Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

My thoughts on art in a left anarchic society.

–1 vote
I guess the reason I always think about entertainment, namely cinema, is I am an aspiring film maker. From a young age I always knew that that is what I wanted to do. I always loved to consume and analyze cinema as art, it was always where my mind went. I always wondered how film and other forms of media would exist in a left anarchic society because I always loved the art of cinema. While I love all art nearly equally, I guess film was the one form that really does it for me. I guess my questions were really if I would be able to pursue such a career. I guess art and film will always exist in some form or another but that's one thing, maybe the only thing, that I care for in our society, how easy it has become to distribute art. You can just do it. I guess that is the internet's doing. It has become much easier to reach a wider audience with much less expense. I guess that would be better under an anarchic society. In a world not driven by profit, art would be pure. Just a channel for the artists full intent and emotion, not marred down by having to worry about a bottom line or a studio. I guess with the internet it would be easier to distribute more potent and meaningful art and it would be easier to create without an "industry". I guess I only thought about creating art in terms of the "entertainment industry", I never really thought about it in any other terms. I could't imagine it any other way. Thoughts? Am I totally off? Am I missing something? Thanks to this website and the kind folk involved, I was really able to understand and open my eyes to new ways of thinking. Thanks.

NOTE: This is assuming that we would preserve all current technology and continue to advanced technologically in a left anarchic society.
asked Feb 17, 2015 by Freed Thought (260 points)
edited Feb 18, 2015 by Freed Thought
Sorry dot, I thought I asked if I was completely off. I was just curious if my ideas were totally ridiculous. I'm sorry I forgot to add the, well, question part, it was really late when I wrote this and it slipped my mind. I'm going to add in that last part, sorry if I annoyed you guys, this website really has been great.
*I just edited the part where I asked the question* Thanks dot for respectfully reminding me. It's really cool how awesome you guys all are on this sight, always respectful. Thanks.
for the record, you didn't annoy me. :)
Thanks bornagainanarchist. This website and all of it's denizens have really been awesome.
i am not a fan of art in general, although there are definitely visual/auditory creations that i can find very pleasing or interesting. i think that like so many things in this world, art is far too often reified. i personally appreciate practical "art" most of all.

anecdote: when i lived in the pacific northwest, i took some visiting family/friends to the redwoods, one of my favorite places on the planet. they were all (almost) artists of one sort or another. almost the entire time we were among those awesome giants, every one of those folks stood around looking at - and obviously enjoying - the pictures of the trees they had just taken. THAT, to me, is the definition of mediated living. and i question the extent to which "art" promotes and/or facilitates that.
i hear ya, funky! many times i've had the experience where people were sitting or standing around looking at photos they'd just taken of things, rather than simply experiencing those things themselves with all their senses. i often feel like screaming in such situations, especially when someone keeps asking me to look, look, look at the photos- while the person, place, or thing lies right in front of and around me!

now, when i work on a short documentary film, i combine a variety of still photos, interviews, writing, video, music, voice over, graphics, and so on, to create something that doesn't exist on its own as an experience. i do this to express a point of view, to tell stories, to hopefully prompt people to think and discuss and ponder things and to evoke emotion. i enjoy the creative process of putting it together and expressing my thoughts and feelings (much like writing stuff here)...and i often enjoy reading stories and essays, and watching films other people have created, for many of the same reasons.

maybe i've made an arbitrary distinction between my pleasure of creating a documentary (or watching one that resonates with me) and someone else's pleasure in looking at photos rather than the thing itself, but they seem a lot different to me.

edited to add: i think the distinction i make has something to do with separation. i feel more separated from the thing when someone shows me a photo of what i see in front of me. when i work on a film or story, i sense a dissipation of separation...my thoughts and feelings, the ideas of other people, the music, and so on, start to coalesce into something else unique, but not separate.

1 Answer

+1 vote
My thoughts around this are complicated by a couple things. First, I don't identify as a left-anarchist, and so I am not sure that I am the best qualified person to reflect on what an anarchist society of that sort might produce in terms of art, or the terms of distributing it. Also (and related) I am skeptical of the compatibility of civilization and current levels of technology with anarchy. Both certainly color the way I engage this question, though they don't actually have a whole lot to do directly with the things I am interested in looking at right now (so let me know if y'all feel like this is more a comment than an answer, I'll happily convert it).

Assuming a certain continued level of technology is available, I think it is quite likely films and music (and other art) will continue to be produced. The production, free from the constraints of capitalist civilization would, as I've touched on elsewhere, quite possibly look a lot different, but yeah. Of course people will go on making art in ways available and appealing to them.

I don't know that the internet makes the exposure to this art more viable - my experience of finding new art online is that there is too much. I have an extremely difficult time actually finding things that appeal to me beyond momentary diversion. Perhaps sans capitalism this would change, but I suspect that it is something intrinsic to the digitzation of art that creates a further level of alienation.

(An aside - Digitization is perhaps the wrong word here, but I am struggling to find the right one. I mean the removal of the art-object or spacial-art-experience. One easy example is music; I don't find myself able to seek out new music online and effectively digest whether it is something I appreciate. If it is music I already relate to via a live experience or physical artifact like a record, I seem to have less of a problem listening. The same holds true of books. I can not read digitized books. Without the tactile act of touching pages my mind doesn't stay engaged with the content of the "page.")

