It seems to have been a goal of those that seek to rule and remain elite to keep the rest of the populace under control. It has been famously said that they don’t want thinkers, they want workers. Any artist knows that a life of independence is a struggle to achieve, since the system we live in is most definitely geared toward getting a job and knowing your place.
The paradox at the heart of this is that the reason the elite seek to control the rest is that they crave opulence. But where does that opulence come from? It invariably is the product of the genius of ordinary people. The elite are too corrupt and indolent to create an environment of luxury, beauty and refinement. They need the creative individuals in society to innovate, to create and to work hard to realise the very trappings of luxury and good living that they, the elite, seek to own exclusively. Not only do they want wonderful surroundings, beautiful things and objects of quality, they want to deny those to the rest of us.
So here is the rub: in seeking to control people, they actually wind up minimizing the creative output of the population. There are vast armies of creative individuals in society stuck in the wrong job, hiding their best creative works under the guise of a hobby. Their day job is to do what they’re told, rented as wage slaves in the service of those that actually desire more creative output.
They know that the creative output won’t come from the limited echelons of the elite themselves. There simply isn’t the diversity of ideas or hunger to create that is a necessary pre-condition for this output to occur. No, the elite are wholly reliant on the creative genius of the population they seek to control, hold in contempt and denigrate. Without those people, there is no opulence to monopolise.
Equally clear is the fact that genuine creative genius is not something that can be commanded. No amount of money can force it to come into existence. Creativity comes from the soul, independent of external forcing factors. If anything, trying to command a creative individual to produce something of outstanding novelty and value is more often counter-productive than it is successful. Artists can be bought and controlled (there are many famous historical precedents) but the really surprising stuff never comes from this power relationship. Never.
Outstanding creativity cannot be owned by anybody other than the individual that possesses that ability. The elite may seek to commandeer the fruits of creative people, through brutal or subtle repression of the populace, but it’s an essentially cannibalistic exercise, consuming the creativity and creative output produced to date, but withering the new fruit on the vine. Soviet Realism, as an artistic movement, was sterile and still-born. The great artists perished in purges or Siberia.
So next time you, as an artist, are feeling set upon, insignificant, powerless, under-appreciated or stuck in the wrong occupation to pay your way in a society that requires your unquestioning compliance, remember where the real power lies. Without your creativity, the world order (new or old) is wholly denied the very things it desires most. You are in command. Your art makes you sovereign, no matter what the jack booted thugs think.
In the final analysis, the creative artist can live a life of self-created opulence and freedom that repressive elites can only dream of having. That, my friends, is cosmic justice.