We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

I say let the Nazis speak. There is no evidence that the alt-right’s propagandists can turn impressionable YouTube viewers into deranged mass-shooters. We have little to fear from open debate. Let the Nazis preach white separatism and white supremacy. Let them deny the Holocaust. Let everybody see how full of shit they are. Let them openly sell a product nobody wants. These ideas have been around for decades, and few people are persuaded by them. There is significant reason to believe that Twilight Sparkle will prevail over the alt-right in the marketplace of ideas.

Daniel Friedman

76 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Julie near Chicago

    Never heard of “Twilight Sparkle.”

    https://discordbots.org/bot/twilight

    But I’ve known Double-Bubble Pink ever since, roughly, 1950. The Young Miss is anti-pink, possibly because D-B Pink exists. It really is sort of a ghastly color.

    PS. It’s not the alt-Right that brings out in me the urge to shoot all the faces in sight.

  • Lee Moore

    The danger of letting the Nazis speak is that it may then be discovered that what they have to say is rather different from what is said by Thatcher, Reagan, Bush, Trump, Farage, Boris etc and that consequently the latter may not be Nazis.

    This would be a Bad Thing and History might come to a full stop.

  • bob sykes

    The alt-right, the white nationalists, those are the good guys.

    Conservatives and libertarians, the globohomo elites are the bad guys.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Why Lee, what a thoughtful, clear-sighted comment! I do think you may have something there. 😆

  • No bob, you lot are the bad guys, which is why it is nice to let you speak so you can let everyone know who you are. And like Lee Moore astutely points out, by your own words, you can make it clear what sets you apart from the people the Left call Nazis. For extra points, the eerie overlap with the Greens is nice to point out.

  • neonsnake

    It’s not the alt-Right that brings out in me the urge to shoot all the faces in sight.

    Both extreme ends of the spectrum bring me out in hives, as it distorts the discourse so very much.

    Mildly trivial example, but there’s a video game coming out next year which I’ve been following the development of (yeah, yeah, I’m a nerd), set 50-odd years from now. In a promo video, someone spotted a poster of a sexualised pre-op trans-woman.

    The louder ends of both spectrums lost their minds – one end saying that the company is pandering to SJWs by including trans people, and the other end accusing the company of transphobia by including it.

    Somewhere in the middle there are a bunch of trans-people going “wait? What? We’re actually being represented?? Great! Thank you so much!” and a bunch of non-trans going “what’s the problem?” – but I’ve no real way of being able to gauge the percentages.

    The game also includes a gang (only one gang of very many), some of whom are Haitian, who your character mows down in the demo. Predictably, some people lost their minds over the implied racism (ignoring the hordes of white people you’ve also killed).

    Again, there’s evidence of actual Haitians being absolutely delighted that a video game has actual Haitian people in it.

    The creator (a black man) eventually lost his own mind and is on record as being sick of well-meaning white people telling him (and other black people) what he should be offended by.

    What a time to be alive…

  • P. George Stewart

    That’s not how that thing works, you’re supposed to say, “Let things compete in the free market of ideas – who knows, the other fellow may be right!”

  • One can always try learning from experience. 🙂

    In the UK before WWII, one could speak as freely about ‘the Jews’ as about the overlapping ‘Elders of Vickers’ theories that British intellectuals so much liked. After 1933, there were mild social pressures. “The Jew joke disappeared as if by magic from the music halls” (Orwell), though I think that was first and foremost less from any political pressure than from the comics’ realisation that it would – for obvious reasons – no longer be sure of getting a laugh. In the most po-faced quarters it became ‘rude’ to write Jew instead of Hebrew in print, though – as with much of English polite diction in those years – that did not apply nearly so much to speech. See for example the original printing of T.S. Eliots’ well-written but ever-so-proper compilation of Kipling’s verse soon after his death in 1936, in which two words used in rhymes – ‘whore’ and ‘Jew’ – are replaced with ‘and etc.’ (even though the latter poem has, if anything, an anti-antisemitic intent).

    As I mentioned in passing (yet again 🙂 ) recently, free speech was astonishingly respected in the UK even during the war itself.

    The legal situation in pre-1933 Germany was much more like our modern ‘hate speech law’ state. The following are excerpts from the start of ‘Antisemitism and the law in pre-Nazi Germany’, by Ambrose Doskow and Sidney B. Jacoby, published in late 1939.

    During the period in which they [the Nazis] carried on their successful crusade to make anti-Semitism a basic state policy, the German … Criminal Code provided punishment for defamation, incitement to class violence and insults to religious communities. There was also a large Jewish organization which maintained legal offices throughout the country for the purpose of instituting prosecutions to vindicate the legal rights of Jews. … In a public square in Berlin stands a statue of Theodor Fritsch, a violently anti-Semitic newspaper editor who died shortly before Hitler achieved power. This posthumous hero was a persistent law-breaker. By 1926, he had been convicted at least thirty-three times … Such Nazi leaders as Joseph Goebbels, Julius Streicher, Karl Holz and Robert Ley, as well as hundreds of other Nazi agitators of the 1920’s, were also found guilty on numerous occasions …

    This study is intended simply as an account of the German experience with legal proceedings against anti-Semitic agitators. It does not attempt to answer the basic question whether legal prosecution can ever halt or slacken a political movement that utilizes racial hatred and abuse. … It proceeds simply upon the assumption that attempts to answer that question … should not ignore the experience of this outstanding failure.

    Ignoring experience, the better to cling to theory, is the essence of the left (as I’ve may have remarked before 🙂 ) , though they are always willing to ‘learn’ that a failed policy just wasn’t enforced vigorously enough. The German punishments (maximum sentences of 1, 2 or 3 years depending on which law applied) seem comparable to ours, though IIRC our maximum for mere words is 5 years. But of course, only persistent offenders tend to get the maximum sentence both then and now. The authors’ end their article thus:

    It is impossible to appraise with accuracy the part that was played by … the political traditions and popular sentiment which in any democratic state set definite limits upon the severity of both laws and punishment.

    This last of course is the greatest difference between the way Hitler enforced his hate speech laws and the way Weimar Germany enforced theirs. It is, I feel, only too possible to appraise what part would be played by a campaign to free the UK’s hate speech laws from the above restraints.

  • bobby b

    1977 – National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977)

    2019 – Access to top two forms of international social media blocked for calling Bruce Jenner “Bruce Jenner.”

    I used to be proud of the USA. Now I’m mostly proud of the potential return of the USA.

  • pete

    Letting people say and do what they like would deprive many ‘liberals’ of a wage in the regulatory industry, and would deprive many more of the opportunity to be outraged and offended while they virtue signal.

    So it can’t be allowed.

  • Mr Ecks

    This Friedmann turd is full of it if he thinks Molyneux is any sort of Nazi.

    “Let the Alt Right” speak–well that is mighty white of the arrogant cunt.

    Time the Big Tech leftists were smashed. And time that the arrogant sanctimony of socialism–a cult with 150 million murders on its hands was exposed as well.

  • Itellyounothing

    Whilst agreeing with the sentiment, I can’t see what is left to expose.

    The murders are widespread public knowledge.

    The Hitler was a National SOCIALIST thing is known.