I think it is important to recognize that I am old enough that I did not grow up consuming art (or anything) online. I don't mean that in a "back in my day it was all better" way, but rather to acknowledge that I am of the generation where email and interwebs were introduced early enough that I am comfortable using them, but that I did not form my early understanding of interaction with anything remotely similar. This is probably significant to how much I hate engaging with art via the tubes. At the same time, I am also unconvinced that it is healthy for people to grow up with most of their interactions happening via text, web, and social media. This might change in a left-anarchy, I dunno. In my dream-anarchy whatever net remained would likely not be world-wide or 24/7, if it were at all.

I do think the removal of profit and bottom lines from movie making might quite improve the quality of output (though the devil on my shoulder is asking, "by whose standards?"), and the non-existence of the studio system would certainly free writers and directors creatively. I have some friends who are involved in independent film-making, and I think for folks on that level not a lot would change production-wise. ON the other hand, I doubt you'd see blockbusters any more (is the concept of a blockbuster even in any way translateable to an anarchic future?)

I am wondering about the part of your question about art being "pure." I don't really think there is such a thing as pure art, or that even in an anarchic society that the art created would be entirely free of constraint. We are human and as such there are lots of things that regulate emotional expression and content. Certainly we would be theoretically free to express whatever, but that is, to my thinking, an overly optimistic view of things once one starts to think about social mores and social pressures around conformity (things we would certainly still be fighting, but which would almost certainly still exist).
answered Feb 19, 2015 by ingrate (23,670 points)
Wow, great answer. Addressing the internet aspect, I didn't mean it improved the art in any way, it just made it easier to distribute and get your work out there, with much less of a financial burden, allowing a more diverse group of people at least dip there toes in the creative process. For the record, I hate the constant texting and how allot of us can only communicate through a screen as well. As for the blockbuster part, I didn't really mean that in the traditional sense. I was just saying that, given we keep and improve upon technology, people will have access to animation software, instruments and the like. Everybody may not have the same access to the same amount of people like animators and composers, but they will always be there. Some people will always want to do those things and some will. I meant "blockbuster" in the sense that it would have more dynamic special effects and the sort (again, while we often don't think about it, there are allot of people who love doing special effects). My main point was really just that art may not only survive under a left anarchic society, but thrive, with all of its diverse branches. Now, this is looking far into the future, if a left anarchic society is achieved, this would be the ideal. Now I don't necessarily identify as a left anarchist, as I am still on my so called "ideological journey", i'm still trying to learn as much as I can about as many ideologies as I can before I commit my mind to one, something I fear to little people do. People tend to get stuck in the "republican democrat" paradigm, but I digress. At this point, it's safe to say that i'm an anarchist, but I am just less well versed in many leftist ideologies than right, and i'm trying to see things through the lens of an anarchic leftist in order to educate myself on that way of thinking. I don't know exactly where I fall on the anarchic spectrum yet, but that's what i'm trying to do. I not only want fully comprehend left and right anarchism, but all of there respective off shoots and branching ideologies. This sight and all of it's kind denizens have really helped. Thanks.
FT - have you checked out The Anarchist Library (www.theanarchistlibrary.org)? Lost of stuff that might be of use in sussing that stuff out. Here is the more specific link to the topic "art": http://theanarchistlibrary.org/topics/art, though I would suggest exploring the library overall.

For understanding left anarchist thought, I would suggest checking out Colin Ward's work. He was a British anarchist who sort of carried the torch of Kropotkin into the late 20th century. AK press released a posthumous collection of his work called "Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader" (http://www.akpress.org/autonomysolidaritypossibility.html) that gives a pretty good overview of his thinking.

Of course I would be remiss to not suggest also scoping out critiques of the left (Lawrence Jarach, Paul Z Simons, John Zerzan and Jason McQuinn all come to mind in this regard, though there are lots of other names and authors (and questions on this site) where you can find said critiques.
Freed Thought: The issue I have with art and film is they often serve as representations of reality, as a diversion to a truly lived life (denied to us by capitalism and the state). Perhaps if we tried to find ways of making more worth living itself instead of striving towards art, then we would realize a more anarchistic mode of existence. Wouldn't our lives be better if our lives were like movies?

However, all anarchists are hypocrites who can't fully realize their ideas, im no exception....this is why I like Max Stirner's egoism so much, is that who fucking cares about any of this anarchist shit if it doesn't make our lives better? I love to make music at times, but im not all that passionate about film even though i watch tv and movies at times. There are all sorts of ways to use all kinds of art to make our lives more free and enjoyable, even if art is a sign of how boring our lives are.
Thanks, sorry about getting back to you so late, I've been really busy. The reasons that I don't have any issue with art and or films are that, for one, I don't think that being a representation of reality is a bad thing, I think that art is an extension of human consciousness, it is what cannot be lived. It is internal thoughts and ideas, often presented through the lens of reality, as that is the easiest way for us to connect and understand it, simply because we are living it and it is the basis for all of our tangible experiences. Art doesn't have to be an escape form a life not fully lived, but a channel for emotion, thoughts, or ideas. Interpretations of reality, for the sake of interpretation or for something greater, not necessarily an escape. Art is how you can be expressed in a fully lived life, I would argue that it may be crucial to some to be expressed in order to live there own fullest lives. Expression for many may be a crucial component to there idea of a perfect life. Secondly, even if in an ideal anarchic society art would be escapism (which I would be willing to wager that it wouldn't) that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. In all honesty, there will probably not be a flawless life just based on human nature, something called the hedonic treadmill. No matter how great life gets, no matter what advancements we make, our happiness "level" will always even out. That's why I don't really have no problem with art or even escapism.
i agree with you in any way, make a real badass movie....i just hope it pays you enough so you don't have to get a job
Thanks ricksantorum666. Good luck in whatever endeavors you pursue as well.