Brian Holmes on Thu, 3 May 2012 09:57:15 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The insult of the 1 percent: "Art-history majors"

Edward Conard works for Mitt Romney's firm, Bain Capital. He is part
of the .01% and he is true to his class. A New York Times reporter
interviewed him on the occasion of his soon-to-be-released book (which
you should probably steal if you want to read it) called "Unintended
Consequences." As usual, it declares that the superrich do us all
a world of good, even though all they want is more for them. In
Connard's case, he already has enough to crush us like flies. Check
out his world view, as reported by Adam Davidson:

"At a nearby table we saw three young people with plaid shirts and
floppy hair. For all we know, they may have been plotting the next
generation's Twitter, but Conard felt sure they were merely lounging
on the sidelines. 'What are they doing, sitting here, having a coffee
at 2:30?' he asked. 'I'm sure those guys are college-educated.'
Conard, who occasionally flashed a mean streak during our talks,
started calling the group 'art-history majors,' his derisive term for
pretty much anyone who was lucky enough to be born with the talent
and opportunity to join the risk-taking, innovation-hunting mechanism
but who chose instead a less competitive life. In Conard?s mind,
this includes, surprisingly, people like lawyers, who opt for stable
professions that don?t maximize their wealth-creating potential. He
said the only way to persuade these 'art-history majors' to join
the fiercely competitive economic mechanism is to tempt them with
extraordinary payoffs."

This Connard wants to get rid of art-history majors the way you get
rid of cockroaches, by calling the exterminator. But it's not a pretty
picture when you are the vermin. Like all the ideologues of the 1%,
Connard thinks that culture is worth nothing but hatred. In short,
gentle reader, he wants to erase us from the face of the earth. All
of you who generously and perhaps a bit self-interestedly wanted to
believe that the great financial barons were unparalleled patrons of
the Museum and the Opera and the Academy, please take careful note.
Now they don't want to buy us or stick us up with pushpins on the
wall. Instead they just want to flame us and laugh when we burn. The
cuts to culture, to education, are not some side effect of a necessary
austerity. They are the centerpieces of a concerted ideological plan
to eliminate anyone who elaborates any other kind of value.

Life, for these Connards, is competition. Full stop. There is no room
for anyone who does not compete at 2:30 in the afternoon. According to
Connard, we who have other values should be banished if not killed.
That's the message, and even more, the program.

Imagine a world from which art has been surgically removed. Replace it
with entertainment and compete 'till you're blue.

Is it maybe time to give up being neutral?

here's hoping, Brian

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