November 20, 2007
Fabian Tassano ponders dumb culture and its causes.
If cultural deterioration is acknowledged in a mediocracy, it is blamed on marketisation. The implication is that cultural products are somehow traded more than they used to be, which is specious. Culture has always been bought and sold, and would not get produced at all without someone to pay for it. What is different about a mediocratic market for culture is that purchasing power is in the hands of the mass consumer and the state, rather than those of a small elite. The characteristics of the prevailing culture will therefore reflect the tastes of the mass, and the ideological preferences of the political class, rather than the tastes of the bourgeoisie. This point — that it is empowerment of the mass and of the collective which drives cultural change in a mediocracy — is ideologically unpalatable and therefore suppressed. It is more convenient to blame the market, especially as this can be used to justify intervention.