Changing the Culture

Glenn Reynolds, among others, points out the obvious:

Culture comes before politics. And politics come before law. So, I think that the culture has to change first.

Sounds easier than it is, but it can be done.

Exhibit 1: Astronaut Chris Hadfield almost single-handedly changed the public’s view of the international space program.

Commander Hadfield, currently falling from the sky, was officially in orbit to take care of a few, old spacey research things and keep the Space Station in orbit. You know, boring stuff.

But he and his team decided to take an opportunity to connect with the public in general through cheap, effective social media. His Twitter account has about 870,000 followers, who engaged with him regularly. Many of his videos were posted on YouTube, explaining the interesting and mundane of space travel, making himself an international celebrity.



In short, he was successful in developing an cultural output relevant to the public, and brought an extraordinary amount of publicity toward his mission and to the space program in general.

Exhibit 2: Environmentalist documentary film maker Robert Stone makes a convincing case for nuclear energy.

I don’t agree with Stone’s premise — that the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a harbinger of catastrophic global warming — but I like the way he presents it.



I am encouraged by his willingness to challenge his initial skepticism on nuclear energy. Too bad he is blinded by his ideology from taking it a step further by looking skeptically at the environmental movement as a whole. Baby steps, I suppose.

The lesson to learn, however, is that instead of droning on about statistics of his case in a logical and cold manner, he embraces the emotional appeal of his argument and encourages others to do the same. Like Cmdr. Hadfield, he uses sophisticated cultural means to reach us, in order to persuade us of the validity and of their points of view, that not only are they doing the smart thing, but the moral one.

If conservatives or libertarians wanted role models on how to deliver their own messages — through the means of culture — they couldn’t ask for better.

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