'Near the beginning of the semester he invited all dozen or so of us accelerated students to his house for refreshments and a little "welcome to chemistry" speech, followed by a lengthy hi-fi rendition of recorded whale sounds. Judging from the perplexity on my classmates' faces, this was a brilliant pedagogical intervention, sending the message, "You are completely out of your depth." You don't know shit and you probably never will.' -Barbara Ehrenreich, Living with a Wild God

Layer By Layer

by Ethan Glover, Mon, Oct 26, 2015 - (Edited) Sun, Sep 10, 2017

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It doesn't matter how hard you try. No one can save humanity from itself. If everyone got together and decided upon a single course of action, it is a guarantee that things would go terribly off track. And yet, anyone can have a major effect on humanities ultimate fate.

We'll return to this illogical statement later.

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As someone who wishes to 'spread liberty' what are your methods and strategies? How do you get people to listen to and accept the ideas?

Let's assume for a moment that you're wrong. Libertarian anarchy is a terrible idea. It would lead to a violent, greedy, warlord-driven serfdom. For the sake of argument.

After all, let's be honest, you have no idea. There may be a few historical examples of the society you wish to see. But not in your culture, time, or place.

As praxeology teaches us, no two people are comparable. As Austrian Economics shows us, no economic system made by man is predictable. By your own philosophy, you can not compare the past to the present. Nor can you know the true effects of your society. Even after implementation. There are too many variables in the real world.

With this in mind, can you really tell a socialist that socialism has failed?

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This isn't an argument, it's a thought experiment. As you read the above question, and it's preceding logic, you may have thought of many objections. In fact, if you're well read on libertarian literature, it's a certainty.

If your objections began running through your mind before you had the full context of the point here (you still don't), you've missed something important.

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When we talk politics, there is a habit to use quick trivia based argumentation. As an example, it is a fact that jet fuel can't melt steel beams. It is also a fact that beams don't need to melt to bend or break from heat.

To quote "Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?"

"Most Holocaust deniers are very knowledgeable about very specific aspects of the Holocaust - a gas chamber door that cannot lock, the temperature at which Zyklon-B evaporates or the lack of a metal grid over the peephole on a gas chamber - so that anyone who is not versed in these specifics cannot properly question and answer their claims."

Knowledge, for a Holocaust denier, is self-defense for the ego. A denier is so unwilling to hear counter perspectives and evidence that they will spend hours or weeks digging deep for obscure details that most experts can't explain without serious analysis.

They set themselves up in a position of power over the logic of a conversation. As opposed to using their knowledge to teach, and even learn more. Or rather than seeking multi-discipline wisdom. Instead, they learn to feed their own egos.

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How, if I may be so bold, is this any different from what you do?

How often have you seen a libertarian, or anyone, refusing to understand the point another person has to make based on a logical error?

How often have you seen someone interrogating another to the point where they either have no more answers, or say something even little bit wrong, and get ordered to "learn economics?" By which the assailant means read "Human Action" and "Man, Economy, and Sate," which he himself has never done.

Libertarians are humans, we're all human. We would like to think we're perfect intellectually. But sadly, it will never be true. This is a difficult fact to come to terms with in the long term.

Accept it today and you'll be calling Donald Trump's fans retarded tomorrow. As if you weren't crazy about wild, unproven ideas yourself.

As Adam Smith puts it in "The Theory of Moral Sentiments,"

"It is so disagreeable to think ill of ourselves, that we often purposely turn away our view from those circumstances which might render that judgement unfavorable."

Communists and socialists may turn away from economic calculation. But libertarian anarchists may turn away from the fact that a crazy person with a gun is dangerous. Or that a private police agency can be successful and corrupt at the same time.

Of course, if you're a minarchist, don't get snooty. Remember, no one is immune from the points here. I just so happen to be speaking to those whom I agree with the most.

And if you feel like giving me the "answers" to psychos with guns and corrupt police, you're not paying attention. Again, a concentration on the trivia you think you can "beat," misses the point. Or rather, it proves the point.

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So where is this headed?

When you're looking to score points on another person, rather than having a discussion, you're not listening.

You won't make any progress if you don't understand who you're talking to. Not everyone thinks the same. You can't give everyone cookie cutter answers you saw on YouTube.

When you talk to a Democrat about the violence of the state or the thievery of taxes, they're not so stupid that they don't understand. But they might see you the same way you see Holocaust deniers.

They may see you as someone who has a barrage of quick facts and ready-made arguments but has no real understanding of the world around them.

You look like someone who has isolated themselves in an echo chamber. Ignoring reality. They see it every time you tell a stranger about the non-aggression principle and the Mises Institute. Such things are inappropriate language for the layman who is curious about your thoughts.

Returning to Adam Smiths, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments,"

"To see the emotions of their hearts, in every respect, beat time to his own, in the violent and disagreeable passions, constitutes his sole consolation. But he can only hope to obtain this by lowering his passion to that pitch, in which the spectators are capable of going along with him."

When someone is asking you questions, or arguing with you, it doesn't do anyone any good to "school them on liberty." That's not what it's about.

A conversation, even one anchored in debate, is about connection.

"He must flatten, if I may be allowed to say so, the sharpness of its natural tone, in order to reduce it to harmony and concord with the emotions of those who are about him."

When everyone is trying to 'win' an argument, everyone is losing. When someone disagrees with you, they don't need a "logical kick in the ass." They need harmony and understanding just as much as you do.

Libertarian anarchy doesn't need to win a war against other philosophies. It requires understanding and acceptance. Just as we anarchists need to understand and accept other ideals.

I don't say 'accepted' in the sense of accepting a monopoly. But 'accepted' in the sense that the current way of doing things is a viable option for some individuals.

Just as anarcho-capitalists must learn to live alongside anarcho-communists; they must learn to live alongside those who prefer an area with a "non-profit" monopoly on law.

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And so we're left with the original point.

If you wish to spread liberty, you can not just hand the ideas over in the form of what you call logic. You can, however, help people understand it on their terms. By understanding them, and learning from them, you can create the harmony that allows them to understand and learn from you.

You can make the idea of liberty an infection by tailoring the message to an individual's specific needs, wants and perspectives. But you have no real control over how it works from there.

You can understand a liberal's point of view that a competition for power restricts power. That doesn't mean you have to agree with it.

You can help someone understand you, but you can't make them, and you can't force them to agree.

No one person, or group of people, or one set of ideals, will ever determine the course of the future. To date, we still live in a universe created and populated by chaos.

While you might change a few minds, including your own, in the bigger picture, it's insignificant. No matter how big of a deal you are (or think you are), your ideas will never have a major, or minor impact.

You can, however, contribute to a small thread in an infinitely sized blanket. You can include yourself in the chaos. From there, it'll go in the direction it goes. No rhyme or reason, no real influences.

But so long as your ideas exist in the mix. So long as you immortalize them in the minds of others in a positive and well-understood way. You give them a chance to come alive when the time is right.


Libertarianism has an image problem. And there's a simple solution.