Can Artists Create an Ideal Society?

frederick Douglas

Imagine how the world would be if there was one universal government. Sounds impossible right? Today many people suffer injustices because they are a different race from others, because they are from a higher social status, their choice of lifestyle, their religious preferences or lack of it and the list goes on and on. Even the government, which is supposed to protect and care for its subjects have failed at doing so and some do the complete opposite. With all of the prejudice that the world has witnessed from the beginning of time a utopian society seems to be farfetched.

David Brooks, author of, “How Artists Change the World”, discusses how the way one perceives certain individuals in society has an effect on how those individuals are treated which in turn can contribute to either a just society or an unjust one. He believes that an ideal society is one in which everyone, despite the color of your skin, or your physical appearance is treated equally. Speaking about how Frederick Douglass used photographs of himself to alter the common stereotypes that African Americans are inferior, uneducated and are too foolish to do anything for themselves he states,“He was creating a new ideal of a just society and a fully alive black citizen, and therefore making current reality look different in the light of that ideal.”Furthermore, Brooks does believe that these values are lacking in the present society in which he lives because he goes on to elaborate on the idea that the only reason a new ideal has to be created is because the perception of Africans Americans in society has always been distorted. Not only do I think that I live in the same society as this person, I believe that humans have created a society that is so far from ideal that “reteach(ing) people how to see”(Brooks ¶12)  is nearly impossible. Even now, in the age of technology, seeing not only the faces of the oppressed but also the horrible actions of the oppressors does not reverse the hate and ignorance that is deeply imbedded in this unjust society. As a visual artist myself, works of art can express ideas that one can’t really put into exact words and artists can try to create their idea of an ideal society but injustice will continue.

Plato would agree with this thinking because he felt as though even though all humans are inclined to practice injustice the only way that Athens would be saved was by means of justice. Plato’s Extracts states,“Plato refers to them as moneylovers, because they pursue money as the best means of reliably satisfying their appetitive desires in the long term (580d–581a)” Thus, one can infer from this piece of text that Plato was not fond of systems that were built to dehumanize the poor, prevent them from acquiring education and use ethical or political education to fill individuals minds with wrong desires rather than to provide them with knowledge. This was all done because of greed, and when one has an intense and selfish desire for something it is very hard for justice to be prominent they practice injustice and it’s impossible to have an ideal society.

Brooks, David. “How Artists Change the World.” New York Times, 2 Aug. 2016, p. A23(L). New York State Newspapers, Accessed 17 Sept. 2017.


2 thoughts on “Can Artists Create an Ideal Society?

  1. On all the articles posted I see the same ideas of an ideal society having so many positive hopes, yet the structure of it will always lead to unjust. As Plato puts it, the laws we inherit and the people we control are only existent due to law and order. Prejudice and pride will always overbear justice. Great job!


  2. Yes I completely agree,I love how you tied in Fredrick Douglass to this utopia where we would have equality and about how Frederick Douglass used photographs of himself to alter the common stereotypes that African Americans are inferior, uneducated and are too foolish to do anything for themselves. I read the narrative of the life of Fredrick Douglass in high school, an auto biography on Fredrick Douglass. And in it hes states “The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon” the quotes saying basically power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts and this perfect world where everyone exists can never and will never exist because perfect worlds dont exist we just have to try out best to treat others equally as best as we can.


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