    But some Communism and Socialism keep ducking their share of blame as part of the extended family of National / International Socialist mass murder enthusiasts.

    Karma Houdinis.

  • CaptDMO

    From the U.S.-
    I’m so old, I remember ten years ago, when “alt-right” was the remainders of the I.R.S. burned [(eg)Lois Learner] Tea Party, and ancillaries, seeking to oust the RINO/ GOPe(establishment) sect from the American Legislative Branch uniparty.
    Only after the usual vapid accusations of “NAZI/racist/homophobic” were slung by progressive agents provocateur did the American Nationalists (similar to Chauvinist), begin to “self identify”, as they too had no other options.
    Once the heavy lifting momentum picked up, post-Klan White supremacists (IMHO of the 100 IQ range), followed closely by neo-American NAZI “party” (think prison protection “convert” swastika tattoos- with NO pretense of Socialism) usurped (co-opted) their place in the “meme”. Subsequently, dictionaryless Beta progressives, the particularly gullible “Ellen Jamesian” (The World According To Garp)feminists, and intersectionaloppression Olympics contenders of ANY desperate credentials, painted the meme on MOST of their critics for the ageless Sophomores of high school/undergrad/ sensationalist social media – to consume.
    I’d LIKE to say that the closest to original, unadulterated, alt-right folk are (L)libertarians as
    a PoliSci sect, but the folks congregating at at (eg) “Reason”(dot com) have ruined THAT for me.

  • neonsnake

    The Nazi’s we’re about as socialist as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is Democratic, or that sweet and sour chicken balls are made out of chicken’s…well, you get the idea.

  • Itellyounothing

    Yet their methods were identical.

    High tax. No guns for ordinary folk. Lots of regulation. No freedom of speech. No freedom of assembly. Hatred of competing belief systems. Official victim class, official guilty class. Lots of murder. Invading other countries to impose their system.

    Socialist apologists find it convenient to separate them.

    I can’t see them both as anything other than fruit of the Marxist tree.

  • CaptDMO

    Julie near Chicago
    Never heard of “Twilight Sparkle.
    Me either, ’til I linked. THIS is what immediately came to mind.
    (If you’re REALLY bored-) see: Sparkle Sunshine club. South Park, “The Stick of Truth”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbePGUOGdz4
    I’ll avoid the “official” South Park, data mining site.

  • llamas

    Absolutely, what Lee Moore says. If you suppress ‘alt-right’ speech (whatever that is) on the grounds that it is too horrible to be allowed, then the field is clear to accuse anyone you like of being ‘alt-right’ – since nobody can know what it actually means. It’s a classic dialectical trick.

    Let them post whatever they like. Hell, give them their own free channel, with unlimited bandwidth and free video production facilities. Most of these mopes, seen in the clear light of day, wouldn’t make a pimple on a real Nazi’s ass (to steal a line from elsewhere) and would rapidly degenerate into being figures of fun. When you find out that the Grand Imperial Wizard of the Invisible Empire is actually a thrice-divorced carpet salesman living in a broken-down double-wide in Yazoo City, who can count his teeth on the fingers of both hands and have fingers left over, the KKK stops being a credible threat and instead becomes an Internet joke. As for the real Nazis, publicize them to the rafters – everybody needs to know exactly how vile and dangerous they can be. But also how completely outside any part of the main stream they are.

    Think ‘Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?’, the theatre scene. ‘These boys is MISSEGENATIN’! They disrupted our Sacred Observances!’

    Or Google ‘Superman against the Klan’ to see what I mean.

    Most people, in truth, know that virtually-all accusations of ‘white supremacist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, patriarchal (de-dah,de-dah,de-dah, recite Woke Phrasebook here)’ are nothing more than virtue-signaling and dog-whistling between various cadres of the extreme far left.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Sam

    MOAR RADICAL

    There is no evidence that the alt-right’s propagandists can turn impressionable YouTube viewers into deranged mass-shooters.

    So what if there was correlation? What wouldn’t be eligible for banning on the basis of people being too weak minded for their own good?

    We have little to fear from open debate.

    We have nothing to fear from words.

    These ideas have been around for decades, and few people are persuaded by them.

    Lefties project, right? They see how powerfully persuasive their own unfettered free speech has been in convincing, well, not lots of people but lots of powerful people, despite knowing deep down their own ugly nature and how their entire ideology is based on hokum. So of course they would be terrified of someone else emulating that success. In their minds they’ve managed to convince large swathes of elite world citizens that a historically murderous and broken semi-religious ideology is righteous, so what’s stopping Nazi’s from doing the same?

  • Pat

    But if the white supremacists, alt-right, whatever were allowed to speak it would be impossible to fool people into thinking that Samizdata is white supremacist or alt right.
    The object is not so much to ban those banned as to enable demonisation of all ideas other than those of those doing the banning.

  • neonsnake

    Socialist apologists find it convenient to separate them.

    I find it convenient to separate them, because they’re two different things, not because I’m a socialist apologist. The only things incorrect in my previous statement were a couple of misplaced apostrophes due to autocorrect.

    Hitler did not advocate for the workers to seize the means of production, nor did he attempt to espouse a “from each according to…etc” philosophy. He was NOT a Socialist.

    Nazi Germany was a corporatist state.

    Fascism and Socialism are not the same thing, but they are both wrongheaded. There are many ways of running countries that are evil and wrongheaded, and lead to bad outcomes, and not all of them share all of the same characteristics.

    One of the characteristics they all share is authoritarianism, but that can manifest itself on both ends of the left-right spectrum.

    All the examples you used sit on the north end of the authoritarian-libertarian spectrum, and can apply equally to the left or the right.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Hitler did not advocate for the workers to seize the means of production,”

    Neither did Stalin. Neither did the Labour Party in the UK, when they were in power.

    Communism is the workers taking control of the means of production. Socialism was defined as the intermediate stage on the way to communism, which is that the state takes control of the means of production on behalf of the people.

    Socialists also oppose profit from interest on loans and investment (i.e. capital). They support profit-sharing with the workers. They support small businesses over large ones. They support state welfare – education, pensions, maternity leave, health care, etc. Their slogan is ‘The common interest before individual interests’ – the needs and rights of individuals are subordinated to the state in the interests of the community.

    “10. The first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically. No individual shall do any work that offends against the interest of the community to the benefit of all.

    Therefore we demand:

    11. That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.

    12. Since every war imposes on the people fearful sacrifices in blood and treasure, all personal profit arising from the war must be regarded as treason to the people. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

    13. We demand the nationalization of all trusts.

    14. We demand profit-sharing in large industries.

    15. We demand a generous increase in old-age pensions.

    16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle-class, the immediate communalization of large stores which will be rented cheaply to small tradespeople, and the strongest consideration must be given to ensure that small traders shall deliver the supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities.

    17. We demand an agrarian reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.

    18. We demand that ruthless war be waged against those who work to the injury of the common welfare. Traitors, usurers, profiteers, etc., are to be punished with death, regardless of creed or race.

