The State as a Work of Art


F.R. Scott


Tonight we are continuing our search for beauty, but in another realm altogether from those in which we have sought it until now.  We are going to examine the social order about us, the pattern of the society in which we live, to see if we can discover in it any aesthetic principles, any elements of beauty.

But first we must ask ourselves what we mean by society.  What exactly is it we are examining?

I am using the term tonight in the sense of the total community; in our own case, everything that makes up what we call Canada.  This is much more than 13,000,000 people.  It is all these people, in all their relationships to one another and to the world around them.

A Modern society is essentially a large number of people living under an orderly system of government and law, carrying on their multifarious activities in a host of institutions.  Society in the large is a complex of lesser and little societies.

In Canada we have, for example, a relatively small population in a vast land.  Our people are grouped in families, schools, churches, businesses, trades unions and clubs of all kinds.  They are grouped in municipalities, counties, provinces, a federal state.  They are grouped by race and language and political faith.  Yet all are interrelated.  No one is utterly isolated.  Most of us belong to a number of social groups whose lines cross and intertwine.  Society is indeed a tangle of institutions, a web of relationships.  Over it all and in and around it all stands law and the state, binding the whole together and imposing a degree of unity that no other single factor in the whole possesses by itself. [page 1]

Without this law and the constitution from which it springs, this strangely assorted concatenation of variegated groups would be a warring chaos.  The law gives the order to the social order.

What we are therefor[e]  in search of is the element of beauty in this social material.  Is there an aesthetics of society?  Can we say of two different societies: This one is more beautiful than that?  Or if we cannot find an answer for the whole of a society, can we find elements of beauty in certain parts of the social order?  In the family, for instance, or in the village community?

Perhaps the questions may seem far-fetched and the search futile.  Beauty, many will feel is not something which is associated with social organisation.

To begin with, you cannot see the state, or feel, taste or smell it – save in a metaphorical sense.  We say of some ugly things that occur in public affairs, that they leave a bad taste in our mouths, but we are expressing a moral, not an aesthetic judgment.  We all know that definition of politics which says that it is “the art of the possible”; the art however consists not in making something beautiful but in having that sense of fitness and fairness which enables the statesman to go just so far and no farther at any given time; it is knowing how much to concede to an opposition and when to compromise.  If we say that so-and-so has a beautiful family life we mean that he is surrounded by a happy and loving wife and children—again a moral rather than an aesthetic concept.  Or are we close here to something which is beautiful in the deeper sense?  Certainly if we say that a city is beautiful we refer to its architecture and the ordering of its streets and squares; we are not pronouncing on the quality of its civic life or the infantile mortality rate.  If we say that a province is a beautiful province we are speaking primarily of its landscape.  All these uses of the term “beautiful” are applied by us in our daily language to social things and social affairs, yet all turn out to mean something a little different from what we [page 2] mean when we talk of a ‘quest for beauty’.  In this last sense we do not call anything beautiful unless it transcends the merely useful or the merely ethical, and satisfies in us some inner consciousness of form, order and harmony.  Surely, you may say, we shall be straining the meaning of words if we apply the term beautiful to an institution such as the state or the law or the capitalist system, or indeed to any part of the whole society.  Surely there is no element of beauty to be found in the BNA Act, for example?

Well, let us work toward an answer by way of some roads that are at least easy at the start.  We can all agree, I think, that beauty can be found in many different kinds of things.  Beauty is not something to be found only in a work of art.  The modern artists have shown us, if we did not know it before, that art is not exclusively concerned with something called Beauty.  A poem may be beautiful, but it may also be merely amusing, or satirical, or profoundly revealing of some hitherto ignored reality—e.g. T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land—or simply good narrative.  Yet in all these cases it may also be a work of art.  The element of ugliness may be something which the artist will want to use for his aesthetic purposes.  On the other hand, beauty may be found in something which is not a work of art at all, as in landscape, or in flowers, or in the shape of a sea-shell or a mountain.  The beauties of nature have astonished and inspired perceptive souls in all ages and among all races; these beauties a very large number of works of art seek merely to express and interpret.  Let us not be drawn into the argument as to whether nature is only beautiful because artists have taught us to see in her what they have themselves created; even if that be so we are today so possessed of a traditional perception of beauty in nature that we derive, in the mass, more enjoyment from this source than from any other.  The physical environment in which we must live and move is rich in multitudinous forms of beauty, though man has succeeded in covering large areas of it with his peculiar [page 3] urban blights.

