Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mirza, Munira. "Is Modern Art a Left-Wing Conspiracy?" SPIKED November 22, 2007.

Is all modern art left-wing, as they suggest? To answer this, you’d have to work out what is meant by left-wing (or right-wing for that matter) which is an increasingly difficult thing to do these days. Calling someone left- or right-wing used to be a pretty good indication of where they stood on the big political issues of the day. For the 200 years between the French Revolution of 1789 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, left and right were shorthand labels for showing ‘whose side you were on’ – whether it was at the barricades or the picket line. But today, do these terms have the same instructive value? US President George W Bush is sometimes described as the leader of a radical right-wing government, but in what sense is this true? In 2002, he controversially introduced protection tariffs on steel imports to save the skins of domestic producers – so he is not exactly a rabid proponent of the free market. Maybe, then, he is a hawk when it comes to international affairs because he believed in America’s role in effecting regime change in Iraq and Afghanistan. But then, if this is right-wing, where does that leave Bill Clinton, his predecessor, who used similar arguments to justify the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia (only he used the term ‘humanitarian intervention’)? One could go on. Is free speech a left- or right-wing principle? For all their talk of freedom and challenging orthodoxy, we know there are plenty of academics on the left who have campaigned for ‘no platform’ policies in universities. Are they more or less left-wing than Mary Whitehouse, the Christian campaigner who demanded that certain things on television were too offensive for the British public to handle and required government censorship? And what about green politics? Even trendy left-wing supporters of organic food, who are vitriolic in their hatred for Tesco, can be embarrassed to find themselves in bed with aristocrats who believe in the purity of the land and subordination of man to nature. Sustainability - the red-green slogan of choice - is about slow, manageable change. It’s hardly the credo for revolution. So, the first point to make is that we should recognise that when we use the terms left and right, we’re not really referring to political categories, so much as badges of honour that we parade around. Or else, they are terms of abuse, to dismiss someone’s arguments and avoid examining their ideas properly. Many people cling to them for emotional comfort at a time when the sea of ideology is confusing and uncertain. . . . Read the entire article here:

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