Art For Libertarians
October 9, 2019 9:19 AM   Subscribe

“I told him that this was the first time I’d been to an exhibition where the majority of the attendees vocally opposed public funding for the arts. He, too, believed that the NEA was a waste of money: given a finite budget, weren’t there many other social welfare programs that deserved the funding more than art? He paused for a moment, before admitting this was a straw-man: “I mean, we don’t think the government should be paying for those either.” Culture Worriers (The Baffler)
posted by The Whelk (25 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Art is an easy target, particularly for those on the right, because it's seen as soft and of no direct benefit to the public (views I don't support or agree with, and I love that New Mexico's capitol building is full of art [Trip Advisor review, no pics, sorry!]).

But NEA appropriations (Arts.gov) would be a forgotten sub-category in any of military budget categories (Wikipedia). Yet are Cato and co supporting protests of the bloated military budget? A budget that it cannot account for? (Forbes, Dec 8, 2017) Nah, let's turn out in force against public art.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:44 AM on October 9 [18 favorites]


This opening was not altogether unlike the dozens of staid institutional receptions I’ve attended in New York—there was a tasteful jazz quartet, an open bar, an impressive spread of canapes
[Emphasis mine]
Shouldn't Libertarians make you pay for your drinks?
posted by adamrice at 9:48 AM on October 9 [16 favorites]


I donated one of my paintings to the "Free Ross" fundraising auction at PorcFest this year and it sold for the second-highest price (an autographed poster of Ron Paul went for a little more).

Another painting I donated to the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire convention's auction went for more than any other item in their history of having a fundraising auction.

Pro-tip: Libertarians will gladly throw their own money at art with a porcupine motif. Go forth and profit.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:51 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]


The libertarian fallacy is that private property determines freedom, when it is the other way around: public government protects private interests who pay taxes with publicly created money. If we went back to private government and economy, such as feudalism, then private property would revert to either aristocratic or church control, as it always did.
posted by Brian B. at 9:53 AM on October 9 [19 favorites]


Shouldn't Libertarians make you pay for your drinks?

Haha no that's what Koch money is for.

Seriously I don't think I've ever been to an event put on by a Koch-funded organization that didn't include free food and drinks.

Now if you go to an actual capital-L Libertarian Party meeting or event, you gotta pay for your own drinks because the Kochs dumped us for the GOP back in the early 80s so we poor. :( Unless we've invited a guest speaker from a Koch-funded org, and then they pick up the tab for everyone because they're actually mandated to spend a minimum amount per month on "community building" through social events. I even got them to buy lunch for everyone at the LP Virginia convention one year.

Mmm... delicious Koch dollars.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:59 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]


Yet are Cato and co supporting protests of the bloated military budget? A budget that it cannot account for? (Forbes, Dec 8, 2017) Nah, let's turn out in force against public art.

Another thing I've noticed over the years:

Each time the NEA comes under fire, the naysayers claim that they're objecting to funding as a matter of principal, but the examples they give are always things like Robert Mapplethorpe or Andres Serrano or Annie Sprinkle or the like, and never about things like the quilters from Gee's Bend (who won an NEA grant in 2015) or Wally McRae, the "Cowboy Poet".

At least Jesse Helms had the decency to admit that "I don't want the NEA funded because these specific bits of art make me feel oogy".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:00 AM on October 9 [18 favorites]


Pro-tip: Libertarians will gladly throw their own money at art with a porcupine motif. Go forth and profit.

What people will pay for an item in a fundraising auction is not necessarily indicative of what they would pay to purchase an item with no fundraising component.
posted by misskaz at 10:03 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


It’s just porc(upine)barrel politics as usual....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:22 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


OK so regarding The Profile (the painting of police brutality) and the author's speculation about which side the Cato attendees saw themselves on, I'd like to note that it's a pretty well-established fact that libertarians fucking hate cops.

Shame on Harriet Lesser for not making that explicitly clear. It sounds like the show organizers were more caught up in putting on pretentious pseudopostmodernist airs e.g. "what do YOU think it means" than actually adhering to their proposed theme.

Disappointing, but not surprising. As someone who has traveled in libertarian circles, I've found that, all else equal, my fellow libertarians tend to be not very sophisticated people.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:27 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


Seriously I don't think I've ever been to an event put on by a Koch-funded organization that didn't include free food and drinks.

This seems to be a theme. The Federalist Society group at my law school was well known for having the best food at their events, and they were always packed to the rafters. These groups have money and they know what works to get people to attend. Especially young people. I don't think the Federalist Society events would have been well-attended at all, without the whole Chipotle burritos when everybody else was trying to figure out what chains had the cheapest pizza, but you get people to show up for the food at enough events and a certain number of them are going to start thinking you sound pretty reasonable by third year.