Just as beauty is a quality of nature herself, so it is a quality of many objects which man makes, not just as objets d’art to be admired for their aesthetic value only, but as tools and equipment which can be put to some specific use.  A picture, a poem, a symphony have no other use save the enjoyment of their emotional content.  They exist for this alone, and should they be unable to awaken a response in us they are so much wasted effort.  A water jug, an automobile or a hydro-electric generator, on the other hand, exist primarily to perform a function for man which is not in itself beautiful.  Water supplies, transportation and electric power are social necessities.  Yet these objects I mention can be made to look beautiful and still perform their function.  Indeed, the better they perform their function the more beautiful they frequently are; so much so, that we are conscious of a functional element in beauty.  Ancient pottery and modern cars are lovely to look upon, and no one who has seen the great power generating plant at Boulder Dam, for example, can fail to be impressed by the spectacular beauty and simplicity of the huge units which convert the descent of the Colorado River into the street lights of Los Angeles.  Utility is no obstacle to the achievement of beauty; that which is indispensable may still be pleasing.  Hence the vast field that awaits us in industrial design, a field that is today lamentably neglected because we have no widely developed sense of taste.

Let us carry this analysis a little further.  It is clear that there are social arts as well as individual arts.  All art springs from a society even when, as in the case of poetry or painting, it is the work of an individual.  But some arts come about by the co-operation of many individuals all contributing to the same end.  Architecture is such an art, at least in its nobler forms.  The great Gothic Cathedrals of Europe took decades and even centuries to build and were the composite work of many hands.  In our own day town planning has come to be a [page 4] social art.  It does not offend us to any that a city is beautifully planned, meaning that it is laid out in such a way as to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.  Most of the older cities of the world have a beauty by accident, as it were -- a spotty beauty that may show a beautiful public square or terrace alongside the ugliest of slums.  Yet we know that it is possible to impose an improved pattern and design upon even an old town so as to reduce the ugly elements and increase the area that is attractive.  If we think of our cities as societies in themselves, then we must admit that the concept of the beautiful can extend over the whole physical organisation of that society.  So with all such large and social undertakings as roads, bridges, factories and power-sites -- they are only built when demanded or pressed by influential groups in society, and they symbolise, not only the actual physical achievement by man over nature, but the inner purposes and values of the society itself.

Stephen Spender, the English poet, has expressed something of this idea in that remarkable essay of his entitled “The Making of a Poem”.  He is describing the process that takes place in the inner psyche of the poet at the moment a poem is struggling to be born.  He says: [page 5]

     “My own experience of inspiration is certainly that of a line or a phrase or a word or sometimes something still vague, a dim cloud of an idea which I feel must be condensed into a shower of words.  The peculiarity of the key word or line is that it does not merely attract, as, say, the word ‘braggadocio’ attracts.  It occurs in what seems to be an active, male, germinal form as though it were the centre of a statement requiring a beginning and an end, and as though it had an impulse in a certain direction.  Here are examples:—

A language of flesh and roses

This phrase (not very satisfactory in itself) brings to my mind a whole series of experiences and the idea of a poem which I shall perhaps write some years hence.  I was standing in the corridor of a train passing through the Black Country.  I saw a landscape of pits and pitheads, artificial mountains, jagged yellow wounds in the earth, everything transformed as though by the toil of an enormous animal or giant tearing up the earth in search of prey or treasure.  Oddly enough, a stranger next to me in the corridor echoed my inmost thought.  He said: “Everything there is man-made.”  At this moment the line flashed into my head

A language of flesh and roses.

The sequence of my thought was as follows: the industrial landscape which seems by now a routine and act of God which enslaves both employers and workers who serve and profit by it, is actually the expression of man’s will.  Men willed it to be so, and the pitheads, slag-heaps and the ghastly disregard of anything but the pursuit of wealth, are a symbol of modern man’s mind.  In other words, the world which we create—the world of slums and telegrams and newspapers—is a kind of language of our inner wishes and thoughts.  Although this is so, it is obviously a language which has got outside our control.  It is a confused language, an irresponsible senile gibberish.  This thought greatly distressed me, and I started thinking that if the phenomena created by humanity are really like words in a language, what kind of language do we really aspire to?  All this sequence of thought flashed into my mind with the answer which came before the question:  A language of flesh and roses.”1 [page 6]

