provide more of such"higher, better things"? (7) Or, at least, must we not assume such a motive on their part? (8)

And might this policy be one of doing nothing, although by doing nothing we would, according to the ancient Chinese philosophy of Tao, be doing much? (8) For isn't letting things alone (laissez faire) doing something radical in fact, because the government has never let culture alone? (9) And would doing nothing restrain the unknown future from being accidentally better or worse than the present in regard to those "higher, better things? (10)

But also, could not support of culture mean the contrary of doing nothing, namely, doing everything in culture through the government-totalitarianism? (11) Would one then call "culture" whatever is commanded, and all the rest that is forbidden, "anticulture"? (12)

Is it predictable, then that the final culture-support policy of the American republic will be "wishy-washy" liberalism, that it, with provisions for many different kinds of governmental activity that are centered at neither extreme but in the vast middle ground of human desires and calculations? (13)

Do all policies falling within this broad scope of culture involve the questions: What do we want? (14) What are the facts? (15) And how do we adapt the facts to our wants so as to fashion a desired future state of affairs? (16)

Would a preferable formulation of the problem of culture support be this:

Who is (and should be) undertaking what cultural activity (why, how, with what help, for whom, at what cost, with what results) and who decides how to support them? (17)

Should this question be used to organize this syllabus? (18) Are the following specific division be used to organize this syllabus? (19) Are the following specific divisions of the question meaningful:

Who does (and should)practice and create culture? (20)

What kinds of culture are (and should be )practiced? (21)

What motives impel (and should impel )culture creators? (22)

What techniques do (and should) the creators of culture use? (23)

Through what coproductive groups and structures do (and should)creators work? (24)

To what audiences do (and should) culture producers address themselves? (25)

What are the social costs and gains of culture production? (26)

What effects do (and should) culture producers have? (27)

Who does (and should) decide culture policy and by what method? (28)

What is (and should be) the national culture-support policy? (29)

Now, since a series of leading questions have brought you to the present pass, who could criticize you for pausing to consider whether some alternative line of inquiry would be preferable?(30) What would you say to organizing an inquiry into culture support simply by inviting complaints about what is happening in culture and then studying, one by one, the complaints, their causes, and their individual remedies? (31)


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