If it undoes the damage. If it refuses to acknowledge the rot, it will spread.
Sometimes the struggle to defend Western civilisation can seem dispiriting, even pointless. In December 2014, the Turner Prize was awarded to a film, “It for Others”, by the Irish video-maker Duncan Campbell.
The fact that this already discredited institution had plumbed new depths of mediocrity with Campbell’s sub-Marxist agitprop prompted several critics to wonder whether the Turner should be wound up, or become triennial rather than annual.
But the question now being asked of the Turner applies to much of contemporary Western culture: will any of it last?
The artefacts, music and books that are approved by the cultural establishment will certainly not endure. Compare the tedium of the pygmies who invoke Turner’s name with a masterpiece by the man himself: Modern Rome-Campo Vaccino, sold by the Earl of Rosebery at Sotheby’s last month for £30 million, breaking the record not only for a Turner but for any British artist before 1900.
A couple of years ago, to be sure, the art market valued Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud at three times as much, while Damien Hirst is estimated to have made more than £200 million. From Turner to the Turner Prize: what a falling-off was there. If this is what Western civilisation has come to, is it still worth saving?
The answer, perhaps, is that the greatest achievements of the West have often emerged from periods of chaos…….
We do enjoy a challenge.