Markets, Growth, and the Arts (The New Bazaare)

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Listen to the episode here

Guest Tyler Cowen on the U.S. right’s opinion of popular culture today:

They would say that it is now at some new and totally unprecedented point, and that it was unstable, and that things are about to teeter over. Now it's interesting, I think in the last five years, the conservative critique has changed.; it's much less about permissiveness. Some of that may because of Donald Trump, who is not really a Puritan, I think you would say. So the view is instead that all of these cultural forces have all been captured by the left, and they're instruments of the oppression to impose Wokeness on all of us, and the major corporations that channel these things are all just woke, woke, woke. And oddly, the conservatives now have become more worried about a kind of new Puritanism from the left, so that one really has flipped recently.

And on the left:

I think a lot of the response is just to go back and look at the history, as I do repeatedly in the book. I look at the history of classical music, classical literature, the visual arts, and you see what a positive role commercialization has played. Just getting people the ingredients! Like what did pieces of paper cost? What did a pen cost? What did eyeglasses cost, say before the 18th century? They weren't even affordable. Very few people had the option of even considering being writers! And I don't mean professional writers, I just mean really being writers at all. So as market size grows, you get more styles, more chances to support yourself as an artist. Greater chances to live from philanthropy. Today that might be something like Patreon. You get this incredible outpouring of creativity over the last few centuries, due in large part to the industrial revolution.

On globalism’s impact on culture:

If you look around the world, putting aside the pandemic, you see more and more indigenous groups or tribal groups or minority groups essentially making markets by selling what they're doing to the whole world. It's so often now on Netflix the top shows are from other countries. That would've been unthinkable 15 years ago! Now it's often the norm. Squid Game, I wouldn't say it's a favorite of mine, this country went crazy for that. That's from South Korea, it's in Korean, right? Very different, stylistically and people liked it.

And finally on this idea that some apparently have that having wide access to great art from the past will discourage creativity?

Sure, Shakespeare maybe is the greatest writer of all time, but he hardly ended literature.