Art & Democracy: Leaves On The Same Branch

If an ‘artist’ creates a spectacle that goes unacknowledged, then is his ‘creation’ art? This begs another question: what do we mean by ‘art’?

The definition cannot be specific. The perception of expressions and creations are subjective, and so what we choose to label something as ‘art’ has an impulsive, subjective perception embodied as the central part of it’s judgement.

So lets define ‘art’ as vaguely as we can.

Art, in my opinion, is simply the expression of one’s thoughts in anyway possible. Be it words, photographs, videos, letters, stories, drawings, paintings, sport, obsession etc; all of these have an ‘artistic’ dimensions to them.

But doesn’t this make literally everything ‘art’?

It does, because every word, every emotion represented in whatever medium of expression, holds significance in some way or the other as it is a reflection of our real life experiences. And experiences in one’s life are important, no matter how small do they seem on the outside. Through art, we vicariously forage into someone else’s life and try to connect to their way of thinking and judgement, even if it does not match our own.

So, coming back to the original question: if the ‘art’ goes unacknowledged, is it art? In my opinion, it’s not.

You see, art is a bipartisanship between the artist and the audience. Without any kind of connection between the two, there can be no value to art, and a thing without value cannot be art. If someone had not discovered Leonardo Da Vinci’s mind-blowing manuscripts, given the assumption just for the sake of making a point that he hadn’t had propagated his own work, wouldn’t he be a mysterious ‘no one’?

But no, people did acknowledge the brilliance of Da Vinci’s work, and his name echoes perhaps even more strongly now than during his own lifetime.

Is there anything, other than the expressions of life itself, that resonates on the same level as ‘art’ on a theoretical, principal level like a separate entity?

In my opinion, there is an ‘entity’ that does, and that ‘entity’ is called ‘democracy‘.

In an ideal democracy, there is room to express yourself. Without democracy, where there are shackles, art is either in its diluted form, or is without any value at all, simply because the ‘truth’ in art never comes out if its against the establishment/status-quo or tailored to fit a criterion. Therefore, it is not truly acknowledged.

But there is more to democracy than just that.

Democracy is a system where the true power lies with the people, who, in accordance with their own wishes and interests, propagate beliefs in the form of political support for a party that represents their views. This, on some level, is dual-acknowledgment. For starters, it is the acknowledgement of a man’s beliefs. Imran Khan, for example, has several unique ideas about solving problems in Pakistan. The people who voted for Imran acknowledged his ‘vision‘ and the ‘ability‘ to see through the grey lines. This vision and ability are the mediums of this art; vote is it’s acknowledgement.

On a second level, it is a reflection of the obvious, hence the acknowledgement of the obvious. For example, if an area needs clean supply of water, then an honest ruler/leader would have to recognise this when the people affected highlight the problem. This example is, at best, crude but nonetheless potent. Even on simpler issues like this, the power of the people exists and forces a government to act. This, in other words, is an acknowledgement to a ‘belief’ that a ‘perceived’ object/circumstance exists. In other words, governance becomes an art.

I know this is getting a little fuzzy, so let me try to keep this a little simpler.

A political manifesto from a political party is a consensus that represents a vision for a country. Since people have all kinds of interests and beliefs, there are bound to be people who might prefer ‘A political manifesto’. This is very similar to me listening to ‘Pink Floyd’, because I seem to garner a preference for the kind of music they produce. Its also similar to all the ‘Beliebers’ who find something special in Justin Beiber’s music. If someone finds value in an ‘expression’, then that expression becomes an ‘art’.

Some people reject my theory because they say democracy lacks ingenuity and genius found in the ‘mainstream‘ art. For example, the famous Mona Lisa is a beautiful expression of unknown feelings. Notice that I used the phrase ‘unknown feelings’. This is because it is not known what Da Vinci was actually trying to express in his painting. The ambiguity that stirs up simply due to this, people argue, highlights the ingenious strokes of Da Vinci and his expressions. They say that this is beauty and genius which democracy, a system, lacks.

But I disagree.

Democracy is not simply a ‘system’. It does not operate like a systematically programmed machine; it encompasses politics and the task of ruling; diplomacy and solutions to problems are some other aspects to it.

In other words, if you’re telling me that Otto Von Bismarck wasn’t a genius stroke player, or Guiseppe Mazzini’s devoted life isn’t a soulful, fulfilling expression, or that Karl Marx’s interpretations aren’t mind-blowing, then you’re doing an injustice to the concept of art.

To manoeuvre between circumstances and find a pragmatic approach to suit the interests of your country is purely an ‘act‘ of art, where one gives in to his or her own’s subjective impulses of interpretation of events and reality. Bismarck did the same to unify Germany and achieve peace throughout Europe for 20 good years, ensuring that Germany became a global force to be reckoned with.

If this isn’t genius art, then what is?

To conclude, I’ll wrack up a Bismarck quote (Sorry but my admiration for the man is off the roof):

“Politics is not an exact science…but an art.”


3 thoughts on “Art & Democracy: Leaves On The Same Branch

  1. The art/ democracy comparison is an interesting one. The main difference which leaps out to me is that democracy (as a political system) is entirely dependent upon the *initiation of force*, whereas art is not.

    In fact, if force were ever initiated to impose art onto the public we would probably not call it art – instead we’d call it propaganda or indoctrination or cultural terrorism.

    When we vote in a ‘democracy’ we are literally voting to have a third party impose our preferred policies onto everyone else by force. This third party is representing us (the voters), and is acting on our behalf. That’s why they are called our ‘elected representatives’.

