Bryan Appleyard interviewed Australian author, Peter Carey in The Sunday Times recently. The article was primarily to promote of Carey’s new novel, Parrot and Olivier, but it also discussed Carey’s writing career and his view that we currently have a ‘..culture produced by merchants..” .
The main character in his latest novel is based on Alexis de Tocqueville,who went to the US in the 1830s to study prisons. De Tocqueville, a French noble, wrote a book Democracy in America, which apparently is still used as a reference book in US schools.To quote Carey, de Tocqueville was “…prescient about the danger that would come when you had a culture catering to the great uneducated masses – and we are now swimming in a sea of crap. The other thing he (de Tocqueville) was for ever anxious about was the tyranny of the majority. In the past I would have taken that to be a deeply reactionary, anti-democratic, aristocratic point of view. But its the sort of thing I was seeing with Sarah Palin, John McCain and George Bush..”
Carey also said in the article that we currently have a “culture produced by merchants..” and that we are living in an age of “corporate capitalism”. The interviewer, Bryan Appleyard, suggested that Carey was old Labour school of the post-war Attlee government, in which nothing was too good for the working man – which meant that high art was to be brought to the masses.
But are we now entering the closing chapters of the age of corporate capitalism, following the global banking collapse and the failure of free market to provide health care, education and security for everyone.
Just as the age of communism and fascism ceased, and more and more western states adopted social democratic models following the second world war. Will we see the emergence of a new world political ethos to address the twin challenges of economic and social stability?