30 December 2012

Culture is the Lifeblood of a Nation

Yet Beijing officials have announced plans to spend more than 10 years and £1.4bn turning the area into the "China Music Valley", a sprawling compound that will be home to recording studios, instrument makers, music schools, five-star hotels and an arena in the shape of a peach.
"Music is such an intangible kind of art," said Zhao Wei, a 30-year-old official who directed the initiative until last month. "Now with this project, we want to turn music into something that you can see, something that you can touch."
China's central government, concerned that progress in the country's film, music and drama sectors lag behind its economic development, has designated culture a top national priority and promised billions of pounds in subsidies for the arts. "Culture is the lifeblood of a nation," President Hu Jintao said at the start of the country's once-in-a-decade leadership transition in November.

This is an interesting solution to the issue of maintaining culture.  I suspect that China’s top-down efforts at influencing culture are more likely to lead to cultural improvements than, say America’s.  The reason I say this is because Chinese officials are not as hindered by political correctness as American officials, and have no problem a) recognizing cultural differences, b) recognizing what makes their culture unique and c) viewing their culture as superior to other cultures and therefore deserving of preservation.  Because the Chinese are more likely to celebrate their culture and fund art that reinforces it, they should find that their attempts at influencing culture through art will strengthen their country’s cultural bonds.

In contrast, the American government is not as likely to succeed at strengthening cultural and social bonds through art sponsorship because the American government is run by people who hate Americans, hate American culture, have no love for the founding fathers, and have bought into a large number of myths, like racial and sexual equality, and post-modernism.  How else to explain why the federal government of a country whose success was built on the backs of people who worshiped Jesus Christ as Lord sponsored an artistic photograph entitled “Piss Christ”?  Whether one like Christianity or not, it is an undeniable historical fact that Christianity and Christian philosophy played an indispensable role in the founding of America.  Sponsoring art that fundamentally goes against the grain of American culture is nothing more than an overt attempt to undermine the culture.

Thus, one conclusion that can be drawn from this is that it is not wise to trust the government to attempt to influence the culture of a country as long as those who control the government hate the culture the country was founded on.  China, for instance, will only succeed at improving Chinese culture if the government sponsors art and artists that actually revere China and its culture.  Paying people to demonstrate malice against their own country is simply paying someone to shoot your brains out.  Likewise with America, it is foolish to turn to the government for help in preserving the culture when those in charge have been the ones undermining American culture in the first place.


  1. I am one of those man-boys who watches Japanese cartoons.

    Some of us talk about how truly sophisticated nations don't just have advanced private economies and government propaganda, they advance private propaganda.

    Japan has soft power beyond its economic profile because it has comic books and cartoons that subtly propagandize the centrality of Japanese culture.

    If China could manage to pull off a similar level of cultural propaganda, it would reap a rich harvest of soft power.

    In fact I don't think China will manage to succeed in that endeavor.

  2. from endless gangsta rappers, who compose their "music" albums in an hour or two, to the ubiquitous, talent-free skreeeeching divas who all affect catchy single names (Madonna, Beyonce etc), amerika is an anti-culture, which punishes true originality and accomplishment, and rewards crapola -- as long as the crapola attacks males, christianity, or a "dominant patriarchy" that hasnt existed here for over a century

    this Victory of the Inferior is supported 100 percent by the government, media, schools, and corporations, including "music" corporations with entertainment subsidiaries

    the faster amerikan Unkulture dies, the better for the species and the planet

  3. I've seen the effects of top-down culture creation in China. It's not usually very good. The quote at the very end of the article sums up my thoughts on the issue. True cultural ingenuity comes from a free market and I am skeptical about the ability of the state to "guide" such production of culture. While East Asian countries have had considerable success in industry under heavy state influence, I think music and art is a different story.

    A lot of popular culture in China is coming from Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and even America, but there are signs of a growing native scene.

  4. Hong Kong is not a very good free market counterexample. As capitalist as it may be, the fact remains is that the vast majority - more than any dominance could be hoped for in America - of the TV shows over there are all produced by one studio/station. It is an effective monopoly.

    China should theoretically succeed in its endeavors. It depends at this point what kind of culture they produce. As it stands, everyone who vaguely keeps up with politics over there knows the Chinese government is underhanded about everything.