In order to forestall some objections to previous post:

Simply to name something a symptom rather than a cause is only a beginning, obviously; otherwise, we're just playing with words, setting up another supposed defensive barrier for our aestheticism.

Social conditions are in part the result of political platforms & programs, which themselves project from ideologies & worldviews. When you see suffering & injustice & social pathology, the moral thing is to seek the right name for the problem & take positive political steps to correct it.

The 20th century was, for one thing, a worldwide laboratory for testing policies and programs at all levels of government; for every problem there's a program (except in many cases the right idea & the right action have not been invented yet). If you believe in government control of the market, you can advocate for that; if you believe in dog-eat-dog Darwinism and the inevitable failure of all public problem-solving initiatives, you can advocate for that; if you believe in a symbiotic balance between government policy and private initiatives, you can work for that; if you see consistent oppression of the poor & exploitation by the rich, if you see multifarious attacks on public governmental authority on behalf of powerful private interests, if you see egregious fraud & greed in high places, you can take action, participate in the political process.

No one is inhibited from political activity of some kind. But it's not the same thing as artistic work. Again, in the last century, we witness the swings in critical (& artistic) attitudes, from attacking art (for its indifference to social problems) to defending art (for its unique values) - like a constant pendulum channeling the inherent outrage & frustration with exigent reality. The consequences range from blaming the victim (artists themselves) to defensive camouflage ("political" artists) to aggressive indifference ("art for art's sake").

"Political" artists make poetry out of theoretical-systemic solutions - verbal abstractions - applied to ornery, many-sided, complex, intractable problems. (cf. Ange Mlinko's comments about the tendency to interpret poems as paraphrases of political arguments.) For the ideological poet, everything is grist for the mill : there's such heroic poetry in Utopia!

But just as our experience is a many-layered reality of symptomatic fault lines & corrosive chaos (not always amenable to simple "translation" into verbal signs & systemic solutions) - so the complex pleasure/insight amalgam of the art work offers pathways to draw closer to it : offers an image of it which we recognize as authentic.

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