Why Do Artists and Intellectual Tend to be on the Left?

Why do artists and intellectuals tend to be liberals?

Because artistic and intellectual goods are things we can all share. When you enjoy a piece of music, it doesn’t stop me from doing so. When you enjoy a good book, the same.
In fact, the more people love the same music and books I do, the more people I have to share in the experience and from whom I can learn more about what I love.
That doesn’t mean there are no conflicts in these spheres of life. Once upon a time, there was a conflict over owning these goods. But in the digital world the cost of reproducing music and books is now very close to zero.
There are still limited resources for the creation of intellectual and artistic goods. But the more we focus our lives on the pursuit of these goods, the more we devote our resources to them, the more room we make for the creators of art and though. And the better off we all are.
This, is in effect, one of the key arguments Plato and Aristotle make for the superiority of the intellectual life (or if you understand intellectual life in the way Plato does as combinging invention and discovery, the intellectual / aesthetic life).
Christianity transforms that idea into a life focused on heaven because the goods of heaven are also infinitely shareable.
But heaven is not real and the positive impulse of Christianity and other religions are often corrupted when religions conclude that there is only path to heaven.
We have the technological capacity to ensure that everyone has the ability to secure the goods they need to live safe, secure, and healthy lives. Not to give everyone huge houses (and second and third ones) or to eat at the finest restaurants every night of the week (which, any good chef will tell you, is bad for your health) or to take long and expensive vacations, or to own a yacht. But a secure pleasant above, sufficient food and drink, and enough money for an occasional night on the town could be provided to everyone on the planet if we arranged our economies sensibly. And all that would be easier if put more money into public transportaion and recreation facilities, and publicly supported education–and lived in denser communities–which diminishes the need for everyone to own a car or two, to have big yards, and large homes.

If we took these steps to ensure that people had confidence that their material needs will be met, and encourage people through the right kind of education to turn their focus from accumulating more material goods to living a life in pursuit of intellectual and aesthetic pleasure, conflict between human beings can be very much reduced.

Not eliminated. Trotsky once wrote that come the revolution political disputes would be over whether the new City Hall should be built in the classical or modern style. But no one every died in a war or decade an election invalid in a dispute like that.

That’s the explanation of why intellectual and artists are on the left. They partake in a form of life that lifts them above a great deal of material  conflict.

It’s very hard to know how to get from here to there, but this is the vision of a good community that inspired me in my twenties. And it still does today.
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