Liberalism Without the Imagination: Remarks on Politics and Culture

Liberalism Without the Imagination: Remarks on Politics and Culture

Let us say that you are the editor of a journal that has a fairly explicit political viewpoint, and you decide that along with articles on
political and social issues you want to run some pieces on cultural subjects as well. You can, of course, run essays that criticize books and movies and cultural trends from the perspective of your journal’s politics; but let us say that you want to do more than this. You want to
enlist literature and the arts in the cause of the political philosophy your journal seeks to promote.

Your motives are not at all mercenary, for you believe—it is, in fact, part of your politics to believe—that culture is not merely the ideological bubbles on the surface of the socioeconomic pot but an expression of values, and that in certain works of art these values find deeper and more complex and powerful expression than the most rigorous political or sociological analysis is capable of. You believe that a wider exposure to and more critical understanding of such works can contribute to a heightened political awareness and a fuller responsiveness to the social issues your journal considers crucial. And you believe, therefore, that in order to espouse a complete politics, your journal needs to raise, alongside the banners of its political philosophy, the standard of a cultural movement. How do you choose an art that matches your politics?

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Lima