Culture may need capital, but capitalized culture may not create cultural power.
After three decades of hectic growth in manufacturing and export of commodities from cars to cups, China is turning to its culture as the next pillar of economic development.
Xinhua reported last month that China's culture industries would likely make up 5 percent of GDP in five years, double its current contribution. In absolute terms, Xinhua said, the cultural business would be worth 2.85 trillion yuan (US$446 billion) by 2015, with book publishing, films, TV, online games and advertising leading the pack.
But is culture a commodity? If you treat culture as a business, then profit maximization, or greed, will mostly likely become the ultimate creed. The more books you sell, the bigger your business. China has already churned out tons of trash books every year by pulp writers and "scholars" who habitually plagiarize.
How many books did Lao Zi and Confucius write? If the two saints lived in today's China, they would be starving if not already starved to death for their inability to publish books like writing machines.
The value of a book, and that of culture for that matter, cannot be measured by quick profits. Culture is serious business, not just business.