Operas and Citizens: Mitchell Cohen Responds

Operas and Citizens: Mitchell Cohen Responds

Bruce Ackerman and I are both passionate about opera; we both have egalitarian commitments. We both, I suppose, are “secular humanists.” We both would separate religion and state. And we diverge—markedly. Is it because Bruce Ackerman is a “liberal” and I am a “social democrat”? Only in part. These designations are not absolute nowadays. He is a liberal who is concerned for social justice; I am a social democrat who values liberal precepts. Still, I want to press distinctions because our disagreement is not solely about access to culture; it is also about how to conceive the relations of individuals to society. Ackerman has a certain “liberal” notion of those relations, and this underlies his opposition to public subsidy of opera; my argument is inevitably with this notion. So it is as a social democrat—as someone committed to an “equality-friendly” society—that I would justify the principle of public subsidy of the most “elite” domain of culture.

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Lima