Blanchett set the audience nodding in approval when she stated her belief in 'a long and meaningful relationship between arts and government' and that 'much can simply be done by imagining the arts where they rightly belong - at the very heart of our society.'I always thought it was a positive virtue of our society that artists typically wanted greater independence of government. Observing this, Tim Blair noted sardonically: " Dissent is so 1996-2007."
And I really don't know why there has been such a positive response to the summit. Sure, conversations were had, but conversations can be had anytime. More than anything else, the optimistic response by Croggon, Blanchett, et al, seems to indicate that they were flattered to be invited to the summit. It reminded me of an observation C S Lewis made about a radical socialist acquaintance of his, 'a young man I once knew':
He had been a strict socialist at Oxford. Everything ought to be run by the state; private enterprise and independent professions for him were the great evil. He then went away and became a schoolmaster. After about ten years of that he came to see me. He said his political views had been wholly reversed. You never heard a fuller recantation. He now saw that State interference was fatal. What had converted him was his experience as a schoolmaster of the Ministry of Education - a set of ignorant meddlers armed with insufferable power to pester, hamper, and interrupt the work of real, practical teachers who knew the subjects they taught, who knew boys, parents, and all the real conditions of their work. It makes no difference to the point of the story whether you agree with his view of the Ministry; the important thing is he held that view. For the real point of the story, and of his visit, when it came, nearly took my breath away. Thinking thus, he had come to see whether I had any influence which might help him to get a job in the Ministry of Education.Just so. It's far easier to seek to be one of the 'elite', to have the ear of those in power, than to seek real independence from the powerful.
Here is the perfect band-wagoner. Immediately on the decision 'This is a revolting tyranny', follows the question, 'How can I as quickly as possible cease to be one of the victims and become one of the tyrants?' If I had been able to introduce the young man to someone in the Ministry, I think we may be sure that his manners to that hated 'Meddler' would have been genial and friendly in the extreme. Thus someone who had heard his previous invective against the meddling and then witnessed his actual behaviour towards the meddler, might possibly (for charity 'believeth all things') have concluded that this young man was full of the purest Christianity and loved one he thought a sinner while hating what he thought his sin.
PS Please read Jack Marx.
*Though it's true, the tone of his blog post is far more cynical.