Commerce and Culture

7. Totalitarianism and the Arts in the 20th Century

Commerce and Culture
Paul A. Cantor

Art can flourish under any conditions. Many falsely imagine that commercialization is always a bad thing, but the commercial system has produced great art, too. Totalitarianism and modernism is the last thing anyone wants to say anything good about.

A musicologist of Moscow said Russian composer Shostakovich was really valued, despite what had been said about his modernist music. He is considered the greatest composer of the 19th Century. He is one of the few who is regularly programmed.

Control is the price each artist paid for working for the state’s support of their artistic endeavors. Nazi and Soviet-like central cultural planning literally put guns to heads and mandated art and music. Hitler and Stalin assured legitimating modernism by attacking it.

Nazi and Soviet art was all about young vibrant bodies devoting themselves to the state. This fascist art matched the art produced by the New Deal in American. Everybody was turning toward the state. The modernists bought into this powerful national, war-oriented state. The state would give artists recognition that the market never did.

Lecture 7 of 10 from Paul Cantor’s Commerce and Culture.