The Left are Amazing at Marketing

This is the text to the talk I gave at the Libertarian Home open mic night. Which due to Simon’s inclusion of Speakers’ Corner Rules was quite a challenge to deliver even if it was good fun. Hopefully my text will convey my idea better than I did…

I’m going to talk a little about the left and their marketing techniques and how we libertarians might emulate them. Basically because they’re good at it and we’re not.

So where to start… The other night I was on the tube when I noticed the man stood next to me was wearing a rather interesting badge. It read “Art, funded by everyone.” Of course this is clearly a emmotive and left wing statement. And as the chap looked like a student. One of those intellectual, ‘knowing’ types. Probably a bit like me when I was his age. I assume he was a socialist of decent intellect.

Now the statement in itself isn’t particularly interesting, we all know the point he’s trying to make. What is of interest is the fact that a man, who clearly regards himself as intellectual, should promote such an ignorant and naive belief. If I’d had the time I could have just asked him, ‘Define art?’ And whatever answer he gave — whether it be good, muddled or whatever — it would have been subjective. For instance to some, Tracey Emin probably, me shiting on a glass table might be regarded as art. But does that mean it is moral to force someone to pay me to deficate on tables? No. And even better if Art is to be funded by everyone, should it be funded by the poor? That’s not very “right on man”, is it?

But sadly that is not the point of statements like this. They’re not meant to be assessed logically. They’re meant to be agreeable and emotive statements that promote left wing ideals. They’re meant to triger a response like, “Yeah, I believe art should be funded by everyone.” And what mechanism do we use to get everyone to fund art. The State of course. And this is the real important bit. From this rather silly statement we get a link to a bigger idea. That people should be forced to do certain things and the mechanism used should probably be the State.

And there are plenty of other examples. Climate Change. Completely meaningless. People often ask “Do you believe in Climate Change?” But how can you believe in a fact? It is a fact. The climate has changed, is changing and will change. Everyone believes in climate change, if you don’t you really are a fruit loop. But linked into this silly term are industrial polution, capitalist failure and, again, State action. In this case forcing people to change the way they produce and use energy.

We also have the classic Fair Trade idea. How is trade not fair? All trade is fair. The word trade tends to imply that something fair has occurred. There is no concept of unfair trade. If I threaten you with a gun or punch you in the face and demand all your money, we don’t call this unfair trade. We call it robery. Or if I lie about the product I am trading with you we don’t call that unfair trade. We call it fraud. But again Fair Trade isn’t meant to be logically sound. It’s meant to convey a bigger idea. That there is something wrong with trade as it is. That there is something wrong with capitalism.

There are many other examples. But this is the genius of left wing marketing, they manage to use completely spurious statements to promote their ideas and beliefs. And people sign up to them. So how might libertarians do the same? First we need to stop being so intellectual. We need to begin thinking about very simple ideas that can convey our bigger beliefs. Like less government, less regulation, less tax, less war, more trade and more freedom. And we need to worry less about being logical and sound.

Here’s my example — “Real Trade”. It’s completely spurious, but that’s not the point… A Real Trade business is one that is purely privately owned and not subsidised by the State in any way. It’s not part of the ‘State Corporate Nexus’. We could give out emblems, even mugs and pens, to businesses that qualify and encourage people to interact with Real Trade businesses. And what are the bigger ideas that we aim to convey. Well we aim to imply that there is something wrong with businesses that are subsidised. They are profiteering at the tax payers expense. That the State shouldn’t be involved in Trade. And ultimately that the State is bad.

Now I’m not saying this is the best idea. But we need to start thinking along these lines. Because if we don’t left wing ideas are going to continue to dominate.

  11 comments for “The Left are Amazing at Marketing

  1. May 4, 2012 at 8:23 am

    The problem with Real Trade is that without an artificial price premium there is no garaunteed funding stream for a self-perpetuating brand to be marketed and bureaucractic Real Trade inspectors paid a salary. You would have to actually, you know, ask people for money rather than ramming inferior coffee down their necks and charging a premium for it.

  2. Paul Marks
    May 4, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Oh the wonderful tax money subsidies for art – without them we would not have a first rate opera company going round the country by train, giveing performances in town after town.

    Accept that this was before World War II – i.e. before tax money subsdies for art. Under the new, government dominated, system – this opera company was shut down.

  3. Tim Carpenter
    May 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Real trade.
    Not coerced
    Not stolen
    Not rigged
    But honest.

    Great points made, Rob.

  4. May 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Really enjoyed the talk last night.

    I think it speaks to a greater point that we seem to be on the defensive, and are believed to be defending the existing system – as if we are just Tories who want even lower taxes.

    We need positive messages, ones that show we want change, rather than just resisting the latest nonsense that statists dream up.

    Maybe it would work better if we could invent our own version of “climate change” that could push for reducing the state rather than growing it…

    • May 5, 2012 at 10:14 am

      That’s exactly what we need a catchy slogan that can carry our bigger ideas to a wider audience.

  5. May 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    How about “People power Markets” or “Profits feed people”.

    The larger concept to get across is that small automonous creative groups working for profit (companies, entrepreneurs) or not (charities and social groups) are a positive liberating thing of immense social value exactly becuase they channel rational creative effort in ways that allow for self-expression and which others by neccessity can also appreciate.

    • May 7, 2012 at 10:27 am

      “Profits Feed People” is to direct, to overt. “People Markets” however might work. You need something obscure that sounds positive to which you can attach any bigger ideas you like.

      • Tim Carpenter
        May 10, 2012 at 2:22 am

        Honest trade?

        V positive image. Honest is not specious like fair in “fair trade”, which has all te subjective bollocks the lest have hitched to the adjective.

        Honest is lawful, it is open, it is about mutual benefit.

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