Orwell makes the suggestion that if a book is not perceived as salable--marketable, in our terms--than it should be submitted to a committee set up by the British Museum. I like this idea because it would allow intellectual material to exist independently of economic conditions. However, that presents it's own problem; who's on the committee?
Would this committee evaluate the books solely on unpopularity? Orwell points out how utility for future historians might be the criteria, but what they will find useful is a mystery because we don't know if they'll be intellectually curious and objective or simply affected by economic and social conditions. The line between these two can easily be blurred if one chooses to live within an economics-based society, should they not be vigilant to make money a reward or goal of intellectual endeavors. I like the idea of a neutral committee designed not specifically to account our history, but to preserve intellectual material and ideas that the current milieu deems as uninteresting and useless.
American national museums are run differently than those found around the world. "Broadly defined, the four main categories of museum funding are government grants, private donations, earned revenue and investment income." (Embassy of the United States) As of 2009, 24.4% is funded by government support, 36.5% private donations, 27.6% earned incomes, and 11.5% investment income. That means 75.6% of the money that runs a museum in America is from charitable giving, door fees, gift shop fees, and renting the place out for public use. Worldwide, national museums are controlled by the government. Granted, smaller, more specific museums in America and around the world aren't run by the central government. So, if we're left with a committee charged with holding intellectual material for future historians, the two national alternatives to funding it are via the non-centralized nonprofit method, or the centralized nonprofit method. Neither of them take profits, in that any of the surplus revenue generated goes toward feeding the organization, not the individuals who work it or have ownership in any part of it. I tend to think intellectual material would be more protected by the former because one of the functions of centralized government is to hold and regulate power over its subjects, and intellectually unpopular works could potentially disrupt that centralized power. Centralized government likes normalcy and predictability, and if not, it's because it caused the lack thereof, not its subjects.
Who's to say this unpopular book committee can't be based in one of these smaller museums; not a national museum? What would the implications of that be? Smaller museums are essentially businesses that function more like the American national museums in that they have to drum up their own revenue from the marketplace, though aren't protect like American national museums. Thus, although American national museums are funded more privately, the government won't let them close down as easily as the small museums would be allowed to close around the world because national museums in America are valued due to circulating the economy and boosting education. Their independence from government centralization, despite being protected by it, is a win-win. Maybe that could be a starting point for creating Orwell's intellectually neutral committee for preserving "useless" literature.
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