Democracy & the Arts

Democracy & the Arts

Democracy & the Arts

Democracy & the Arts


Politics has taken a cultural turn in America, and the arts are at the center of today's culture wars. In this book, some of our most prominent cultural critics explore the relationships between culture and politics as played out in the world of novels, television, museums, and even fashion. The authors -- John Simon, Greil Marcus, Arthur C. Danto, and other well-known commentators from across the political spectrum -- examine the arts in their relation to democracy and consider whether and how they serve one another.

The authors consider such topics as high and popular culture in democratic America; the relation of democracy to classical, jazz, and folk music; and the artistic potential of the most democratic of all arts, the movies. All of the essays are as entertaining as they are thoughtful.

With its roots in popular sentiment, democracy will forever be entwined with art, a force that powerfully molds popular taste. Democracy and the Arts speaks elegantly to that relationship and reminds readers of its enduring importance.


Arthur M. Melzer,Jerry Weinberger, and M. Richard Zinman

Human beings are artistic animals no less than political ones. Everywhere, they are found in groups; and everywhere, they are seen to dance, sing, and tell stories. What, then, is the proper relation between our nature as social beings and our nature as artistic beings, between politics and culture?

This curious and difficult question is at least as old as recorded political thought. It was Plato, after all, who maintained that any change in musical tastes must bring a corresponding change in regime. And Aristotle Poetics is a highly political book. From a somewhat different point of view, the ancient Greeks seem the very embodiment of this question, for one cannot contemplate the extraordinary efflorescence of artistic genius among them . . .

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