Arnold Kling  

The Case for Libertarian Evangelism

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Edward P. Stringham and Jeffrey Rogers Hummel write,


According to the Mises-Bastiat view, governments are able to get away with as much as they do only because they have the support of enough people. Bad policies persist only because the median voter prefers them (Caplan and Stringham, 2005)

But the current demand for bad policies does not imply their inevitability any more than the current demand for Ford automobiles implies that Ford will forever retain its current market share. If people's preferences can be changed, then big government is not necessarily something people will always demand. This is important because if enough people withdraw their support for various big government policies, then the state will have a difficult time imposing its policies on the unwilling masses. As Hummel (1990, 2001) and others have argued, government officials get away with as much as people let them.

Herein lies the key to changing society: changing public opinion or people's preferences toward government. And the only way people are likely to change their preferences is through education and persuasion; force is ineffective. This is why libertarian economists of different stripes believe that economic education plays such a crucial role.

Some questions to consider:

1. What are examples of successful ideological movements? The authors list the anti-slavery movement as an example.

2. What factors lead people to convert to an ideology?

3. Does an ideology need a story? What are the common elements in successful ideology-stories? (I'm thinking that personal sacrifice may be one element--consider Christianity, for example. Or think about Valley Forge.)


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CATEGORIES: Political Economy



COMMENTS (34 to date)
Zac Gochenour writes:
"But the current demand for bad policies does not imply their inevitability any more than the current demand for Ford automobiles implies that Ford will forever retain its current market share."
Yes and no. One of the key insights of Bryan Caplan's research, in my view, is that anti-libertarian policy preferences are linked to systematic biases that don't seem like learned behaviors. Indeed, you can often think of a number of just-so stories to explain an evolutionary basis for these biases (e.g. anti-foreign bias is a result of adaptions that make us distrustful of those who were not in our group). So maybe a better analog than Ford automobiles is a taste for sweet or fatty foods. It is possible to change someone's behavior through education- that overeating sweets is bad for your health- but its a tough sell, and I doubt any amount of education will lead most people to prefer oatmeal to lucky charms.

Concerning (3), I think yes. Humans naturally think in terms of narratives or stories. I think this is one of the biggest stumbling blocks of atheism: it lacks narrative. Atheism is the only tenable, rational position, yet most people find it utterly unconvincing. I'm convinced this is mostly due to its lack of narrative (although there are attempts). A common element, and the problem with ideology-stories in general, is that successful ones often portray an unrealistic outcome for those who embrace the ideology (The Bible, for instance, promises everlasting bliss after death; the Communist Manifesto promises world peace and an egalitarian paradise; etc). If you are unwilling to make wild and unrealistic promises like this, the story is a tough sell.

Lord writes:

The abolitionist argument was a moral one more than an ideological one, not that these are exclusive, but less amenable to argument and rationalization. I would avoid ideology altogether. Rather than trying to change peoples beliefs, goals, and values it is better to connect to the ones they already have, showing them better ways of achieving them. It would be better to focus on cost and benefits, measures of success, effectiveness and efficiency, time limits and variety of approaches, an experimental empirical approach, even when unsympathetic to the ends. If their beliefs and goals are erroneous, let them discover it themselves. Rather than one true belief, a competition of ideas with the best left to succeed and if unhappy with its success, let it be open to change.

H writes:

"A common element, and the problem with ideology-stories in general, is that successful ones often portray an unrealistic outcome for those who embrace the ideology (The Bible, for instance, promises everlasting bliss after death; the Communist Manifesto promises world peace and an egalitarian paradise; etc)."

Atheists have transhumanism and the technological singularity. The singularity is at least partly based on actual science, which makes it more realistic and probable.

Prakhar Goel writes:

I would like to point out that governments, even democratic ones, have a long history of carrying out policies not favored by the majority of the population. One example would be gun rights: a vast majority supports them but historically, government has been against gun rights in general.

This is easily explained by the cost of such action. Namely, the cost of even voting is very high compared to the expected payoffs never mind the cost of keeping up with what the government happens to be doing at the moment.

The easiest and surest way of moving the government in a more libertarian direction is to change the universities as the universities set the trend as to what the media reports and the media sets the trend as to what politicians do. However, such a stance is likely to fail because the universities are indirectly funded by the US government thorough grants, tax breaks, and student aid programs so supporting libertarian policies would essentially be like shooting their own collective feet. Unlikely to happen but still your best shot.

