Tuesday 31 October 2000

Re:changing the culture

(written after Paul’s disclosure that he will run for the Marijuana
Party in the up-coming 2000 federal election)

Paul,

While I wouldn’t run for election, I would not like to discourage you
— as long as you’re confident it won’t cost more than you can afford to lose.
I give the same advise when people are off to Las Vegas.

I’m not sure much good can come of electoral politics:at best, it’s a
choice between lesser evils. This year in America, Bush is better than Gore,
though either one would likely do about as well as President. I do notagree
that elections are an opportunity to educate people and one can more
effectively draw attention to one’s cause by setting one’s hair afire in a
crowded room — at much less cost — than running for election! In either
case, people would wonder about your motivations and prefer to keep their
own ideas than listen to your explanation.

The main problem with libertarianism (or liberalism, as I prefer to call
it) is this:things do not become acceptable by virtue of the fact that the
government should not make them illegal
. Thinking it gives them license, all
sorts of DV8’s are encouraged:dope fiends, sex-traders, weirdo’s.

But you know all this. It’s just something one can expect when
people are free to make their own choices.

Culture, the sum total of everything that has been produced by a
population, is vastly more powerful than any single component of the whole.
It is the American culture, not merely American institutional “checks and
balances”, which ensures that someone like Hitler or Stalin can not come to
power — if you want to find out what’s wrong with America, Americans
have documented them, in detail. The worst Americans have been able to do
is elect a scalawag like Bill Clinton, and he’s pretty darn good compared to a
host of contemporary Third-World politicians (who happily are themselves
largely an improvement over their recent predecessors). Canadians are
similarly inoculated from serious harm — even those in Saskatchewan
where about a third of the electors consistently vote for the NDP who would
have been communists if they could have been. But they couldn’t.

Writing a book, even one that will never make the New York Times
best-seller list, more effectively changes the culture than getting elected.