Tuesday, December 15, 2020

John Maynard Keynes quotes

John Maynard Keynes quotes

“Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all.”

“If farming were to be organised like the stock market, a farmer would sell his farm in the morning when it was raining, only to buy it back in the afternoon when the sun came out.”

“I think that Capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself is in many ways extremely objectionable.”

“Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind that looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago.”

“The power to become habituated to his surroundings and therefore to no longer be grateful for what is good in it is a marked characteristic of mankind and needs to be fought against if a person is to be happy.”

“If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.”

“Everything is always decided for reasons other than the real merits of the case.”

Friday, December 4, 2020

culture as a class marker

I was involved in a recent discussion elsewhere in which the term Trash Culture was casually thrown about.

Now first the disclaimers. Of course there are good books and bad books. There are great paintings and there are lousy paintings. There are movies that are complex and sophisticated and there are movies that are mindless entertainment. Some cultural products really are trashy. Some really are great (although it has to be said that these judgments are essentially subjective).

But cultural judgments are not just judgments about culture. They are judgments about people. Trash culture is a term that means culture that I personally dislike, but more especially it means culture that is liked by people whom I personally dislike, or disapprove of.

There is also a very large class content. The type of culture that you like is a powerful class marker. “High culture” is popular with intellectuals and people with college degrees and people who are wealthy so it doesn’t get called trash culture. Only the stuff that ordinary people enjoy (including people without college degrees and even, horror of horrors, poor people) gets labelled as trash culture.

The term “trash culture” is a weapon that is used to denigrate anything that the wrong sort of people enjoy.

In actual fact most “high culture” of the past century (poetry, painting, “serious” music, “literary fiction”) is much more worthless, degraded, infantile, offensive and incompetently executed than most pop culture of the past century. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that “high culture” is liked by the right sort of people. Pop culture is liked by the wrong sort of people. When pop culture is liked by people who are especially reprehensible (for example working-class people) it becomes trash culture.

There’s also increasingly a political dimension. Trash culture is often culture that is liked by people with unacceptable political or social beliefs.

It’s not really acceptable even today for people to consider themselves to be better than other people because they’re richer or more educated but rich highly educated people do think of themselves as being better. Cultural judgments are a convenient way to express that belief.