Dr. T writes:

Persuading people to go against their economic and personal interests is difficult, especially if they have a ready-made rationale for their existing political beliefs.

The majority in the United States already get far more federal benefits than what they pay in taxes (which is zero for a big proportion). How can we convince them that they should support libertarianism? They prefer to mooch off their neighbors and have their bad impulses and irresponsibilities held in check by Nanny Fed. Libertarianism requires thought, work, self-sufficiency, respect for others, and a good moral foundation. Nanny-statism requires none of those.

Dog of Justice writes:

The singularity is at least partly based on actual science, which makes it more realistic and probable.

Alas, the nerd rapture is not intuitively appealing to most non-nerds.

Crawdad writes:

Just read Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer." There are some great insights in that little classic.

Chris writes:

As long as 50% of the voting population pays no income tax I find it unlikely that they will ever be persuaded to a smaller government viewpoint.

If policy can change the fact that half the populace gets 'free' government - then maybe.

Troy Camplin writes:

All successful social movements have had and needed a story. To whom was it Lincoln said, "So, you're the little lady who started this great war"? The author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Marx told a great story (a false story doesn't negate it's greatness as a story).

In other words, we need to directly affect the culture. We do that through the arts. We need economic education, yes, but we also need stories based on and dealing with economics in a way that is remembered for a long time and get embedded in the DNA of the society.

I have the Emerson Institute for Freedom and Culture. WIth no monetary support, and a few submissions. I write short stories and poems that don't get published and I write plays that don't get produced. We neeed more poems like this out there:

On the Wealthy

We learned to hate the wealthy when
The wealthy were all thieves
And rulers with the strength to take
Whatever they should please.

The wealthy, when they gained their wealth
From voluntary trade,
Were thought to get their wealth the way
The ruler thieves were paid.

So then we turn back to the thieves
WHo promise that they'll take
THe wealth from those who earned that wealth
Then lie: "It's for your sake."

We've come to trust the ones who made
Us never trust the rich
And, rather than take a hand up,
Lie beaten in a ditch.

Exchange is new and power's old
So it feels natural --
But if we keep believing that,
We'll live still in the Fall.

H writes:

Alas, the nerd rapture is not intuitively appealing to most non-nerds.

That's because it hasn't been marketed to the masses yet. First they have to persuade other nerds and scientists, and that requires a different marketing approach. Let's see what happens in the next 10 or 20 years.

English Professor writes:

The real issue here is that people believe (or even more important, want to believe) that some great power can fix all the problems in the world. And for the majority of modern men, that great power is government. Consider the enormous rise in the prestige of Keynesianism since the banking crisis began. As I understand it, almost all of the scholarship of the past 30 years told the same story--Keynesian stimulus doesn't work. But once there is a crisis, even professional economists WANT TO BELIEVE, so they come up with explanations about why it will work THIS TIME. We're not dealing with ideology here, we're dealing with human nature.

fundamentalist writes:

Zac: "Atheism is the only tenable, rational position..."

As long as you don't consider the other side, that's an easy position to maintain. But it's not too hard to demonstrate that atheism is the most irrational position possible. As the great atheist philosophers have written, atheists have to deny the reality of morals, love, truth, and human personality in general in order to be consistent with atheism. Of course, most atheists are not consistent with their ideology.

I'm very pessimistic about a revival of capitalism in the US. Capitalism was the child of the Protestant Reformation, which sanctified private property and restrained envy. The power of socialism is envy. Without the moral restraints of Christianity, envy runs wild. The loss of Christianity in the West has meant the loss of the sanctity of private property and the freedom of envy to run crazy. For the West, I think capitalism was a flash in the pan.

The good news is that much of the third world is becoming increasingly Christian and that holds promise for capitalism. I don't think it's a coincidence that China is becoming more capitalist after witnessing an explosion of Christianity during its most Communist era. And Christianity is growing faster in China than just about any other place on the planet.

stanfo writes:

The IHS (Institute for Humane Studies) seminar that I went to a few years ago really helped me in the right direction.

I think we need more of that.

