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Arguing With Statists

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Jose Kris Posted: Mon, Aug 8 2011 10:01 PM

Hello, this is my first post on here and I'm not sure how many of them there are here, but I'm just a high schooler and I was directed to Austrian economics by one of Ron Paul's books like many others. Thus far, the idea of anarcho-capitalism appeals to me a lot both because of its ethical and practical arguments. I've spent a great deal of time in the past months perusing through this website and reading books by such like Ron Paul, Thomas Sowell, Thomas Woods, and Murray Rothbard, learning more and more.

I've recently been arguing with a lifelong statist over whether taxation is theft (both of us being Christians) and I thought that perhaps I lacked enough information and facts to argue against them, but no matter how  much info I presented, they wouldn't budge.

Some of the arguments they gave were:

1. Taxation was justified once in the Bible and its history shows that many churches issued taxation.

2. I'm just a high schooler and I don't pay taxes, so I wouldn't know anything.

3. Taxation is voluntary

4. The practical argument of how I was going to live without taxes.

I tried to explain that 1, 2, and 4 had no effect on whether taxes were theft and 3 was just plain wrong. So, my question is are there any good books or website links (I searched this website, but I couldn't find much) on HOW to argue? I looked at some of Stefan Molyneux's argument tactics and they seemed interesting...

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1. Taxation was justified once in the Bible and its history shows that many churches issued taxation.

2. I'm just a high schooler and I don't pay taxes, so I wouldn't know anything.

3. Taxation is voluntary

4. The practical argument of how I was going to live without taxes.

1. - Lots of dumb things were justified in the bible.

2. - Ad hominem, red herring = irrelevant; not a valid argument

3. - Only in some cases.  Withholding taxes are 'voluntary' only because you sign a whole bunch of contracts that make it so when you get a job.  Income taxes are only 'voluntary' in the sense that you can 'voluntarily' fill out the paper work, but if you do not, they will do it for you.

4. - The practical response should be, "How do we live with them?"

"The Fed does not make predictions. It makes forecasts..." - Mustang19
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Neodoxy replied on Tue, Aug 9 2011 12:38 AM

The fact is that most people are not ready to actually consider another system or challenge their beliefs. Debates get hung up over really dumb and irrelevant things, sub arguments and points to distract from the issue.

I think the best way is to play to someone's values, not yours. Stock up on economic statistics and various data. Become familiar with basic economic arguments, most fallacies come down to basic economic ones that follow a similar pattern.

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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The first (and only) rule of arguing with Statists is not to argue with Statists. I know that rule seems conflicted, but you have to understand that it's meant for two purposes. First, not to get your blood pressure overly high from stress when (not if) you encounter a statist. As often, statists will be the loudest SOBs in public, demanding others to do what they don't do of or for themselves. Second, since statists are inherently hypocritical animals, any logic you attempt to leverage against their arguments will be disregarded so it stands to reason to not argue at all.

"The power of liberty going forward is in decentralization.  Not in leaders, but in decentralized activism.  In a market process." -- liberty student

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First off, Welcome To the Forum!  You're definitely on the right track.  Definitely keep asking questions and keep reading.  As others have addressed those points, I will go ahead and debunk them as well:

They are basically all fallacies:

1) Appeal to authority

2) Ad hominem

3) This is just plain false

4) Argument from ignorance

 

Notice how three of the four are logical fallacies.  You'll find people commit these errors often, especially when they have no real argument.  In fact, you'll see these used more often than genuine reasonings.  The first step to good argumentation is to avoid these fallacies, despite how attractive they may be.  Obviously, this would require some knowledge of them.  It is recommended to become familiar with the most popular of these (you might check this list), as for one, they are most popular for a reason...meaning they can be the most easy to fall victim to yourself, but also it will help you to identify when someone else is committing the error so that you may point out the flaw in their logic.

For more info on this, you might check out this link.  As far as further tips on how to argue, yes Molyneux is a good resource, and you might also check formal sources like here.

I would also recommend knowing your facts and the logic behind the argument you are making.  Of course the best resources for this for the libertarian perspective would be Rothbard's For a New Liberty and the more advanced The Ethics of Liberty.  I highly recommend these.  Definitely start with the former.  I would also strongly recommend Ron Paul's Liberty Defined and the Tannehill's The Market for Liberty.  (You can find links to purchase those at each of those at those respective articles, as well as free downloads (except for Liberty Defined)).

