Sunday, February 20, 2011

Too Elite, or Not Too Elite?, Pt.II

There’s got to be something deeper going on psychologically with anti-elitism and art. There’s something of a fundamentalist mentality to it, in the sense that art is associated with liberalism, which is associated with modernity and threat to traditional values. It is interesting that you brought up historical exclusion. Exclusion has been so much a part of the American mythos – even as we have excluded our own people. To be American is both to be excluded and yet exceptional.

It has been said that there is no dirtier word in America than class. We don’t want to admit to it, yet is stings us. And what is “elitism” but the use of a sort of “class card”. It is real, but at the same time a sort of forgery, and one that can’t be mentioned by name. The working class has been excluded from arugulla, museums, literary criticism, gender politics, etc. But those things aren’t necessarily exclusive – or they don’t have to be.

Yet they happen to be things, ideas that are nurtured and germinate in academia, the ivory tower that is indeed exclusive. The fact that universities are bastions of liberalism is neither an accident nor a fact lost on the many who feel left behind culturally and economically. So in a way, liberalism has been foisted on its own petard – it has allowed itself to be associated with economic privilege, even if that is not generally the case, and liberals are not necessarily more affluent.

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