    19. We demand that Roman law, which serves a materialist ordering of the world, be replaced by German common law.

    20. In order to make it possible for every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education, and thus the opportunity to reach into positions of leadership, the State must assume the responsibility of organizing thoroughly the entire cultural system of the people. The curricula of all educational establishments shall be adapted to practical life. The conception of the State Idea (science of citizenship) must be taught in the schools from the very beginning. We demand that specially talented children of poor parents, whatever their station or occupation, be educated at the expense of the State.

    21. The State has the duty to help raise the standard of national health by providing maternity welfare centers, by prohibiting juvenile labor, by increasing physical fitness through the introduction of compulsory games and gymnastics, and by the greatest possible encouragement of associations concerned with the physical education of the young.”

    The National Socialists certainly regarded themselves as socialist and left-wing, but contrasted themselves with international/Marxist communists in that their primary interest was the workers of their own country, not all workers everywhere, and they felt that dissolving all private property led to class conflict. They regarded socialism not as an intermediate stage on the way to full communism, but as an end in itself. Built as it was on nationality and race, it made sense that it be organised and governed at the state level. It incorporated the collectivist and ‘common interests of the common people’ aspects of socialism, and opposed individual interests, private capital, private profit, etc.

    “Socialism as the final concept of duty, the ethical duty of work, not just for oneself but also for one’s fellow man’s sake, and above all the principle: Common good before own good, a struggle against all parasitism and especially against easy and unearned income. And we were aware that in this fight we can rely on no one but our own people. We are convinced that socialism in the right sense will only be possible in nations and races that are Aryan, and there in the first place we hope for our own people and are convinced that socialism is inseparable from nationalism.”

    …and later…

    “Socialism is the science of dealing with the common weal. Communism is not Socialism. Marxism is not Socialism. The Marxians have stolen the term and confused its meaning. I shall take Socialism away from the Socialists. Socialism is an ancient Aryan, Germanic institution. Our German ancestors held certain lands in common. They cultivated the idea of the common weal. Marxism has no right to disguise itself as socialism. Socialism, unlike Marxism, does not repudiate private property. Unlike Marxism, it involves no negation of personality, and unlike Marxism, it is patriotic. We might have called ourselves the Liberal Party. We chose to call ourselves the National Socialists. We are not internationalists. Our socialism is national. We demand the fulfilment of the just claims of the productive classes by the state on the basis of race solidarity. To us state and race are one.”

    Political movements mutate over time – and socialism/communism has been spectacular in it’s ability to schism into thousands of tiny warring factions. It’s a very fuzzy concept.

  • I’m aware of the final two quotes, Nullius, if not the previous 10-21, and I’m sick and tired of trying to explain that today’s “socialist” is not a Nazi or a Communist.

    They just want people to have a safety net.
    I don’t see why that’s so difficult to understand.

  • neonsnake

    I mean, for fuck’s sake, we quote Orwell like he’s Right-wing.

    Have we actually read Orwell? Down And Out In Paris And London? The Road To Wigan Pier?

    Seriously? No. We haven’t. “We” meaning “you”, because I have.

    Socialists are NOT evil.

    I don’t know how much clearer I can make it than that.

    If you want to insist that they are, then, ok. You’ve lost. You’re a loser. You’ll never win a cultural war against people who aren’t evil. You’ll lose against people who are wrong. And they are two different things.

    I want to win. I want to win against people who are morally right, but economically wrong.

    You, you want to lose against people who are economically wrong, but morally right because you can’t be arsed to explain the economics.

  • Sam

    Every Western nation has a safety net.
    I don’t see why that’s so difficult for today’s socialists to understand.

    …yet they keep pushing for more and more state intervention and ownership, almost like it won’t be enough until the state owns the means of production, etc etc etc…

  • The Nazis we’re about as socialist as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is Democratic, (neonsnake, June 27, 2019 at 12:42 pm)

    The Nazis were very much more socialist than that. You can challenge how ‘perfectly’ they were Nationalists – I quote a little of Hannah Arendt’s argument against regarding them simply as nationalists here. And of course, the people who admired Venezuela till recently and now say it was not ‘real’ socialism will say – and every bit as plausibly – that the Nazis were not real socialists either. But in real-world terms they had every right to call themselves socialists.

    Where the communists’ style was to kill factory owners and appoint party bureaucrats to run the factories, the Nazis’ socialism towards factory owners was more Labour-style (but faster) – regulate until factory owners are de facto state employees, plus quietly dispossess all holders of significant savings (if they’re not your cronies) through massive state control. They won their elections by focussing on financiers as the people who would get the communist-style treatment. They united their socialism with their nationalism by claiming that financiers were Jews or hangers-on of Jews, and Jews were financiers or hangers-on of financiers.

  • Eric

    Political movements mutate over time – and socialism/communism has been spectacular in it’s ability to schism into thousands of tiny warring factions.

    Well, so far all the attempts at socialism were by the Judean People’s Front instead of the more practical (though not yet tried) People’s Front of Judea.

  • neonsnake

    The Nazis were very much more socialist than that

    Sure they were.

    This is why you’re losing, this utter misunderstanding of what people actually think.

    Good god’s, do you genuinely not understand this??

  • Sam

    So you think there’s zero, or less than zero, utility in pointing out ideological similarities with murderous regimes of yore?

    For example, if I declare myself a “free-marketeer” and then an opponent demands I answer for the African slave trade – since it was a market after all – I’m forced to address the comparison, draw distinctions, condemn the disgusting bits and explain how they would not occur were my policy preferences enacted.

    Fair’s fair for the fucking troglodyte collectivists.

  • neonsnake

    So you think there’s zero, or less than zero, utility in pointing out ideological similarities with murderous regimes of yore?

    Without qualification?

    Thank god. Someone gets it.

  • bobby b

    Seems like y’all had better start defining your terms more exactly.

    “Socialism” covers a lot of ground.

  • The Nazi’s we’re about as socialist as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is Democratic

    That is only true if you think socialist = marxist. But it doesn’t.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m aware of the final two quotes, Nullius, if not the previous 10-21, and I’m sick and tired of trying to explain that today’s “socialist” is not a Nazi or a Communist.”

    True. Today’s “left wing” is not the same as yesterday’s “left wing”, or the “left wing” in Robespierre’s French revolutionary ‘Committee for Public Safety’, where the term originated. Policies swap sides, so there’s no clear and stable definition of what’s ‘left’ and ‘right’.

    “They just want people to have a safety net. I don’t see why that’s so difficult to understand.”

    Everyone wants a safety net. The difference is that socialists think that somebody else should pay for it.

    Most socialists are not deep thinkers. They don’t think about the consequences of their means. They wat everyone to have a safety net. That takes lots of money. The rich have lots of money. Let’s take money from the rich to provide everyone with a safety net.

    It’s legalising theft. And it has consequences, that socialists don’t think through. If you take rich people’s money, they stop working. The economy stops. Everyone gets poor, and starves. We need to make the rich work. So we have to re-introduce slavery. We introduce laws to make the skilled work for nothing in order to support the poor, which is suddenly nearly everyone. Socialists are oblivious and nearly clueless as to what just happened to their economy. And they have a fairly ‘direct’ approach to solving their problems, which is that if suddenly the engines of civilisation stop, because we’ve just redirected all the fuel that keeps it going, we can just use force to make people contribute.