Anne writes:

I've had some personal success defending or explaining laissez faire capitalism by borrowing imagery/words from Alcoholics Anonymous/ Alanon. I see the nanny state as a large-scale embodiment of the enabling spouse or caretaker-child. The only way to get healthy is through self-care, not caretaking of the other. There is a lot in the AA/Alanon literature about how trying to control others makes everyone involved crazier. Since I'm an atheist, I like to think of spontaneous order as my higher power.

H writes:

As the great atheist philosophers have written, atheists have to deny the reality of morals, love, truth, and human personality in general in order to be consistent with atheism.

No they don't. They just have to adjust their conception of these things to match a naturalistic worldview.

Craig writes:

Arnold -

I think the best example - and one that is more relevant than anti-slavery - is the shift in the meaning of liberalism in the late 19th and early 20th in the U.S.; and the rise, in Britain, of Fabian Socialism as an alternate to Victorian/Manchester Liberalism. In both cases, classical liberal ideas were altered in fundamental ways, which, of course, had real consequences for public policy. For a good account of the British story from someone who lived through it, see Dicey's 'Law and Public Opinion.'

It's also important to note that it took a long time for this to happen. But then there's really no substitute for the hard work of persuasion.

Snark writes:

1. The Protestant Reformation and Civil Rights, to name just a couple, were successful ideological movements. Environmentalism to a lesser degree, since it lacks a clearly defined agenda.

2. Disasters, crisis, and perceived social injustice are certainly major contributing factors. Romanticized accounts of these events usually spill over into pop culture, which exercises considerable influence over how we vote.

3. A story can breathe life into and sometimes immortalize an idea (Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Bible, Atlas Shrugged). Those without tend to die a single death once they’re no longer fashionable.

fundamentalist writes:

H: "No they don't. They just have to adjust their conception of these things to match a naturalistic worldview."

Which means they have to redefine those terms to mean the same thing as if they didn't exist. Spin it any way you want. Morals, love, truth, and human personality in general as they are commonly understood have to die for atheists. You can keep the terms and define out of existence their content if you want, but that's just a deceitful.

Randy writes:

fundamentalist,

"...as they are commonly understood..."

I was going to point this out, but I see that you already understand the flaw in your own argument. You can claim the objectivity of your perspective all you want, but you can't prove it. Because, like it or not, your perspective is inherently subjective.

H writes:

Which means they have to redefine those terms to mean the same thing as if they didn't exist.

If we look closely enough at chairs, trees and molecules, we see that they are made only of quarks. Does that mean that chairs, trees and molecules don't really exist? They exist in our simplified, multilevel models of reality (vision is a model too), but reality itself does not need these additional levels, such as the concept of a chair. Reality works purely on the level of quarks. It has enough computing power to handle it. Our brains don't.

I don't see how atheists should deny the existence of love or human personality any more than they have to deny the existence of chairs, trees and molecules.

As for morals, well, so what if there is no external objective morality? Tough luck. We just have to deal with it. We, as humans, can't help but talk about morality as if it is objective, though.

fundamentalist writes:

Randy: "Because, like it or not, your perspective is inherently subjective."

Sorry, but I don't understand the point you're trying to make. I was trying to make the point that words have meaning and that meaning comes about through common usage. If someone arbitrarily changes the meaning of a word because the commonly used definition doesn't suit them, that destroys the ability to communicate with others and is dishonest.

H: "I don't see how atheists should deny the existence of love or human personality any more than they have to deny the existence of chairs, trees and molecules."

When you understand the physics of a chair better, you still haven't changed the definition of what a chair is. A chair is made up of quarks, but if you tell someone to have a seat in a chair, they won't climb into the bathtub but they understand what you mean by chair. But atheists do something completely different. They keep the term "morality" but give it a completely different meaning, as different as bathtub is from chair. By changing the original meaning of morality, you have destroyed the concept as well as if you had said morality doesn't exist, but your are being more deceitful.

Anyone can define terms so that their argument automatically wins. That doesn't take cleverness or skill. The good philosophers retains the meaning of words as they are commonly used, so that communication can continue.

H: "As for morals, well, so what if there is no external objective morality? Tough luck. We just have to deal with it."

Then you have no right to punish anyone for breaking fictitious morals. I don't think you have thought through the consequences.

H: "We, as humans, can't help but talk about morality as if it is objective, though."

