The London Libertarian

The London Libertarian

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Commentary and debate on politics, economics and culture from a libertarian perspective. To Libertarian Alliance Website >


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arts and sciences

ArtsPosted by Jan Lester Thu, April 03, 2014 12:27:44

arts and sciences Do the arts and sciences depend on the *state? There is no good evidence that there would be insufficient investment in the arts and sciences if they were left to the *free market and *charity. Indeed, the arts and sciences both began and flourished long before state involvement. And many of the greatest scientists and artists in history did some of their greatest works without state ‘help’, and even in the face of state *persecution. The state often tries to jump on a bandwagon and take some of the credit, but it inevitably crowds out the competing alternatives and so people cannot see what best alternative would otherwise have existed (the *opportunity cost). Thus even any occasional state-funded ‘successes’ will on balance be at the expense of greater lost opportunities.

In the unlikely event that the market and charity left the arts and sciences languishing, there is nothing sacred about these activities such that they axiomatically deserve to be funded by *tax-*extorting *money from people who patently do not find them worth paying for in their current forms. In reality, state involvement results in *political bias and *aggressive *monopoly replacing diverse and efficient free *competition among would-be supporters and would-be practitioners. One cannot seriously maintain, for instance, that new art has wonderfully improved since the Arts Council of Great Britain (now of England) was formed (1946). A lot of it seems deliberately to insult the public’s intelligence or values at the public’s *proactively imposed expense. Contrast this with design, which has flourished almost entirely on the free market.

At the *statist extreme, we see an atrophy of art and science as they are perverted into little more than state *propaganda and other purposes, as seen in the worst excesses of the old *totalitarian *regimes of China and the USSR. Art and science might sometimes have given the appearance of thriving under political patronage such as in the Renaissance, though a lot of this was really private or semi-private. But that cannot defend any extortion that paid for this. And there is no reason to doubt that the richer people and richer businesses that would have existed without taxation would have spent even more on, and on a greater variety of, art and sciences.

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