In the eighteenth century in France, the city was a hotbed of literary and political activity. People were very excited about the changes that were taking place. Many French citizens were unhappy with the lifestyle of the monarchy, particularly Marie Antoinette, the young Queen. Many revolutionary ideas were expressed and these ideas were constantly disseminated in pamphlets that were sold on the street. Everyone read these pamphlets and engaged in the discourse that threatened the lives of the royals and other aristocrats.
I think our contemporary society would be a lot better off if we had this kind of literary and political activity in Halifax, for example, but in other cities, too. I know that many people argue over politics, but not in the same way that they did in 18th-century France. At that time, the lower classes engaged with as much enthusiasm on the topics of the day as the upper classes did. Now the lower classes do not care about politics and other serious issues, except for the basics as they affect their everyday lives.
In 18th-century France, particularly in the 1770s and 1780s, the pamphlets covered a wide range of topics. People like Marie Antoinette were depicted in pornographic detail to illustrate the cheapness of her person. Nowadays everyone is so politically correct that no one is blunt and honest anymore. The closest thing we have today to this kind of thing in Halifax is Frank, and it is really nothing like these infamous pamphlets of Paris. We need some honest to goodness invective, anger, and disdain in pamphlets all across the city. We need cafes where political arguments are held and people get excited about what is going on.
In Canada, for the most part, a lot of people are extremely apathetic about politics. We need to change that. If I ever have enough money, I am going to start a cafe where international food is served, and open discussion is encouraged about the political and religious issues of the day. Some examples of the conversations I think we should have are which politician is lying, what are they lying about, what are they doing in their personal lives, etc. The more we discuss these issues, the less politicians will be able to get away with.