Commerce and Culture

Home | Mises Library | 1. The Economic Basis of Culture

1. The Economic Basis of Culture

  • Commerce and Culture

Tags Media and Culture

07/24/2006Paul A. Cantor

Paul Cantor is self-taught in most areas. He did, however, take two courses under Mises and earned a PhD in Literature. He states that culture is the last battleground between Marxism and free markets. Marxists lost the economic arguments.

Marxists say mass production of anything ruins it. This is elitist thinking. There is a bias against commercial culture. Commercial pressure can corrupt art, but does not always do so. The issue of economics is a necessary condition for culture but not a sufficient condition. Culture can flourish under any condition. Humans are innovative. Culture is a perfect example of the division of labor. Artists, like most people, do not produce their own means of living. Art is primarily an urban experience.

Up until 1800, the world was too poor to care about art. The triumph of capitalism created a mass audience for art and books. Art is an example of spontaneous order. Art is like the market. Art and culture are messy and experimental. Academics would like art to be predictable, but it cannot be. Art improves from being part of a market.

Lecture 1 of 10 from Paul Cantor's Commerce and Culture.

Shield icon interview