1. The essence of being human is the ability to be creative; to create new responses to new situations; to construct new, significant complexities where they did not exist before; to take charge of the environment and move it farther along the upward trend.
  1. It is true that spontaneous processes within the universe also move in this direction, but the human artist, being possessed of human intelligence, is able to more directly and more rapidly. The artist can greatly enhance the already inherent tendency within the universe toward meaning, toward complexity, toward independence, toward freedom. The artist is, in this sense, a prototype of a human being.
  1. The artist is also a prototype of the working-class person in that society takes the value of the work produced by the artist (which may be extremely valuable) and returns to the artist only a small portion of the value produced.
  1. In another sense the oppression of the artist is much like the oppression of parents in that the production of human beings and the production of new ideas and new concepts are the most important achievements of human beings in the society. Yet the work for either parent or artist is decreed by the society to be unpaid or almost totally unpaid.
  1. Artists are oppressed for being artists in addition to whatever oppressions they may suffer because of their race, their class, their gender, their sexual preference, their physical state, their age. Artists suffer a great deal from this oppression. Their work is belittled by certain systematically perpetuated attitudes of the society. Artists are invalidated as non-producers, as dropouts, as lazy triflers. Their lives are made very difficult economically. They are frequently forced to work at another job in order to support their own production of art, in much the same way as parents must find other careers in order to support the production of children. They are forced to compete for crumbs. It is made very, very difficult for them to offer their art for the appreciation of the public. A horde of exploiters surrounds the art business, living well off the value produced by the artist while allowing very little of this value to be shared by the artist himself or herself.
  1. This oppression becomes internalized in two main ways. One is that most artists fight terrible feelings of self-invalidation. They often are made to doubt that their work is significant and must persist in creating, burdened by heavy feelings of discouragement and hopelessness. A critical review cannot only damage the public’s appreciation of their art but also their own self-esteem. Artists are also pushed by the internalized oppression to be critical and disparaging of each other. Artists usually have to compete for very scanty opportunities to sell their art. They are often pushed to work in isolation for fear that the creativity that they have achieved will be plagiarized. They can feel very envious of other artists’ successes, which may saturate the scanty market, which might otherwise have existed for their own work.
  2. A complete end to the oppression of artists will require the elimination of the oppressive society. Until then the motivation of profit as the overall driving force in the society will tend to exclude rational motivations and rational opportunities for artists, and reinforce every oppression. For their own survival artists will tend to become wide world changers. Artists tend intuitively to associate themselves with the forces of progress. Artists can be very effective in inspiring people for successful struggle to replace the oppressive society with a non-exploitive one. History is full of brilliant examples of artists putting their art at the service of the people, at the service of social change.
  1. Artists need to fight for their own liberation as artists as well as the liberation of society, and this cannot be postponed until the changeover to a rational society. The struggle for the liberation of artists needs to be conducted every day in every way.
  1. Artists need a clear policy as a necessary precondition for the great changes in the society. They need unity among themselves. They need to win allies for themselves, just as every other liberation group needs to. Artists need to establish their organizations on as narrow a basis as the society has divided them. Undoubtedly leaders’ groups and support groups need to be organized separately for dancers, for painters, for musicians, for actors, for writers, for performers of every kind. Once organized in their homogeneities they need to establish unity ad mutual support between the different kinds of artists and their allies in an overall front for the advancement of art and of artists.
  1. Artists need to achieve unity in order to make their economic force effective. Artists do have economic power, just as does any group of important working-class people, in that it is their work that furnishes the value which is the income of the entire establishment. If artists do unite they can require far better recognition and remuneration and working conditions than they have been granted by the oppressive art establishment and society so far.
  1. Collective dealing with gallery owners or collectors, for example, can secure better terms. (The actors unions have improved conditions considerably, even with the most limited policies.) Artists can join in cooperative endeavors to provide their own showcases for their work. Artists can, with a correct policy, enlist art students and amateur artists as allies and supporters for the work of the serious and professional artists, instead of treating them as threatening competition.
  1. There can be no such thing as “too much” art. Undoubtedly in a rational society everyone will be creative. Everyone will produce art in some way. There will always be people, however, who, through choice and dedication, take their creativity much farther, who will be recognized as “artists” for their special contributions.
  1. Some city governments in the US have, in the last few years, allotted a certain percentage of their construction funds for the purchase of art One percent of a building’s construction cost is set aside for art, for example. Even this tiny concession has multiplied man-fold the avenues open for the artist of the city to market their works.
  1. Everyone’s life should be enhance by art. People will intuitively support this idea if the artists themselves will take leadership and show the possibility of unity and correct policy.
  1. The principle obstacles to creativity by any artist are exactly the distress recordings which have accumulated upon the individual from past mistreatment. RC has a fundamental role to play in allowing the creativity of the artist to come free from these inhibiting patterns.
  1. Artists occasionally express fear, as they begin Co-Counseling, that their creativity is tied up with their distresses and they will lose it if they lose their distress. This is just the echo of slander from the oppressive society that “all artists have to be a little irrational or they won’t be creative.” Nothing from reality bears this out. It is true that many meaningful artists have suffered from heavy distress, but they created in spite of the distress and not because of it. The record of the many artists in RC is that their creativity is greatly enhanced by their re-emergence. There is nothing they could do while distressed that they can’t do better with the distress discharged.
  1. RC offers to the artist a rational view of the world, a theory which not only explains oppression and liberation but empowers individuals to do something about it. It also offers tools for the recovery of one’s mastery of the environment, of taking power and of creating more and more wonderful exciting works.
  1. In organizing among artists RCers will need to face the division of artists from each other by the society and organize support groups on the basis of finer and finer distinctions. For example, actors and actresses may begin meeting in support groups with mimes, but eventually there will need to be a mime support group (as well as a support group for musical comedy performers and one for Shakespearean actors).
  1. Unity between all these different groups of artists can be established through leaders’ groups (Wygelian type) which meet from time to time as meets are needed. Artists in the wide world are eager for this kind of support. The isolation which many artists endure is a galling hardship to them. The organization of artists in these simple forms that meet their real needs, i.e. support groups for discharge, classes to improve their Co-Counseling, and leaders’ groups for planning policies and actions, will meet enthusiastic participation everywhere.

                                    Harvey Jackins

Last modified: 2018-02-27 01:15:48+00