Monday, February 8, 2021

Planting a Minefield in Front of My Mother's Feet

I want to make a clarification with regard to my post, Planting Libertarian Intellectual Landmines.

In the post, I objected to those who seem to hold the view that just one particular step is going to turn the entire world libertarian and that it is nearly impossible to convert the masses to libertarianism at a deep level.

One commenter at the post writes:

When a libertarian landmind goes off the result is either ridicule, name calling, rationalization, or some combination thereof.

I go into spaces where most people consider themselves progressives where they complain about "capitalism" and evils of wealth concentration, the medical cartel, the warfare state, etc and so on that they blame on "capitalism". I point out how what they complain about was started by progressives. I usually don't get replies.

When I do get a reply they will argue that things like the medical cartel, the military industrial complex and all the various ways cronies steal using the government is part of capitalism. They argue the free market doesn't exist. And then I respond then why it's blamed for these horrible things when it doesn't exist? This is where the name calling tends to start if not before.

I really don't think they learn anything. They are just rationalizing that the bad things that happen because of government being bought and paid for is just part of capitalism. Socialist magic will make that go away in their minds.

But I'll keep planting these mental landminds anyway. Maybe they'll figure out what progressives really are and they aren't one. Who knows.

What is going on here is confusion between the planting of landmines and what I call brain bombs. 

Brain bombs are what I consider instantaneous hits, where something is said that explodes in a person's mind and he has a new world view. I explained a situation, in a post some time ago, where I successfully bombed a New York City taxi cab driver.

 I was once almost killed when I bombed a New York City taxi cab driver. This was some years back, pre-Uber, and the driver was ranting about how important it was to raise taxi cab fares, it was under consideration at the time.

I asked him if he owned the taxi we were in or just a driver. He was just a driver, so I bombed him. "Well, then if rates go up, the taxi medallion owners will see the value of the medallions go up but the competition for driving jobs and wages isn't going to change so what you earn won't go up."

My bombing stunned him, you could feel it in the air and for a few seconds his mind was not on the road and he almost drove into an oncoming car, horns, screeching, swerving and all that occurred.

There are plenty of bombing tales that I could tell, they go on and on. Brain bombing is a hobby of mine.

The above are examples of drive-by bombings. They are quick and to the point and you don't know how long of an impact they will have but you often will sense the person's mind trying to adjust in front of you.

Brain bombs, that is instantaneous changes in a person's position because of a  comment is extremely difficult to do. You need to spend lots of time talking to all sorts of people to be able to understand how to successfully launch such a bomb---and even then it is extraordinarily difficult.

So it is not surprising the commenter above is getting the reactions to his comments that he is but the planting of intellectual landmines is not about immediate reactions. It is about long-term reactions where, when the time is right, a person understands what you were saying because of their own circumstances.

My study of libertarianism and economics goes way back. When I was in high school, I worked at a Sears across the aisle from vacuum cleaner salesmen. During down times we talked. I would tell them how gold and silver were going to explode in price because of price inflation. This is when gold was at around $50.00 an ounce and silver was around $3.00. They would listen intently but it did not seem there were necessarily convinced. Many years later I visited that Sears, vacuum sales was their career and they were still there. When I saw them, all they could talk about was gold and silver and what I thought would happen next with the price. I had forgotten I even talked about gold and silver to them. It was one of the first landmines I had ever planted. It clearly went off.

Sometime in the late 1970s, I told my mother, at a time where almost everyone believed in the soundness of the Social Security system, that there wasn't enough money in the system to fund everyone. She listened but that was about it. I think I was in high school. Many years later, she said to me, when it was becoming clear that Social Security was underfunded, "You were right about Social Security."

When Ronald Reagan announced a "tax cut," I told her it was a scam. I am not sure she believed me. (Me against Ronald Reagan, I don't think I was positioned well).  Months later, when the plan was put into effect, she said "You were right, my monthly payroll check is actually a bit smaller."

At some point, I think a part of her started to observe me as a very curious character. She once said to me, "You know, Robert, I could be like you."

Lots of landmines had been going off.

The first few landmines you might plant by accident but then you realize how it is done and you can really get good at it.



  1. Teaching one or two people in your circle of family and friends to be sympathetic to libertarian viewpoints is a good goal. There are some things to keep in mind.

    Are you, the one trying to open other people's minds, a happy, courageous, loving, and successful person? If you are someone they admire, your friends and family will be naturally inclined to be interested in what you are saying. Most of the opinionated family members are come off as angry at the world, and usually not tremendously successful. So why would anyone listen to them? Radiating happiness, love, and showing no concern over the things that concern everyone else, is a real potent combo.

    Let me give you an example. Let's say a family member says "I noticed you don't wear a mask when you go to do (insert whatever thing a normal human does)." If you say, with sincerity, "You know i just forget sometimes that there's a pandemic going on, as my mind is on other things." You're going to get some interesting reactions. At this moment, it really helps if you've already established yourself as someone that is happy, helpful and successful. People already admire you and they want to know why you are you.

    If you follow that up with "well I don't follow the news or anything that tries to influence me negatively so it's easy to forget about the world's drama. If everyone gave up those negative influences, we'd all be better off."

    Now the discussion is about something deeper than politics. People will generally agree that the news is unhealthy, but can't quite imagine a world without it. You need to get past the surface talking points, and address the primary issue.

    The primary issue is that fear is the dominant human emotion. It always has been. As David Hawkins said in Letting Go, "Fear is so extensive and takes so many forms that there are not enough pages in this book to enumerate all its varieties."

    People think of fear all wrong. Fear is an ocean in your mind that is always present. All of your friends and family are walking around (and of course us too, and definitely me) in lives that are constructed nearly completely out of trying to avoid fear. If you don't recognize that and sympathize/empathize with it, you are going to have a harder time unlocking minds.

    Some people think libertarians should use fear as a weapon. It's certainly ok to explain historical examples of communism, etc. But to use that as a way to get people to move towards libertarianism is folly. Without a reduction in fear, gains are temporal and meaningless. The next fearful thing (terrorists, gangs, drugs, Saddam Hussein, nazis, fascists, covid, and on and on) will just pull them right back. Immediate fear trumps distant fear.

    Good luck.

    David B.

  2. I don't expect nor try for a one step or instantaneous solution. The idea is to plant the seed that progressivism is bad. I don't do a deep history. It's very top level surface facts. Not exactly slogans but closer to that than anything else. It's an attempt at a factual association between progressivism and the things they hate.

    I can see how those who reply may have a 'brain bomb' type effect. I am more interested in those who read but don't reply. These are places where people think they are progressives but they complain largely about the same things libertarians do.

    My comment is also about how people will find a way to maintain their views. It is only in the long term that it may do anything if at all. Maybe the next time the fed bailouts the wealthy.

  3. One landmine that I like to plant is to simply switch a few words to get people to think about things in a different way. People may have mixed feelings about "government" - some see it as a protector and others see it has an oppressor. But everyone can agree that "politicians and bureaucrats" are a den of snakes that are no good for anyone. So I always refer to "government" as "politicians and bureaucrats". It's not a lie, and I'm not distorting anything. Government IS actually made up of politicians and bureaucrats. Also, people are programmed to automatically hate the word "Capitalism", so I don't use it. I use "free-society", which is where Capitalism comes from. As in, do you want a free-society economic system, or one that is controlled by politicians and bureaucrats?