Conspiracy Of Good Taste

William Morris, Cecil Sharp and Clough Williams-Ellis and th

Author(s): SZCZELKUN, Stefan
ISBN13/Barcode: 9781870736718
“The Conspiracy of Good Taste is a passionate analysis of the way working class culture has been appropriated and sanitised by middle class mediators of taste.” Richard Turner

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New cover design by Mason Terrill. 15 b/w illustrations, 10 colour photographs. 2nd Deluxe edition of this underground classic.

"This updated, second edition offers some important and inventive thinking about systematic attempts to impoverish, if not eradicate, workers' culture in Britain during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By following the endeavours of several wealthy socialists, Szczelkun traces the colonialization of the country's bawdy, unruly, interior by its ruling and rentier classes – albeit in the guise of philanthropy, through championing the culture of 'the common people,' as Cole and Postgate (1938) and indeed as Jarvis Cocker et al (1995) would have it. In many ways, this assault forms part of the class war waged through the enclosure of the commons, closing down the possibility of communal ways of living, political organization, and even singing and dancing. Here, perhaps, there are parallels to the 'cultural genocide' visited by Empire on indigenous people throughout its territory. This book reminds us of how violence of this kind is enacted 'at home', as well as abroad." Simon Pope

 “In The Conspiracy of Good Taste, Stefan Szczelkun writes forcefully of the oppression of classism on working-class people: ‘What I learned was the central and murderous denial of our intellectual capacity which is at the heartless core of class oppression. ‘Calling for a ‘liberatory people-orientated culture,’ Szczelkun urges working-class people to reconnect ‘to the hidden working-class personal and cultural histories that produced us and find ways to heal ourselves from the terrible legacy of hurt left by class oppression.’ “ Janet Zandy.

“The Conspiracy of Good Taste is one of those books you read and put down inspired and empowered.

 As working class people we can find ourselves going against our own instinct regarding class; as a result of the media bombardment against our identity .The constant mockery of class masks the power and importance of our class across the world and through all creative cultural spheres.  Stefan Szczelkun’s book the Conspiracy of Good taste sheds light on the way class oppression is worked and managed against us.This book as been an important part of my learning. Hatred of an oppressor class comes through education not from inarticulated frustration.”   Brandon Spivey. 

 “The most substantial and important contribution however, is the revised version of his book ‘Conspiracy of Good Taste: Class Oppression and Culture’ (Working Press, 1993; with a new Conclusion added in 2001), laying bare the role of professional arbiters of artistic value in modern Western society – dictating from above acceptable forms of expression and lifestyle, thereby disallowing the creation of culture and the material lifeworld by ordinary people from the bottom-up, and consequently softening us up for the intimate government of everyday life. The British examples of William Morris and the Arts & Crafts proto-fascist purification of vernacular design, Cecil Sharp’s sad evisceratation of folk culture, and Clough Williams-Ellis’ bureaucratic wage-slave housing plantations illustrate the early tactics used – firstly to tame the rebellious dispositions perennially rooted in working-class culture; then as templates for the more sophisticated imposition of consumerism to short-circuit the re-emergence of its autonomy. 

Stefan Szczelkun’s multi-faceted deconstructions, reclamations, celebrations and exhortations to sociable human imagination represent a thoroughgoing and effective corrective to the inhuman consequences of class elitism and state prescription.”  Tom Jennings, from Freedom, Vol. 67, No. 12, June 2006.

“The Conspiracy of Good Taste is a passionate analysis of the way working class culture has been appropriated and sanitised by middle class mediators of taste. Using the case studies of William Morris, Cecil Sharp and Clough William-Ellis, Szczelkun challenges their often widely seen role as enlightened political artists. He persuasively argues that there is a classist agenda that includes concepts of good taste that amount to oppression of true working class culture. The work also grapples with class identity as a context for the author’s critique. The book will certainly have you thinking carefully about taste, class and who dictates what is accepted culture. The book is tightly written, very readable and is a good start to exploring Szczelkun’s other work.” Richard Turner.

Additional Information

ISBN13/Barcode 9781870736718
ISBN10 1870736710
Author SZCZELKUN, Stefan
Binding Hardback
Date Published 3 Jan 2018
Frequency No
Report Date N/A
Pages 164
Publisher Routine Art Co

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