Exactly! Evolutionary psychs claim that is because the idea of objective morality must have served some evolutionary purpose in the past which we no longer need. But they can't explain what that purpose might have been. However, Christianity has always maintained that the desire for objective morality among humans is evidence of God leaking through. This based on the law of cause and effect that says the effect cannot be greater than the cause. Evolution proposes that the effect can be greater than the cause, which is irrational.

I'm curious as to what atheists read these days, since I have met no atheists on the internet who have ever read any of the great atheist philosophers, such as Nietzche, Sartre, Camus, Jacques Derrida or Michel Foucault. What has influenced you to become an atheist?

Historical Observer writes:

What Mr. Kling has described is exactly what the left in this country has done. When the left realized that it was not going to capture the hearts and minds of the working class - they changed their tactics and focused on the working classes children. Over time they dominated our colleges and universities to the extent that their is only one political viewpoint on virtually every public and private institution of "higher learning" - the left. They also trained the future "teachers" who are now indoctrinating our children through the public school system.

They also understood that they could not attack the system from the outside. As a result the refocused their efforts on taking over one of the major parties - the Democrats. Early on they suffered one major defeat after another by trying to take the big prize first. They shifted tactics by electing representatives in safe districs, focusing on state legislatures to keep the power over redistricting and on state constituional offices that controlled the outcomes of elections (understanding Stalin's directive that the power is not in the vote but in who counts the vote).

They also focused their efforts on taking over the media to shape our view of the world on a daily basis. Again it started slowly with attacks on different sectors of our political system. Then it became a full out frontal attack - first on any political entity that was not a democrat and now to gloss over the excesses of the incumbent party because they are democrats.

They have been attacking our economic system through the diversionary tactic of the environment. They hijacked this movement with the full understanding that they could reshape our economy to fit their view of the world. First it was by attacking the villanous corporate polluters by focusing on the most aggregious pollution issues. Than it became the more global environmental issues (global cooling, acid rain, toxic pollution). Now it is global warming (sorry that term isn't resonating correctly so now it is climate change). Now with global warming/climate change they are swiftly moving into every facet of our daily lives - and we are willingly allowing them to do so.

The insidiousness of this whole thing is that it is too easy to dismiss as nothing but a conspiracy theory because the change has been so gradual. But look at the evidence. We are now dealing with a $3.7 TRILLION annual federal budget. Government at all levels is now more than 35% of GDP and growing. We are currently in the process of nationalizing our banks, automotive sector and who know what else. In addition we are seriously considering have government take control of another sector of our economy that is about 17% of GDP. And we haven't even gotten to the bill that Waxman and Markey are pushing (Cap and Trade) that insists on regulating even more parts of the economy and our daily lives. It may be a conspiracy but it is not a theory. The evidence is all around us.

H writes:

By changing the original meaning of morality, you have destroyed the concept as well as if you had said morality doesn't exist, but your are being more deceitful.

Please define all these terms and concepts (love, truth) before you accuse me of changing them.

Then you have no right to punish anyone for breaking fictitious morals.

I have a fictitious right to punish them. Ha!

But they can't explain what that purpose might have been.

Survival. Of course "purpose" is a misleading word.

Evolution proposes that the effect can be greater than the cause, which is irrational.

What? Where? Besides morality?

I'm curious as to what atheists read these days, since I have met no atheists on the internet who have ever read any of the great atheist philosophers, such as Nietzche, Sartre, Camus, Jacques Derrida or Michel Foucault.

Why should I read bad, outdated philosophy?

Many people read Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Stenger, etc, and some serious academic books, but the internet is probably more important these days.

What has influenced you to become an atheist?

I didn't choose to become one. It's just that no one has yet convinced me of any other position.

Jeff Shepard writes:

I would like to lend support Zac Gochenour's comments. Bryan Kaplan's work (The Myth of the Rational Voter) reveals systematic anti-libertarian biases on the part of the electorate. (The four biases he focuses on are anti free trade, anti free market, pro work and pessimism) These biases may be embedded in our psyche as a result of our particular human evolutionary path. This means that these biases are very difficult to reverse.

I would also point out that political support of the education of the electorate regarding libertarianism is different than other historical crusades (e.g. civil rights). The political election process naturally tends toward an exploitation of the electorate's biases (similar to McDonald's exploitation of our craving for fats and sweets). As the politicians that are elected rely on these systematic biases, there should naturally be little political will to educate the public to reduce these biases. As Rahm Emanuel says, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste".

