"And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps." ~ H.L. Mencken
Why Must I Be a Marxist to Be an Artist?
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
Have you ever taken notice of the fact that almost the entire artistic community – and I don’t mean just Hollywood culture here, but also the literary world, the music industry, the visual arts – seem to have a kind of unspoken agreement amongst themselves that in order to be one of the “in” crowd, in order to be accepted into the fold and be considered worthy of both admiration and success, your politics and overall philosophical sensibilities must be those of a quasi-Marxist?
Of course, the very first predictable reaction to that from a member of the general public is that I’m simply bitching about my own (so far) lack of financial success as a writer – I’m not earning the same multi-million dollar figures as Stephen King, replete with foreign-language rights and major movie deals, therefore I’m just a bitter mud-slinger, out to cast blame on everyone but myself for my lack of mass appeal, because of my advocacy of what is considered a fringe belief system, unlike the Leftists Who Live Large.
First off, I understand that Voluntaryism is, for this part of time, at least, still a mostly unknown and not very well understood philosophy. I also recognize that – while none of them are or ever were, to the best of my knowledge, Voluntaryists – there exist exceptions to this axiom. People like Mel Gibson and the late Tom Clancy come to mind. Then there’s “tax-defier” Wesley Snipes.
But this still doesn’t account for the overall observable bias, nor, more importantly, its basis. Why are so many creative people, especially those who at least pay lip service to individualism – and many of whom have become wildly affluent plying their craft -- of such a socialistic, collectivist bent?
One possibility that immediately comes to mind is that people with significant creative talents tend to be deeper feeling, and more empathetic than those whose sensibilities are more scientific, technical, or mathematical. While there are undoubtedly exceptions to this paradigm, I would be willing to bet that unbiased psychological studies bear this out. Here, however, we immediately run into a major disconnect: How can such supposedly empathetic concern for others translate into the advocacy of raw government force inherent to all Marxist philosophy? How is it that such people can apparently reconcile (or outright ignore) the violence of the State in order to allegedly provide assurance of “compassion” . . . when all the empirical evidence shows this mindset up as a farce? Don’t they see the hypocrisy, and the paradox? Or, again, do they simply choose to ignore it?
This part may have no easy, readily identifiable answer. Other than that perhaps once groupthink gets started, once it’s considered culturally necessary to reflect the attitudes of the fold, as it were, in order to achieve and maintain social acceptance, it’s just much easier to go along to get along. Easier to not ruffle too many feathers in order to ensure that next record or book contract, that next starring movie role, that next Grammy award or Oscar. Keep the boat steady instead of rocking it, stay part of the clique, and you’ll keep getting invited to all the key dinner parties, you’ll stay in strong with all the right people, those connections will get tighter, and the money will keep flowing. Indeed, I remember the late, great Don Galloway telling me that Hollywood virtually ran on nepotism. It was one of the reasons, in fact, that he got out of the acting business after so many years. He was a libertarian, too, of course.
Right around the time that Don got involved in acting – first in New York, later in California – was the changing of the guard. The 1960s saw the end of the older McCarthyistic Hollywood, with its communist witch-hunts, but that fearful and paranoid mentality was simply replaced with something equally as insidious. A legion of ideologically frozen pseudo-socialists, mired in the tar pits of a bygone era when young hippies, anti-war protests, and civil rights marches changed the landscape. While much of that was both noble and productive, an insulated culture that refuses to admit its grossest failures – all the while growing fat from what remains of the very socioeconomic construct it seeks to at least hobble, if not eradicate outright, namely capitalism – is not only flagrant hypocrisy, but also total moral and intellectual dishonesty . . . and all in the name of maintaining some kind of false hipster social facade. I can think of little that I find more disgusting.
Other than, perhaps, lowering myself to become a part of it.
If I am to succeed, I’ll do so without sucking up to a phony culture based on discredited economic theories and an obscenely distorted concept of charity, thanks so much just the same. We’re in the 21st Century now. Technology has made writers like myself much more independent, freer. And better things still are on the near horizon.
I can’t wait to get there.