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Culture shrugged off as luxury?

On Thursday Jonathan Jones wrote on the Guardian's blog that the first consequence of economic recession may well see culture widely shrugged off as a luxury and cites Jonathan Freedland's earlier in the week article that claims our cultural attitudes would become more conservative and cosy as we look for reassurance in a scary economic age. It is an obvious conclusion to jump to. When people are busy trying to keep the roof over their head and earning their daily bread they will have no concern with such trivialities as 'culture'.
Complete nonsense.
My usually pessimistic head has reasoned, by taking a little peek back and applying a little projection based on emotional reasoning, that the 'financial bloodbath' that is widely anticipated for 09, will bring forth a richness and a depth, predicated on people's greater need to seek meaning in such times, that will produce much stronger voices of dissent, a need to portray a grittier gritiness - something which has been shockingly absent from much of British 'culture' in New Labour's era as though scared of revealing life sans conspicuous consumption and obligatory credit - and which has been kept at bay by too many publishing houses for fear of disturbing the middling readers. There is also this myth still held from the ancient Greeks that only prosperous, comfortable times provide the best base from which to produce culture, and even then it was only produced by those at the 'top' whilst those at the bottom kept working. The Chartists (look them up!) were not only fighting for the Charter and its six points as well as against Irish coercion in the mid-nineteenth century, but were also writing reams of poetry and biography at the same time. It was seen as an essential vehicle for encouraging greater political engagement, just as Romanticism was, from which they were heavily influenced and encouraged. Suffering, of any kind, can and does, create great art which leads to greater questioning and greater meaning and greater change and over the next few years exciting new works will pave the way for our re-building of the New Capitalism.

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