    “Sure they were. This is why you’re losing, this utter misunderstanding of what people actually think.”

    I think a lot of it is a misunderstanding of the Nazis. It has become such a byword for evil today, with hindsight, in combination with the general ignorance about what their policies actually were (besides the bit about Jews, which everyone harps on endlessly about), that I think people fail to understand its popular appeal.

    Nazism is intuitively appealing. The Germans who fell for it were not stupid, or uncivilised, or particularly evil. They did not sit in their secret underground volcano lair, stroking a white cat, and planning out how to be more evil today. They were well-intentioned people with a bunch of ill-thought-out ideas that when pursued to their logical conclusion eventually resulted in actions that – when looked at by independent observers without the foregoing context – were clearly evil. But that wasn’t the intention. Evil people generally think of themselves as good.

    It’s the same with socialism today. It’s all based on sweet and generous intentions, but because they always come unstuck when it comes to answering who is going to pay for it all, and what the economic implications of that will be, the consequences for society of giving them power are always dire.

    Yes, the National Socialists were a variety of Socialist. (Like Catholics and Protestants are both ‘Christian’.) They were also, in the main, well-intentioned people who wanted (among other things) a national safety net. We have been very successful at demonising the Nazis, and making sure everyone hates them, but we have been very bad at explaining precisely why.

    “For example, if I declare myself a “free-marketeer” and then an opponent demands I answer for the African slave trade”

    That’s easy. The free market is based on the Harm Principle – society has no business regulating trade except to prevent unconsented harm to others, including abridgement of their freedoms. The slave trade harms the freedom of slaves. The same would apply to professional assassins. ‘Free trade’ doesn’t mean ‘anything goes’.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    neonsnake “there’s a video game coming out next year” — I am following that game closely, too. It seems to be winding up all the right people and the makers don’t seem to care. Should be a good one, I think!

  • neonsnake

    Seems like y’all had better start defining your terms more exactly.

    “Socialism” covers a lot of ground.

    and

    That is only true if you think socialist = marxist. But it doesn’t.

    Wise words from both.

    I’m defining socialism, in this instance, to include things like Trade Unions, egalitarianism, workers’ rights – all of which were absent, except for the racially pure. Whilst they had welfare, it excluded many people – non-Aryans obviously, but also the disabled and workshy.

    The bits it has in common with socialism (and there were) are more properly understood as totalitarian – of course, totalitarian socialism is hardly unknown! – but are not inherently socialist.

    It has less in common with socialism than it shared – Nazism is it’s own thing, not even properly fascist, although mapping most closely to it.

    Other than a factual basis, I also think it’s just dangerous to start applying “Nazi” to anyone. It’s far too flippantly tossed around by the left, and drives me up the wall. I have the same stance when applied by the right. It’s a surefire way of losing an argument and driving away someone that you should be trying to win over.

    And it has consequences, that socialists don’t think through

    Thoroughly agreed. My stress has always been on the “don’t think through” part of what you say; I see our short-term tactical goal as helping them to think it through, without alienating those who entire reason for being socialist is that they think extremely poor people have a rough time. I think (or maybe just hope) that those I’ve just described are in the majority (I’m obviously excluding the hardcore nutcases like Corbyn etc from those I’ve just described – I would think that they have thought it through, and decided that they’re ok with the consequences)

  • neonsnake

    I am following that game closely, too. It seems to be winding up all the right people and the makers don’t seem to care. Should be a good one, I think!

    Agreed, I haven’t been this excited about a game for some time (I played the pen and paper version back in the day, and the genre itself rubs me in the all the right anti-authoritarian/anti-corporatism places).

    The thing that alternately amuses/depresses me is that it arguably really shouldn’t be winding people up. I really don’t understand why – I mean, which box doesn’t it tick? The genre itself practically demands it, and as best I can tell, CDPR have done a great job on “representation” (in a good way, although the term is often used negatively).

    As much as idealogically I believe that people should have the right to complain and air their views – gods, sometimes I wish the “hearts emblazoned on sleeves” crowd would shut up…

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m defining socialism, in this instance, to include things like Trade Unions, egalitarianism, workers’ rights – all of which were absent, except for the racially pure.”

    Nationalism *is* a trade union.

  • Itellyounothing

    Socialism, all varieties, should be vilified. Not for its goal, but for the actual results. Nazis are already there, the idea that the other variants are just as murderous is not that difficult a case to make.

    I’d love to use reason to achieve this goal, but we are 30 years on from the fall of the USSR and Marxists are literally sweeping the field. They’ve got control over pretty much all the institutions free trade, free speech, free association and all the rest rely on and are grinding our freedoms into the dust.

    Unless Libertarians are willing to defend and successfully convert more people into Libertarians, we will remain irrelevant…..

  • neonsnake

    Not for its goal, but for the actual results. Nazis are already there, the idea that the other variants are just as murderous is not that difficult a case to make.

    I agree – but tactically, as much as anything, I think it’s a mistake to use Nazism.

    When we say “Nazi” (no matter their actual policies), it’s nigh-on impossible to invoke anything other than jack-booted thugs, Aryan Nationalism, and the Holocaust; and most right-minded people will take enormous offence, and stop listening. That girl who was screaming “Nazi” at the guy in the Maga hat a few weeks ago is probably a good example from “the other side”. I think it’s one of those things that requires so much “let me explain” that I don’t think it’s worth it, and probably achieves the opposite of what it intends.

    If someone calls me a Nazi for being, what, pro-free market and free speech, I’m going to immediately make a whole load of assumptions that they will have to work very hard to undo. I might be irrational to do that, but it’s the truth.

    Further – we have no need to invoke Nazism or Hitler, with the all bad associations that goes along with it.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your “for the actual results” – and we have plenty of examples already – the USSR and Eastern Europe, Cuba, Venezuela – or for softer examples including reform, Sweden pre-1990s; and I’m sure others can add to the list.

    Unless Libertarians are willing to defend and successfully convert more people into Libertarians, we will remain irrelevant…..

    Again, I agree – we might just disagree on the tactics.

    I favour pointing out that most people (not all) have the same underlying aims – which I’ll broadly state as moving towards a world where everyone has equality of opportunity, knowing that it’s an incomplete and imperfect statement that can be picked apart by a motivated arguer – but that socialism is the wrong way to go about it.

    In my personal experience, this works better.

  • Paul Marks

    According the Silicon Valley Cartel (Google and so on) anyone who is not a supporter of the “Social Justice” Agenda is a “Nazi”.

    What about Jewish Conservatives and Libertarians? Yes they are “Nazis” because Google says so – and the financial industry agrees.

    They must be CENSORED and they must be denied banking services, and they must be denied any payment services at all (at the same time that society is made “cashless” by order of governments and Mastercard).

    Anyone who is against ever bigger government is a “Nazi”, and anyone who points out that the Nazis themselves were actually in favour of ever bigger government and “Social Justice” is a DOUBLE Nazi who must be utterly destroyed.

    Funnily enough actual Nazis are people the Silicon Valley Cartel and so on find quite useful – to discredit all dissent with.

