Conceptual accuracy will not persuade ostriches

Libertarianism is a set of accurate political ideas, and objectivism a set of compatible accurate philosophical ones. Like many I was drawn to both by the fact that they made sense and were consistent. Arguments for libertarianism, and austrian economics in particular, would use day to day examples of individual human decisions that I could relate to and use to build up a logical conceptual model of the world at large, and make predictions about that world. A lot of philosophy rejects this kind of jump from the real into the conceptual, but since I had somwhow already rejected the analytic synthetic dichotomy (even before I knew what it was) I very quickly knew I had found some real answers in libertarian ideas. Suddenly, I knew why the world is as messed up as it seems.

If those examples and those arguments were nonsensical or fanciful, or if they held between them logical inconsistencies then I would not have been persuaded by libertarian arguments just as I was not persuaded by 22 years of left-biased media and statist assumptions. Yet the road to libertarianism was a long one, nagging doubts and idle thoughts had to build up over time.

This journey-to-libertarianism isn’t uncommon, it tallies with the experiences of libertarians I have spoken to. What worries me is precisely that this gradual and lengthy process of being drawn into libertarianism is as common as it is, because it seems to me that the French and Greek voters are using a different process entirely.

Sam Bowman produces a graph of rising (real terms flat) spending and writes:

What European voters have rejected is the idea of austerity. The very suggestion that their governments should live within their means is, apparently, unacceptable to the majority of voters in France, Greece and, as seems likely, the Netherlands.

[…]

If these voters had been through years of hard cuts and belt-tightening, a backlash would be understandable. But these voters haven’t lived through that yet.

Libertarian have spent time, on this blog and others, thinking about how to trigger emotional reactions that lead to more rational thought. That cause people to stop and think, or to contemplate stronger memes hidden in slogans. That can help campaign against emotive thinking, or help to inform, and might lead to more rational longtermist voting, but if the reason for voting against auserity is because they don’t want to face up to the challenge then that is actually evasion – a desire to avoid thinking about the lack of money – and it’s not obvious to me what could be effective in the face of that.

Voters unwilling to vote with common sense when reality is biting them on the arse are not going to pause and comtemplate nagging theoretical inconsistencies. We need a better strategy.

13 Comments

  1. “modern democracies” believe they can vote themselves largesse from the treasury, who they then howl at to rob “the rich” and “banksterers” so as to replenish the honeypots.

    If we cannot use rational argument we might fall back on slogans and emotion but I think even good slogans will cause dissonance with their underlying delusions gleefully furnished by the Fabians et al.

    I wonder if it may be still worth approaching this by exposing the moral, ethical, intellectual, emotional bankruptcy of the “Fabian Covenant”.

    The problem is, once people are infantilised, taking away their feeding bottles and regular free sweeties will result in screaming ab-dabs and a long journey before they accept adulthood.

    Like

    Reply

  2. I am tempted (and will give in to temptation) to take some lines from a Hammer Horror film I can not even remember the title of.

    A man is arguing that his friend has not been turned into a vampire and does not need to be destroyed….

    “But I survived the vampire’s bite….”

    Someone with a lot of (terrible) experience replies.

    “Alas, he was not a man such as you…”

    Because you survived 22 years of intense brainwashing from collectivist education (and many private schools also teach collectivism) and the mainstream media, does not mean that most people do.

    True most people do not become zombies, “democratic citizens”, seeking to eat human flesh (the logical end of “social justice – fair shares for all”), but they do not escape unharmed either.

    When YOU hear reports of “savage cuts” your first thought is “I had better check to see if there really have been big government spending cuts”.

    Most people DO NOT THINK LIKE THAT.

    If they hear (again, again and again) that there have been vast government spending cuts they BELIEVE IT.

    And as the economy is collapasing around them, and they have been told (from childhood) that this is what “cuts” do…….

    Do you see?

    Their response of “voting against the cuts” is entirely rational – within the mental framework they are operating in. That framework is totally wrong – but THEY DO NOT KNOW THAT.

    A “better strategy” is indeed needed – and (alas) I do not have one to present to you (I am just a middle aged man off to work in a car park in a little while).

    However, things are not hopeless.

    Take the example of the American resistance.

    True the Tea Party movement has been smeared by the media (so that most people now have a negative opinion of it – a negative opinion based upon LIES, and I mean LIES not just “rather biased media reporting” for it has been a lot worse than that), but the resistance has not been without effect.

    “How can you say that Paul – Federal government spending has gone by 46% since 2006, and that was wartime and under the wild drunken sailor spending Bush….”

    I quite agree – but a lot of people KNOW that government spending is going up.

    How is that? After all Barack Obama (and the msm) constantly say that they are “cutting wasteful spending” (just as he says he has “cut taxes” and “got rid of red tape”, and defeated a Vogon invasion – O.K. I made the last one up).

    The point is why do so many Americans not believe these lies?

    It is not accident – and it is not because Americans have some sort of “resister gene” in their DNA.

    It is because of a lot of HARD WORK.

    Endless work on talk radio (yes the much despised Rush L. and Glenn Beck). And Fox News (and Fox Business) and the internet – the Druge Report, Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Britbart, and Human Events, and …….

    Certainly the left strike back – they try and convince people that Glenn Beck (and so on) are EVIL (“racists” and so on). And they have quite a lot of success – indeed most people most likely think that Tea Party Patriots (and so on) is “racist” (after all they are constantly told so).

    But do you spot the mistake?

    The left have chosen to play “the man not the ball”.

    So they have won – and they are LOSING.

    Most people think that Rush is a bigot, that Glenn Beck is a crazy racist, that the Tea Party movement want to eat babies…..

    AND that government spending is out of control and needs to be reduced.

