Declaration Concerning the Relationship
between Art and Democracy
Type: INS declaration
INS Authorisation Code: TMcC010703
This proclamation was
commissioned [in 2003] by Peer for their
publication 'Art and Democracy'. The
publication was later abandoned 'in view
of recent events'.
1.1 It is held by this organisation
to be axiomatic that good art despises
democracy to the same measure as bad
democracy covets art.
1.2 Bad democracy's administrators covet
art inasmuch as they demand of it that
it package and promote their core propaganda
motifs: inclusiveness, accessibility,
good citizenship, public dialogue, 'creative
entrepeneurship' etc etc.
1.3 Art is about none of these things.
Its origins lie in transgression, death
1.4 Good art despises good democracy
as much as bad democracy. Art which sets
itself the task of promoting democratic
principles, branding itself as 'oppositional'
to globalisation, worker oppression and
so on, is invariably banal. It is also
more insidiously reactionary than the
most excessive proclamation of Marinetti.
Good art cannot be a space in which individual
rights - to freedom, self-expression
etc - are asserted for the reason that
in good art the very subject who might
enjoy such privileges is abjected and
annihilated. Good art cannot assume a
'position' as it is predicated on the
destruction of every position, every
point of origin.
2.1 Leon Golub's paintings are not 'protest
art'. They are Homeric.
2.2 It is noted with approval that Spartans
forced captured Athenians to learn Euripides's
work by heart. If they made mistakes
reciting it, they were executed.
3.1 It is held that the generative processes
involved in a work of art's production
are inherently undemocratic, requiring
peremptory decisions, hierarchisation
and suppression - in short, the ruthless
management and exploitation of symbolic
3.2 It is held that the lines of sucession
along which influence in art proceeds
are fraught, oedipal and not egalitarian,
and that the character of apprenticeship
is a master-slave one.
4.1 See photo 1.
4.2 See photo 2.
5 It is noted with interest that most
good writers were either extremely rich
(Tolstoy, Proust) or in prison (Genet,
Solzhenitsyn). Sade was both.
6.1 That fascism and art go well together
is attested by Futurism and the writing
of Yeats, Pound, Spengler, Hamsun, Junger
etc. If fascism is taken to be 'the aestheticisation
of political life' then it is hard to
think of a good artist who could not
be called a fascist.
6.2 Left-totalitarian systems serve
art in more roundabout but equally constructive
ways. Censorship and interdiction should
be welcomed by good artists as enabling.
In this light, it is proposed that Stalin's
policy of arresting and eradicating artists
and writers was inspired, as it placed
them in the zone of silence and impossibility
from which all good art stems. Good artists
should be quiet, invisible or dead.
7 Do we contradict ourselves? Well then
we contradict ourselves. We are large.
We contain multitudes.