    It is Conservatives and Libertarians that the Silicon Valley (and so on) wish to label as Nazis and censor – and the financial industry (and the rest of “Woke” Big Business) agrees.

    Anyone who is against ever bigger government must be labelled a Nazi and destroyed – censored, denied employment, denied payment services, and on and on…….

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Itellyounothing posited: “Unless Libertarians are willing to defend and successfully convert more people into Libertarians, we will remain irrelevant…..”

    Maybe Libertarians need to refine their beliefs, so that they are based on reality and are more persuasive.

    We human beings are social animals, and our lives depend on specialization & interdependence. The man who knows how to grow food does not know how to manufacture a tractor, and the man who knows how to make a tractor does not know how to mine iron ore. Maybe I have had some unfortunate experiences, but some people who call themselves Libertarians seem to base their views on an entirely unrealistic individualistic model which ignores that human beings can survive only as part of a broader society.

    Maybe “Limited Government” would be a more accurate name for what real Libertarians are trying to achieve?

  • Sam

    Gavin,

    Humans are social animals, right?

    They have competing interests, right?

    They need a way to settle these differences, right?

    Optimally they don’t kill or hurt each other while going about the messy process of settling those differences, right?

    If you answered “yes” to all the above congrats, you’re something like 80% of the way towards understanding libertarian views. You’ll notice that human interdependence is the starting point, not something to be ignored.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Sam: “You’ll notice that human interdependence is the starting point, not something to be ignored.”

    Exactly, Sam! That is exactly right! Unfortunately, a noticeable percentage of the small number of people who call themselves “Libertarian” don’t think like you. I wish you every success in selling that message to other libertarians. Maybe once the fundamental tenets of Libertarianism have first been properly expounded and then conveyed to the bulk of the population, the number of people who support what we now call “Libertarianism” will grow.

    Notice that you began by emphasizing “competing interests”. But how do the interests of the farmer compete with the interests of the miner or the steel-worker? Unless they all work together, they all starve. Our lives depend on specialization, and specialization requires cooperation. By emphasizing individualistic competing interests, we risk wandering into the world of theory and losing credibility with the target audience of those who might otherwise be brought round to our point of view.

  • bobby b

    “But how do the interests of the farmer compete with the interests of the miner or the steel-worker? Unless they all work together, they all starve.”

    I know a lot of farmers, across the middle USA states, from Canada to Mexico.

    Generally, they are as strongly libertarian as many on this site. They will resoundingly answer “yes!” to all of Sam’s propounded questions. Liberty without harm might as well be their credo. Picture a Gadsden flag with a smile.

    They completely understand that a huge machine is composed of specialized parts, and that a functioning society needs many different skills and interests and systems. These people compose the libertarian base of the USA. There’s no go-it-alone mountain-man credo amongst these people – they want to work together with like-minded people.

    But you’d better not use the word “libertarian” in your conversations with them. The American Libertarian party has so totally devalued the “l” word that you might as well be calling them commie hippies, and accusing them of only caring about “free drugs for all!” Legalizing drugs is the only issue with which the American public identifies Libertarians.

    So, the faux Libertarians have stolen libertarianism from us here. I end up assuring people that they are firm believers in one of the many sects of sort-of-conservatism, but I cannot name it for them, because then they’ll scatter.

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby,

    The American Libertarian party has so totally devalued the “l” word that you might as well be calling them commie hippies, and accusing them of only caring about “free drugs for all!”

    As we all know, Miss R. called them “hippies of the right.”

    The reported carrying-on at the LP’s last “nominating convention” didn’t help any.

    And many people think that libertarianism is about the individual, alone and on his own, and the hell with everybody else — in other words, completely amoral and with no need of anything from anyone else.

    They also think that libertarianism => anarchism, and that anarchy = violent chaos.

    (If you take the system of nation-states as an example of anarchy, it might be interesting to consider it as a situation in which there is sometimes an agreement on common interests, sometimes argument about common interests, sometimes a recognition of and coöperation toward the achievement of common interests, and the occasional outbreak of gang warfare.)

  • Gavin Longmuir

    bobby b: “But you’d better not use the word “libertarian” in your conversations with them.”

    I know what you mean! Sometimes, rebranding is a smart step. Limited Government? Constrained Government? Constitutional Government?

  • Itellyounothing

    All too long and not catchy enough in the brain.

    Progressives will steal and repurpose it if not carefully chosen.

    Shame Freedom has been so abused.

    Citizens’ Choice – as is citizens get the freedom to choose

    Free Will – leads to Free-Willism and Free-Willist. Bill Clinton could mascot? Or Will Smith.

    Accord – gives us Accordism.

    Volition – gives us Volitionist which neatly harks to my next suggestion.

    Abolition – gives us Abolitionist as in Abolition of excessive government…… Steal a trick and repurpose a popular option.

  • Itellyounothing

    Feel free to shoot these down and no offence was intended to the constitutionalist options.

  • neonsnake

    Abolition – gives us Abolitionist as in Abolition of excessive government…… Steal a trick and repurpose a popular option.

    I love it! Other than the tactical genius of it, it also has elements of genuine truth to it – whilst we have disagreements over the details, would to not be true to say that all of us, in our own way, are attempting to abolish governmental (and societal) constraints on our freedom?

    @Gavin, Julie, bobby b – hear me out – I find it very interesting, that if I’m reading you all right, your concern is that the Right think that Libertarianism is too “leftie”? I’m looking at “hippies”, “free drugs”, and so on and so forth and making some assumptions – correct me if I’m wrong!

    I actually have the opposite viewpoint, over here in the UK. Now, I live in London, so my experience might not match everyone in the UK.

    How to explain?

    In some ways, I’m probably a “metropolitan elite”. I’m dating a South American woman, I live and work in London, my taste in music, culture etc, my shopping habits, my education, the food I cook, my esoteric philosophy, blah blah.

    On the other hand…well, my accent. There’s no getting away from it, I’m no Orwell. I sound like a mix of Jason Statham and Dick Van Dyke. Going back to my taste in music – I#’m not a fan of Coldplay, I love the Sex Pistols and The Clash and NWA and Public Enemy.

    I find it trivially easy to convert the left to libertarianism, by focusing on “liberty”. I have *ahem* certain characteristics which the authoritarian right do not approve of. I find it very easy to drag people from the left down to the south of the Nolan chart, but not the right.

    I find it much more difficult to pull the right-wing authoritarian towards “liberty”, and it makes me frustrated and angry. In the UK at least, I am judged on characteristics, not behaviour. To me, that’s not liberty. That’s liberty, only if you follow our rules.

    So, my stance would be – focus on the liberty aspect of libertarianism. Focus on “you can live whatever life you want, because living your own life, by your own values, is inherently better than living by someone else’s rules and we support that”. I don’t know if libertarianism supports that philosophy or not. Sometimes it feels like it does, often it feels like it doesn’t.

    Also @Gavin: Snorri Ghodi and I are having a separate (and likely off-topic) conversation about our private philosophies, which may come across as overly individualistic. I hope it’s ok that we’re doing so, but I wonder if by doing so, we’re the guys that you mean by “emphasizing individualistic competing interests” (I’m conscious as well of my earlier stance on win-win negotiations).

