Fraser Nelson at the Spectator has an interesting column at the moment about how Britain’s Tories have been influenced by the culture of California, specifically, the northern part of that great state. I think his analysis is fine but I would add some caution, given that the state is, or is about to go, bankrupt. Here is what I wrote in a comment over at the Coffee House blog:
For a while, the political culture of California, both the northern, Silicon Valley/Napa/San Francisco and the southern, Hollywood bit, had been libertarian: or to put it in US politicsspeak: conservative on economics, liberal on social issues.
More recently, as the near-bankruptcy of the state shows, the culture of the state has become socialist. Spending is out of control; the Green movement has stymied developments such as new electrric power plants. Many of its best entrepreneurs are fleeing to nearby Nevada, or further afield. California has an economy the size of France and is exhibiting France-like dirigisme.
I would urge the Tories to draw the right conclusions from this state, not to get too dazzled by the admittedly superb economic success of Google and the tecchies.
One of the things that I liked about northern California when I used to visit a good friend of mine in Steve Jobs’ back yard of Cupertino was that you might be sitting in a bar, drinking a coffee next to some pony-tailed dude in a Grateful Dead T-Shirt, and that the latter would be tapping away on his laptop about his latest round of venture capital funding before heading off down the gun range to fire in his new Glock.
A good historian of California is Kevin Starr. Check this out.