Persuading People to Adopt Voluntaryism is Mostly Futile

in #anarchy4 years ago (edited)


It's true and deep down, you know it.

I used to think a good percentage of statists were persuadable to voluntaryism--if only you found the right words, the right articles, the right videos to show them.

I spent most of my free time and even some of my not-free time for multiple years posting on social media and talking to my friends and acquaintances about how statism is the great problem-causer in all of society, and should never be relied upon as a problem-solver. I spent many fruitless hours painstakingly explaining self-ownership and the NAP to anyone who expressed a passing interest, and others besides. I learned how to encapsulate universal economic truths into succinct explanations so that people reading what I'd written could easily digest and understand them.

How many people do you think I persuaded to accept a Voluntaryist worldview?

Maaaaaaaaybe three. In like, six years.

That is NOT a good return on investment, guys.

If we're being totally honest, proselytizing for voluntaryism and anarchy is a waste of time and talent, UNLESS:

  • You get personal enjoyment proportional to the amount of time and energy you are investing
  • You can somehow monetize it proportionally to the amount of time and energy you are investing
  • You happen to be extremely good at getting people to see the light--like if you can persuade someone in an hour or two. I doubt even our most celebrated celebritarians fall into this category.

About a year ago, I decided to stop posting on Facebook about voluntaryism and anarchy. With few exceptions (most of them brief "hey look at this shit" posts directed to my already-voluntaryist friends), I've kept that deal with myself. In fact, I stopped posting on Facebook at all for the most part. And I stopped talking to statist friends and acquaintances about my philosophy unless they seem genuinely interested and open to considering what I have to say.

I still post related articles on Steemit once or twice a week--because (a) I enjoy parsing out my thoughts on these subjects through the written word and (b) I'm earning money by doing so. But I don't fool myself that these articles are changing any minds. Most of the upvotes I receive are from people who already agree with me, and if the comments are any indication, those who don't already agree are not anywhere near open to persuasion, no matter how logically I and others present our arguments. The posts I write about anarchy and voluntaryism are probably not converting anyone. I have no illusions about that.

So what can we do to promote voluntaryism besides evangelizing for voluntaryism?

Let's look to the market for the answer. Where is the demand? What value can we each provide that will also contribute to furthering humanity on the road to statelessness?

Is there an insatiable demand for anarchist writings and videos? No, not really. There's a healthy demand, mostly among the already converted, which can easily be met by the celebritarians who are already out there doing that work. The market is saturated with people either trying in vain to monetize their voluntaryist screeds or just doing it for free on Facebook and Twitter for an audience that will never be brought around.

But there are other demands that are not being filled.

There is a demand for financial stability. There are a million demands for innovative tech solutions that decentralize the way we interact and transact with one another. There is a demand for alternative housing, healthcare solutions, business opportunities, education options, and all sorts of other solutions that bypass the complexity of bureaucratic obstacle courses. There is a demand for entertainment--fiction, film, music--that explores new ideas of how society can function. There is a demand for peaceful caregivers, teachers, and role models who respect the personhood of those in their care. These demands exist in great measures, even though the individual people who want these things would not characterize their desire this way. In other words, people want what freedom will bring them, but they don't know that freedom will bring it, and 99% of them won't believe it until they see and experience it.

So my advice to every voluntaryist keyboard warrior is to stop. You don't have to stop completely if, like me, you get some enjoyment from keyboard warrioring, but at least honestly evaluate your return on investment of time and energy. Analyze the opportunity cost of evangelizing for anarchy. How many converts have you made? Are you getting some other compensation for your time? Are you still posting anarchy stuff on non-paying social media platforms in addition to Steemit? Are your Steemit posts themselves making enough money or creating enough persuasion to justify the amount of time and energy you put into them? Is it all worth it, considering the time you've spent repeating, reiterating, and re-explaining the philosophy? Is there something else you could be spending your valuable time and energy at that would be more effective in showing people, instead of telling them, what freedom can do for them?

