by Richard A. Cheatham, Press Media Group, LLC
“A great nation deserves great art.” That’s the slogan of the National Endowment for the Arts. I keep hearing it and it has begun to anger me. The slogan certainly suggests a great deal more arrogance than pride.
Let’s consider the words and terms used here. How about “great nation?” There is lots of cheering these days about our “great nation.” Kinda reminds me of the cheering you hear for athletic teams. Great focus, passion and often wealth is directed toward one team as opposed to all others. Whether any particular team wins or loses in the final analysis is about as important as whether heads or tails turns up when you flip a coin. Big deal! Some people, however, really get worked up over these fabricated fights. The same goes for “great nations.”
To me a good nation is far better than a great nation. Too many great nations seem pretty evil to me. A good nation for me is one that is free, with minimal government, where the people are proud, productive and peaceful, certainly not like today’s United States. The United States has become more a great nation or empire; powerful, pushy and filled with often intellectually lazy people more concerned with being winners than with the reasons for the fight. Americans today look to government to guide them in everything, even in defining and promoting “great” art. How sick is that?
I much prefer a peaceful truly-federal republic based upon universal individual liberty in personal and economic spheres to a bloated boastful empire where everyone looks to powerful government experts (with guns at their disposal) for guidance and favors. You can have your “great nations.” They always end up in the dustbin of history.
The word “deserves” deserves some attention too. For a nation, a society, a culture to spontaneously produce and enjoy great art is one thing. To have it defined, encouraged, promoted and funded by government through confiscation from unwilling taxpayers, through subsidies for certain favored and well-connected artists (and not for others) and through being heralded by “government art experts” is quite another. Who really deserves what anyway? Can a nation “deserve” anything? Do we citizens deserve “bread and circuses?” Or do we deserve to freely create, define and select (or reject) art without being plundered and guided by some artsy bureaucrat with the coercive power to tax backing his or her artistic whims.
The term “great art” also bothers me. I’m especially fed up having money taxed from me to fund certain government “experts” who tell me what is great art and, by implication, what is not. Truly great art does not need, nor has it ever needed, the force of government confiscation, subsidy and expert promotion to make it great. Art happens or it doesn’t. I prefer...”Good nations create great art.”
©2005 by Richard A. Cheatham. All rights reserved. Mr.Cheatham is a professional speaker/writer and is syndicated through Press Media Group, LLC. Contact him through, Living History Assoc., Ltd., at www.LHALtd.com or DrawBackVeil@aol.com.