As far as anarcho-capitalism, this is a tough sell for even minarchists/constitutionalists.  It's usually better let them get there on their own...you just guide them in the right direction.  In other words, I disagree with ladyattis when she says you shouldn't be arguing with statists.  It's possible she just means "don't be sucked into argument with them, but instead just say your piece" but I don't know if I would go around saying "don't argue with statists".  The key is you have to understand where they're coming from (which shouldn't be too hard, as you probably just came from that arena yourself and probably even still have many of the same questions and concerns they do.)  And by understanding this, you'll know it won't do any good to go around saying "abolish government".  People will not take you seriously and you will have made no progress. 

This is why I think there is a lot to learn from Ron Paul.  Odds are he's a voluntarist, but he also knows how to start a revolution.  He knows how to reach people and sway public opinion.  He has been an outcast long enough to know that you need to stick to your principles no matter what...but at the same time you can appeal to many more people by focusing on the largest and most pressing issues and offering solutions to them.  It's much more effective than simply saying "government is the source of almost all our problems, and we would be much better off if we got rid of it."  True as that may be, it's not what gets people to listen to you.  I went into this in more detail here.

So in the case of debating statists, the best thing to do is debunk their claims, and simply illustrate how the government is the source of the problem they are complaining about.  People will connect the dots.  And while not everyone will, and certainly not everyone will connect them enough (usually this means study enough) to get to an ancap persuasion, many will.  Ron Paul has probably been the catalyst for more people moving to anarcho-capitalism than any single person.  And he has done so not by arguing in favor of it, but by simply arguing the principles of it...and letting people get their on their own.

Now, if someone takes it that far and is interested, and open to the idea of anarchy, but has questions (as obviously everyone would), there are plenty of sources on this as well.  Bob Murphy's Chaos Theory (and definitely the articles listed there in the links section) are a great start.  And of course Hoppe has written much on the subject.

I would also recommend checking out these:

Reading lists

I realize this is a lot of material, but I figured it would be useful for you to have it all here.  And of course if you have any other questions, definitely feel free to ask away in here.

 

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many churches issued taxation

Many churches also issued proclamations that the Earth was flat.

I'm just a high schooler and I don't pay taxes, so I wouldn't know anything.

Sales tax?

Taxation is voluntary

Just as much as going to prison with a murder conviction is voluntary

The practical argument of how I was going to live without taxes.

How does Jimmy Wales (libertarian, btw) run Wikipedia without government money or advertising? Oh right, people realize Wikipedia is nice and that humanity should have it and we should donate to it.

 

To strip down the argument for AnCap (though I myself am a minarchist for now):

1) The power of government is the power to ultimately coerce and compel. Any action of government over anyone should be seen in the light of government taking away fundamental rights. Imagine government as a god who can make you do whatever he wants.

2) But what about food and welfare to the poor? Shouldn't we tax people to give money to the poor?

Consider this:

While life is not money, money certainly is life. When you have a job and get paid your wages, you exchange your life for some greenbacks. Hence, these dollars store some sort of life in them (at least symbolic). When you are forced to give up your money, you become forced to give up part of your life. This violates the most basic right to life, which is more basic than the "right" to welfare.

Maybe I am beginning to view the world from a rosy and hopeful AnCap perspective, but another scenario:

Peaceful AnCap world. People farm, trade, make companies, voluntary unions, perhaps even voluntary systems of government. Suddenly, a guy comes in and says "you have no fundamental right to live your life like this. I have the power to force you, ultimately and definitively, to give me money so that I can decide what is best for you."

Sorry about the incoherence of this post. I began with a strong feeling but lost the words along the way :P

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Here's how to tell a real anything from a fake

 

Austro-Libertarian (I'll initial "real ideology" each time"):  If they aren't familiar with Mises' Human Action, or Hayek's Prices and Production and Selgin/Dowd/White/Garrison's work, they're not that interested, or deserving of the name.

RI Progressive:  John Rawls, Thomas Jefferson, Paine, and Friedman or Keynes depending on their econ.

Conservative (the last few real ones):  Edmund Burke, Russel Kirk, Buckley Jr., Friedman

Classical Liberal/Conservatives:  Michael Oakeshott, Friedrich Hayek, Mises, Willhelm Humboldt, Edmund Burke, David Hume, The Anti-Federalists, Karl Popper.

 

 

And if you're a good man, regardless of ideology, a healthy dosing of Mencke.

 

And no, neither list is mututally excluding, both have their faults and benefits.

