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Op-Ed: The ‘liberal’ arts are survival skills for humanity — That means you, in case you’d forgotten.

If you must have this puerile debate about something you can’t live without, at least try to find out what you’re debating.

"Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity" at the Louvre Abu Dhabi runs until February 5, 2023, featuring masterpieces on loan from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris
"Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity" at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, was featuring in 2023 masterpieces on loan from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris — © AFP Yasuyoshi CHIBA
"Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity" at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, was featuring in 2023 masterpieces on loan from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris — © AFP Yasuyoshi CHIBA

There’s a lot to get annoyed about in this world. Few things annoy me more than the so-called debate about “liberal arts”. The debate has matured, very slightly, in recent years, but it’s still pretty basic. Thanks to the slavish dedication of mainstream media to adopting right-wing terminology, even the expression is now derogatory.

From the sheer number of news articles about liberal arts, you’d think somebody knew what the arts are. That’s rather obviously not the case.

The actual etymology of the expression “liberal arts” is from the Latin. It means “free arts”, aka creativity. It also supposedly means no manual labor, which is more than a bit of a joke if you’ve ever spent years on an arts project.

Somebody seem to think that grinding and hauling your way through any spectrum of whole new ideas doesn’t require any effort. Get over that little hallucination, right now. Digging a ditch full of water and clay or moving truckloads of bricks is comparatively easy compared to any form of the arts, and I’ve done both.

In English, the word “liberal” has a different connotation. It means snowflake arts or anything that isn’t about wearing a suit and being an anonymous demographic until you die. It’s abstract, therefore incomprehensible to this allegedly educated society that can’t find its way out of old media scripts and cliches. It’s been made mystic by lazy slobs who don’t do much thinking.

Let’s clarify. Every single manmade thing you’ve ever had, used, lived in, or seen, has to be created and designed. Your entertainment is arts-based. Your clothes (those expensive things you buy for some reason) are arts-based.

To design anything, you need a lot of knowledge:

Materials and materials science.

Custom task-specific tooling and working space.  

Technologies which may have to be created to do the job(s) required.

All types of design.




Cost bases, for which you may have to create your way around.

Market knowledge

CAD, or other design software you may have to make for yourself.


Any specific art form related to the relevant medium, like music, graphics, performance arts, etc.

Then somebody has to like whatever it is and use it.

That also just happens to be a simple synopsis of just about every business on Earth. It’s that fundamental to human reality.

Even the most mindless, unimaginative, unobservant materialistic slum-and poverty-addicted 21st-century neo-nobody, a true Epsilon Sub-Moron from Brave New World, should get that. They don’t. They also don’t try. Seems that being nothing as a human being is all they need.  

Then there’s entertainment, or there used to be. For entertainment, you generally don’t go and watch your bank statement. You watch or experience the arts in some form. You don’t watch the gruesome daily grind in any form if you can help it.

This is so obvious that some cultures don’t even mention it. Buffy Saint Marie famously said that Native Americans didn’t have a word for art, because everyone did it.

The arts are expression. Most of all the things you see every second of the day are about expression, directly or indirectly. Your clothes, your home, your possessions, and pretty much everything else are expressions of your preferences, and by extension yourself. You make a conscious (hardy ha ha!) decision about all these things. The arts are also preferences. You prefer one choice rather than another.

Difficult, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, back in the “real world”, you know, the one nobody seems to be able to understand, let alone manage, “liberal arts” are what? If you denigrate the arts, you denigrate everything you’ve ever bought, liked, or used.

Creativity is a survival skill. You create a solution to a problem. You create a cure for something. You create a safe space, a home, or a place to raise your family. Would you like a nice environment to live in or anything else you like? How do you expect to get it? The list of creative supply vs demand is infinite.

One of the problems is that everything in this imbecile society is somehow external. Nothing is internal, according to the worldview of idiots. You can’t possibly have your own personal reality, now, can you? You might miss out on something. Like yourself.

I for one don’t feel like being dictated to by mundane money-grubbing morons. They never have ideas. They have behaviors and otherwise imitate the animal life cycle, badly and inefficiently.

Trash doesn’t and can’t give orders to anyone. How are you supposed to care about someone else’s boring, heavily-scripted/heavily-brainwashed delusions?  It’s entirely up to you how much of other people’s external mental drivel you want in your life.

That’s another feature of creative arts. You have to create your own life. That life needs to be something you can live. You have the right to do that. Nobody else is you.

The “liberal arts” are about your life and your wants. If you must have this puerile debate about something you can’t live without, at least try to find out what you’re debating.


The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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