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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11155/should-the-state-support-the-arts/

Should the State Support the Arts?

December 4, 2009 by

When we disapprove of government support, we are supposed to disapprove of the thing itself whose support is discussed; and to be the enemies of every kind of activity, because we desire to see those activities seeking their own reward. FULL ARTICLE by Frederic Bastiat


Artisan December 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Quite true. But I wonder if this excerpt can still convince anyone in 2010, now that we have forgotten all about this Mr Lamartine (was it the poet?)…? Is it still a good topic at all?

I guess the moral endorsement to subvention is shifting more towards “education” today and “the bliss of technology or innovation” which is close enough.

Artists themselves still accept tax money all too often and maybe the subvention bubble explains the decadence of arts in the late XXth century, together with the ridicule brought upon its official symbols like public museums by famous provocative artists.

On the other hand, now particularly that all new government taxation tends to be officially renamed into “closing of taxation niches”, isn’t it only “fair” for anyone to “get as much as he can” back from the very same institution that has destroyed the value of his savings? Be it, through filing for one more absurd “cultural subvention” …?

Politicians lobbyist are to blame when they call those subventions into life… and yet, considering other types of industrial subventions (tax cuts), they will argue “why not also give money to the poor artists- or any other profession? Is it fair to leave them out when we are all equal in front of the State?”

Certainly these are very bad reasons for the cultural subvention system… but mainly the reasons for an artist not to accept subventions is – if he succeeds in catching the publics gusto – the confidence he may inspire regarding the authenticity of his work.

billwald December 4, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Then the soviets were wasteful for building all those ugly aparements. They should have used converted shipping containers for housing.

Russ Barkley December 5, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I concur. Bastiat’s arguments make an equally good case for not funding public television, or for preferentially funding any other activity in the marketplace for that matter; a conclusion with which I would also agree. As Henry Hazlit later noted in his book, Economics in One Lesson, the fact that you do not notice what is lost in the marketplace when the government confiscates income for its own purposes, wants, and desires does not mean that loss has not occurred. For further arguments supporting a libertarian approach to government and taxes, as well as a self-interested basis for one’s ethics and rights, see my new free book on the internet at GetRationalBook.org

Capitalist Pig December 5, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Bastiat’s arguments remind me why I must always stay leery of modern conservatives; they always talk out of both sides of their mouth. Very much unlike a classical liberal or modern libertarian, they say that they want what is best for business and the individual but it is ultimately only so they have the means to afford to institute their own variety of “top down” moral domination and control.

scott t December 6, 2009 at 10:26 pm

whether the state should support the arts i am not completely sure.
this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3J2_EOHBI4
has some footage of an orchestra playing ravels bolero
which is similar to some footage i saw on public television (while skipping public school) .
it gave me an appreciation for classical music. oddly, it wasnt the the movie.

so i cant say govt support goes altogether to undesired arts – but the market, as in youtube, at this point is doing as good a job i suppose.

ABR December 8, 2009 at 4:35 pm

The worst thing for the arts is that they be beholden to the State.

A more interesting question is whether the arts would thrive in the absence of the State and the absence of IP.

Vedapushpa December 8, 2009 at 10:40 pm

No Arts should not be supported or spobsored or for that matter over-censored by the State.

Arts like professional Journalism should be left/kept free. They in their turn – besides presenting the Ideal human values –should also be reflecting the society or humanity in general honestly enough – both as regards the current state and as in general.

Performing arts have from times immemorial served as a very effective citizeneray mode to communicate to the government as to its excesses and lapses in a very telling manner and that all in the public view. Herein it serves as a preserver and a promoter of a vibrant democracy. It be noted that good monarchical rules have always duly respected such artistic-censuring of the State.

Given the modernday States which have all got quite autocratic the arts therein either tend to be ‘state-managed’ or ‘state-banned’ – sorry state of affairs !!

John Skelton April 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm

I had an argument with a fellow public school music teacher over this question. She believes in state-supported arts and tried to make me believe that without government support, we wouldn’t have any art in the world because there would be no museums, galleries, or the like. I fired back that, even if those buildings were constructed using government money, there best art to put in them was all created in the private sector. Since we’re both music teachers, I also reminded her that Beethoven didn’t need the patronage system and we have yet to produce his like through the National Endowment for the Arts.

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