This idea was furthered by Richard Wagner is his wonderful autobiography, My Life:
I insisted upon attaching an importance to the artistic destiny of mankind which far transcended the mere aims of citizenship.
We need this perspective. For a nation to be great, it needs more than economic success. It needs more than technological advancement. And it needs more than sensual passion.
It needs an art form that elevates humanity – one that expresses a universal life essence. It could be a three-act play that brings a grown man to tears. It could be an overture that inspires a young man to rise up and chase his dream with relentless fervor. Or it could be an epic poem, filling the classrooms of a nation with ethereal bliss.
Art is culture. And without a wonderful display of human expression, no nation can every call itself an EMPIRE.
See Related Article: The Difference Between a Great Work of Art and a Bad One