(Video) Who killed the Liberal Arts?

October 26, 2015
Downgraded

Downgraded

Consider this a companion piece to last week’s post about why Modern Art is so bad. In this video from Prager University, Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute looks at the decline of the once-essential liberal arts education. As the text describing the video asks:

What in the world happened to the liberal arts? A degree in the humanities used to transmit the knowledge and wisdom imbued in the works of great Western artists, writers, musicians and thinkers like Shakespeare and Mozart. But today, that same degree stresses Western racism, sexism, imperialism, and other ills and sins that reinforce a sense of victimhood and narcissism. So, what happened?

Watch and learn the answer:

I’m embarrassed to confirm that my alma mater, UCLA, did indeed drop the study Shakespeare as a requirement for a degree in English.

But, hey, at least they get to study racism and imperialism, both of which are crucial to understanding great literature.

True, they still have to take course in English Literature pre-1500, 1500-1700, etc., but it is now possible to get a degree in English without more than a passing acquaintance with the greatest writers the language has ever produced.

I shudder to think of what’s happening in History departments, not to mention the rest of what was once called the “Humanities.” It’s one thing thing to critique Western civilization for its genuine flaws and dark moments, but it’s another altogether to make those the focus and frame of students’ understanding of a civilization and culture that’s produced so much that is wonderful and created so much good.

It’s a learned self-loathing that amounts to cultural suicide.

RELATED: Not all at UCLA were happy with this change. Prager on the intellectual and moral decline of modern universities. Heather MacDonald’s original article that lead to this video.


Theater of the Absurd: taxes force Spanish theater to sell porn to stay open

December 5, 2014

“Detrás de la puerta verde?”

Here’s another wonderful example of the ridiculous situations created when a bloated, unsustainable social welfare state forces politicians to tax anything and everything they can think of in order to feed the beast. In this case, a Spanish theater that presents the plays of Spain’s “Shakespeare” has to sell pornography to reduce its crippling tax burden:

Crippled by colossal tax rates and falling ticket sales, the Spanish cultural sector is taking creative action to cut its tax bill, including one theatre which has changed its main business to pornography to avoid having to pay high taxes.

The tax charged on cultural performances in Spain has shot up from eight to twenty-one percent since 2011 as the government attempts to balance the books, and has drawn a broader range of products into the local VAT-like ‘sales tax’. Some have noted the uneven application of the new higher taxes, which have hit high culture but not erotica and magazines.

Theatre director Karina Garantivá said: “It’s scandalous when cultural heritage is being taxed at 21 percent and porn at only at 4 percent. Something is wrong”. Her company, which performs works by the “Spanish Shakespeare” Pedro Calderón de la Barca has decided to circumvent the new, punitive taxes by registering as a distributor of pornographic magazines – and is offering free performances.

Punters buying €16 worth of hardcore-swingers magazine Gente Libre from the company receive a ‘free’ ticket to a performance of the highly regarded 17th century comic drama El Mágico Prodigioso.

Garantivá said the law as it stands made theatres feel as if they were “in a straitjacket, suffocated”, and that “We want people to ask what kind of a society makes this kind of decision. That they compare pornography and Calderón … and reach their own conclusions”.

A tax on “cultural performances?” That might make even gentry liberals here howl in outrage.

Ms. Garantivá asks the right question in the above highlight, but I have to wonder if someone raised in Spain’s all-encompassing social welfare system could easily come to the right answer? The problem is welfare statism itself, which spends far more than it can afford and faces continual pressure to spend even more to support an aging population, while dealing with a declining birth rate. The government’s increasing tax demands thus fall on a shrinking tax base, taking more per person. It’s a recipe for economic stagnation at best and collapse at worst. It’s a growing problem confronting much of Europe, but the people most burdened by the taxes often shriek the loudest at any effort to cut taxes and benefits to more rational levels. And we’re not all that far behind.

Meanwhile, you also have to wonder about politicians who tax “Shakespeare” more than smut.