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George Jean Nathan Mocks the Moral Arguments for Government Funding of the Arts

George Jean Nathan (1882-1958) was one of the great theatre critics. Here are some brief selections from his writings mocking the same moral arguments that are today used to justify government funding of the Arts.

1.
George Jean Nathan, Materia Critica (New York: Knopf, 1924), p. 60.

If the combined aim and object of art lies in the stirring of the emotions, and is praiseworthy, why should the similar aim and object of the vices be regarded as meretricious? If the Madonnas of Raphael, Holbein, Murillo and Da Vinci are commendable in that they stir the imagination to the contentments of faith, why are not the whiskeys of Dewar, Macdonald, Haig and Macdougal commendable for the same reason? If a Bach fogue is praised for stimulating the mind, why not a Corona Corona? If the senses are commendably excited by Balzac and Zola, why shouldn’t they be excited, and equally commendably, by means that may be described as being somewhat less literary? Read the rest of this entry

Short Note Defending Politics As Entertainment

by Benjamin Marks, Capitalism.HK and Economics.org.au editor

George Jean Nathan is a credible judge of the entertainment value of politics. He was a brilliant theatre critic and a long-time co-editor with H.L. Mencken, who is the most famous U.S. journalist and libertarian. One of Nathan’s claims to fame is fighting for the right of theatre critics to leave after the first act.

He criticised the entertainment value of politics on the following grounds: Read the rest of this entry