If so, you should be doing that.


Hi, I'm Starr!

I believe all human interactions should be consensual


I love you, Steemit!


One day I realized that compared to the attributes of liberty itself, I'm rather a crap salesman.

I don't understand why liberty doesn't simply sell itself, but for the most part it doesn't.

Those who want to be free find it for their self. Those who don't can almost never be led to it.

Never give your opinion unless someone has asked for it... but with that said, I love it when anarchists preach to the choir! Sometimes your phrase or sentence is exactly worded in a way that I can finally remember it and share... So this choir girl is grateful.

This is a great post.

Anarchists and Libertarians have a way of arguing that turns people away.

Think about it: Dogmatism in the name of liberty doesn't quite make sense.

Liberty is not a dogmatic system.

Arguing in a dogmatic style does not convey the way a free society would work.

Speaking of image, I have one important observation: Radical socialists like George Soros and encourage people to argue for anarchy. The left wing radicals then point to the anarchists to scare the people at large about the message of freedom.

They are simply projecting a negative image on liberty. Conservatives do the same thing. They project negative images on Libertarians.

Libertarians need to stop playing to the absurd images projected on the movement.

As for this post. You were seeking a word that could move the freedom movement forward. There is one extremely powerful word that I rarely hear in the mainstream media that could turn the tide on the debate.

It is late. I will tell you the word tomorrow.

As promised. I dropped my answer as post on my SteemIt.

The way to draw people into the libertarian point of view is to draw them into a conversation about who owns what in their local community.

I start by pointing out that poverty, by definition, is lack of ownership. A poor person, by definition, does not own anything worth merit.

Looking at communities we see that ownership is being concentrated into a small number of private equity firms and REITs. This concentrated ownership disenfranchising the people.

Statism and welfare tends to accelerate the concentration of ownership.

High taxes tends to undermine the ability of people in the community to own things.

When one concentrates on a discussion of individual ownership, one systematically draws people into a world view where they realize that property rights and individual liberty are the key to widespread prosperity.

Conversely one will realize that big government and big finance tend to march hand in hand to drive the people at large into subsistence.

One can bring up the question of ownership in everything. For example, I am writing a comment. One should question who owns this comment and who benefits from this comment.

Asking the question in different contexts brings people into the libertarian view without sounding too preachy.

I would've been a voluntaryist ten years earlier if I'd heard of it.

Me too. And there is a very small percentage of the population that's like that. People like us account for the .5 converts a year we make after seeing the voluntaryist light ourselves. We become the visionaries who can choose between fruitlessly trying to persuade more to join us, or building the world we want to see. And make no mistake, that is the choice we are each individually making whenever we decide to use our time trying to persuade people who will never be persuaded.

Here, we're doing both. That's why I love it.

I gave up long ago trying to persuade people. It just doesn't work. People have to be seeking the truth to find it. It's not something they simply stumble upon and go, "Wow, look at this! It's exactly what I've been looking for."

I stopped posting on Facebook too, mostly. Sometimes I will voice my thoughts on my political stance, Voluntarism and Libertarianism, but even then, for some reason, probably because of he energy that used to follow me around and thus the energy that attracted most of my Fb friends, I find myself overwhelmed by people trying to convert me to THEIR political views, criticising mine, being angry that I am the way I am, and expecting me to change how I think.

At some point I will write a post and whomever wishes to unfriend me can. I've written posts where people just get mad at me and don't unfriend me. I'm tired of people getting mad at me for being who I am. So I just talk about healing and stuff and how I make money on Steemit. I can't handle the criticism right now. It's the whole CRAP thing that Melanie Tonia Evans talks about (Criticism Rejection Abandonment Punishment). Somehow I still attract it. I guess one day I won't anymore, but for now, meh.

I have better luck with one on one conversations where I just say this is how I see things, this is my point of view, that's just me. If they want to know more, I tell them more, otherwise, we end up talking about dragons and elves.