    If so, please allow me to assure you that I feel very well the tension between an interconnected world, and a romantic view of “mountain-man” as bobby b wisely puts it. In all honesty, there is part of me that has just given up (I can persuade the left, but not the right!), and is focused on insulating me and mine from the worst that can happen. That manifests itself in a drive for “f u money”, and a scornful look at people telling us how to live our lives, unfortunately.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . your concern is that the Right think that Libertarianism is too “leftie”?”

    Wikipedia says “The Libertarian Party (LP) is a political party in the United States that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, laissez-faire capitalism and shrinking the size and scope of government.”

    Here in the US, the Libertarian Party (note the large “L”) campaigns on issues – or at least visibly campaigns on issues – that are offputting to most of middle America. I see no emphasis on smaller government. In their defense, it’s very possible that the press in the USA simply chooses to only put forward “news” about Libertarians here that comes off as whacky and drug-oriented, and so that’s what we see. But the general perception here – not just among the right, but also among the left – is that Libertarianism is a leftie cause. Which is wrong.

    I think we make a mistake in trying to place everything along one simple right-left continuum. There are several continuums, each dealing with a different measurement. Trying to place libertarian thought onto a right-left scale sometimes seems like asking how much the color red weighs.

    “I find it much more difficult to pull the right-wing authoritarian towards “liberty” . . . “

    Who do you see as “right-wing authoritarian”? Whenever I see this phrase, I think of the Christian conservatives, who make up a small part of conservatism. To me, it’s the left that wants authority and power – the people I know who are right-wing or libertarian mostly want to be left alone.

  • neonsnake

    But the general perception here – not just among the right, but also among the left – is that Libertarianism is a leftie cause. Which is wrong.

    Is it?

    Or, more properly, can it not be? I’m unsure (and this may be a Uk vs US thing)

    Can we say, that the left, may be concerned about poverty, bigotry and so on? I recognise that I’m going off-piste, and off-message. But, what if? (my experience is that that is what they are most concerned about)

    Whenever I see this phrase, I think of the Christian conservatives

    Agreed.

    In my experience, this is a majority, in the UK at least.

    All very subjective, of course, but I can only speak to my own experience.

  • Can we say, that the left, may be concerned about poverty, bigotry and so on?

    Depends what you mean by concerned. In large part (but by no means all of) the ‘Left’ is thinks ‘equality’ & having economic life revolve around the state (or ‘the people’ or whatever code word for state command is used), is vastly more important than ‘poverty’, a view they share with their fascist-strain ‘Right’ brethren where the spectrum loops around (which is why Left/Right is an increasingly un-illuminating way to describe a range of political views when not discussing France in the late 1700s). And typically the modern ‘Left’ are concerned about being the ones who decide will be the target of bigotry, rather than being against bigotry in principle. Indeed, bigotry is mandated against designated enemy-groups.

  • bobby b

    “Can we say, that the left, may be concerned about poverty, bigotry and so on?”

    Can I say that I may be concerned about poverty, bigotry and so on?

    And that it is that very concern that leads me to be a conservative? Because I believe that the leftist methods of attacking social problems only exacerbate those problems, while conservative economic and social thought (note: not “Christian Conservative” thought) are what eventually always end up feeding and clothing and succoring humanity?

    “Or, more properly, can it not be?”

    Of course it can be – that’s why I said that libertarianism isn’t properly placed on the left-right continuum.

    “I think we make a mistake in trying to place everything along one simple right-left continuum. There are several continuums, each dealing with a different measurement. Trying to place libertarian thought onto a right-left scale sometimes seems like asking how much the color red weighs.”

  • neonsnake

    Depends what you mean by concerned

    I mean my lad Callum, who cares about the baby turtles. I mean Yvonne, who cares that she’s not looked down upon for being a tiny woman in a man’s world. I mean actual real people, not abstractions.

    I mean people who know nothing of France in the late 1700s, because they’re more concerned over their student debt, or whatever.

    It’s very easy to write them off as abstractions, and as the “modern left”, just because they consider themselves to be socialists. But we’ve done nothing other than alienate them by calling them “Nazis” or “Marxists”, when realistically, all experience shows that they’re low hanging fruit who we should be recruiting under the flag of liberty (and no, I’m not talking about “white supremacy” or “traditional family values” here)

    If you write them off, then you will lose. I can’t make it any clearer than that.

  • neonsnake

    Many years ago.

  • neonsnake

    Can I say that I may be concerned about poverty, bigotry and so on?

    Yes!

    You have shown this.

    It’s interesting to me, that the US contingent on here (largely, but not always) are more concerned with liberty, whereas the UK is more conservative (not always)

  • Itellyounothing

    I would love to win those folk over by simply revealing the historical progress our species has shown.

    But those same folk you refer to have been inoculated against the many advances liberty has brought via free market capitalism has brought all varieties of the 99% cause the 1% has gotten wise to those advances and uses the high taxes and strangled institutions of ordinary folk to “educate” against that.

    The upward progress of humankind can be stopped by a determined set of masters and a particularly useful selection of idiots….

  • bobby b

    “It’s interesting to me, that the US contingent on here (largely, but not always) are more concerned with liberty,”

    A few days ago, a guy I have long admired died. Justin Raimondo. You should read his obit, at his (ex)-blog Antiwar.com. (Really. Read it. He was a good guy.)

    To me, he’s the guy who represented American aspirational libertarianism. He crossed all lines. Biographer of Murray Rothbard, follower of van Mises, antiwar activist, campaigner for Buchanan, head of the libertarian gay wing, great writer . . .

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen his name mentioned on Samizdata. Maybe that’s a UK thing – maybe there is a difference between American and British libertarianism, maybe there’s some bad blood . . . ?

    But my main point was, you brought up a concern about “humanitarian” issues, and appeared to claim that concern for the left. Consider that most everyone shares those concerns, and differ about how best to address them.

  • neonsnake

    A few days ago, a guy I have long admired died. Justin Raimondo.

    I googled him when you posted him on the thread that Snorri and I were chatting on, but it had nothing like the detail I’ve just read in the obit you linked to. Appreciated.

    Consider that most everyone shares those concerns, and differ about how best to address them.

    I would like to think so, certainly.

  • bobby b

    Neonsnake, maybe this iconic little youtube blurb by Milton Friedman on the Phil Donahue show (which you’ve no doubt seen already) best sets out how I feel about this confused idea that the left – with its socialism – is “concerned” while the right isn’t.

    The left signals its concerns. The right addresses them.

  • neonsnake

    (which you’ve no doubt seen already)

    I hadn’t – but, am unsurprised, and don’t disagree.

    I return to – majority of those on the left are low-hanging fruit, who can be easily won over, if we actually listen, and address them in good faith, and I’ve had lots of success with this. They’re not evil.

    The conservative right – I dunno, I’m somehow not able to reach. Most likely because I get too angry far too quickly 🙂

  • It’s very easy to write them off as abstractions

    I never write anyone of as an abstraction if they want to take my not-at-all-abstract money & circumscribe my very real freedom of action.

    If you write them off, then you will lose.

    Yes & no. The trick is knowing who to reach out to, and who to write off.

