Originally posted by ara baliozian:
on culture and politics:
the aim of culture (literature, the arts, philosophy, the sciences, etc.) is to understand reality.
The aim of politics is power.
The two are incompatible and mutually exclusive concepts.
One reason why writers/thinkers from Socrates to Solzhenitsyn were persecuted by politicians.
That is also why most of our own writers were murdered, misunderstood, rejected, and silenced.
A writer who goes into politics prostitutes literature and cannot be said to be a writer anymore.
Thinkers are men of contemplation.
Politicians are men of action.
The Yogi and the Commissar.
Arthur Koestler has written a great book on that subject and under that title.
you say that culture and politics are mutually exclusive, and that one cannot have two hats (if i understand correctly).
what about the great greek writers who were also statesmen? or victor hugo, who was later to become a president of france? did they prostitute their creative talents?
i agree with you that culture and arts do have different aims, but only partly: i see culture as a way of life. life is like a journey that presents us with thousands of obstacles, problems and new situations. how we overcome them, solve them and adapt to them, plus how we turn life from merre survival into something more enjoyable, is what i understand to be culture.
politics is not directly opposed to culture, but rather part of it. politics has its own ends and means, and if an authoritarian political system gets too strong, it can stifle creativity and development. but politics cannot be divorced from culture. no human activity can.
we are social animals, and like other social animals, we have a political culture (all sophisticated social animals do). our political culture is further sophisticated by the fact that we have a faculty called language, which, in addition to enabling communication between different members of any one group at any given time, also serves as a repository of past experiences and a vehicle to formulate solutions for expected future problems. add to this the humna tendency to base group adherence on linguistic ties (amongst other things, of course), and you arrive at a fairly accurate picture of one of the aspects of the formation of political culture in humans.
so in my opinion we should not attempt to exclude any aspect of human experience from the sphere of culture. things as basic as the regulation of bodily functions are dictated by culture.