In the world of international politics, influence is an irreplaceable component. Political players use a variety of means to win people over including coercion, force, and financial rewarding. In the case of soft power, however, players use cultural and artistic appeal to influence public opinion (Gallarotti, 2011). Art can be used as a tool of soft power since it effectively shows how a country presents itself and manages to be attractive to other countries. The role of art, in this context, is to advertise a nation’s values and create a lasting impression as a cultural ambassador (Luers, 2011). This paper will explore the application of art in politics on an international scale with a focus on actions of the United States during the Cold War.
Most of the 20th century was riddled with international conflicts and countries were trying all kinds of strategies to help further their cause. The United States decided to deploy art as a weapon against communism. Their choice, in this case, was jazz whereby they dispatched some of the best jazz artists to play throughout the world. Among the musicians involved in this project were Dizzie Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong. The individuality of jazz musicians was an expression of freedom. Additionally, most of the musicians sponsored by the American government were black thus giving the perception that America was enlightened. The United States was also successful in the promotion of abstract expressionism around the world. Works of artists such as Jackson Pollock was used to further the country’s ideology since the genre was in contrast to rigid socialist realism (Jenkins, 2014). These projects were funded by the CIA and played a significant role in increasing the United States’ soft power around the world.
Gallarotti, G. M. (2011). Soft power: what it is, why it’s important, and the conditions for its effective use. Journal of Political Power, 4(1), 25-47.
Jenkins, T. (2014). Culture should refuse to be diplomatic. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20140520-art-the-diplomats-secret-weapon
Luers, W.W. (2011). Soft power of art: Lifelong cultural commitment pays diplomatic dividends. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendy-w-luers/soft-power-of-art-lifelon_b_785711.html