The Michael Knowles interview with Jordan Peterson reminded me that, as students in the 1960s, we had to study a text: Voltaire’s Candide. The original Snowflake is indoctrinated into Leibnitzian optimism by his university tutor Pangloss – all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Confronted by the real world, Snowflake Candide melts into disillusionment and we are all left with Voltaire’s advice: just cultivate your own garden.

At the time, I reckoned this was very sensible advice, but later came in for a lot of criticism and insecurity when both friends and tutors ridiculed my point of view. Left-wing ideas went from strength to strength in public and in politics, but meantime I had to deal with all the real-world problems: family/own business/health/best friends/political reality.

I now know I was right, and am humbled to read Professor Peterson’s chapter about putting your own house (or garden) in order. Indeed I would take it further, and apply it to families, communities, even countries. Some economies work very well – including the country, Switzerland, where I now live (we have a surplus in the local and state finances and will get a rebate next year). Other countries are failed states, and our taxpayers continue to have to support them. Whatever the situation, every country, like every individual, needs to take responsibility for its own house/garden. Like the UK, or your local community, or just you.

Sorry (or proud?) to be such a fuddy-duddy.

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