I am not any kind of libertarian, but I am reminded of how many actual libertarians I have known who believed emphatically that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and this is one case where I think that is emphatically true. They aren't giving away food. They're buying something.
posted by Sequence at 10:51 AM on October 9 [16 favorites]


There are libertarians and then there are libertarians. I tend to defend libertarians against broad-brush critiques because many libertarians are on the side of angels when it comes to "criminal" "justice" reform, but there are a lot of them who don't hate cops very much at all.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:53 AM on October 9 [9 favorites]


Each time the NEA comes under fire, the naysayers claim that they're objecting to funding as a matter of principal, but the examples they give are always things like Robert Mapplethorpe or Andres Serrano or Annie Sprinkle or the like, and never about things like the quilters from Gee's Bend (who won an NEA grant in 2015) or Wally McRae, the "Cowboy Poet".

And of course I must, at this point, link the fantastic Jacob Geller video "Who's Afraid of Modern Art?"
posted by tobascodagama at 10:59 AM on October 9


...there are a lot of them who don't hate cops very much at all.

yes we call those Republicans

And "libertarian Republican" has proven itself to be an oxymoron over the last couple of years. Watching the rest of my fellow Libertarians finally wake up to what a bootlicking douche Rand Paul is and disavow him has been soooooooo satisfying. (Sadly, we're still working on un-diefying his father, so the exorcism is not yet complete.)
posted by Jacqueline at 11:02 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


I’m still bitter that the word “libertarian” was stolen from the Left. Private property and liberty are incompatible, dammit!
posted by sanedragon at 11:37 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]


I refuse to acknowledge anyone as libertarian. They are goddamn republicans who somehow want to fuck the poor even harder and the libertarian label is just there because they know it's embarrassing to be a republican in polite company.
posted by GoblinHoney at 11:56 AM on October 9 [11 favorites]


When I asked Lesser in an email how she envisioned the idea of “freedom” functioning within the show, she sent me a koan: “I believe art mirrors the individual, freedom included.” Emblazoned on the wall by the entrance of the exhibition was a hackneyed quote to this effect, “Freedom is the soul of art,” attributed to Abhijit Naskar. The name didn’t ring a bell; when I got home, I looked it up. Naskar was not, as I had assumed, a notable intellectual of the libertarian tradition, or even an artist; he is a “neuroscientist” in his twenties with no formal training who has self-published some thirty books in which he claims to have unlocked the scientific key to individual fulfillment and global harmony.

It's grifts all the way down, eh?

Proposed performance art piece:

Show up in front of homes of libertarians with a backhoe and liberate them from the collectivist tyranny of municipal sewage connections.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:11 PM on October 9 [9 favorites]


I refuse to acknowledge anyone as libertarian. They are goddamn republicans who somehow want to fuck the poor even harder and the libertarian label is just there because they know it's embarrassing to be a republican in polite company.

Um. Several thousand members of the DSA's Libertarian Socialist Caucus would like a word. (There is also a Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party.)

(This has no particular bearing on the tedious glibertarians in the posted article, but I think it is worth bringing up, because it is an unfortunate pattern on MetaFilter that broad-spectrum libertarian-bashing way too easily turns into anarchism-bashing, which is just another word for authoritaranism.)
posted by Not A Thing at 12:32 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


My understanding is that anarchism is the leftist, communitarian version of libertarianism.
posted by scantee at 12:56 PM on October 9


There are people trying to take the word back to its left/anarchist roots.

Which is ...not what Cato is doing.
posted by The Whelk at 1:15 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


"At least Jesse Helms had the decency..."

Them are some words not often written.
posted by el io at 1:33 PM on October 9 [7 favorites]


Them are some words not often written.

They were intentionally chosen, weird as it sounds....

I mean, trying to defund the arts still made him a shitbird but at least he was honest about why he was doing so.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:38 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


but at least he was honest about why he was doing so

No, really, watch the Jacob Geller video.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:37 PM on October 9


OK so regarding The Profile (the painting of police brutality) and the author's speculation about which side the Cato attendees saw themselves on, I'd like to note that it's a pretty well-established fact that libertarians fucking hate cops.

Eh... In my experience libertarians are perfectly likely to be on the side of the devils when it comes to, for instance, cops murdering innocents. Especially black innocents.
posted by brundlefly at 6:13 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


I note that libertarianism as a political movement only really has cultural currency in the United States. As an international website, libertarians can't be surprised that they see at least a little pushback.
posted by Merus at 7:43 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as the old saw goes, Libertarians are just Fascists who like to get high.

Fuckin' Cato, tho. They were the goons who lead the first charge against wind energy: cuisinarts of the sky, they called the turbines. The amount of damage they've done to the climate with their delay and obfuscation is incalculable. They're not much about liberty at all, apart from taking one.
posted by scruss at 7:48 PM on October 9 [8 favorites]


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