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I always read The Sun newspaper although this seems to upset some people. I don’t know why though. Liberal newspapers like the Guardian have effectively given the Government carte-blanche to rewrite the rule-book on civil liberties in the wake of Leveson. What do we need more? Protection from stories about the sleazy activities of Slebs or idiot liberals surrendering our basic human rights because a few people are upsetting Daniella Westbrook (who?).

Bigotry is despicable in all its forms but lets not forget it is a despicable world and we are all in it together. How do you think we pay for our luxurious Western lifestyles? It certainly isn’t by sharing what we have with the less fortunate.

Do any of you know Boris Groys? He wrote a great book in 2009 called Art Power. Great title too don’t you agree? His stuff is tricky to understand to the non-academic. He talks about art being pluralistic and of “the prestigious international art exhibition as the image of the perfect balance of power”. This idea of art being curated to serve a political end serves Groys’s earlier assumption that “the notion of art is today almost synonymous with the notion of the art market”.

Why did I jump from Leveson to art as a political tool? I think its because the way we are controlled today has an insidious, New Labour way of dressing lies up to look like the truth that is maddening. Everything is multi-faceted. We are deceived to be deceived. Picasso said it like this: “We all know art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realise the truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”  I see parallels there with what went on in Leveson but its so complicated I gets discursive when explaining why.

Art does make me despair. Opinion about what is good is so divided and the art establishment so self-interested and so bogged down in theory that the cleverest and most arrogant do well whilst less clever and quieter (although often truer) artists are destroyed (metaphorically).

So is art just something for governments to use as a show of strength? Is art on a on a par a volley of pistol fire from a UDA unit wearing Balaclavers on the Shankill Road? Or a procession of missile carriers through Pyongyang?

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The imagination and the subconscious are hidden from sight. Art can show the world what is going on inside us in a way no other media can. That is its power. A good artist is simply one who works hard with total integrity. My first beef is that many artists are producing work to please the curators. Groys would argue that the production takes this into account and that all modern art is a paradox. The death of God and subsequent secularization of art means the concept of the masterpiece i.e. a manifestation of God’s greatness is no longer relevant. The curator has replaced the geniuses as the leaders the art world. The rich guys are only interested in the cultural capital attached to cool work. And that is also political.

Coming back to The Bottom Billion and Paul Collier, Paul’s work deals with the tangle of stats and variance hiding the truth about the complicated plight of the Bottom Billion and why they are trapped. Paul talks about a developing world suffused with hope following dramatic growth that started in the 1970s to the present day. Average growth rose from 2.5% in 1970 to 4.5 by the noughties. The Bottom Billion missed out. The actually started going backwards in terms of growth during the 1980s.

The first four years of the new millennium saw growth rise to 1.7% in the BB. That is because of natural resources and big companies barging in harvesting. Equatorial Guinea did best, where offshore oil dominates income though that is hard to believe after reading the 2012 Human Rights Watch report.

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Now I do not fully understand the stats, but Paul says that by 2050 the development gulf will no longer be between a rich billion and six billion in developing countries but between a trapped billion and the rest of humankind. Paul see’s development being about giving hope to people that their children will live in a society that has caught up with the rest of world. Looking at the above picture clearly illustrates what he means.

Take away hope and people will try to escape as 1 million Cubans have. It happens in the mind too, when people try to escape reality with alcohol and drugs (my observation).

Paul says the G8 is the best place to discuss the Bottom Billion but this time around all people want to talk about is Syria and Putin swimming in Loch Erne!

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You can see that the need for growth is being addressed but last time I read Galbraith, I came away thinking growth didn’t have all the answers because it is not sustainable because the bedrock is fossil fuel. Paul Collier is keen on it and implies maybe that it is key to releasing the Bottom Billion from the trap.

Art has a role. For me it is to be truthful, well informed and socially responsible. It should have something to do with beauty and what you understand to be God. Humour is for illustration and the image below did raise a chuckle. I don’t see it as Art though. Groys may disagree as may the curators!

Devil v Jesus

I’m tired now but I’ve enjoyed this little ramble. Hope you did too!

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