|Double Bind, o/p, 24" x 24", Steven Rhude, Gallery78|
"I think in Atlantic Canada, because of what happened in the decades following Confederation, there is a culture of defeat that we have to overcome... Atlantic Canada's culture of defeat will be hard to overcome as long as Atlantic Canada is actually physically trailing the rest of the country." (New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, May 29, 2002) - Stephen Harper
Atlantic Canadians may never know just what exactly Harper meant by a "culture of defeat", other than the apparent reference to overcoming a defeatist attitude is essential for economic prosperity - something obvious to most people involved in even the smallest community initiative. We may also never know whether Harper has any views on what culture is in this age of mass communication, since he is indeed a product of mass communications media. He is as we now know standing on the other side of what can only be called a huge chasm of political inertia and indifference, where the bottom is filled with messianic promises of royalties and surpluses linked to the culture industry we currently experience. He is part of a larger political culture that has employed mass communication to lull society into a state of passivity - a double bind. It leaves one wondering what exactly a culture of success is or would be?
The term culture industry (German: Kulturindustrie) was coined by the critical theorists Theodor Adorno (1903–1969) and Max Horkheimer (1895–1973), and was presented as critical vocabulary in the chapter "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception", of the book Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944), wherein they proposed that popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardized cultural goods — films, radio programmes, magazines, etc. — that are used to manipulate mass society into passivity. Consumption of the easy pleasures of popular culture, made available by the mass communications media, renders people docile and content, no matter how difficult their economic circumstances. The inherent danger of the culture industry is the cultivation of false psychological needs that can only be met and satisfied by the products of capitalism; thus Adorno and Horkheimer especially perceived mass-produced culture as dangerous to the more technically and intellectually difficult high arts. In contrast, true psychological needs are freedom, creativity, and genuine happiness, which refer to an earlier demarcation of human needs, established by Herbert Marcuse. (See Eros and Civilization, 1955).
Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS