Lately I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out ways to reach people with the messages of personal responsibility and liberty. The more involved I get in the liberty movement, the more I see like-minded people discussing ideas among themselves. Often the theme of the discussion is either negative observations of evil in the world, or they are asking the question of how we might one day live in a truly free society. I know many good people who are genuinely looking for solutions to the problem of world-wide tyranny. I’m convinced that in order to achieve freedom, we must bring more people to an understanding of the philosophy involved in the Non Aggression Principle and related concepts. This brings me to the point of this article:
How (not) To Talk With A Statist…
I see two primary problems with the above discussions:
1. They are usually negative in tone. I realize it is important to point out evil where it exists, and I know too, that it is an easy rut to fall into. The quest for liberty can be a frustrating one when you look around and see violence thrust upon individuals every day. However, the constant barrage of negative speech coming out of the liberty movement does not seem to be an attractive trait. Who wants to know the truth, if the truth turns you into a bitter, antagonistic crank? Also, it seems a fairly easy psychological concept to grasp, that if you sound offensive to someone they are likely to respond in a defensive way. Again- not a great way to attract people to the movement!
2. The other problem I see is that many great communicators in the liberty movement are primarily talking to others within the movement. I know…birds of a feather flock together and all, but I really believe that if we are going to achieve a free society, we need many more people who have the skills to think from a rational set of first principles. We need an outreach program of sorts. We need effective tools for getting our message out to statists in a way that is not antagonistic or demeaning. Methods that attempt to help people think, not ones that try to shut them down.
I loved the first Matrix movie, I thought it was a work of genius as an analogy of our current societies, but I think they got this part wrong…
“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.”
This idea that anyone who disagrees with you being your enemy is the same concept that has been used to slaughter countless people in wars.
On one hand, it is difficult to tolerate someone who is supporting ideas that you believe to be the cause of great evil in the world. On the other hand, how are they ever going to change if we treat them as enemies to be destroyed (even if only verbally beaten)?
A couple of ideas for sharing ideas…
1. Let’s start with the second issue first- the problem of reaching out to people outside of the liberty movement and bringing them into the discussions. Let’s find some unrelated common ground. By “unrelated” I mean to find something besides the big issues to talk about as a starting point. Here on LiveAllYourLife.com, I offer cigar and whiskey reviews, lifestyle writing, business tips, scientific progress and art to enjoy. By finding people who share in these interests, I hope to introduce the philosophy of freedom to many people who might otherwise never get exposure to these great ideas. Instead of baiting people into a hostile environment, I hope to set up a sort of online whiskey lounge, where we feel comfortable kicking up our feet, having a laugh, learning something new, and- oh by the way…have you ever heard of the N.A.P.?
2. Now as far as those disagreements are concerned… In my experience, many people want the same results, but differ in how to obtain them. Many times when I see a statist arguing in favor of violence, it is done unwittingly. They are usually fighting in favor of what they feel is justice, without realizing their own inconsistency. The conservative in favor of the drug war thinks they are helping people stay safer and healthier. The liberal in favor of the welfare state thinks they are being charitable and empathetic. Both assume that if you are against those programs, then you must be in favor of rampant drug use, gang violence, poverty and other human suffering. Even as I write that, my knee jerk reaction is to point out how those programs are actually promoting the very suffering that they claim to address. But before we begin defending our views on these state programs, perhaps we could gain more ground if we first acknowledge that we want some of the same things.
The internet is an awesome tool for communication, and I believe, the single greatest advancement of freedom in the history of mankind. But in our world of tweets and posts and likes, we might find better connections if we are willing to take the time to back up onto some common ground before heading straight down into the depths of disagreement.