What are we about?
Allow us to tell you a story…
Anytown, America, 20- –
You awake at 9am to noise downstairs. Shuffling down in your pajamas and slippers, you see your son, 8 years old, watching Saturday morning cartoons. This particular show features a wily but cute bear character who runs his own business selling lemonade to park guests, continually outsmarting the dimwitted wolves who try to steal from him. The wolves wear suits and name tags that proclaim “IRS” in bold red letters.
The show is your son’s favorite.
Shambling back upstairs you turn on the radio in your bathroom while you shower and brush your teeth. The city’s most popular morning show is playing a song from one of your favorite bands. You hum along to the lyrics as you dry off:
I dream no dreams of a nursemaid State
That will spoon me out my food.
A stout heart sings in the fray with fate
And the shock and sweat are good.
Thus armed for the day you head downstairs where your spouse is cooking a delicious smelling breakfast. You both talk in between mouthfuls of eggs about plans for the day. You want to see the Ayn Rand retrospective at the Museum of Fine Art (featuring original manuscripts!), but your spouse would prefer to hire a babysitter and go together to see the new action flick playing at the local movie theater.
The movie is about a private company that makes a profit by assassinating dictators in third world countries. The CEO of the company is the movie’s hero. It opened to rave reviews last weekend, and you both have been dying to see it.
You agree, but insist on at least an hour of “you” time before leaving because the novel you just picked up has got you hooked. The novel follows the plight of a heroic doctor fighting stifling government regulations of the medical industry. If he can’t overcome the simpering bureaucrats in his way, his patient will be condemned to a life of suffering. The novel has been on the top of the bestseller lists for weeks.
Besides, you’d also like to sneak in a few minutes of your most recent video game, a sci-fi RPG that pits you, as the owner of a private security company on a free, anarchistic planet, against an invading army bent on saddling you with an oppressive government.
We sure think so.
Of course, the above little fiction is, right now, nothing more than a wishful fantasy.
Believers in free markets and limited government are currently beset on all sides by a popular culture that glorifies collectivism, wealth redistribution, and “social justice” and outright attacks or denigrates capitalism, individual rights, and wealth.
Culture is the primordial ooze out of which political beliefs are born. This is why a culture that sees individual rights as subjective to the collective good will vote for politicians that believe in wealth redistribution. The culture that views unfettered free markets as harmful and exploitative will vote for more state control and regulation time after time. And so on.
To reverse the political tide of statism, it is necessary to shift the deeper cultural understanding of free markets, the primacy of the individual, and to eloquently paint the horror of an encroaching, paternalistic government.
We think focusing on popular culture and entertainment can help to start that process. Stories are an incredibly powerful way to convey ideas and persuade other people. A sympathetic protagonist with a deeply held conviction in the free market allows one to feel, at an emotional level, that he is right.
Perhaps stories, paintings, and verse are not enough to shift perception. But they may just be crucial, and we have to try.
Ars Gratia Libertatis is actually Latin meaning “Art for the Sake of Liberty” (kinda pretentious, but we like it, so back off).
This is a group blog whose purpose is promoting, creating, and inspiring art that supports political freedom and individual liberty. We also offer original works of art and literature which are grounded in the ideals and politics of liberty and capitalism.