And, with 66.2 percent of votes cast … (drum roll please) … Oh, I gave it away in the title, didn't I? Anyway, yes, High Desert Barbecue wins Book of the Month for July 2012 at Freedom Book Club (click the video there for the announcement). That's right, my wildly irreverent, authority-baiting "tale of suspense, pyromania and sexual tension" has won the nod from voters and book club members, and will also be eligible for consideration as Book of the Year. And, since I'm shameless, I'll point out that Freedom Book Club asks that you "[b]uy the book that wins the vote the first week of the month" with hopes of driving sales to the point that the book hits best-seller charts at Amazon and elsewhere, and so gains wider attention. You can do so here or find more options here.
The reason that Freedom Book Club does this, of course, is to disseminate pro-freedom ideas with the hope that they become part of the wider culture — to acknowledge that, culturally speaking, "we're soaking in it" and to change the nature of the marinade. As the excellent arts-and-culture Website Ars Gratia Libertatis argues:
Believers in free markets and limited government are currently beset on all sides by a popular culture that glorifies collectivism, wealth redistribution and "social justice" and outright attacks or denigrates capitalism, individual rights and wealth.
Culture is the primordial ooze out of which political beliefs are born. This is why a culture that sees individual rights as subjective to the collective good will vote for politicians that believe in wealth redistribution. The culture that views unfettered free markets as harmful and exploitative will vote for more state control and regulation time after time. And so on.
To reverse the political tide of statism, it is necessary to shift the deeper cultural understanding of free markets, the primacy of the individual and to eloquently paint the horror of an encroaching, paternalistic government.
We think focusing on popular culture and entertainment can help to start that process. Stories are an incredibly powerful way to convey ideas and persuade other people. A sympathetic protagonist with a deeply held conviction in the free market allows one to feel, at an emotional level, that he is right.
Perhaps stories, paintings and verse are not enough to shift perception. But they may just be crucial, and we have to try.
I don't think that High Desert Barbecue is a world-changer by itself, but I had fun writing it. People tell me that they enjoy reading it. If it succeeds and helps to encourage other writers, artists and the like who share a preference for choice over the whip, for individualism over the hive, the world may just shift a little bit toward a respect for personal freedom.