1. It is sometimes suggested that culture has no value. This is partially correct in the sense that culture has no necessary positive value, and may do harm.
2. One benefit of culture is to increase happiness, provide pleasure. Happiness is a good - although it is not a sufficient reason for something - rather, it is a desirable side effect.
3. Above this, culture may provide glimpses of transcendence - for example of transcendent unity, truth, beauty or virtue. These glimpses may be first knowledge, hints or reminders, or an inspiration for efforts. Indeed, for culture to be worth anything more than any other form of amusement, entails a belief in the reality of transcendence.
4. But culture is a form - and its value depends on content. In this world, any form which has power to do good, may also do harm. That which may point towards transcendent good may also point towards evil.
5. Since the romantic era, and exacerbated by modernism, there has been a notion that (properly considered) culture can only do good. That the arts - poetry, novels, the theatre, music; or indeed education, science, medicine - are intrinsically and always 'a good thing'.
6. But if you believe in the reality of transcendence, then you must acknowledge that transcendence can be evil as well as good. Culture may therefore point up or down.
7. If culture can do us real good, it must also be able to do us real harm. And the proportion of good-doing versus harm-doing culture will, presumably, vary according to time and place.
8. Once this is recognized we can see that culture is now and has been for many decades, mostly harm-doing. This used to be recognized clearly - but the net-harmful effect of culture has been hidden and made possible precisely by the doctrine that culture is intrinsically and always 'a good thing' - that funding of 'the arts' is intrinsically and always a good thing, that poetry, drama, novels, serious music - are intrinsically and always 'good for us'.
9. Untrue. I repeat and amplify - most contemporary poetry, novels, drama, movies, fine art, dance, serious music, sculpture, architecture and the rest are bad for us: glimpses not of transcendent good but of transcendent evil; foretastes not of 'heaven' but of 'hell' - but lyingly presented as the opposite. In so far as they do anything, they make us worse, not better.
10. This explains why 'culture vultures', those undiscriminating mass producers and consumers of contemporary culture, are such shallow, selfish, arrogant, despicable characters.