Art Scares Dictators

“And I thought about revolution, how whenever society needs to change, that change is inspired at least in part by the artist. I thought about how dictators and despots regularly murder and discredit artists. Hitler’s people came up with a term specifically to discredit artists: degenerate art. They were burning books and paintings. But why, why were the leaders of the Nazi party dedicating their attention to destroying art? If art really has no power, if it’s really a silly waste of time, then why are dictators afraid of it? Why were Nazi’s burning books and paintings? Why was McCarthy so dedicated to blacklisting artists in the 1950s? Why was Stalin’s government so focused on censoring artists in Russia? Because art scares dictators. Because they understood something that I’ve been struggling to understand my entire life. Art is powerful. Art is important. Art can change hearts and minds all the way across the world.”

– R. Alan Brooks, When the world is burning, is art a waste of time?

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