Oh by the, just started following you. I see you write fantasy :) So do I! Do you also play video games?

As I've said often lately, we are surrounded by well programmed robots. They are dangerous too. For those of us seeking the truth and to further individual liberty, we have a duty to stay on that path. We do not have a duty to convince others of the same truth. They have to find it themselves.

That is very well said, and something I think many of us tend to forget. When these robots are trying to convince us why we're wrong, it's easy to fall into the trap of trying to explain to them why THEY need to change, as opposed to simply saying that this is the path we're on and it's right for us, without pushing further, allowing it to sink into them and then perhaps ignite enough curiosity for them to do their own research.

Mostly I write science fiction, but I have done a few fantasy stories and have a few more kicking around in my head. And no, I don't play video games. Except for Galaga.

A sad truth, one that I'm close to owning for myself as well. I can't NOT try, though; it's too important. I myself take pleasure in the conversation and oration aspect more than anything - I think changing how we TALK to one another is a meaningful change that we CAN affect.

I think most people who turn to anarchy/libertarian values already knew there was something wrong. Once they hear the solutions, they were already holding the values and feelings to switch, they just didn't know it. For me, it just clicked. I found out what money really was; what the system really was and it was a no-brainer to switch. Showing people the same information I first found doesn't have the same effect. I think if people don't already feel that there is a problem, it's no use wasting time on them. But, we need to find the people that are ready. Showing those people what they have already been looking for is important. If everyone switches 2 people a year and those two people switch 2 more people, things will spread. When enough of those people start on this path, the 100th monkey effect will kick in and everyone will get on board.

Maybe a fourth exception to the rule -- if you believe in long-term investment, which is what education is a form of ;)

This was a great post! Thank you!

In my eyes we always can just try to capture people where they are.
Not really capturing... just giving them thoughts of freedom, they don‘t have yet.

Freedom is what anarchy wants. When we engage in freedom... the idea of it... this is my way I try to do this.

I am convinced that everyone on this planet wants to be free. People just try to reach it in the wrong way.

Freedom can happen, when people understand, that freedom means not fighting the freedom of others and what they believe might take them there.
But just making them think and give them other ideas. And making them feel accepted and loved. Or they won‘t start encouraging in different ideas.

So I think, you do it the right way... you want to free people‘s minds. The process of spreading ideas is just a slow one.
But that‘s okay. :-)

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Many important things in your post I can learn a lot from your post ....
Hope you post it again ....

I have lived anarchy for over 2 decades. (this isn't a moral high ground perspective, just the way my life turned out. I never had a political viewpoint to be honest. )

Your post is excellent.
I have been on a tirade lately against the ideologues of anarchism and voluntarism - sorry. oops.
What I thought as anarchism - philosophically speaking- is still the same, but real life is very different..

I did this post an hour ago...don't hate me, I mean nothing bad...quite the opposite in fact..

You're no anarchist. You believe in state-sponsored borders and the initiation of violence against foreigners. Instead of admitting you openly condone state-sponsored violence, however, you jump through all kinds of hoops to convince yourself that 'border control' is good 'stewardship' of the land.

You haven't 'lived anarchy for over 2 decades'; you don't even know the meaning of the word.

Against “ideologues” such as myself and @larkenrose. How helpful/productive.

Please consider resteeming this post, if you find this idea useful:

Stay awesome!

I think it more depends on one's individual abilities and interests.

If you have the means to do outreach and enjoy it, go for it!

If you are not a social person and/or don't feel like producing memes, videos, or working on grassroots efforts, that's fine as well.

Just use your other means to support those who do and support businesses/business owners who are principled Voluntaryists.

Not everyone has to be an evangelist for liberty. Just being a more ethical person through self-knowledge, peaceful interactions, peaceful parenting, and treating others with respect by the N.A.P. is an improvement to the world.

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