Yet the man of culture, if his criteria are those of the past, has really very little of which to complain in the triumph of mass taste in modern society. He may deplore it; yet he should recognize that the scope for the realization of his own aesthetic feelings has never been so wide. Standardization in consumers’ goods is largely the product of the consumers’ preference for cheapness, and the technical facts on which the economies of mass production rest are the means which have made their preference realizable. But the same technical facts have contributed to the cheaper satisfaction of the connoisseur’s demand. In so far as his demand springs from love of the elegant, the delicate, the refined, and is not unconsciously motivated by the desire to possess what is merely rare and expensive, machine production has cheapened and increased the power of passive enjoyment of things of beauty on the part of many. There never has been a greater popular interest, for example, in music, the drama and literature than that which exists to-day. The gramophone and wireless have brought first-rate music within the reach of the poor, the standards of commercial art have been continuously advancing, amateur dramatics have never been so flourishing, and the number of books sold expands annually.
My colleague Tyler Cowen – author of the great and pioneering 1998 book In Praise of Commercial Culture – could not have said it better.