    I am all for reaching out to the Left (I refer you to an article I wrote the day I founded this blog in 2001). But I am also of the view that a great many enemies are not future friends & nothing you do short of abject surrender will change that. They can only be opposed & made to look bad to third parties. They are the enemy, will always be the enemy & need to be recognised & treated as the enemy. In short, they can fuck off & when they get there, they can fuck off some more.

    I can’t make it any clearer than that.

    Not convinced 😆

  • bobby b

    Okay, now that you’ve both linked to that same article, perhaps one paragraph ought to be emphasized here:

    “Many on the ‘left’ are actually natural allies of the libertarian view on civil liberties, yet they cannot extend the same logic to economic liberties. Part of the problem is the fact that libertarians, largely speaking from the meta-context of the ‘right’, frame economic issues in such a manner as to predispose opposition from the ‘left’. If we are to rescue the ‘left’ from collectivism, we must learn to speak the language of the left and tap into deep traditions of resistance and non-deferential social values that could serve us well. It is not just a case of picking the issues to attract people from the left but how we present them.”

    I think that’s what Neonsnake is saying, and I think that Brexit has put Perry in too angry a state of mind to presently agree.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    We all see the world through the keyhole of our own experiences. I have met a few Libertarians who made great sense, and others whom I would rather cross the street to avoid. More generally, my guess is that converting people to any political perspective is hard sledding. In the form of democracy we have now, it seems that most people vote tribally — they vote Democrat or Conservative or whatever because that is the way their parents or their peer-group voted. It will take a major event to shake most people out of that complacency.

    On concerns for our fellow human beings — one guy who appeared at my keyhole was a solid Democrat, complaining that “The Democrats used to be the Party of the Hand-Up; now they have become the Party of the Hand-Out”. A lot of us are probably in favor of the Hand-Up — because there but for the Grace of God go I. And the fact of the matter is that no society can long afford the Hand-Out. Sooner or later, politics will meet reality, and almost every country in the world will have to face the consequences of Political Classes spending more than they take in and running up National Debts that will never be repaid.

    When that Gods of the Copybook Headings crunch finally comes (and no-one can predict if that will happen in months or decades), there will be an opportunity to set societies on a different path. But constraining government will still be a tough sell, even in the face of catastrophic government failure. (Think Venezuela). Will today’s Libertarianism be up to the challenge of taking advantage of that future brief window of opportunity? What needs to happen to get people to rally behind the concept of limited government?

  • I think that’s what Neonsnake is saying, and I think that Brexit has put Perry in too angry a state of mind to presently agree. (bobby b, June 30, 2019 at 1:48 am)

    I, on the contrary, think Perry is noticing that many on the left who seemed to be libertarian about civil liberties back then have now shown they were merely determined to impose their own free-speech-hating rule on society. Others, by contrast, are indeed finding their own words censored or realising at least some of today’s dangers arise from what was once ‘their’ side. Perry was making a sensible point about which group was a more likely source of support. As Perry says

    Yes & no. The trick is knowing who to reach out to, and who to write off.

    and I think bobby is incorrect to suggest any mind-limiting anger in such sensible words.

    (BTW it should have been ‘whom’ not ‘who’, but I do not assume that such a solecism could never occur unless Perry were typing in furious rage. 🙂 Indeed, I dare not assume I was never guilty of the like myself.)

  • neonsnake

    I think that’s what Neonsnake is saying, and I think that Brexit has put Perry in too angry a state of mind to presently agree.

    That’s exactly what I’m saying – I’m violently agreeing with Perry (and, I suspect, a good number of you all). Amusingly, indeed by linking to the same article that he did 😀

    If Perry is too angry to presently agree, I can certainly empathise. Over here in our green and pleasant land, we’ve not only had Brexit, but since 2001, a New Labour government which eradicated a lot of the liberties we took for granted in the previous century. I’m sure I’ve said it before, and I can’t find the source, but I read that on average they criminalised one thing for every day they were in power. I do not currently feel that the Conservatives have done any better.

    And then, in today’s times, we have this increasingly polarised society (which I’m sure is the same in the US), where “you’re either with us or against us”, which is enormously exacerbated by twitter/facebook etc by making it very easy for fringe elements (of all stripes) to appear to be the majority. If, like me, you ally yourself strongly with “civil liberties”, then it’s assumed that I mean equal rights for the historically oppressed – which I do – but then also, that I must mean making it illegal to refer to people as “insert slur here”, and to give them special protections.

    And if I mean that, then it also must mean that I support all the causes on the left, that I’m fully intersectional. If not, then I’m not “with us”, I’m “against us”. If I’m not 100% anti-Israel, then how can I be for civil liberties? If I’m “for” poor people, then why don’t I advocate for a minimum wage, unless I’m a monster?

    The other end are the same. If I’m not jumping up and down defending the substance of what Carl Benjamin said (and I’m not), then how am I for free speech? And if I’m not for free speech, then I’m a loony liberal. If I don’t think Brexit will be a cake-walk that ends all evils (I don’t), then I’m a Remain-apologist.

    And so on.

    The tribalisation, the polarisation, the identity politics, is way out of control. We know that there is more to politics than a straight “left-right” spectrum, but that’s becoming harder to see in today’s climate.

    My only answer is to continue reaching out, and to continue to advocate reaching out; to try to look past the labels that everyone slaps on each other, to not use labels, and to not see or treat the “other side” as immoral, but as misguided.

    I can’t see any other way that isn’t doomed to failure (and we might be doomed to failure anyway).

  • neonsnake (June 27, 2019 at 12:42 pm), the moral or temperamental decision to reach out differs from the practical decision of how to address well-propagandised people. If someone you could reach out to is totally sold on the idea that all scientists agree about all of CAGW, do you abandon the scientific point and merely discuss whether socialist or capitalist economics could solve the (imaginary, but you’re keeping quiet about that) crisis better, or do you also (or instead) challenge their confidence in the scientific consensus. The former is not necessarily the pragmatic choice. If I believed wholly in GW science, I would notice which side seemed on-board from the start and which was filled with ‘deniers’ – so persuading me that that side was the one to solve it could be quite hard.

    The same question arises when discussing whether the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party, whose ideology was National Socialism, is a reproach only to be hurled by socialists against those who are not socialists – especially at a time when the leader of Britain’s main left-wing party and his keenest followers, when not calling those who disagree with him nazis, seem ready enough to channel Hitler’s favourite prejudice.

    Burke, faced with these age-old problems, wrote that, while one must never lie, an economy of truth was permitted.

    A man speaks the truth by measure that he be allowed to speak it longer.

    I wrote two ‘Less economy of truth, please. ….’ posts recently because I think we follow this particular dictum too much rather than too little at the moment.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “the moral or temperamental decision to reach out differs from the practical decision of how to address well-propagandised people. If someone you could reach out to is totally sold on the idea that all scientists agree about all of CAGW, do you abandon the scientific point and merely discuss whether socialist or capitalist economics could solve the (imaginary, but you’re keeping quiet about that) crisis better, or do you also (or instead) challenge their confidence in the scientific consensus.”

