First They Come For The Artists by Rocket Kirchner

Piazza di Spagna Rome Italy - Creative Commons by gnuckx

Image by gnuckx via Flickr

by Rocket Kirchner
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Rocket Kirchner (blog)
Rocket Kirchner (youtube channel)
October 11, 2016

People always say about government oppression, “First they take away the guns.” Not true. First they come for the artists. Why is this? Because art in any form it comes in is the subversive element that undercuts all propaganda. ALL. This is why the poets in Central America are so revered by the common people. Why novels in Russia are so important to the Russians. Not to mention music, dance, visual arts etc., etc. around the globe.

Art for arts sake is like Greek fire. It is a weapon. It is “The nail that stands up,” as the old Chinese proverb says, “That must be nailed in.” But as hard as every regime in world history has tried to nail it in, it pops up either there or somewhere else. It is unstoppable. It rises like grass through cement. It does not matter what kind of society there is: Totalitarian, Fascist, fraudulent Democracies, you name it, make no mistake, art, true art is public enemy number one.

Is it any coincidence that Father Daniel Berrigan having served hard time in prison for burning draft files and beating the nosecones on nukes said that it was his awards for being a poet that was the most important thing to him? Berrigan understood what undermines oppression the most. Now when I refer to art I am not just talking craft. Craft is the vehicle by which art is perfected and expressed. But craft alone may not constitute art. Craft is the conscious effort to form the art that comes from the unconscious. Art’s threat lies in the transmission of unconscious to unconscious.

Plato said in The Republic that the flute was singular and therefore should be accepted and controlled in the ideal society. However, he said that the lyre should not be because of its complexity. Ironically, when Plato was on his death bed he asked that someone bring a lyre to play for him. This speaks volumes. Aristotle broke from Plato in his masterpiece Poetics over this. Aristotle spoke about the overall need to, “The almost mystic power of the Arts”. Which brings me to the lament of the 21st Century in America.

This lament is that the Bayh-Dole Act (1980) opened up private corporations legally to marry universities and influence the curriculum, as reported by the Atlantic monthly in an article entitled “The Kept University” in 2000. Though it effected biotechnology the most by controlling the research agenda, it effected the Liberal Arts in ways that are much more subtle. Philosophy and the Arts have been slowly either weakened or watered down. The digital dumbing down of the average college grad by 2016 is astounding in regards to the lack of any kind of artistic dissent. As the Humanities were literally downsized or relegated or even cut out, some students across the country protested, all to no avail.

Don’t think for a minute that this is all accidental. It is a form of Inverted Totalitarianism. The artist must go elsewhere to be an artist. If we concur with Dostoevsky that a society is known for how it treats its criminals, than maybe we should also state that from historical observation both then and now that a society is also known for whether it suppresses its artists or not. For the powers that be know that in order to control a society, first they come for the artists.


Bruce Cockburn – Maybe The Poet (Live)

Stefen Abram on Sep 10, 2014


from the archives:

Chris Hedges: The Legacy of Father Daniel Berrigan

Mind Control and the Liberating Counter-Language of William S. Burroughs by Rocket Kirchner

Chris Hedges and Mr. Fish: Art As A Language and A Form of Truth-Telling

The Shaping of American Character by Arthur D. Robbins

Sheldon Wolin: Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist? Part 5, interviewed by Chris Hedges

Noam Chomsky: The Corporatization of the University (2013)

The Corporatization of Public Higher Education by Shepherd Bliss


20 thoughts on “First They Come For The Artists by Rocket Kirchner

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    • I agree. but the true artist which is rare is what they go for first. look at Nazi and Communist regimes. in the States they just try and buy you off.

      which comes to the core of the issue: People benefit from the arts but they despise the artist. Entertainment in general is a different matter.

  6. “I know as it relates to guns that one of the things they’re doing is starting off with people that are defined as mentally ill… Legislation was passed in Oregon stripping certain classes of mentally ill people from being able to own guns… Not saying I disagree with it, just seems like you may have to take this one one piece at a time…”

    “I guess I meant to say that they are doing both.”

    • I agree with that . but the abridgment of any of the amendments in the bill of fights not only can be subtle and incremental but consider this : there is a reaction factor to that .

      when it comes to the arts at least in so called Democratic states , 9 out 10 people will be shocked if let’s say a musician like myself turns down a huge sum of money because he or she won’t do a 30 second commercial for a product – offered to them with their music. I know – I turned a deal like that down and was castigated by most people I know .

      Trust me – one gets ostracized for such behavior and their career suffers when word gets around in the music biz . when I stated “I turned it down because – I AM AN ARTIST” – people say, “are you gonna cut your ear off next?”

  7. More than suppressing the artists, “they” like to co-opt the artists. The makers of war movies (or battle movies, depicting things that aren’t actually being called “wars”) often get to use real equipment (e.g., real tanks) borrowed from the US military, but only if they are telling a story that the US military approves of.

  8. So true. Art is mightier than the sword. The pen of journalism is the finest art of all.Artists create order out of chaos. Chaos is what the ruling elite sow and cultivate to divide and conquer the common man with a multitude of fears and insecurities, none of which hints at the truth.

    • Or – in the case of the new world order – Art creates the needed chaos as William S. Burroughs encouraged people to do — figure a way to discombobulate language and short circuit language police.

      • Naked lunch . Non alcoholic martinis and ENRESTO the new Novartis poison pill marketed to Hispanics and blacks. Remember the Chrysler Cordoba and the Ford TORINO, Toronado, etc. Drug companies now use the ethnic branding to push junk medicine. Conspicuous consumption and target marketing I am certain is used by arms merchants and war profiteers to boost sales, it is just another form of sales propaganda

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