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Austerity art and destruction

Burnings of art across Europe in protest against austerity, if they gathered momentum, could generate hostility to modern art and more public awareness of the coddling of mediocre artists and art venues with vast sums of public money. 

The BBC reports: “A museum in Italy has started burning its artworks in protest at budget cuts which it says have left cultural institutions out of pocket. Antonio Manfredi, of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples, set fire to the first painting on Tuesday. Mr Manfredi plans to burn three paintings a week from now on, in a protest he has dubbed "Art War". Artists from across Europe have lent their support… Welsh sculptor John Brown said the loss of his artwork had not been particularly upsetting -- We work in a fairly contemporary manner so the process of making art, and the interaction with people, is more important than keeping it as a precious object."

I thought of something the American sociologist Talcott Parsons wrote about a society's response to the great depression of the 1930s; how it did or did not cope with crisis.

It is a generalization well established in social science that neither individuals nor societies can undergo major structural changes without the likelihood of producing a considerable element of ‘irrational’ behavior. There will tend to be conspicuous distortions of the patterns of value and the normal beliefs about the facts of situations. These distorted beliefs and promptings to irrational action will also tend to be heavily weighted with emotion, to be ‘overdetermined’ as the psychologists say. On the negative side, there will tend to be high levels of anxiety and aggression focused on what rightly or wrongly are felt to be the sources of strain and difficulty.