Monday, May 25, 2015

The Arts and Humanities as Luxuries

The world is full of luxuries. I am not just talking about diamond rings and emerald broaches. I am talking about air conditioning and refrigeration. Automobiles and airplanes. Novels and paintings.

Yes, the arts and humanities are luxuries. Studying them is a luxury. Learning about them is a luxury. True, they turn you into a better, more moral, more well-rounded person, but those, too, are luxuries. They are luxuries of our incredible wealth. They are, therefore, luxuries created by capitalism.

I'm hardly saying that songs and stories and dancing and other arts are products of capitalism. That would be stupid. The arts have existed for as long as there have been human beings -- with speech came these arts (though dancing goes as far back as territorial fishes). In many ways they are anything but luxuries -- they are always necessarily a part of being human. But in many ways, being human is itself a luxury. Humans have a lot of free time, created by our intelligence, social orders, and ability to speak.

But of course the more free time we have, the more time we have for luxuries. If we are finding ourselves with less time for luxuries -- like the arts and humanities -- this is perhaps an indication that something is wrong with our society, with our economy. Over time we ought to have more time for such luxuries. More people should find themselves in the position to study the arts and humanities. And yet we don't. Those who major in such fields are finding fewer and fewer jobs in their fields.

Ironically, it seems that as those who study the arts and humanities continue to succeed at getting their ideologies realized in American society, the fewer and fewer jobs there are for people who study the arts and humanities, and the fewer and fewer people even go into the arts and humanities.

Is this a case of biting the hand that feeds you? Probably. The more progressive ideas are implemented in our society, the more and more our society becomes a rat race for the vast majority of us. And that leaves less and less time for the arts and humanities. And, I suspect, less and less money to spend on them as well. If you have to spend all of your time working just to fall farther and farther behind, you find less and less time for higher values. Isn't it ironic that those who preach higher values are creating a society in which one cannot pursue them?
Post a Comment