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Saturday, September 19, 2009

How Can We Start A Conversation?

Here's our discussion point for the week: how can we start a real conversation about liberty?

We have two sides yelling at each other rather than talking to and with each other, it would seem. Partisan politics seem angrier and more polarized than ever.

Worse, both "sides" seem to live in entirely different realities altogether. If you're on one "side," two million people descended on Washington just one week ago, and if you're on the other you barely noticed when "the 60,000" people showed up in D.C. -an insignificant blip on the radar.

We live in such different realities because we don't trust each other. We don't trust each other because we suspect the motives on the other side. If the liberty faction in this country wants to make a difference it is going to have to address and refute the notion that we are angry birthers, racist rednecks, and paranoid survivalists.

Let's have a brainstorming session right here, right now on this comment thread. What can we do to foster trust, open the lines of communication, and get people on both sides of the aisle to really consider what we have to say?


  1. This conflict is not "sides" or "trust" or "aisles". This is not about two college sports teams wearing different color jerseys.

    There will be lots of "words" but little "meaning" in the "conversation" until it is framed in terms of a battle between those who believe in "negative rights" and those who champion "positive rights".

    The conversation might become meaninful after the broader philosophic war is understood as a fundamental conflict between people who want to be left free to produce and trade among themselves vs those who feel they are owed something by "others".

    Short of that, it will remain a political "pissing contest".

    Raleigh, NC

  2. Hans, like Daryl- I'm in total agreement that we need to bring the debate to the philosophical level and get people thinking about what we are as human beings and what role government plays in a civil human society.

    So unless anyone else has any objections or additions (which are most welcome and encouraged- this is a brainstorming session!), we can view that is the ultimate strategy.

    What then, can we do on a tactical level to implement that strategy? How do we get people to consider these questions when they think you're just a partisan, right-wing hack?

  3. You present a difficult challenge.

    I worked hard in the 1980's to establish the Libertarian party as a viable third party in North Carolina. We did not succeed in delivery of a message of Liberty that was compelling enough to displace the "sheeple" from their two-party mindset.

    Last winter I built a PowerPoint slide show as a visual aid to place the political factions (from communists to anarcho-capitalists) relative to the Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution. These are on a backdrop of "0%" government through "100%" government. Again, very little engagement from average folks when I use it to explain why bipartisan cooperation and compromise always moves left and is detrimental to Liberty.

    Now I'm working within a group of conservative activists, mostly "religious right" (and I'm not religious), who choose to invest their energy in political protest and Constitutional Town Hall meetings on current topics (healthcare, cap and trade, etc.). They are very successful in engagement and debate.

    This group, and many others I observe, have difficulty in alignment with other potential allies in the war against the progressives.

    Example: the Ron Paul folks hate Glenn Beck for "stealing the message. The religious folks distance themselves from the athiests. Neither of these want to associate with the Alex Jones followers.

    Our first step toward success must be a well written vision of an "end-state" (pun intended) that each of our potential allies can embrace - despite their specific differences.

    For me, the governmental end-state would be somewhere between the weak Federal government of the Articles of Confederation and the encroaching Nationalism established by our Constitution.

    We have to simultaneously sell a philosophy of Individualism, once so dominant in our culture, that will displace the "fear of abandonment" or whatever psychosis drives weak people to embrace collectivism.

    What say you about "tactics" as framing the discussion around the the appropriate role of government in context of a philosophy of individualsm (with or without reference to Rand)?

    Raleigh, NC

  4. The whole point of this is for me to harvest all the brilliant thoughts from your brains!

    In all seriousness though, I am hesitant to throw my ideas out there at first so as not to influence the progression of thoughts. I don't want to miss out on any good ideas that wouldn't have occurred to me.

    I'll definitely put in my two cents by tomorrow afternoon, I just want to give anyone else a chance to speak up first.

    For instance, your idea of a desirable "end-state" that a broad coalition can agree to is excellent.

    Touching on that matter is an important part of this too- the diverse and sometimes conflicting elements of the movement at large.

    So in short- you first. Tactics?

  5. Not sure I like your metaphor: my mind is a natural resource for you to “harvest”. (chortle) Perhaps I’ll “trade” some ideas with you toward our mutual self interest.

    For a start: become vocal about forcing our National government back “into the box” of the Constitution. Teach the limitation of government by enforcement of the “enumerated powers” and “Ninth / Tenth Amendments to all within our sphere of influence. Employ Glenn Beck’s three directives: (1) boldly question everything about our current government, (2) cling to the truth, and (3) speak without fear.

    Next: identify and promote candidates to the US House of Representatives who support a strict constructionist view of the Constitution and reduce our national government by control and reduction of the national budget. Toward this end participate in the candidate selection activities of “Get Out Of Our House” ( and “Independence Caucus” (

    Finally: begin a dialog toward the reformation of our Constitution to remove compromises and ambiguities. For an example of where to begin here, I refer you to Edward Cline at Rule of Reason (

    Be cautious of attempts to form a “constitutional convention” as this would be potentially dangerous to Liberty. Progressives have advocated the replacement of US government with a “new world order”. A con-con could give them an opportunity to replace our current Constitution with something far worse.

    We should also go back and update our Declaration of Independence to address pending secession from an increasingly fascist National government. The substantive change here would be replacement of the phrase “pursuit of happiness” with the original common law “right to property” and the re-establishment of allodial title (

    Enough for now… your turn.

    Raleigh, NC

  6. A conversation requires engagement by more than one sentient entity.

    Game over.

    Raleigh, NC

  7. Sorry for my late reply. I've been holding out for a while to see if anyone else has anything to offer, but alas!

    As for your list of tactics: Lol, right! No "harvesting" -I promise. Thanks for your participation in a mutually voluntary exchange of ideas for mutual benefit.

    I think you are on the right track with a lot of those tactics. Identifying and promoting the candidacies of Constitutionalists, as you suggest, is a major part of the battle. It will help return credibility to those who advocate for limited government rather than simply pay it lip service.

    As for the tactics I espouse- they mostly involve meeting "social democrats" on their own terms and finding areas of mutual agreement.

    For instance, they are opposed in principle to policies which favor the wealthy at the expense of the poor. Why then the support for all of Obama's major initiatives, which are unambiguous examples of corporate welfare and special interest legislation?

    If we can help them to see the inconsistency, we can move them in the direction of opposing policies that threaten liberty while also helping them to understand a thing or two about liberty itself.

    By doing it this way, we remove any preconceived notions and unjustified suspicion by helping them to see it in terms of their own framework and its focus on "social justice" or "social equality."

  8. I applaud your courage to 'meet them on their own terms'.

    However, you introduce a logical contradiction in your attempt to explain or sell Liberty with an appeal to the progressive belief in social justice or social equality.

    Proceed with extreme caution...

    Raleigh, NC

  9. Agreed! Caution and clarity are paramount.

    At the same time, I would say that rather than introducing a contradiction, I would be pointing out to social democrats an internal contradiction of their own.

    Hopefully in the process of resolving it, we "on the right" can help them to see and understand the philosophy of liberty. Another tactic- on that note- that we need to use is to introduce many people "on the right" to the philosophy of liberty.