In fact, our history seems to be a monotonic increase in the power of government during every crisis (Civil War, WW1, WW2, Vietnam, Gulf War(s)) and minimal reversal during the interim calm periods.

However, some portion of these biases may be due to the election process being more like the commons than a market. Are there methods of restructuring the election process so that it more resembles a market rather than a commons (as has been attempted, for example, with trading pollution credits)?

Troy Camplin writes:

We've gotten away from the question: what can libertarians do to create a narrative people will accept en masse that will change the culture to one that supports libertarian principles? What narratives of spontaneous orders can there be? We need imaginative approaches. And we need support for libertarian artists. We need to support and promote libertarian stories, plays, novels.

From a play I have written:

Scene 5 – Lights come up. All the children are sitting around Adam.

Adam: There was a lion king once who was just,
Not cruel or violent. Always good and kind,
The king called a meeting, and said he’d bind
The wolf and lamb to live together, trust
Each other, live in peace and harmony.
He then included goat and leopard, deer
And tiger, dog and hare – no more would fear
Exist. A hare yelled out, “Hurray! We are free
To live in peace at last! The weak are now
The equals to the strong. Long live the king!”
And thus, when justice reigns, the meek will sing
The praises of the state; the strong will bow.

Peter: Now hold it just one minute here. There’s something
That don’t seem right with this. It seems to me
The wolf and leopard, dog and tiger all
Would starve to death in such a state. And then
The sheep and goats and deer and hares would all
Begin to reproduce so much they’d eat
The grass and forests up – I’ve seen it happen
In national parks when the deer are safe
From hunters – and they end up starving. If
The lion made that law, it’d kill off most
Of them. It seems to me the selfsame law
For both the wolf and lamb is tyranny.

Adam: It’s just an Aesop’s fable.

Peter: Yes, but it
Is meant to teach a lesson. Seems to me
It’s teaching us the wrongest one it can.

Adam: You didn’t like the other one about
The lion, so today I thought I’d try
A different fable with a nicer one. So, what?
No stories about lions? That’s the rule?

Peter: Don’t care if you tell lion tales. The two
You told I just don’t are about too much.

Jennifer: I don’t know why you bother telling stories
Since everybody seems to only bitch
About them. That one you just told I thought
Was great. I didn’t care for Peter’s take.

Mary: Well, he don’t have to tell his stories if
He can’t take criticism. Seems to me
We didn’t ask for him to tell them, so . . .

Adam: Now listen, I don’t mind if we end up
Talking about these stories. They’re not mine.
Well, that one I just told. It wasn’t mine.
And if it was, what’s art sans criticism?

Anne writes:

Troy wrote: We need imaginative approaches. And we need support for libertarian artists. We need to support and promote libertarian stories, plays, novels.

Exactly. We need to reach out via extroverted feelers. My guess is that most of the contributors on my favorite econ blogs are introverted thinkers.

As Ayaan Hirsi Ali explained in her book, Infidel, regarding the film she made with Theo van Gogh,"Submisssion", about radical fundamentalist Islam -- She realized what she needed was a powerful, relatively brief, visual image.

Most people aren't patient enough to consider long-winded abstraction. Russ Roberts does a nice job reaching popular audiences with his books. He has useful images, like the traffic between here and Cuba going pretty much in one direction.

Another possibility -- satellite images of the world at night showing the darkness of North Korea and Cuba.

Most of my friends are very left wing. I've had some luck by simply asking, "Am I allowed to say 'no, thank you'?" to whatever big gov't program they're pushing.

Randy writes:

fundamentalist,

"If someone arbitrarily changes the meaning of a word because the commonly used definition doesn't suit them, that destroys the ability to communicate with others and is dishonest."

But that's exactly what the religious political types do all the time. Take your idea of the terms you complain about; you want to use them in a way that supports your favored religious political propaganda. All H and I are doing is not letting you get away with it. You don't want to break it down to the level at which your ideas can be shown to be subjective because you know you that's a fight you can't win, so you insist on pretending that your definitions are objective. Again, not this time.

Randy writes:

H,

"Why should I read bad, outdated philosophy?"