    There is fundamentally no difference between these two interactions:

    1) going to your neighbour and threatening them with violence unless they obey you and fund the things which you want (and which they might object to)

    2) ‘voting’ for a third party to act ON YOUR BEHALF and threaten your neighbour with violence unless they obey you and fund the things which you want (and which they might object to)

    I can build a cage in my backyard and then threaten to put my neighbour inside it unless he pays for things which I want from his wages each week…… or I can try to persuade a local gang of thugs to build the cage and threaten him on my behalf …. or I can try to persuade my ‘elected representatives’ to make a really big cage and threaten him in the exact same way, on my behalf. It’s the same thing.

    ‘Democracy’ is just another form of human interaction and like ALL interactions (art, sport, sex, business etc) we can divide this interaction into two basic kinds

    1) interactions which are voluntary and peaceful
    2) interactions which are coercive and violent.

    If everybody involved in voting, sex, sport, art, business etc is acting voluntarily and there is no violent coercion then we say everything is civilised and morally acceptable.

    But if coercion and violence are part of the equation then we all recognise that somebody is behaving immorally and in an uncivilised manner. We all understand that however much you desire to have sex with someone, or win a business contract, or have your neighbour pay for things which you want but which they object to, you do NOT have the right to threaten them with violence. This is basic universal morality! We learn this as children.

    There’s no logical reason why the act of ‘voting’ should be exempt from universal morality.

    Ten men ‘voting’ on which woman in a nightclub to rape is not morally acceptable, even if the process is 100% democratic. The *initiation of force* defines this interaction as evil, far more than its democratic nature defines it as virtuous! The same is true of ANY kind of ‘vote’ which is advocating for the initiation of force against other people, INCLUDING voting in a political election.

    According to my dictionary ‘terrorism’ is: the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

    This means voting in a democracy is a form of terrorism – by definition.

    When we vote in a democracy we are advocating (in fact we are demanding) violence and intimidation be used against other people in the pursuit of our political aims, with this violence and intimidation being exerted by a third party (our elected representitives’) acting on our behalf.

    As a society we do not (yet) attempt to impose our tastes in art onto everybody else in a coercive and violent manner, by voting.

    • Thank you so much for reading my article, and also for gracing this post with a comment.

      However, I think there are a lot of assumptions in your argument. Your argument solely rests on the fact that political agendas are a form of coercion and violence. Sure, in some cases that might actually be the case, but there’s a big ‘might’ there. Moreover, I was talking purely in a theoretical sense about an ‘ideal’ democracy.

      In an ideal democracy, there should be no violence. All the problems should be solved through the means of a dialogue and the minorities, despite being minorities, have a real voice in the political sphere.

      Moreover, art, in any form, could advocate any idea. Does that become ‘propaganda’, because believe it or not, everyone has his or her own’s ideas that they want projected. Sure, there might not be what you call the ‘initiation of force’, but if those ideas are in the public, then they might as well be propaganda. The word ‘propaganda’ has been much maligned due to Dr.Goebbels. Don’t treat it with that perspective.

      And again, thank you for taking the time out to read and comment. Cheers.

      • “..Your argument solely rests on the fact that political agendas are a form of coercion and violence…”

        Not at all 😉

        Political agendas are just ideas. Ideas can’t possibly be violent. I can have the idea to take over the world and enslave everyone, but that’s not violent because it’s just an idea.

        I was specifically identifying the process of ‘democracy’ as inherently violent. Democracy is more than an idea. When we vote in a political election we are not just expressing an idea or a preference, we are literally advocating violence.

        Suppose we are neighbours. The chances are we will have different ideas, priorities and preferences when it comes to social issues. If you vote in an election you are attempting to FORCE me to fund and support the things which YOU want but which I do not. And you know that if I ignore the threats made to me by YOUR elected representatives, they will send round armed thugs dressed in matching blue costumes to kidnap me and put me inside a cage.

        That is coercion, intimidation and violence – AKA terrorism. How can it possibly be anything else?

        “..In an ideal democracy, there should be no violence…”

        I don’t know what ‘an ideal democracy’ means. Can you define it?

        Do you mean one where everybody just happens to have the same opinions and desires by chance?

        If we tied everybody together with a big rope we might say “In an ideal world we’d all want to walk in the same direction anyway, so the rope would not be an inconvenience”….. But this is obviously never going to happen! Why bother with the rope in the first place?

        Let’s imagine slavery in the US. In an ‘ideal system of slavery’ the slaves actually enjoy being slaves and they never have any issues with their slave masters, so their slave masters never need to whip them. But this ‘ideal’ will never happen, and even if it did slavery is still fundamentally immoral.

        When you advocate violence be used to solve social issues the ONLY way for the world to be peaceful is for everyone to have the same opinions….. which will never happen.

        If you stop advocating for violence to be the prime method for organising society it no longer matters that we all have different opinions – in fact this becomes a GOOD THING. Different opinions allows for more creativity and innovation.

        Yes I totally agree that all art puts forward an opinion, or an argument – a form of ‘propaganda’ if you like. Propaganda just means information attempting to influence opinion. It just so happens that it’s usually evil men who are the most interested in using propaganda, like you say, people like Goebbels.

        Even simple zen-like art such as sketching flowers gives a its own argument: an argument for zen-like simplicity.

        But this is precisely why it would be a very bad idea if we all started ‘voting’ to impose OUR favourite art onto other people by force.

        Remember when you vote in a political election you are voting for a third party to make everyone else obey your demands or else get kidnapped and locked in a cage.

        Can you imagine voting to force art onto your neighbour, and if he refuses to have him dragged off in handcuffs to be locked in a cage? That is what ‘democracy’ for art would mean in reality!

        Not fun at all! 🙂

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