Wednesday, July 15, 2009

eating more books, cheaply?

There will be a lot of debate for some time to come about the recent recommendation from the Productivity Commission to lift restrictions on parallel importation of books into Australia. Will such a move actually make books cheaper, or is it the death knell of Australian literature as-we-know-it? I won't rehearse it all here ...

.... but: who isn't a little bemused, if not disturbed, to read the following from Chapter Six of the Commission's report:

"Specifically, the consumption of culturally valuable books, and the ideas they contain, can help diffuse social norms. Where more people come to understand the unwritten rules of a society, their actions become more predictable or ‘trustable’ to others, facilitating social and economic exchanges. Further, as more people read works that reveal and effectively promote aspects of group identity, other members of the group may benefit insofar as the effective membership of the group is widened. More generally, the reading of books of cultural value may help individuals to feel more connected to, and to be more productive within, particular social groups or the wider society, to the benefit of all:"

Indeed, you only had get as far as 'consumption of culturally valuable books', to realise where this is going. Personally, I read books, I don't chow down on them. And 'trustable'? To what 'others'?

4 comments:

jenjen said...

oh my, that *is* a creepy bit of (anti)social economics. so culture is a pacifying device which has no inherent value. i should have become a cop.

Laurie Duggan said...

I read the amazing paragraph to my partner who said that it was pure Talcott Parsons speak: literature as functionalist. Who writes this guff?

LivelyClamor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LivelyClamor said...

From this small quote I can't tell whether this translates as: "Spreading a variety of diverse information will be a beneficial eye opener" or "Let us build your reality for you so you can become more of a conformist after you get done learning the diverse information."