From the White-PillBox: Part 32
That tricky place just south of the red pill.
We often feel others can be tantalizingly close to being red pilled, but cannot seem to shake the hold of statism. That seemingly small final step ends up being all but insurmountable.
But it helps to understand why it is a difficult step. Once this is clear, we can identify a White Pill - a way to help others past that impediment, and toward clarity of thinking about the State, and anarchism.
What is that mental place like?
They’ve swallowed a lot of little red pills. They have seen example after example of the atrocities of the State; how it is evil by its nature; how it corrupts institutions, culture and individuals.
But they can’t quite get to anarchism. The State still has a hold on their mind that won’t be shaken off. Put simply, they believe the State is a bad thing, but still a necessary evil.
It’s not a lack of insight, or some piece of knowledge that has escaped them. They do not need just a wee bit more research and study. It is not an external impediment.
The blockage is in their own mind. They often need nothing more than a change in perspective.
The State - a manipulator of human psyche
One important aspect of our social nature is our tendency to respect institutions and traditions. This social habit is healthy, at least for institutions and traditions that better humanity. Examples include the family, community, and countless social arrangements that promote health, education, athletics, business, etc. These arrangements make society better. They earn the respect and even reverence worthy of good institutions and traditions. In turn, this respect helps maintain their value to generations across the span of time.
But this habit of thinking gets co-opted by the State.
The State is a bad institution that manipulates our tendency to respect tradition. By means of propaganda, it manages to leverage this respect into blind public support.
So what does it take to overcome the mindset?
We cannot push others past this impediment. At best we can guide them there, because they must reach this insight themselves:
Their own natural intuitions regarding justice and fairness are at odds with their view of the State.
They deserve praise for their basic morality, as practiced in their private lives. But they need to be shown they have been indoctrinated to make a single exception to their moral standards when it comes to judging the State.
It takes a small but powerful shift in perspective.
Imagine that a thug beats and robs you. You would correctly think: the problem here is the thug.
Now imagine a friend of yours gets beaten and robbed by the same thug. But your friend has an odd belief: he feels the thug has a right to mug people.
In this case the thug is certainly a problem, but there’s another problem: your friend has a false and harmful belief.
His belief that the thug acted legitimately blinds him to the real problem right in front of him.
The only way to resolve this is for your friend to see his mistake. Once he sees the thug had no such right, he can instantly judge the act as morally wrong.
In real life, no one twists their moral sensibilities in this way. That is, unless the thug is the State.
That is exactly the mindset of statists, including those who are ever-so-close to giving up the myth of government authority.
The impediment that prevents a person from getting over the myth of the State is themself: their belief in its legitimate authority. This is what stops them from judging the State as inherently and morally evil - as something that ought not exist, at all, for any reason.
However, they do sense it…as an internal struggle: they know that violating consent is wrong; yet their lifelong belief in the myth of the State is difficult to challenge.
Because they only sense a struggle, but do not clearly identify it, it generally manifests in the same way: by deflection (we’ve all done it on our journey to anarchism). They keep asking how this or that would be handled without government. They drill into the minutiae of government laws, regulations, policy, strategies, personalities, etc.
They deflect their minds from their inner struggle…from the fact that they are making a moral exception to consent-violation when it comes to the State. They stay safely in the weeds, where they can appear to be tackling the issue.
Watch what happens when they ask you how a specific area of life would be handled in a free society (schooling, police, money, etc). Even if you provide an eloquent answer, they do not thereby abandon their belief in State legitimacy. Their mind simply jumps to yet another area of life. This is their mind deflecting itself.
They seem to say, “I am this close to accepting the State as illegitimate; I only need to know how “X” will be handled, and then I am all the way there”.
And then “X” is always followed by another “X”.
They are seeking escape from their inner contradiction.
The White Pill
Your own messaging can be more successful if you empathize with the psychological struggle of a person who is questioning the legitimacy of the State. Empathy helps us guide others, rather than lecture them.
Above all, affirm their natural moral intuition about the golden rule, the NAP, or whatever familiar concept of fairness and justice they may use. Help them see that it’s a good thing to apply this moral intuition consistently to all men irrespective of title or rank.
It is not your logical persuasiveness they need at that stage. It is the psychological permission to validate their inner anarchist.
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This is a significant point that permits us to generalize to the liberty movement as a whole. Libertarian scholarship has been rock solid for over a half century. It is well reasoned; it is logical; it demonstrates a host of statism’s logical contradictions; it provides practical voluntary solutions to social problems.
If logic and reason alone guided social thinking, then libertarianism and anarchism would have long since persuaded virtually everyone. Yet we haven’t even come close.
We seem to have a wildly inexplicable situation.
On the one hand, logic and reason are impenetrable. Simply look at the progress in the hard sciences; its thinkers and engineers treat rational thinking as a bedrock of their field. Deviations are impermissible. And the successes in these fields are almost beyond imagination.
On the other hand, in the social sphere rational thinking is not at all foundational. It is impeded by the lack of critical thinking about its foundational principles…the inability to see one’s indoctrination.
Logic and reason are secondary at best. To be sure, they are brought out when it suits the situation and to give the illusion of civilized discourse. But the central, unquestioned, faith-based bedrock is the indoctrinated belief in the State. Just like the battered spouse who believes her husband has a moral right to beat her, the typical social thinker’s mind cannot and will not question the underlying false notion that the State is legitimate.
And the social sciences thereby suffer for it. They retrogress due to false foundations, just as the hard sciences progress due to rational foundations.
It is a tantalizingly frustrating problem; social thinking is not lacking any sort of complicated insight or scientific discovery. It simply cannot think past its irrational blind faith in the legitimacy of the State.
This does not make the problem unsolvable. But it affirms that reason alone will not do it. Indeed, it cries out for a major assist from the insights of the psychology of cult thinking.