Aaron Copland (born November 14, 1900, died December 2, 1990) was an American composer. He is best known for his works, “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Symphony No. 3,” and “Appalachian Spring,” the last of which won him the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1945, among others. Copland lived during World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. His politics were less than desirable for most, if not, all of his life, as he went from Communism to modern Liberalism. However, I would argue he just wasn’t guided well in his journey to these beliefs, and if he were alive today, I believe he could very well be swayed to libertarianism.
While I understand Aaron Copland identifying as being a communist for the time period, strictly given the guise of communism being “for the people,” I argue against his identification and alignment with communism. I also argue against that ideology, in general, through many points, though I will list only a few. One, he sought communism partially because of the Great Depression; Copland later claimed he aligned more liberal. And Aaron’s idea that he represents the “common man” simply does not match communist ideals.
Firstly, communism is full government control of everything. The idea of communism is having everyone be equal, through everyone working and having everything distributed equally. A major flaw in this system is that there will be equal outcomes, disregarding any amount of effort put into place for those outcomes. Work hard, get just as much reward as someone who works average or not at all. This system inevitably creates more oppression.
The Great Depression happened because the central banking system collapsed, dooming almost everyone who had any assets affiliated with the system. Decentralizing the banking system could have prevented the Great Depression from ever happening, or at least delayed it from happening. Decentralization, encouraging less government involvement in any program being decentralized, is nowhere compatible with communism.
Later in Copland’s life, he shifted from communism to liberalism. For minimalizing oppression from the common man, he was getting warmer, but he could have shifted even further toward even less oppression. The greatest oppressor for the common man, an individual, is government—especially a big government, which liberalism still supports.
As I have laid out already, Aaron Copland’s “common man” belief logically cannot match up with communist ideals. However, it can align quite nicely with libertarian ideals. The libertarian idea is the least oppressive to the individual, as everything can be done through voluntary actions, and equally as important, everything can be done without a big government intervention. With the government out of the lives of the common man, he is already less oppressed than with the liberal government, but especially the communist government. From this point, with everything decentralized, all that leaves for an oppressive body is people being oppressive to other people. While that is arguably immoral, enforcing a government on the oppressive person to not be oppressive is just as immoral as the oppressive person on the oppressed. The proper solution to this oppression is to allow the free, uncorrupt market to run its course by having the oppressive person continue to flourish, or he will lose whatever majority business due to the oppression, and he will justly go out of business.
From what I learned about him, Copland was a “closet” libertarian who, for a lack of better words, just didn’t know what was best for him or the people, but he seemed to have meant well. As understandable as it was that he believed what he believed for the time, it is disappointing to me that he believed all that, when there were better options in a little-known ideology at the time, “libertarianism.”