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Our Cultural Decline Is Related to Collectivization

The Philadelphia Orchestra will be the first major American symphony orchestra to file for bankruptcy, which, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, some people have been saying is not necessary.

“I think it was unnecessary,” (Players committee chairman John Koen) said. Management “has not turned over every stone – they haven’t gone to any donor outside their comfort zone – to get the broad-based support other orchestras have. I know of players who are considering auditions for other orchestras, and I hope that we will not lose the great orchestra we have. If we do, what is the point of all this? Who would care about funding a second-rate orchestra?”

Subscriber Terry Champion noted,

If we lose individuals like [oboist Richard] Woodhams, [clarinetist Ricardo] Morales, [cellist Efe] Baltacigil, and [violinist] Juliette Kang, I shall think twice about renewing my subscription. I mean, what would be the point? We are not just talking about orchestral morale but audience morale.

Our culture used to value the classics, in music and literature as well as art, because it has been those classics that had widely been viewed as having genuine, deep meaning and value, in their expression of feelings, ideas, and so on. There is a reason why orchestras repeatedly perform Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, as well as Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.

But now, many in society just don’t value classical music any more, and it’s not because there “isn’t enough government funding” for music programs in the government-run schools. Present generations just aren’t encouraging the next generations to listen to classical music. And because of this cultural decline, classical music just isn’t marketable anymore. Since the early 2000s, I stopped getting classical CDs at record stores, because those stores just don’t have them anymore! Zilch.

I think it’s just another sign of how American culture has been going downhill, coinciding with the collectivization of our society. Throughout the past century, the family in America has gone from responsible and self-sufficient to dependent and struggling, economically. The family consisted of parents with children, in which only one parent had to work to provide for the whole family, the entire family sat at the dinner table together and ate together and were social with one another.

But the more collectivized and socialized America became, the more the government usurped the people’s right to care for themselves, the more dependent on government more people became, the more both parents were forced to work just to make ends meet, the less time parents have with their kids, the less social people have become. Now, it’s after-school day care, “latch-key kids,” social networking (with anonymous others), texting gibberish and nonsense, lack of any real communication, and an extremely dysfunctional society. Thanks to going from being a localized and individualized society (that coincided with growth and prosperity, and progress), to being a collectivized and centralized society (that coincided with societal decline and impoverishment).

But it isn’t entirely a dependence on a government that has usurped people’s right to care for themselves and encouraged such isolation and breaking up of families. As Gary North notes today, everyone is dependent on someone or something whether they like it or not, such as being dependent on a salary. Many people are dependent on private pensions through their work, which I think is a mistake.

Some of the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra are extremely opposed to the bankruptcy, as they claim it would jeopardize the funding of their pensions. In my opinion, people should not rely on an employer to provide them with their long-term retirement funding. This is because many people change jobs several times in their adult lives. It’s all a part of our society’s general discouragement of individuals’ taking care of themselves and their own futures, independently of their relationship with employers.

If you are young, in your teens or twenties, or if you are parents of youngins, consider starting private retirement accounts now, so that you won’t be dependent on employers for your future livelihoods. We know you won’t be depending on government-run “Social Security” in the future, because it will not exist. (We can only hope.)

In the old days, families actually took care of their elderly members. When Dad retired, he and Mom would actually live at home with their adult children and their families. Extended families took care of each other. They didn’t use the armed force of government to force their neighbors to provide for their own elderly family members. That is what Social Security redistribution-of-wealth schemes do. Now, because of that fraudulent scheme, we have a detached family structure in America, elderly people are scared to death that the government is going to take away their livelihoods and starve them to death. Families who are responsible for their elderly members would not do that.

In an article by Friedrich Hayek, posted yesterday at the Mises Institute, Hayek noted,

Agreement about a common purpose between a group of known people is clearly an idea that cannot be applied to a large society which includes people who do not know one another. The modern society and the modern economy have grown up through the recognition that this idea — which was fundamental to life in a small group — a face-to-face society, is simply inapplicable to large groups. The essential basis of the development of modern civilization is to allow people to pursue their own ends on the basis of their own knowledge and not be bound by the aims of other people.

As centralization and collectivization (and militarization) have grown in America throughout the past century, people in general have become less responsible and less “mature.” College is now a joke, a babysitting facility for the kids to extend their adolescence, party with drugs and booze and start their alleged “adult” lives already being in debt with student loans. Cultural activities of actual substance had become less appreciated and less encouraged, and Americans have instead turned to superficial distractions in daily life. Children do not practice the piano or read books — they, and the adults, watch TV. And independence and personal responsibility have been greatly discouraged.

American society has become one in which people actually buy houses knowing that they don’t have the assets or the income to actually afford it. Because people have a credit card, they think that represents unlimited amounts of cash, and so they spend, spend, spend and put themselves into debt like they are just crazy, irresponsible zombies. And what are people buying? Big expensive TVs? To watch what? Crap? And do people really need all those little electronic gadgets like iPhones and so forth? I have none of those things, and I’m glad. Just how much TIME do people spend adjusting and configuring all these little devices, as well as using them? I think 2011 America has also become the biggest time-wasting society ever! It’s pathetic.

The “entertainment” culture spends as much time concerned with American Idol as it does with meaningless presidential campaigns that begin as soon as the previous one ended. In fact, presidential campaigns are now nothing different from American Idol. After all, look who was elected in ’08.

So I believe that our culture — especially as regards to the arts as well — is reflecting on this detachment, collectivization and disillusionment.

Perhaps Bill Gates and Steve Jobs can donate some large amounts of cash to the struggling Philadelphia Orchestra. (But will they? Nah, they’ll be busy donating to the Democrat Party. That’ll do it!)

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