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That there is a relationship between a large US military presence in the world and a welfare state that controls the civilian population at home, that the welfare-warfare state is one entity? That the Federal Reserve is the main reason behind the runup in federal debt and a main reason for all the corruption that people loathe? There is no reason to attempt to convince anyone of the full case for liberty in one exchange. It is a mistake to presume someone else knows nothing and we know all things, because it is absolutely untrue.

We have so much to learn even from those who do not share our worldview. The goal is not necessarily to convince everyone you meet of the case for liberty.

I recall sitting next to a man in the airplane who specialized in making bags for potato chips. It was an absolutely fascinating conversation to learn all about the history, technology, and marketing of these bags. It is a rare opportunity to discover a sector of life that is mostly closed to us. Sometimes it is just good to be selfish in conversation, extracting as much information as possible as a way of making our own worldview more hands-on and realistic.

In democracy, government specializes in dividing people into warring tribes and devolves all meaningful conversation into sectarian squabbles. This is what elections are all about. Each politician finds his or her demographic and attempts to whip them up into a frenzy against others. What is the effect of this constant prattle? It causes us to think of each other as enemies. If you really believe that it is super- critical to the future of civilization that Joe and not Tom is elected, you naturally believe that anyone who supports Tom is the enemy.

And you know based on demographics — or you have a pretty good idea — who is supporting whom. This creates the tendency for all of us to divide up the population around us into friends and foes. This is a major cause of social tension in a democratic society. Democracy purports to bring us all together to govern ourselves. Actually it only ends in dividing us into feuding clans, out to steal or keep from being stolen from. Remember that the enemy is the state, not your fellow human beings. It is no wonder that society continues to have troubles with racism, sexism, nativism, and classism.

It is an artificial reality, one created by the state itself. So long as we buy into it, we are going along with a corrupt imposition. We are giving in. The best way to fight back is to not be manipulated into this situation. We should seek to make friends, not entrench enemies. Every human being is a friend of liberty somewhere deep inside his or her heart. It is just a matter of finding that spot and tapping into it.

There is no religion, no race, no income group that cannot benefit on net from liberty. For that reason, there is no person who should not be on Team Liberty.


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In this way, we avoid the trap that the state sets for us. Libertarians are very good at making sense. There is a tendency to argue only from first principles, rely on axioms, push the point using hard dogmas that might be perfectly valid but do not hit the sweet spot to change minds.


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This is why so many people find libertarianism to be somewhat scary, a form of fanaticism that would take away the comfort and stability of life itself. Consider the point about privatizing streets. You can assert the point again and again and conjure up images of every street having a toll. Or you can simply point out that hundreds of large corporations today use private streets in their own factory grounds, streets that are built by private interests and are nonetheless available to everyone.

In addition, there is no necessary reason to believe that privatized streets would not be as open access as a search engine like Google or a video chat program like Skype or Snapchat. Producers have every interest in including users, not excluding them.

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Insofar as it is possible, it is best to use examples of the private provision of goods and services that really exist in our world. One of the best cases is the whole of the Internet, which is the greatest experiment in anarchism that exists today. Trust relationships between merchants and consumers, user ratings, protections against identity theft, and consumer protection have all formed without recourse to government bureaucracies. Yet people continue to believe that government agencies are essential to our lives when they experience the beauties of anarchy every day.

See the anarchy all around us.

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Actually, government contributes very little to the lives of average people. People realize this once they think about it. Our lives are great when we make them so, not because a bureaucrat has somehow intervened to improve our lot. The myth that government is somehow supporting or sustaining civilization is an embedded part of our civic culture, but it is a myth easily refuted by daily experience. Monitoring what we do day-to-day, we discover that it is actually private enterprise that we depend on for all the comforts and excitement of life.

This is an inspiring realization. The notion that government is necessary is a very negative commentary on the capacity of people to manage their own affairs. Once you see the anarchy all around us, you realize that humanity is bursting with creativity, energy, the desire to get along, the impulse to fix problems, and the passion to value others and be valued ourselves. Government has only one power in the end, and that is the power to stall and thwart this constructive process with force.

If by doing so it prohibits peaceful behavior, it normally diminishes the quality of life for all of us. Liberty is an inspiring message.

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We should always avail ourselves to this to make our case. This is something of an art. When you are talking with someone about the subject of liberty, he or she will often say a long series of things that are just wrong from your point of view. One approach you can use is to sit patiently and listen as long as possible, refraining from commentary. At some point, the person will say something that makes sense—a rightist might speak of the need for gun rights or a leftist might talk about civil liberties—and this is the time to speak up. Look for points of agreement.

If you can find a point of agreement on some point about human liberty, you have the basis for a real conversation. As you pursue these lines, you will bump into a point of disagreement, but instead of arguing—which is often just pointless—you have the basis for a serious discussion of the merit of a free society. There are very few people alive in the world today who do not believe in liberty in some part of their lives. Find that point and you can disarm a critic and have the basis for at least getting a hearing for your point of view.

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One thing that Internet culture has taught us: the weaker the argument, the stronger the rhetoric that backs it. Often times, insults, ad hominems, put-downs, and smears are just covers for a lack of confidence in a position. If you know a subject very well, there is no reason to resort to this way of thinking and arguing. The case for liberty does not need loud, boisterous, belligerent arguments.

If you have confidence in your beliefs, you can welcome any comers and face down any objection. If you find yourself getting flustered and angry in the course of a discussion, you might ask if the real problem is not the other person but rather your own lack of knowledge. It might be time to hit the books. Nothing persuades others like a calm and cool demeanor in the face of vigorous criticism.

But the best way to achieve that is to become a genuine expert with a deep and impenetrable conviction in what you believe. Earlier I wrote about the tendency of different political tribes to use completely different language. It is sometimes good to completely mix this up. Why not call yourself a progressive, for example? After all, nothing is for progress as much as human liberty. Indeed it is the only real source of progress.