Agreed (though I have read Nietzche, Sartre, and Camus). The issues are different today. The modern athiest is not opposed to an overbearing openly religious culture, but to a political pseudo-religious megalith. I don't even consider the term a-theist meaningful anymore, and consider myself to be a-political instead.

P Binder writes:

It isn't necessary to influence a majoity. If an influencial minority is in place when a major precipitating event takes place, that should be enough. A hyperinflation would be just such an event.

fundamentalist writes:

H: “Many people read Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Stenger…”

That explains your shallowness of thought. If you’re not serious about atheism, then I have no reason to discuss it any more with you. If you were serious, you would read serious atheists. I don’t know much about Dennet or Stenger, but Dawkins and Hitchens write pulp fiction, not serious philosophy.

Randy: “Take your idea of the terms you complain about; you want to use them in a way that supports your favored religious political propaganda.”

I use words in the commonly accepted way. How is that changing the definition?

Randy: “Agreed (though I have read Nietzche, Sartre, and Camus). The issues are different today. The modern athiest is not opposed to an overbearing openly religious culture, but to a political pseudo-religious megalith.”

Apparently the modern atheist opposes any kind of learning, too.

H writes:

I don’t know much about Dennet or Stenger, but Dawkins and Hitchens write pulp fiction, not serious philosophy.

Dawkins is known for his popular science books, such as The Blind Watchmaker and The Selfish Gene. Hitchens is a polemicist. Dennett is a pretty serious philosopher, but you didn't ask for a list of philosophers, you asked what atheists read these days.

If you were serious, you would read serious atheists.

Why? I'm interested in arguments and a good argument is a good argument, no matter who says it and where. And as I said, the internet is now more important for atheists.

Here are a few good blogs:

http://www.overcomingbias.com/religion
http://lesswrong.com/tag/religion
http://www.daylightatheism.org
http://www.atheistblogs.co.uk

And some books that I liked:

"In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion" by Scott Atran.
"Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought" by Pascal Boyer.
"Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life" by Daniel C. Dennett.
"Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy" by David Ramsay Steele.
"Philosophers without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life" edited by Louise M. Antony.

Apparently the modern atheist opposes any kind of learning, too.

As defined by whom? People who can't accept the fact that it is a constantly evolving thing?

H writes:

I don’t know much about Dennet or Stenger, but Dawkins and Hitchens write pulp fiction, not serious philosophy.

Dawkins is known for his popular science books, such as The Blind Watchmaker and The Selfish Gene. Hitchens is a polemicist. Dennett is a pretty serious philosopher, but you didn't ask for a list of philosophers, you asked what atheists read these days.

If you were serious, you would read serious atheists.

Why? I'm interested in arguments and a good argument is a good argument, no matter who says it and where. And as I said, the internet is now more important for atheists.

Here are a few good blogs:

www.overcomingbias.com/religion
lesswrong.com/tag/religion
www.daylightatheism.org
www.atheistblogs.co.uk

And some books that I liked:

"In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion" by Scott Atran.
"Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought" by Pascal Boyer.
"Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life" by Daniel C. Dennett.
"Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy" by David Ramsay Steele.
"Philosophers without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life" edited by Louise M. Antony.

Apparently the modern atheist opposes any kind of learning, too.

As defined by whom? People who can't accept the fact that it is a constantly evolving thing?

Randy writes:

fundamentalist,

"Apparently the modern atheist opposes any kind of learning, too."

You don't seriously believe that the study of philosophy defines "learning" do you? But in case you do, here's something I learned from reading philosophers. Nearly all of them make their false claim in the first or second chapter. Once you find it, you can toss the book, because they will spend the next 30 chapters expanding on the false claim. But seriously, learning is far more than the propaganda of the political class would have you believe. I guarantee that it would take you years to learn what I do. The productive class is made up of specialists. We're all learned.

The Cupboard Is Bare writes:

"2. What factors lead people to convert to an ideology?"

People are more inclined to convert to new ideologies when they find that their current ideology no longer provides satisfactory answers to their questions.

"3. Does an ideology need a story? What are the common elements in successful ideology-stories?"

New ideas have a better chance of taking hold when there is a vacuum that needs to be filled. I suspect that is why Ron Paul's grassroots effort did better than expected during the primaries.

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