On the Other Hand...
No Magic Required
by Jim Davies
The most vexing question of all for freedom-lovers is, How do we get there from there?
That is: we have read our Rothbard and Rand and our Friedmans, père et fils, and understand pretty well which way up the world is spinning and we know at least in outline what we mean by an "ideal society" and it's one in which government plays no part; where each individual is free to rule his or her own life unimpeded, and which follows no rule except the Zero Aggression Principle. Amen! But how can we dislodge the massive power of the present régime and cause it to come about?
We acknowledge that the régime is supported by vast numbers of beneficiaries and bigots who want to use its power to beggar their neighbors. We know we are hopelessly outnumbered, so to propose to offer the population freedom if they vote for it doesn't look a very promising strategy; and we know that in 30 years, the LP has tried that and so far miserably failed. We know some strategies that don't work.
But what might work? - Is there a "magic bullet"?
I don't share the scorn of some who ridicule the LP and others for poor results so far. Clearly there is something missing, but much has been done right; pictures of a free society have been held up for public examination (I've done so myself here) and earnest candidates and petitioners and supporters have bust many a gut to solicit votes. What does seem to be to be lacking, however, is a systematic business plan to make it come together.
If you have a good plan you may still not achieve your aim, but if you have no plan you will certainly not achieve it. Sound strategic and tactical planning are absolute prerequisites for any business enterprise; so why not for ours, which is far grander?
A plan has stated objectives, stated resources assumed, and stated dates and milestones to be met and passed. I've been in the libertarian movement for over two decades, and I've never seen one. "Do the best we can and hope" is the nearest, and it doesn't even come close.
In an earlier article here I reasoned that a free, zero-government society is truly in the best interests of everyone in that society, when properly understood, and that it's the only moral way one should be arranged regardless of the ethical basis preferred; and that if someone doesn't acknowledge that yet, the blame is at least partly ours for failing to convince him. So here I suggest again that each of us get busy and train ourselves to present more effective arguments in favor of what we propose; to "sell" it rationally as well as emotionally.
Fundamental to all salesmanship is the need to present the prospect with benefits. There's always a price, and he knows that, but the salesman's task is to arouse his appetite for the goodies. In this case a key obstacle we face in persuading folk to hunger and thirst for liberty is that it's "jam tomorrow" - that what we visualize may be all fine and dandy, but it's a long way away and in the meantime all the prospect can anticipate is blood, tears, toil and sweat. The benefits are distant and therefore uncertain - while the price is immediate and sure. Tough sell!
In America, however, we have one huge advantage to enable us to counter that: as well as all the vast benefits of full freedom in the future, we can present a large benefit here and now - a generous taste of "Jam Today".
That's because in US Law, the income tax really is voluntary. By taking a little trouble, enduring the darts and arrows of a paper war with the IRS, anyone can prevent the theft of half of all taxes paid to the Feds. Net pay takes a huge leap in consequence, and that forms the "Jam" or firstfruit of liberty. Most countries don't have this (their tax laws were written "properly") but ours does. We should capitalize on our advantage and - again - sell rationally. The subject is large - see details here. It's a great way to overcome a key sales objection and to demonstrate that even in the short term, freedom is very much in everyone's best interests. Except those of government junkies, of course.
I'm impressed by the power of compound or exponential growth. The concept is so simple yet so inexpensive, it's surprising that nobody has yet proposed using it in a rational strategic plan for freedom. Perhaps we might start here, with these two key components:
An Outline Strat-Plan
- Boost "buyer" motivation with the huge immediate benefit above, and
- Use the explosive power of compounding, to multiply the message fast.
In essence, participants would set themselves "each one to reach one and teach one" in some time period - such as three months. We are all acquainted with a couple of hundred people, so it should not be too hard to pick a handful and gently but persistently persuade each, on rational and moral grounds as above, to embrace ZAP - the Zero Aggression Principle - and a zero-government society as their ideal to which it leads. Then, to teach them to do the same as we just did so that in the succeeding three months, that person is well-equipped to reach someone else. The teaching task could be turbo-assisted with Internet facilities.
Then the math takes over: there are 4 quarters in the year, and 2 to the power 4 is 16, so the population of liberty-seekers multiplies by 16 in 1 year and after 4 years, it grows by a factor of 16 to the power 4, or over 65,000. If the starting base is 1,000 (less than the present membership of Strike the Root) then by 2008 we'll have enough to outvote all Statists combined and the fun work can begin. Given that those 65 million will have stopped paying "income tax" and so already brought the Feds to their financial knees, we'll be off to a rolling start.
Is this a "magic bullet"? - no, not at all. There's nothing supernatural about it whatever. It's strictly rational.
© Copyright Jim Davies 2004
Jim Davies lives in New Hampshire,
and enjoys contemplating which way is up.
The above is Edition # 328
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