What makes my approach to advocating & defending liberty different

Freedom is being lost; By the numbers

Freedom is being lost, particularly in America, not because it is losing in a fair, public fight, but because to a great extent, its most potent advocates, and the data upon which they base their views, are almost entirely unknown to the general public.

There are myriad reasons for this lack of awareness. But before we discuss that, let us take a brief survey of the situation in which we find ourselves, right now.  The following public survey research data reveal how effectively anti-Western, anti-American activists have been, in terms of:

  • Whitewashing out of existence our essential civic and historical knowledge, even among our most “educated”
  • Tricking approximately half of Americans into supporting socialism over freedom

(a) The lack of civic and historical knowledge, even among our most “educated”

  • Only 17% of U.S. college graduates know the difference between the free market and centralized planning.
  • 80% of seniors at America’s most elite colleges and universities cannot pass a basic high school history test, yet all will be able to graduate without having taken a single history class of any kind.
  • According to an anecdotal, long-term survey, many if not most U.S. college students believe America invented slavery.
  • 57% of high school seniors score below the “basic” level on a test of grade-level American history, the lowest ranking, meaning they have not even achieved partial mastery of this knowledge; 89% score below “proficiency.”
  • Less than 50% of U.S. adults know the basic purpose of the U.S. Constitution.
  • 99% of Americans cannot identify all five rights contained in the First Amendment; 92% cannot name three; less than 25% can name two; 36% cannot name a single right in the First Amendment (sources).
  • Elected American politicians are even less fluent in basic civics than the general public; 25% cannot identify even one right contained in our First Amendment.

(b) The massive, growing support for socialism over freedom

  • 64% of Americans agree with Marx’s core doctrine, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” 69% believe that sentence is in the Constitution (or don’t know if it is or isn’t).
  • Overall, 40% of U.S. adults prefer socialism to capitalism. More Americans under age 30 now support socialism over capitalism, and 45% say they would vote for a socialist for president. Bernie Sanders is now the most popular U.S. Senator.
  • Approximately 40% of Republicans now say they support a single-payer, universal healthcare system.
  • 50% of American adults cannot read above the 8th-grade level, and most college students struggle with “complex but common literacy tasks.”
  • 34% of Americans surveyed in 2012 believe the First Amendment “goes too far in the rights it guarantees,” a jump from 13% in 2011 – the largest single-year jump in this survey’s history.
  • Nearly half of Americans support passing laws to criminalize “hate speech.” 35% of college students believe “hate speech” is not protected under the First Amendment.
  • 58% of American adults said that people should not be allowed to say things in public that might be offensive to religious groups. 31% believe musicians should not be allowed to sing songs with lyrics that might offend others.
  • 39% of high-schoolers do not believe newspapers should be able to publish items without government approval.
  • 43% of Americans agree with the statement, “The press in America has too much freedom in our society”; 71% believe “It is somewhat to very important for the government to hold the media in check.”

Taken in total, if America were an aircraft, we are now on the cusp of what, in that realm, is termed a “catastrophic systems failure.”

The eight main problems with freedom advocates’ existing strategies, tactics and media tools, that led to this situation

There are quite a few people, groups and organizations that have been dedicated to advancing the general public’s understanding of freedom. Many have done excellent work, in terms of obtaining and organizing essential data, and in certain, limited forms of activism.

Viewed from a 30,000 ft. perspective, however, there are several monumental problems with the bulk of existing strategies, tactics and media tools that these advocates of freedom employ, that I contend:

  • Are the reason why most of these people, organizations and their work products are unknown to the general public
  • Have paved the way for the startling progress the socialists have made

The eight most pernicious of the problems with these strategies, tactics and media tools are, in summary:

The content that they contain, and the way in which it is presented, assumes the user possesses basic knowledge of history, or the key issues under discussion – which the vast majority of users clearly do not. The importance and consequence of this disconnect cannot be overstated. It is akin to trying to explain how to change a car’s tire, to an audience that is unfamiliar with the concept of what a car even is – or has been tricked into believe that they don’t have wheels.

They are often presented in written form, and are approachable only by people who have the literacy skills, patience and time to consume them – which most Americans do not. As noted in the above data, most college students struggle with basic literacy tasks. Other research shows that Americans spend, on average, ten times as much leisure time watching TV than reading (including on the Internet), and 55% prefer to receive their news and information from visual media, not text.

Talking heads” and traditional documentary video approaches usually have only marginal impact. Most often, these tools consist of human (almost exclusively white) faces, lecturing the audience. In contrast, socialists use theatrical media and emotional appeals to frame their arguments, evoking empathy in the audience. Further, given the socialists’ stunning success at inciting racial hatred and violence, this alone is enough to cause many in the general public to not even want to consider the message, as it is “just another white person lecturing us.”

They speak ill of, if not attack those who have been tricked or indoctrinated to harbor destructive ideas, and perceptions that are the inverse of reality – instead of seeking to persuade them. A good example of this is “Galt’s Speech” in Atlas Shrugged. People absolutely need to be awoken to how badly they, and our culture, have been misled, and our culpability for not thinking and evaluating issues for ourselves. But I firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of those who support anti-freedom ideas could be persuaded to change, if vital content were presented to them in a respectful, empathetic way.

They are neither meaningful nor relevant to the user, and his or her daily life, or challenges. This problem closely follows (4). Freedom advocates often talk, for example, of opposing government-controlled medical care and the welfare state in the context of their impact on the national debt, increasing an already-bloated bureaucracy, etc. In contrast, socialists construct simple, compelling theoretical scenarios that speak directly to the day-to-day lives of people in their target audiences. A prime example of this was President Obama’s 2012 campaign website feature, “Life of Julia.”

They are designed to focus on time- or issue-specific issues, rather than advancing a holistic, contextual understanding of the nature and requirements of freedom. Granted, there are instances in which the public must be roused to oppose an isolated assault on freedom (I have helped with several, one of which got national attention). But detached from a foundational understanding of freedom, such efforts will be of only marginal value.

They are not designed as tools with which to fight a war, but rather, as assets in a debate. This is unquestionably a war in which we are engaged, and freedom is not just losing, it is being clobbered. We desperately need to weaponize the best available data into strategies, tactics and tools that are capable of helping to not just fight, but to win this war. Which means more than establishing vital realities: it means publicly identifying and, through peaceful means, going to war against the primary forces that have are engaged in a war against freedom, with the objective of destroying their credibility, and their ability to continue waging this war, except using their own resources and assets. To do anything less is akin to putting a mousy professor and a veteran street thug into a cage, and hoping the former can out-debate the latter.

They often make controversial claims without backing them up in a clear, convenient and responsible fashion. Facts must serve as the basis for a freedom revolution. In many cases, however, from Internet memes to documentaries, freedom advocates make claims that challenge established orthodoxy without providing a pathway to accurate, thoughtfully-curated, and easily-accessible source data. This practice only exacerbates the problem described in (1), incorrectly assuming the audience possesses vital foundational knowledge.

These are clearly all very big and complicated issues, and I would be happy to discuss the specifics of my contentions with interested parties upon request. For the sake of brevity, I will assume that the reader concurs that there is substantial merit in this assessment.

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