I will now describe the effect which that passage of Spender’s once had upon me.  I was on the way to Winnipeg, crossing that vast waste land north of the Lakes stretching right to the Pole, which looks so stark, so barren, so empty, and yet which we know to be a storehouse of unlimited and undiscovered wealth, mostly buried now, only here and there beginning to support small mining communities, but certain to be brought sooner or later within the range of human exploitation.  It was like a dumb man, with some great tale of adventure and achievement locked up within him, unable now to tell what later he is sure to tell when we shall ourselves have invented his language for him.  At once Spender’s description of the English Black Country came to my mind, with his line “A language of flesh and roses”, and I felt moved to write this poem: [page 7]


Laurentian Shield


Hidden in wonder and snow, or sudden with summer,
This land stares at the sun in a huge silence
Endlessly repeating something we cannot hear.
Inarticulate, arctic,
Not written on by history, empty as paper,
It leans away from the world with songs in its lakes
Older than love, and lost in the miles.

This waiting is wanting.
It will choose its language
When it has chosen its technic,
A tongue to shape the vowels of its productivity.


A language of flesh and of roses.


Now there are pre-words,
Cabin syllables,
Nouns of settlement,
Slowly forming, with steel syntax,
The long sentence of its exploitation.

The first cry was the hunter, hungry for fur,
And the digger for gold, nomad, no-man, a particle;
Then the bold command of monopoly, big with machines,
Planting its kingdoms over the public wealth;
And now the drone of the plane, scouting the ice,
Fills all the emptiness with neighbourhood
And links our future over the vanished pole.

But a deeper cry is for justice, heard in the mines,
The scattered camps and the mills, a language of life,
And what will be written in the full culture of occupation
Will come, presently, tomorrow,
From millions whose hands can turn this rock into children.2
[page 8]


To me this potential social evolution in Canada’s northland is not just a question of economics, but also of aesthetics in the sense that we really can choose the language which shall be the mode of living in this new world.  Geology has given us the mineral wealth, history has given us the legal title, to this gigantic workshop; our own creative energy, our social imagination, or lack of it, will determine what use we make of the opportunity.  Let us hope it does not become just another Black Country.  If everything man makes and builds is a language, I fear that we Canadians have so far spoken more in prose then in poetry.  Yet we can create a beautiful social language through our daily work of making and building a society, and in this sense the social order is a work of art and we ourselves are the artists.

There is another poem I wish to read, or rather part of a poem, this time by the Montreal poet A.M. Klein.  perhaps this too will suggest a possible source of beauty in society.  It is called “The Provinces”, and is from his recent volume “The Rocking Chair”.  It reads as follows; [page 9]



FIRST, the two older ones, the bunkhouse brawnymen,
biceps and chest, lumbering over their legend:
scooping a river up in the palm of the hand,
a dangling fish, alive; kicking upon a mine;
bashing a forest bald; spitting a country to crop;
for exercise before their boar breakfast,
building a city; racing, to keep in shape,
against the wuite-sweatered wind; and always
bragging comparisons, and reminiscing
about their fathers’ even more mythic prowess,
arguing always, like puffing champions rising
from wrestling on the green.

Then, the three flat-faced blonde-haired husky ones.

And the little girl, so beautiful she was named—
to avert the evil of the evil eye—
after a prince, not princess.  In crossed arms cradling her,
her brothers, tanned and long-limbed.
(Great fishermen, hauling out of Atlantic
their catch and their coal
and netting with appleblossom the shoals of their sky.)

And, last, as if of another birth,
the hunchback with the poet’s face; and eyes
blue as the glass he looks upon; and fruit
his fragrant knuckles and joints; of iron morrow;—
affecting always a green habit, touched with white.

Nine of them; not counting
the adopted boy of the golden complex, nor
the proud collateral albino,—nine,
a sorcery of numbers, a game’s stances.

