The Art of Socialism? Hardly!!!!

There was once a time where I had an inkling of economics, and the overall benefits of the free market system. Now, as I start to engage in in-depth discussions on the matter, I can feel the blank look on my face, and the confussion setting in. I mourn the days when I almost minored in political science, and find myself purusing books on economics, however out of place they seem amidst my collection of O'Conner, Williams, Shakespeare, and Warton. Admitedly, one of the main challenges I faced in college -- as I found particularly when I attempted to take Metaphysical poetry along side classical economics -- was that I was required to use two sides of my brain, and my economic brain was sadly under-exercised in comparison to my literature brain, especially since my literature teachers and classmates either were distributist economists (if there is such a thing) or they neither knew nor gave a hoot about economics in any shape or form.

So I leave college, theoretically prepared for the world. I pursue literature and music; and what do I find? Socialists! Everywhere, socialists! Why is it that all artists today are socialists? They claim that it is because they refuse to compromise their art by putting price on it in the name of capitalism; maybe I could take them more seriously if, in not "selling out," most of what they produced wasn't sheer egotistical badness on wheels.

On rereading this, I realized that I should clarify that I don't think that all artists must market if they are not, at that time, equipped to distribute their art for one reason or another, or if they simply don't have the desire to share their art. I'm also not saying that all artists who avoid marketing are doing so out of insecurity (if they are good artists). What I am saying is that artists should not fear that marketing their work will inevetibly lead to comprimising the work of art itself, or "selling out."

Even in Catholic circles, good artists are never discovered because of their belief that marketing and true art are not compatible. They argue that marketing means "selling-out" -- period; putting a price on a work of art is like putting a price on a child. And I understand how this feels. There are few things worse than, after showing your work of art to someone, having it of art ripped to shreds, or modified, or tweaked so that it might be more "sell-able." And, admitedly, editors and producers have been known, on occasion, to suck the marrow out of a brillient work of art for the sake of profit. However, in my experience with having my artistic babies slashed to pieces, oftentimes they were slashed to pieces because, to be frank, they were ugly babies (sorry for the unpleasent imagery, but that's the best way to describe it). I have learned a great deal about how to produce good art from having my work edited and my favorite pieces cut out and thrown to the dogs (whether or not I always agree with those particular decisions . . .). If it wasn't for the editors, F. Scott Fitzgerald would be illegible to the point to where his brilliance would never see the light of day (and true art is meant to be shared).

Except in the case of real artists, the fear of marketing one's work in the capitalist world is, I think in some cases at least, more a fear of being objectively criticized than it is a fear of selling out. There are some fantastic independant artists, and I applaud them for being able to make a living with art the hard way; but for every talented artist, there are about a 1,000 more artists who really need to reevaluate how they spend their time. It makes sense, sadly, since we live in an age where people lack the ability to accept criticism because they are conditioned into the a delussional understanding of their own self worth.

This spring, I am returning to Italy, in part to see if music school is for me. I will have a book on economics in tow, and hopefully I will be able to avoid being sucked in to the vortex that is socialism.

St. Thomas More, prega per noi!


Alaina said...


That's awesome!!!! What kind of music are you going to study? I'm really looking forward to hearing about your experiences in Italy. I have fond memories of our semester in Rome. As for economics, value is in the eye of the beholder (in my humble opinion).

GreenGirl said...

Hey Alaina! I'm looking to study voice at the Accademia d'Arte in Florence. I actually wouldn't start until November at the earliest, but I'm going to check the schools out while I'm out there. How's everything with you???

Jason said...

I understand your point about artists not wanting to sell their wares, but do you really go so far as to say that artists who take an interest in marketing are "selling out"?

C'mon, surely you're being too harsh.

liv4armani said...

Jason I fear has missed the entire point of Greengirl's blog. She obviously does not agree that advertizing one's art is selling out. In the cases where she used this term, it is simply a case of playing the devil's advocate and using their terminology. What she does say is that it is a disservice to oneself and to humanity to hide one's art under a bushel basket. The artists who share their achievements with society are active participants in what we call humanity. They bring their gifts to world . . . for what purpose remains to be seen. Catholics who constantly say that true artists don't market or sell their product to the public, because doing so would be lowering their artistic standards are egotistical and not truly artists. The entire point of art is to glorify God and to bring His message to the people. That is how we, as Catholics, can regain a foothold in the art world . . . not by hiding behind false pretences of humility or virtue.

Jason said...

My previous post, mirabile dictu, is a good example of why editors are needed--to prevent careless people from publishing silly posts!

What I meant to type is "do THEY [the socialist artistic types] really go so far as to . . ." I just question whether it is really such an epidemic in the artistic community.

I know many people who make their living as artists of one kind or another and have never run across this anti-commercial philosophy. I would contend that anyone who is serious about his craft is not going to argue about this.

SO, I agree with the post characterization of socialist artists, but doubt that these things are believed outside of say, the over-privileged undergrads I see at Brown University who have embraced a quasi-bohemian existence and wander around campus seemingly immersed in thought. They are really on drugs and by senior year will become business majors primed to join the corporate world . . .but I digress.

The bottom line is that the "Catholics [or atheists, for that matter] who constantly say" these kind of things are certainly a tiny group, and as Catholics we should probably be glad that they have not taken a foothold in the art world because they could very well misrepresent us!!!

GreenGirl said...

Thanks Jason. I too have a need for editing, and I've edited the post just this afternoon to correct the unintentional generalizations that I was making (one of the main reasons I have a blog is to have the opportunity to be critiqued myself). I mean, most artists I've come across ARE socialists, but not necessarily all of them the kind to avoid advertising.

Thankfully, this extreme mentality I am referring to is not everywhere, and probably not in most places. Your artistic friends who make a living with art are making a living with art because they understand the need to make a living (living? Three times?), and they are in the majority. As I understand it, most real art schools teach marketing (although, as I was also told by a professional painter, that is about the only useful thing that is taught in artschools, but that's another issue that I'm not even going to try to tackle right now).

I'm referring to albeit a relatively small percentage of artists who, while they want their art to be seen, are hesitant to pursue quality advertising because it violates an ideal pertaining to the artform. They hear "market" and "product" and think "capitalism" which they believe violates human dignity; so they pull back, and their art isn't seen by hardly anybody.

When all is said and done, I think this is just a testament that I need to leave this town.

Jason said...


Right on, in the end I think we are on the same page. And it is worth saying that that tiny percentage can be really annoying.