The Making Of New Libertarians: A Few Observations


March 30, 2015 by Liberty

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to convince people to become libertarians. The sad truth is, most of the progress I’ve made can be attributed to the horrible opposite direction the American government is heading in. I start blabbering on about how government screws up everything and then suddenly Obamacare flops. Whoops… that’s eerily convenient for making my point.

I’ve flipped stone after stone trying to find the right approach to changing people into libertarians. (By stone, I’m referring to the dark recesses of the average person’s depth of political philosophy. It’s downright disgusting down there.) Despite all that work, most of my progress has been dependent on short term government screw ups.

Heck, it may be arguable that I’ve done more to harm to the libertarian cause by experimenting with arguments that scare people farther away from libertarianism. Convincing people to become libertarians may be an art that’s best left to the truly persuasive among us. (Save brain surgery for the experts. Sure, you can do it yourself but that just proves you’re crazy.)


Don’t Change People

This is the camp that I lean when it comes to spreading libertarianism. I do not enter debates with the intent of instantly pushing people to libertarianism. At best, I just hope to introduce the framework to solve a problem and let them rattle the ideas around in their head.

This is actually more difficult than it sounds. Whenever you discuss a libertarian solution with someone, it’s natural to bring out the standard arguments that can be used in any subject. For example, if you’re discussing a certain medical regulation you might say, “the regulation is pointless because people change their behavior.” Of course, this opens up the opportunity for your “opponent” to ask about other regulations. When that happens, you’re forced to go deeper and deeper into the general philosophy.

That being said, most of the time these days, I just bring up the subject for pure entertainment. (I’m becoming more and more comfortable making other people feel like assholes. There is something satisfying about watching a person admit they’re a violent prick.) Oddly enough, this has been one of my more effective tools for changing people. While I don’t change the person I’m debating with, people watching the debate tend to come out feeling much more favourable towards libertarian ideas.


Find Radicals

Most people you talk to about politics don’t care enough to change.

Most Republicans are republicans because they were republicans. Most democrats are democrats because they were democrats. Usually, people with normal boring political beliefs were raised in a particular way. They spend years brewing those basic concepts without ever thoroughly examining them. These days, they probably give little to no thought about the reasons they believe what they believe. Basically, they’re stone walls of politics. It’s usually pointless to talk to them.

When you find someone with a radical belief (or at least a bit fringe,) they’re a prime candidate for changing. Someone rarely becomes an authoritarian in America because they’re exposed to decades of subtle propaganda. Quite frankly, they’re probably exposed to more propaganda suggesting authoritarianism is bad and democracy is good. That means, they probably have been exposed to some set of facts or stories that made them change their mind. They’re prime candidates for changing political beliefs again.

When you find someone that leans towards anything that isn’t “taught to be good” then you can be confident they’re much more interested in politics than the average bloke. Some of the beliefs I instantly think of include tea partiers, authoritarians, communists, and socialists. That being said, take communists and socialists carefully, if they’ve been to college there is a chance they’ve had 4 years of indoctrination. Ask what their degree is in. If it isn’t a very technical degree then I wouldn’t waste my time.

The odd thing about this is that authoritarians are almost the exact opposite of libertarians but they’re often some of the ones most open to the general ideas (this is, of course, only in my personal experience.) They tend to care about making the world a better place, not pleasing everyone.


I Don’t Want To Convince You

While I haven’t quite hit this target for my behavior yet, I’m trying really hard to “not want to convince people.” By that I mean, I want to profit so much for the absolute ridiculousness of this system that I have a serious conflict of interest in the matter. People changing would be a direct blow to my income.

That might sound a tad bit cruel…

A huge part of America is getting farther and farther from libertarian beliefs. As a libertarian, I know that I’m responsible for myself. I can’t go blaming the rest of the world if I fail to survive well in the world America is becoming. (It’s libertarianism on the microscale.)

That being said, how the hell am I supposed to convince anyone to become a libertarian if I’m letting myself get damaged by the world’s stupidity? Here I am, preaching the better world that would come from libertarianism while I completely ignore self ownership complaining about the current system.

Here is the funny thing about this idea: I will probably never get to the point where a certain profit makes me not want to change people into libertarians. If that price does exist then it only proves that I’m a complete jerk for that price. Heck, that might even be an argument against libertarianism in general. (Maybe not… I’m still rolling that idea in my head a little.)

So… these are some of the ideas that I’ve been thinking about recently. Does that mean you should give up your republican talking points and focus on finding some nazi’s to try and change? Probably not. I’m just bringing the ideas up for thought.

First of all, you don’t have to convince anyone anything. This is kind of like my “libertarian’s burden” idea I brought up before. There is nothing wrong with saving surgery for the surgeons.

Second, most people are too set in their ways to change. You’re not going to break 20 years of propaganda but you may be able to beat a couple years worth of it.

Third, profit off non-libertarians. Find a way to take pleasure from people not becoming libertarians because you’re going to spend a good portion of your life watching that.

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2 thoughts on “The Making Of New Libertarians: A Few Observations

  1. I used to be a left-wing statist and I recently converted to Libertarianism. It’s what inspired me to create my blog!

  2. Garry Reed says:

    I came to understand long ago that you can’t change someone else’s mind, people have to change their own minds. Think how you came to be a libertarian. Not by someone browbeating you into it. All I do as a writer is put my ideas out there in the hopes of creating a little spark that will ignite someone’s curiosity. You never know what the spark will be or who will respond to it, so don’t even try to change people’s minds. Just say your say and move on.

    After weeks of give-and-take on a general discussion thread with non-libertarians I just posted my most recent, and what might be my final, comment. It might give others an idea of how to approach others. (I try never to come off sounding like a troll but let others reveal their own trollness when they get frustrated and start attacking me.)

    My Post:

    To Travis, Christian, others…

    I find it fascinating and informative every time I step outside of my own philosophical bubble to find out how others view libertarians from their own worldview bubbles.

    It’s virtually guaranteed that people who can’t even explain how today’s politically dominated corporatist-bankster society actually works in the real world berate me for not explaining in infinite detail how a libertarian society would work.

    It’s also virtually guaranteed that when I talk about big picture concepts like Frederic Bastiat’s laissez-faire free marketplace or the nature of coercive government the counter argument centers on smalltime policy issues like minimum wage and how elections should be financed. It’s like I say “Apple” and the anti-libertarian counter argument is “Oh yeah? Orange!”

    People who have firmly planted their feet in the status quo will never offer any meaningful dialog because their minds are already made up. People who are open minded about libertarianism but whose understanding is at square 1 or 2 because they’re getting their information from the woefully uninformed mass media also have little to offer.

    I’m committed to the idea of libertarianism. I don’t pretend to have all the answers (only politicians pretend that), I know that libertarianism is not utopian and it will have its own set of problems but I know that working toward rejecting all coercion, intimidation and fraud from all sources, especially the deeply embedded and almost universally justified government kind, is worth advocating.

    Christian is the only one I’ve encountered on this thread who has a knowledgeable idea of what libertarianism is all about yet even he tends to give me the oranges vs apples argument.

    Christian said: “It took centuries to pry church and state apart. It will take centuries more (if ever!) to end corporatism … I don’t see how they can be pried apart anytime soon.”

    So what would you have done back then, Christian? Simply say the two can never be separated so just sit down, shut up and go away? Or confront the reality of evil and advocate against it anyway? It’s always far easier to be a negative nay-sayer than a positive advocate.

    I’ve chosen to be an advocate, and I’ve chosen to do it by using humor as a weapon against frozen thinking in the hopes of opening people’s minds to new and exciting ideas.

    So thanks everyone for the feedback.

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