But the heart seeks one, the heart, and also the mind
seeks single the thing that makes them one, if one. [page 9A]


What shall we say of this poem?  Does it show us an element of beauty in our social divisions?  Our provinces become characters, persons arranged as in a portrait or family group, their distinctive qualities brought to life by the accentuation, however brief it be, of the special elements which the poet has selected.  They form a pattern, a design, a whole, though in the last half of the poem there is the unanswered question: What is and where is “the thing that makes them one, if one?”  Perhaps the element of beauty is in the poem and its creative perception rather than in the thing perceived.  Yet if something were not there to move the poet to create, could he have made his poem?  All the poet has that others have not is the cosmological eye, the sensitive vision, the profound sight which is insight.  Once he has shown us what is there, we see it for ourselves.  Does not this poem, and many others one could quote, show us that the social order has as many elements in it capable of being shaped into a work of art as has, for instance, a landscape?  Are not social relationships as valid material for the artist as personal relationships?  We are all accustomed to finding beauty in nature or in the portrayal of the individual human emotions.  Maybe all we need is more artists with an awakened social consciousness to unveil for us the beauty that may lie hidden under social forms.  Perhaps the proper study of mankind is not man, but society.

We have now reached a point where we may ask the most difficult question that can be posed in this inquiry.  Is the state itself a work of art?  Over and above any chance elements of beauty that it may be found to contain by the socially minded artist, can we consider that it is in any degree a structure built by man on aesthetic principles?  And in seeking an answer to this question I propose to make no distinction between the state and the law, for I believe with Kelsen that they are indeed the same thing viewed from different aspects.  The law expresses itself through the state and defines the state organs and functions; the state gives authority and validity to the law.  If there is an aesthetic of the one there is also an aesthetic of the other.  Can such a thing be found? [page 10]

Jacob Burckhardt in his remarkable study “The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy”, now available again in an English edition of 1945, points out that in the multitude of political units which flowered in the Italian Peninsula at this time a new fact appears—“The State as the outcome of reflection and calculation, the State as a work of art”; and that this new life displayed itself in a hundred forms, both in the republican and in the despotic States.  The whole first part of his book bears the title “The State as a Work of Art”.  In Florence, he assures us, “Constitutional artists were never wanting who by an ingenious distribution and division of political power, by indirect elections of the most complicated kind, by the establishment of nominal offices, sought to found a lasting order of things, and to satisfy or deceive the rich and the poor alike”.  They naively fetched their examples from classical antiquity—no doubt in the manner in which today a derivative artist will seek merely to copy whatever style is considered to be the best in the contemporary tradition.  He claims that not only were the majority of Italian States in their internal constitution works of art, that is, “the fruit of reflection and careful adaptation”, but that their relation to one another and to foreign countries was also a work of art.  “The purely objective treatment of international affairs,” he continues, “as free from prejudice as from moral scruples, attained a perfection which sometimes is not without a certain beauty and grandeur of its own.  “But” he adds, “as a whole it gives us the impression of a bottomless abyss”.

We must not let the prospect of a bottomless abyss frighten us away from our enquiry.  What Burckhardt is really saying is that because these Italian states were made to order and design, therefore they were works of art.  They were not states which, like England, for instance, have the roots of their law and constitution lost in the mists of antiquity; they were states where the rulers had all at some time seized power, established their rule, and then set to work to fashion a government to that ruler’s taste.  It was their deliberate creation [page 11] that gave them their aesthetic quality.  But can we accept this judgment as convincing?  Surely not everything that is made to order is a work of art.  Everything that is made to order involves some skill or craftsmanship, agreed; skill and craftsmanship are basic elements in every work of art, agreed again; but the skill that results in the mere achievement of the useful and the skill that results in a work of art differ so widely in their degree of intensity, in their command over and choice of the relations between lines, forms, sounds or words, that though the two merge into one another at some imperceptible point we shall always keep them in distinct categories.  Still, some one may answer, perhaps the skill with the constitutions of these states were drawn was of that high order which should be called a work of art.  Perhaps our BNA Act is also drawn with the fine hand of a legal artist; we are about to make some important changes in the beautiful object, but this may be no more than adding a wing to a building or giving a picture a face-lifting; the slow movement of the law is, you might allow, comparable to an adagio movement in a ballet..  If law and the state can be considered as works of art so long as a sufficiently high degree of craftsmanship has been devoted to their construction then we must admit that our search is over.  There is such a thing as a beautiful social order; it is one built with great skill and care, in which the various groups, institutions and governing principles of law have been selected and arranged in a harmonious and balanced whole.  Are not the principles of balance, order, proportion and dynamic movement principles that are common to the world of art and to society?  Cannot the law arrange the various elements of society, be they individuals or groups, in such a set of relationships that each has his proper place and due rewards according to the style in which the whole is designed?

