There are a few very useful tools that make certain people stop and think. I don't want to call them "bad" people, but that's how I think of them. Usually, they aren't really bad; it's just that they put more effort into avoiding the truth when they're wrong about it than into actually figuring out that they're wrong.
Yeah, that's a lot of people. However, most of them have good hearts, and so I like to try to help them. This essay is one of my attempts.
There are some people that understand the truth, but they work to hide it. Think Big Tobacco, or Timothy Geithner, or Ben Bernanke (sorry guys, but I've seen you sweat and I've heard you grasp authoritatively at straws. They are both convincing acts). I won't bother coming up with a word to describe them, and these useful tools I referred to usually won't make them stop and think because they already know their best bet is to alter the subject enough to distract you from the truth that these tools uncover.
My fellow attendees and I learned a lot at the YAL National Convention, working through nearly 12 hours a day of lectures and lessons from some wonderful and incredibly experienced campaign staffers. Now how do we bring it back home to our respective YAL chapters? Well, it's going to take a while to process and sift through all the information, but the one thing that may be the most important piece of information that the progressives have known for over 100 years is this: All politics is personal.
What exactly does that mean? It means that our superior philosophy won't always win the day. In fact, most of the time for most people, it won't. Most people don't have the time or the patience to be involved in politics. They don't want to read Ron Paul's books; they don't want to debate; they don't have the time to contact their representatives or even try to keep up with the news; and they DEFINITELY don't want to jump into reading Austrian economics. We need to understand and accept the fact that we live in a soundbite world. We have a finite amount of time to get our message out before people either get turned off or tune us out.
Many of us could talk about the philosophy of liberty for hours on end, but we need to be able to cut our arguments down to a 20-minute speech, a 2-page article, or even a 30-second YouTube video.
Praxeology, the study of human action, is a field of science that is unique to the school of Austrian Economics. For many people, simply hearing the word "praxeology" will instantly turn them off and incur their unending ignorance; for supporters of liberty wishing to learn more, treatises dealing with praxeology, such as Ludwig von Mises' Human Action, tend to be bulky, difficult to read, or simply require far too much time to study the fundamentals of the topic.
I once took a required course in college called National Government. The book for the class is titled: "The Struggle of Democracy." The book lists the functions of government: maintaining order, providing government services, and promoting equality.
The book defines equality as one vote per person and freedom for all equally (i.e. fair trials, freedom of speech etc.) -- but it goes on to say that if money is taken from a rich man is given to a poor man then they both win since the rich man still has plenty of money and the poor man is given the money he needs.
The professor agreed with the “social justice” argument in the book and I piped up.
"Well, let's test that out in this class." I said.
"What do you mean?" asked the professor.
"Well, the people who get A's in the class don't really need all those points. Let's give some of them to the people who get F's. Then everyone ends up with a C and we're all equal." The class laughed and the professor looked chagrined.
"We can't do that." He said.
"Why not?" I asked. "It's only fair. Unless you think that the people who work hard deserve the grade they get in this class."
My professor replied: "Well, the college won't let us," and then he quickly changed the subject.
These tips come from the article On Grabbing the Third Rail by Stephen M. Walt found here. The tips are his; the elaboration, my own.
Setting out to persuade people to adopt your way of thinking is a difficult task. After all, ways are set and change is hard. These 5 tips, a shortened list from the article linked above, may prove helpful along the way.
1. Think through your "media strategy" before you go public.
This means to tone down the rhetoric, especially in the beginning. There's no need to call the President a socialist and statist while handing out flyers. We all know he's those things, but most of your converts probably have no idea what either term means. They just know they've heard "crazy" Tea Partiers screaming it for four years.
2. Never get mad.
This is an easy one to forget, especially when passing liberals call you a "redneck neocon" and conservatives call you "libtard." Getting angry is unneccesary (because you can refute bad arguments) and unfruitful (because you attract more bees with honey). Let them get mad while you win new supporters.
If you’re anything like me, it is likely that you’ll be attending some sort of rally this weekend. Likely subjects of protest are the Federal Reserve, foreign wars, the national debt, and the nanny state. Perhaps you’re boldly opening an unlicensed lemonade stand, or maybe you’re dancing in tribute to Thomas Jefferson. These events serve a couple of primary purposes: they raise public awareness of the issues and they let us vent our frustration (a popular Rolling Stones song comes to mind).
Sadly, you’ve likely also experienced the pain of public ridicule resulting from these rallies. It’s a tragic truth that liberty-minded people are on the fringe of the political world -- we are certainly portrayed as the fringe, at any rate.
This mischaracterization is the product of two factors. First, there are certainly those in the mainstream of politics that recognize the threat that is inherent in our movement. They seek to sway the public from our views, and to steel them against our arguments by portraying us either as unhinged and morally bankrupt youth who are lashing out against convention -- or else as senile old men who ramble about the nuances of monetary policy. They’ve been devastatingly effective in sidelining us so far.
The book starts off with author Naomi Wolf discussing intrusions on our rights in the US and around the world, and how our founders would have seen our situation. Wolf mixes emotion-packed storytelling with guidelines on how to become politically active, making the book a must-read for liberty activists like ourselves.
Wolf also discusses a problem in America that I find very prominent: the spread of fake patriotism. She talks about how citizens are led to believe that our political system is correct by accusing those who go against the politics-as-usual as being "un-American" and a traitor. Our country is at risk of loosing our real consciousness of a limited foreign policy and of sticking to the Constitution. This book will give you useful information on how to be politically active in a realistic way. Here is the introduction to the book posted on the Huffington Post site.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is hosting its annual Campus Freedom Network (CFN) conference this week, from July 14th thru July 17th.
As a current FIRE intern, I will be running the live stream starting Thursday evening at 8:15 p.m. ET, resuming at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, and at 8:45am on Saturday. For those of you who are unable to join us this weekend, you can watch it here:
Students are coming from across the country to learn about free speech on campus, and to hear from our distinguished speakers, including:
The human race hasn’t exactly mastered the art of telepathy yet. Whether we are right or not only matters if we are able to effectively communicate and share our knowledge with others. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when speaking to potential supporters about the ideas of liberty.
1. Know your audience.
You’ve heard it before, and now you’ll hear it again. Keep your listener in mind while you think about what to say. After all, it’s the potential supporter you want to receive your message.
Try to avoid labelling individuals who disagree or seem disinterested as “the enemy” or “unreasonable.” It is extremely important to remember that everyone who is not a current supporter is just a potential supporter!
People usually think about knowing their audience when speaking to a group or writing an essay. This skill is even more effective in casual conversation -- remember that everyday discussion and smalltalk is more frequent among potential supporters than going to fancy events and listening to formal speeches.
There are many ways to know your audience. If your listener's current standpoints are still a mystery to you, there are many methods to learn about your potential supporters. One of the easiest and most effective ways is to listen!
Have you ever wanted to expand your knowledge of free-market and classical liberal theories and schools of thought but haven't had the time to travel to a far-away seminar or regional conference? Have you been to said seminars and conferences but wanted to expand your knowledge anyhow?
LibertyAcademy is a new, self-paced, free distance education program designed to allow members to study whatever path in classical liberal thought that they wish to study. Users simply choose a pathway, watch short videos from classical liberal experts from the nation's top universities, are offered further information that they may wish to study and are presented with a short quiz to test their knowledge.
Currently, in its open beta, the program offers studies in both economics and philosophy, with plans to extend the program into law, history, and political science.