"Or that the urge to make politically persuasive art is, at its root, the urge to propagandize?"
i think propaganda only has negative connotations in certain contexts (most of the u.s. for example). etymologically it is quite tame.
A gajillion years ago, back in the seventies right after Nixon "opened China", there was a documentary on TV that featured Shirley MacLaine wandering around with her Maoist minder and admiring all the wonderful works of man there. At one point, they were in an "art studio" where the "artists" were all hard at work turning out thousands of identical cat statuettes. Shirley thought it was pretty marvelous to see so many people creating art, and it's pretty hard to argue with that.
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