Perhaps not a book, but a sneak attack. Let me explain. I like to outflank opponents in a debate with another idea running along similar logic. The point is to show the fallacy of that logic and then bring the argument to the real agenda. I am reading about the compromise between the Northern and Southern states concerning slavery. It is an interesting read and the arguments of Jackson in particular make a twisted sort of sense. He was pro slavery. Several of the arguments for slavery are delivered quite well and offer ample opportunity for the southerner to accept this “necessary evil”.
Here is my idea. Write a book where the lead character is for slavery and he delivers several great arguments for slavery. The book is to write in his narrative, to closely identify the reader with his thoughts. The book shoudl make the case as strongly as possible that slavery is acceptable. Why on earth would I concieve of this? To show that it can be done (and was done), but it is also to be sneaky. I am optimistic that the great majority of readers to read the book would be from the start (and finish) anti-slavery. If a book can be written to where anti-slavery readers are given a moment of pause in stubborn opposition to the notion of slavery, then the point is made. That point is given in the end of the book, a book two as it were. Change the scenario from the past and slavery to the present and corporate abuse over environmental resources at the expense of wild places and community health. There are some very good argument given for the actions of these corporations and without the stubborn voice that is present (again… hopefully present) as being against slavery likewise being against environmental damage, some of these convincing arguments can be easily believed. Just like generations of southerners today still hold on to vestiges of the Confederacy. A poll among white males in the South as to which side they would join should another civil war break out might surprise a few people.
The point of the book is to show that because something makes sense doesn’t necessarily make it the thing to do. It is up to a society to define its own rules and standards. Commerce might have been the engine of the revolution, but Liberty did indeed become entwined as an idea for Americans. I am convinced that we need a revitalized mythology. The passage of laws and national parks and such are nice, more power to those guys, but as we have seen with Bush, and will see even more with the new congress, laws can be repealed, that mythology lives longer than laws. More than working on our campaign finance reform and voting laws we should work to enliven a more organic, holistic mythology of our place in the world and as citizens.