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Change We Can Believe In

in Communicating Liberty, From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Change We Can Believe In

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Obviously, we’re not talking about the campaign slogan from eight years ago.

We are at a point where the dynamics of media are changing. More media outlets, bloggers, instant LIVE broadcasts, and social media drive conversations outside the tightly controlled messaging we’ve seen in the past. Because of the “always on” nature of many of these developments, the way news is presented is changing… For the better.

ChangeWith the ability to break news at any time, how people interact is changing. Today, we know more about what’s happening throughout the world, rather than a narrative that can be controlled.

The Arab Spring probably would not have made the news stateside, had it not been for the images, thoughts, and reporting performed by those on the ground, with the American audience demanding to know more. The dynamics of media are changing, and while the established corporate media tries to hang onto everything they can control, alternative media continues to grow in influence.

These changes also mean that ideas are spreading faster and with a farther reach. Even in some of the most remote areas of the world, a couple touches of a smartphone screen or clicks of a mouse can bring you up to speed on the latest happenings in minutes.

Because of how easy it is to get information, we now see a shift in how ideas spread, with virality, openness, and trust overcoming traditional advertising avenues and the power of vast sums of money. The dynamic is shifting, and greater exposure causes that shift to occur faster.

What does this change mean for libertarians? In this new decentralized dynamic, our voice can be just as prominent. The walls that stopped us before are crumbling, as we now have nearly equal footing.

So, let’s take advantage of this opportunity. The more we discuss our ideas, the moral case for freedom, and what a free society looks like, the greater influence we have on the direction our world moves. We can truly work to change hearts and minds without meeting the barriers of the past.

Knowing this, what will you do for liberty?

Why Rhetoric Should be Celebrated

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use, Philosophy by Alice Salles Comments are off

Why Rhetoric Should be Celebrated

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

We often hear that persuasion is an obstacle to freedom. “Rhetoric,” they say, is why we’re in such trouble. After all, voters would make better decisions if they had been better educated about the issues facing the nation.

To Deirdre McCloskey, the celebrated Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, people who scapegoat persuasion are misguided.

PersuasionIn a video for the Learn Liberty series, McCloskey argues that while many people with different points of view on politics all agree that free speech is “sacred,” few agree that persuasion is just as important, if not a feature of a free society.

“Rhetoric,” she tells the viewer, “sounds like a bad word.” Media outlets are the first ones to accuse politicians and key figures of indulging in rhetoric, and never getting to the point. But McCloskey believes that this approach to persuasion is superficial, especially when considering the alternative.

She explains that, persuasion would be bad if the alternative to “sweet-talking” people into believing something or siding with someone wasn’t persuasion through force.

Because we are humans, McCloskey adds, we depend on language. But if we cannot use language, there is another way of persuading people into taking a particular stance: Violence. If I have a gun in hands while telling you to believe in economics and stop arguing with me if you want to stay alive, you will most certainly choose to agree with me, just so you may avoid getting shot in the head. But if there aren’t any guns involved, all we can do to make our point stick is to try to persuade folks by selling our idea the best way we can.

“In a society of free choice, free ideas, free consumption,” McCloskey adds, “you have persuasion as the only alternative to violence.”

Henry David Thoreau once said that “thaw, with her gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor, with his hammer.” The late, prolific author Gore Vidal once said that advertising is the only art form ever invented in the United States of America. To McCloskey, “a free society is an advertising society,” after all, a free society is where people debate and persuade, rather than threaten others into going along with their ideas. Americans should be proud of this very American tradition.

Instead of demonizing rhetoric by complaining that propaganda alone is the root of our problems, McCloskey seems to argue, we should celebrate the “speaking, rather than violent, society,” and take part in the activity, rather than decry it as the root of all evil.