TO be fair, it was the papers that came up with the phrase “Culture Tsar”, not the Scottish Government. The image of a bloodthirsty patriarch, slicing down puny sceptics as to whether culture “could be a central consideration across all policy areas”, doesn’t help anyone. Nor does the precedent of Alan Sugar as Gordon Brown’s “Enterprise Tsar” fill the heart with cherry blossoms.

But the “new cultural leadership post” did at least stick out from this latest Culture Strategy for Scotland draft proposal, which is otherwise (and I say this as someone who contributed to the process) a somewhat eye-crossing and stupefying read.

Perhaps it’s because this is the third major arts “vision” since the Scottish Parliament kicked off in 1999. The march of bureaucratic abstractions through civil-servant prose doesn’t seem to have lessened any. Will we ever get any stylistic felicity into a government document about culture? There’s poetry and epigrams on the walls of the parliament. Surely some can make it into a PDF?

Yet stick with this. Because it becomes clear that something very important and powerful is moving in the jargonistic bushes. Arts and culture has been slowly travelling towards the core of how we try to run, develop and progress the Scottish nation. And if this document is followed up, it’ll soon be dead centre. This challenges everyone – not least those in the cultural sector themselves.

What the strategy fully picks up on is the way that the practice and enjoyment of arts and culture are increasingly providing answers to acute crises in modern life. The report declines to define “culture” – assuming a hail of arrows – but I’m free to, and I’ll take the musician and artist Brian Eno’s: “Culture is everything you don’t have to do.”

By this he means that when you’re being cultural, you are acting with freedom, intention, imagination and desire. You have found, whether internally or externally, a space above and beyond survival and need. You are styling, or enjoying the way others style, the world.

How much we need that intimate experience of authoring ourselves, which arts and culture deeply provides, in 2018! So much of our psychological life is under assault from powerful scripts of all kinds. Whether it’s managed workplaces trying to optimise our performance; or political consultants, aiming to punch the hot buttons of populism; or digital wizards, looping us into addictive relationships with novelty …

If Eno’s definition of arts and culture holds – it’s the ultimate realm in which you choose your actions freely – then arts and culture becomes incredibly important, as a way for us to mentally grab the reins of this runaway century.

Remarkably for a government document – or maybe because it came through inescapably at consultation events – they seem to get this: “Culture must be free to be inspiring, disruptive and plural. This Government greatly values this freedom … to question and to shape society; and to encourage debate about the ideas that influence society and offer new perspectives and stories about the challenges it encounters.”

Good. And right on cue in the document, the next page is video artist Rachel Maclean’s Spite Your Face installation in the 2017 Venice Bienalle. As far as I read it (and most of Maclean’s work), this is a passionate screed against consumerism – and its psychological exploitations. The protagonist becomes the face of a new perfume called Untruth. One montage in the film is between the swish of a credit card to a blade laid on flesh.

A properly “disruptive” artist, using all the possibilities of current technology to tell a story about how we might resist their reductive tendencies. Yet what would Rachel Maclean say to this paragraph from the strategy: “Societies where creative skills are prioritised, and creative occupations make up a large proportion of the workforce, may be better placed to develop their organisations and business in light of the future direction of technology.”

Is this what the centrality of arts and culture, based on free imagination, does for a modern society like Scotland? That is: keep it lively and “adaptive”, in the face of various huge trends of the future? Are “critical” artists happy to play that role?

It’s important to note how extremely far away this document is from a “Team Scotland” approach. This is the idea, occasionally promulgated by stray ScotGov ministers over the years, that differences and voices in the country can be magically harmonised into one saleable “message” to attract “the world”.

Instead, a “teeming” Scotland, where culture produces a necessary dissensus as well as consensus, is assumed here. Again, good. I hope that artistic submissions test this vigorously in the coming months and years.

So if culture is going to be so immanent to Scottish everyday life, what are the structures we’re going to build to support that? Beyond the czar’s swishing blade of advocacy, there are statements in the strategy document which hint at the kind of serious policy move many have waited for.

They intend to “explore … the potential of Scottish Government powers such as Scottish National Investment Bank, devolved tax and legislative powers”, that will “generate a collective responsibility to supporting culture in the long term”.

DOES this mean fiscal support for creative careers (especially freelancers)? Housing experiments with co-living and co-working? In one of the document’s annexes, there is a policy diagram which has culture at the centre, surrounded by and linking out to eight other areas.

It’s seems humdrum, but to my eyes it’s really provocative. Again, if we take the Eno definition to heart, culture becomes the place that questions and provokes other sectors to consider whether they are serving the full subjectivity and autonomy of their users. And does that by opening out an imaginative space in which questions, frustrations and yearnings can be articulated.

The document is studded with expected references to definitive research – now globally accepted – about the health, educational and community benefits that the practice (or experience) of arts and culture brings. The hand is clearly out to arts practitioners to enter into a much wider policy space.

I think this is probably as far as the strategy document can go – because beyond that point, we get into a zone where art and ideology become fused. I have my own vision for a “culture-based”, rather than a “work-based” society. One where we save the planet by replacing consumerism with creative flourishing, unrecyclable stuff with beautiful experience, harnessing robots and AI to give us the space and time to do so. But I can’t assume this is shared by anyone else.

So I launch this out into the culture, like one of those birds that Karine Polwart sang about in her exquisite show Wind Resistance – to see the way it flies. The Culture Strategy for Scotland document does not, it must be granted, fly too much. But it may well be the start of a nest, for all that.

A Culture Strategy for Scotland is available here, where you can also put in your response to the document.