Surely this concept has a certain fascination.  And has it not given rise to the creation of Utopias?  In the Utopia the work of art and the social order [page 12] meet.  Unfortunately it is always a mythical social order.  Plato’s Republic, More’s Utopia, Samuel Butler’s Erewhon, Karl Marx’s classless communist state—they have all the beauty that can belong to an intellectual creation, regardless of whether we would want to live in them.  They are social ideals, and law and society must always have their ideals.  Indeed the lawyers carry around in their minds a beautiful concept of a perfect system of exactly known legal rules, able to fit every occasion and to apportion perfect justice to all.  To read the decisions of some judges, you would be inclined to think that they were actually in possession of this kind of law—until you read a little further and found that some other judges have said that their views on the law were quite wrong.  One of the chief reasons why Roman Law has had such a great influence throughout the centuries is that as expressed in the magnificent works of jurists like Gaius or Ulpian, or in the Institutes of Justinian, it commands allegiance by its very elegance.  The system is so vast, so complete, so rounded and so perfected that one can only stand in awe and wonder before this monument to man’s social imagination.  Something of the same admiration has been accorded to the Napoleonic Code, of which our own Quebec Code is a very fair development.  Lawyers often come to admire such codes to the point where strong objection is taken to any suggestion of change, rather as you would feel if a modern sculptor were to propose that new arms be added to the Venus de Milo.  The aesthetic approach to law can thus become highly dangerous to a society by tending to freeze the modern generation in the forms and moulds constructed in the past.  Primitive societies show this tendency even more clearly; what is the lex taglionis, the rule “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, but an aesthetic notion that if a man destroys the sight of another man’s eye he shall suffer the loss of one of his own so that everything shall be in perfect balance.  There is something classical in the simplicity of this law.  “My object all sublime”, says the Mikado, is “to make the punishment fit the crime”.  Is not that element of fitness, that sublimity, a beautiful thing?  How attractive to have the punishment really fitting the crime! [page 13] How ugly, by comparison, the Borstall system sounds!  We have a phrase—"Poetic justice”—to express the same idea: it is a form of retribution exactly suitable to the offence.

Roscoe Pound has called the law “social engineering”.  Law tends to make certain things happen which otherwise would not happen, and directs the dynamic forces of society into socially desirable channels.  Laws are not barriers to progress, but rather highways hedged and ditched.  The law-maker is a social engineer.  But if he is a social engineer, may he not also be called a social architect?  May his work not be beautiful as well as ugly?  May it not show great imagination, a grand design, and a due attention to detail?  Consider the work of the Tennessee Valley Authority: it took a region depopulated and economically depressed through floods and soil erosion, and by harnessing the waters of the river, building many dams, producing cheap power under public ownership and selling it at low cost, and above all by teaching people how to live co-operatively, subordinating selfish interest to public welfare, restored the faith of whole communities and brought peace, plenty and pleasure to thousands of families who had been sunk in despair.  Is this not something more than just good government and good economics?  Is it not more than social justice?  Is it not also beautiful in the aesthetic sense of the word?  Are we straining our terms too far, or are we here in the presence of a genuine element of the beautiful?  And if it can be done in a single community or region, cannot it be done in the state as a whole?  Perhaps this is as close as we can get to the discovery of beauty in the social order, in the patter of life by which we live.

I cannot help feeling, however, that there is some danger in thinking of the state as a work of art.  A work of art implies an artist.  Who will be the maker of our beautiful state, and how will he choose the style of his art?  A sculptor only creates a beautiful statue by cutting off the pieces of his raw material that [page 14] he does not want and throwing them away.  Who will throw away what human material to make the beautiful society?  In Burckhardt’s Italian states it was the ruler who was the artist, and he very literally threw away all the pieces he did not want.  So does Stalin, who perhaps more than any man living or who has yet lived has hewn at the raw material of his society to fashion it after the image in his mind.  He might properly be called an artist.  And though he is the dictator, we must not forget that millions of humble Russians have somehow been infused with the belief that they too are artists building a new social order.