    And it does have an effect.

    For example, the State of Florida (the fourth largest in the United States) is spending LESS money than it did in 2006 – a real cut.

    How can that be? After all Governor Rick Scott is HATED – the hatred being based on a tidal wave of vicious lies against him.

    But HE DOES NOT CARE.

    No more than Glenn Beck cares about being presented as “crazy” – indeed he PLAYS IT UP.

    “Look at me I am crazy man, by the way (while you are laughing at my crazy antics) I will just slip you these official numbers on government spending – odd that Barack Obama is contradicted by figures from his own government….”

    If we do not mind being presented as “crazy” or as “racists” or ….. (whatever) we can do a lot of good.

    People will watch and listen – first to laugh, but then…..

    Take what happened two days ago.

    A long term Republican Senator in Indiana (of the RINO – “work with the other party” sort) lost his Primary.

    How? After all the entire mainstream media supported him – and presented his opponent (Mr Mourdoch – in reality the State Treasurer of Indiana and a rather nice man) as a crazy monster from the hill country (not that there actually is any hill country in Indiana which is flat) married to his sister, and loyal to the Confederate flag (again Indiana not known for being part of the Confederacy).

    “But Paul he will lost the general election in November” – perhaps he will and perhaps he will not.

    After all Indiana should not have a balanced budget – but it does (inspite of the media and the education system).

    And Indiana should not have been to repass the Right To Work law (taking back government granted powers from the unions – the Indiania Right To Work law was repealed in 1965, but now it is back) – after all the media (and the education system) was against it (according to them limiting union power meant that employers would be allowed to whip the workers, rape their virgin daughters and…..).

    Look over the border in Wisconsin.

    Wisconsin is the home of the Progressive movement – since the time of Richard Ely (the mentor of BOTH “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson).

    Yet Governor Scott Walker (a college drop out with all the dynamic “sex appeal” of the average librarian) has defeated the left again and again.

    But not his own – with (as in Indiana and Florida) the help of a Republican State Legislature.

    But they are not on their own either.

    There is an ALTERNATIVE to the education system and the mainstream media.

    The things I have already mentioned.

    Internet sites.

    Talk radio – which reaches tens of millions of people.

    Neil Cavuto on Fox News and Fox Business.

    And on and on….

    Of course it may all fail in the end – and America may become like Cuba and North Koream, in a collectivist “world governance” of “international cooperation” (the dream of the international elite – including the academic elite, which is why it is absurd to try and have a “conversation” with them).

    But it is real fight – things might NOT go that way.

    “But Europe Paul, Europe….”

    Yes we do not have anti leftist television stations (not in most European nations) and radio stations, and we do not even have major pro freedom websites (not major if you measure the number of visits made to them).

    And that means we do not have free market books in British bookshops (or very few).

    How could there be – after all there are no people pushing free market books on radio and television.

    The point is simple.

    Find a way of reaching the people (far more people than we do) or die.

    Not a matter of a new message – there is naught wrong with the message (and certainly taking words from the left, such as “social justice” is the road to utter destruction), it is a matter of finding ways of getting a pro freedom message to far more people.

    Two things need to be done.

    Ways need to be found to counter the mainstream media – to offer real alternatives to the existing media (alternatives that actually reach people).

    And alternatives to the EDUCATION SYSTEM – for example private schools (and homeschooling) that does not concentrate on passing government examinations and getting people into government approved universities.

    “But all this is so hard Paul….”

    I did not say it was easy.

    But you are young people – with brains not messed up by decades of security guard work and car parking crap.

    I am about as young and fresh as Joe McCarthy in the 1950s (although I do not drink as much as him).

    You are not like me.

    Think of ways of dealing with the situation – of countering the media and the education system.

    Or die.

    It is up to you.

    Like

    Reply

    1. I believe people are smart, but these people are engaged in stupid behaviour. Probably they could understand, but how to present the arguments? Or do we write them off and focus on the people that vote (or would vote, here in the UK) more sensibly?

      Like

      Reply

      1. The problem is it is becoming an entrenched majority that have been and continue to be brainwashed.

        Add democracy and simmer.

        I am not defeatist, but the problem is immense. We can see how even suggesting we deal with the “democratic deficit” between voting power and tax burden creates all sorts of problems. That reminds me, I have a response to make elsewhere when I get time…

        Like

      2. Yes the problem is vast – and democracy (especially “representative” democracy) has terrible problems with it.

        Why do you think I smile (when I am not pouding my fist into the nearest wall) when someone uses the words “democracy” and “democratic citizen” as if they were holy words.

        Like

  3. People would accept the need for austerity if told the truth by all in the political spectrum. However when the political grouping not in power invariably lies and promises that cuts aren’t needed then it is in people’s nature is to believe the good news rather than the bad.

    Just as the current situation is the fault of mainstream politicians (using borrowed cash to buy votes and sinecure retirement jobs with crony corporations or state departments), so are they also the obstacle to its resolution.

    Like

    Reply

  4. It’s true the people have long been beguiled by socialistic ideas, and have had their Victorian common sense undermined. However, there is at least a grain of truth in the protestations against ‘austerity’.

    The case against austerity is; why should the ordinary people suffer all the cut-backs when the rich, who profited from the system get to keep their ill-gotten gains? Is it not the case, fellow Austrians, that the post-Gold Standard monetary system has robbed from the many and given to the few?

    Like

    Reply

    1. That governments bail out one group does not alter the fact that the government is over-spending.

      We should not conflate these two things, otherwise we end up bailing out one group and isolating another, leaving those in the middle as slaves paying for it all, a perverse blending of Morlock and Eloi, productive people slaving away only to be preyed upon.

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s