    The scientific conversation is relatively easy. You download Doran and Zimmerman 2009 for them and show them the relevant survey statistics. Or you can debate the climate science itself (if you know it, and they know enough to understand). That’s not what causes the polarisation problem. You’d probably actually have a harder time debating the economics, since most people’s ideas about that are more fixed and more emotionally based, but you could still probably have a discussion.

    The question being asked here though is whether it’s better to start by angrily ranting about it all being a Marxist plot to seize power and destroy capitalism, that believers are all evil climate-nazis marching in lockstep to wipe out industrial civilisation, that green concerns are all fake, a cover for their power grab, and that the science community have been taken over by a political conspiracy of leftists to corrupt the data and the science in the interests of their politics. Which is what we usually do.

    Most people fall into the “useful idiot” category. They don’t understand science. They don’t understand economics. They have been raised to ‘trust the experts’. And the story the experts tell seems perfectly plausible on the surface. Their sympathy for the poor and downtrodden and the baby animals is genuine. So they don’t take kindly to being told they’re secretly wild-eyed political zealots for murderous communism, when they know perfectly well that they’re not. Such an argument doesn’t convince, because it’s contradicted by observations they can easily make themselves.

    We know this, because we aren’t convinced either when they do it to us. There are plenty of people who assume that if you support UKIP you must be an out-and-out racist, and you hate immigrants and Muslims because they’re brown/foreign. You know it’s not true. So does their anger do anything to persuade you to their cause?

    Given the psychological similarities between the sides (we’re all human), one approach to finding a viable tactic is to ask yourself what would it take for one of them to persuade you that they’re right? Can you write down exactly what steps they’d have to go through to persuade you that you was mistaken about something? Are you dogmatically unpersuadable by any means whatsoever? Would you respond to reason? Or self-interest? Or an appeal to your political goals? For that matter, what would it take to persuade you to dial down the hostile rhetoric and reduce the political polarisation? Could sweet reason ever work?

    If it won’t work on you, it’s not going to work on them.
    You have to be open-minded if you’re going to open minds.

  • neonsnake

    The former is not necessarily the pragmatic choice. If I believed wholly in GW science, I would notice which side seemed on-board from the start and which was filled with ‘deniers’

    It is perfectly legitimate to do both. In this very example (CAGW), that’s precisely what you and others did with me a month or so back. I came into it with a belief in CAGW, and an idea that the reason the capitalists denied it was because the proposed solutions were higher taxes – so they had an agenda. I don’t think it came up in discussion, but if you had said “even if it’s true, how would you solve it?”, I’d have said “Not taxes. Nuclear power.”, but that’s by the by – the point is that everyone showed me links, gave me information, helped me with some of the concepts when didn’t understand them, answered my questions, and basically we had a grown-up discussion – no-one started calling me names or insulting me because I happened to share a touchpoint with the “left”.

    Just because things have common touchpoints, does not mean that they are same thing. Elsewhere, I’m having to be at pains to explain that Daoism is not Libertarianism, despite sharing lots of touchpoints. Eventually, I will point out that Confucianism is not Marxism – despite sharing several touchpoints (that understanding will become increasingly important as China becomes increasingly important, but that’s a subject for another time).

    And that’s what I’m advocating for when we talk to those on the “left”.

    The difference, I think, between myself and certainly you, and probably others, is that I believe that the proportion of those who can be reached is much higher than you do. I believe that the proportion of those who are “well-propagandised” is small, and by confining ourselves to addressing (mainly? only?) the “well-propagandised”, we’re in effect pushing the “can be reached” away, not bringing them towards us.

    I think we follow this particular dictum too much rather than too little at the moment.

    What do you think the practical end result of that approach would be?

  • neonsnake

    Most people fall into the “useful idiot” category.

    That’s timing for you, given I just used myself as an example!

    😀

  • I, on the contrary, think Perry is noticing that many on the left who seemed to be libertarian about civil liberties back then have now shown they were merely determined to impose their own free-speech-hating rule on society. Others, by contrast, are indeed finding their own words censored or realising at least some of today’s dangers arise from what was once ‘their’ side. Perry was making a sensible point about which group was a more likely source of support

    Exactly so.

    It is foolish to treat genuine enemies as potential friends, just as it is foolish to treat potential friends as enemies. The trick is picking out which is which, and that is sometimes quite difficult. But sometimes, it is actually very simple indeed.

  • neonsnake

    The trick is picking out which is which, and that is sometimes quite difficult.

    I agree – so my question would be: when you don’t know, how should you treat them at the beginning?

  • bobby b

    Most of the people who can spell “kulak” and discuss the origin of the term – maybe about 15% of the population – are well-set into their respective political tribes.

    For them, the overriding aim is to expand the number of people in their tribe.

    The other 85% derive huge social satisfaction and security from being a full member of a tribe. In our polarized world, drastically changing your political philosophy means drastically losing chunks of your social tribe membership, your friends, maybe your workplace . . .

    So, most of the time, when we think we ought to be arguing issues, we really need to be discussing complete philosophies, because being persuasive on a single issue is never going to convince someone to walk away from their tribe. And that’s exactly what we all seek to accomplish.

    When we say “Congressman Jones lies about the satellite data, and bonks sheep!”, the 85% – who can’t be concerned to educate themselves on the subject* because they see no need, or no possibility of educating themselves on all of the subjects that they know they need – read this as a tribal attack – which means that we’ve attacked each of them.

    Problem is, it’s really hard to be that polite to the 85% (who we cannot perfectly identify, even) when we know that their share of the 15% are listening, too, and will use this opportunity to their own profit. It’s just . . . against human nature.

    (* – of the satellite data, not the sheep)

  • neonsnake

    Entirely depends on context.

    I wasn’t really thinking of any context beyond Samizdata, tbh, on the assumption (possibly erroneous) that the blog was your way of not only highlighting issues of interest to libertarians, but also to promote the ideals to, and hopefully convert, curious minded types from bobby b’s 85% who stumble across it.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    NIV: “… one approach to finding a viable tactic is to ask yourself what would it take for one of them to persuade you that they’re right?”

    I changed my view on the advisability of background checks for gun buyers, from pro to con. A congressman presented a new (to me) perspective I had not previously considered — doing background checks required taking always-limited police resources off the streets stopping real criminals in order to waste time checking out people, the overwhelming majority of whom were not criminals nor a threat to society. Giving up on background checks thus fitted with my over-arching belief that resources should be used efficiently, especially by governments that take those resources from all of us by threat of violence.

    To generalize that, maybe a way to convince people is to show them that some view they hold is in conflict with another more important view they also hold.

    But we probably should not have high expectations about changing people’s minds. We human beings are social animals — herd animals, if we want to be blunt. Peer pressure is a huge driver of what views & opinions people hold. Peer pressure once made most Europeans Christian. Today, it makes many of them functional socialists, especially among the young. How to change peer pressure — the direction in which the herd is running? That is the real question, and I freely admit I do not have a clue about that.

  • neonsnake

    To generalize that, maybe a way to convince people is to show them that some view they hold is in conflict with another more important view they also hold.

    I agree – showing people the unintended consequences of their actions is always a good one; provided that you focus on the “unintended” aspect of it, and make it clear that you know they weren’t intending to cause “x” by doing “y” – otherwise, again, you run the risk of alienating them.

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