I shall never forget a visit to an artist’s workshop in Moscow in 1935.  We were shown over the building and the various rooms and studios allotted to the individual artists who both lived and worked there.  As we walked about I noticed a very poorly dressed, humble little man who hung on the edge of our party.  I thought he might be the janitor.  Just as we were leaving our guide informed us that this neglected creature was an artist and that he wanted to show us his work.  So we descended into the basement where he had his studio.  We entered it, and there in the middle of the room stood a most beautiful statue of a young girl, posed as though striding into the future, with a radiant look of hope and confidence on her face.  “It is the new Russia”, he said.  Sitting in the corner of the studio was a young woman, as poorly dressed as the artist, who was coughing frequently: our guide informed us she had TB.  The artist looked at her and said, “It is my wife.  I used her for the model”.  There was the whole enigma of Russia: The raw material, the social faith, the terrible gulf between the real and the ideal.  The harnessing of such idealism is a potent force for social change, a force which our individualistic society can scarcely hope to evoke in this degree.  But this single expression of faith in one artist does not make the society in which he lives beautiful.  That statue was his Utopia, written on stone.

Stalin is said to have remarked that if Peter the Great was willing to spend 750,000 lives building St. Petersburg, it is not to be wondered at if he should [page 15] be willing to spend millions of lives building a whole new society.  Yet no one who has been nurtured in the democratic, humanist tradition of the western world can accept such artistry.  For to us every chip and piece of our society, being human, is an end in itself and not just a means to an end.  Our state, our law and institutions exist to serve the individual.  Our Sabbath is made for man.  Or so, at least, we believe, even though in practice we fall far short of that ideal.

I have said that there is danger in the concept of the state as a work of art.  There is danger when millions allow themselves to be as clay in the hands of a Great Potter.  But is this the only way to build a beautiful society?  Is there another kind of technique?  Can we select the form and shape of our society and move progressively toward it without liquidating all those who stand in the way, whose taste in societies is different?  Surely the answer is yes.  Surely that is what democracy is for.  Admittedly there is much in our democratic way of life that is ugly, vulgar, meretricious, and without taste or culture.  But is this due to the democratic values in our society, or is it due to the historical fact that democracy was born contemporaneously with an industrial revolution which has commercialised and vulgarised not only the democracies but other types of society too in which it has been allowed to run wild?  Japan was never a democracy, but its social order was filled with cheap and tawdry products of feudal capitalism, though I am not aware it ever sank to the depths of the jukebox.  May we not believe that the democratic idea is the permanent element, and the commercialism the passing phase?  May we not surmount our industrialism, and compel it to obey our tasteful bidding?  William Morris was an artist who tried to stem the dreadful tide, but he failed because, as it has been said, he made the mistake of thinking it was easier to arrest industrialism than to adjust it to reasonable standards.  Neither his belief in craftsmanship, nor Ghandi’s spinning wheel, offer us the way out.  Do not the smaller democracies like [page 16] Sweden and Denmark, where modern technology has not destroyed public taste, offer a better road?  Who knows whether England herself may not be on the eve of a great revival?  Like many a struggling artist, she is now living in an economic garret, but for social inventiveness and social imagination there are few countries to compare with her today.

I find it easier to ask these questions than to answer them.  There is indeed no answer, though each one of us will form his private opinions.  Rather than fall into the pitfalls of either prophecy or propaganda, I will instead close by venturing to give you my own definition of politics.  Politics is the art of making artists.  It is the art of developing in society the laws and institutions which will best bring out the creative spirit which lives in greater or less degree in every one of us.  The right politics sets as its aim the maximum development of every individual.  Free the artist in us, and the beauty of society will look after itself.  We cannot design a total society to a single beautiful pattern, but we can most assuredly legislate greater freedom for all rather than less, more and better opportunities for all rather than fewer.  A society can be dynamic, forward looking and progressive, or it can be stultified, frustrated and fearful.  The difference is largely though by no means totally, a matter of good legislation rather than bad.  Someone has said “Let me write the songs of a nation and I care not who writes its laws”.  But, asks William Seagle, are we required to believe that the makers of “I am always Chasing Rainbows” or “Broadway Blues” really affect the destinies of nations more than the writers of the song entitled “Chapter 136 of the Laws of 1921” popularly known as the Income Tax Law, of “Chapter 531 of the Laws of 1935”, popularly known as the Social Security Act?  A society that uses its radio primarily for the purpose of selling toothpaste will not produce as many artists as a society that sees in this new means of mass communication a great opportunity for cultural diffusion.  Such choices are ultimately political choices.  The most beautiful society is one which most successfully [page 17] uses its material resources and its technology for the purposes, the needs and the enjoyment of the arts. [page 18]


1 Partisan review, v.13, no.3, 1946, p.300-1 [back]

2 Northern review, v.1, no.4, Dec.-Jan. 1947, p.12. [back]