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Eric080 replied on Tue, Aug 9 2011 6:49 AM

Three of the four arguments, as you stated, are irrelevant to the issue.  #3 is obviously the focal point which will determine whether or not taxation is theft.  If I refuse to pay for Fruit Loops after I become disenchanted with the product, Kellog's will allow me to not purchase the Fruit Loops.  That is a voluntary transaction.  If I'm disenchanted with military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, can I appeal to the government and say, "I'll pay most of my taxes for things I support, but percentagewise, I'd like to defund the military," they will tell me that I absolutely cannot and that I'll go to jail if I don't pay the fees that they determine.  Hence, involuntary.

 

Now of course, they could say that I am implicitly benefiting from national defense and whatnot, but the bottom line remains that I was never given an option.  They assumed that I would benefit, took my money, and then turn around and tell me that I would have been dead without it so I have to keep paying.  Whether or not people would benefit from buying the services of roads or security is irrelevant because the government either forcefully monopolized the product in the first place or it paid for it with money that could not fund the project voluntarily (meaning, if a few thousand dollars of my tax money is funding public school, I'm not going to spend that in addition to an extra few thousand dollars for private schooling; no sense in paying for something twice).

"And it may be said with strict accuracy, that the taste a man may show for absolute government bears an exact ratio to the contempt he may profess for his countrymen." - de Tocqueville
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James replied on Tue, Aug 9 2011 9:38 AM

1. Taxation was justified once in the Bible and its history shows that many churches issued taxation.

 
This is an appeal to authority on the one hand, but it's also a dubious one in itself.
 
When does the bible justify taxation?  "Render unto Caesar..."?  That doesn't justify taxation, as my wealth ain't Caesar's. :p  It does say "Thou shalt not steal" several times.
 
I'm not sure what churches you're referring to offhand, but a church drawing a tithe is not the same as Caesar demanding taxes.  It's like paying to be a member of an association or club.  Of course, hundreds of years after Jesus lived, the Roman church became enmeshed with the Roman state, but that is another matter.
 
It may have escaped the notice of your friend, but the Roman tax farmers are generally regarded as the lowest of the low in the gospels.  Didn't the scribes etc chastise Jesus for hanging out with Matthew the Roman tax farmer, and he replied that he didn't come to hang out with the righteous, but with sinners?  Jesus forgives, but he calls a spade a spade.
 
2. I'm just a high schooler and I don't pay taxes, so I wouldn't know anything.
 
That's just income tax.  Presumably you rely on someone else's income, and they have to pay income tax.  You will hopefully not be in high school/unemployed for very long.  High school is a terrible statist imposition in itself.
 
4. The practical argument of how I was going to live without taxes.
 
Seriously?  You don't know how you'll survive when more than half your total productivity isn't ciphered away to pay for things you don't want and don't have anything to do with you?

 

Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro
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Wow! I didn't expect so many replies...

John James:

 

As far as anarcho-capitalism, this is a tough sell for even minarchists/constitutionalists.  It's usually better let them get there on their own...you just guide them in the right direction.  In other words, I disagree with ladyattis when she says you shouldn't be arguing with statists.  It's possible she just means "don't be sucked into argument with them, but instead just say your piece" but I don't know if I would go around saying "don't argue with statists".  The key is you have to understand where they're coming from (which shouldn't be too hard, as you probably just came from that arena yourself and probably even still have many of the same questions and concerns they do.)  And by understanding this, you'll know it won't do any good to go around saying "abolish government".  People will not take you seriously and you will have made no progress. 

Agreed, but surprsisingly for me, a former statist/conservative as well, the appeal of anarcho-capitalism came rather quickly. Perhaps because I was seeking assurance in radical political beliefs like many people my age who side with socialism/far left beliefs or even worse, punk-anarchism. Though, I think the rationality behind it and even some of the epistemiological arguments does rather appeal to me.

Regarding the argument, perhaps I took the wrong approach being a young, giddy, high schooler, I might've excitedly spilled too much about anarcho-capitalism and immediately went to "let's abolish government" instead of targeting the focal points of our government's failure (i.e. economy, war, regulation in food industry etc), stuff that at least liberals and conservatives can agree to argue to some point.

John James:

This is why I think there is a lot to learn from Ron Paul.  Odds are he's a voluntarist, but he also knows how to start a revolution.

Yeah, unfortunately many conservatives I know believe he is strictly a constitutionalist or worse, an actual republican, and when anarchy is mentioned (not that I've spoken to them about anarcho-capitalism yet, but when we are discussing other things like anarcho-communism), they immediately disregard it. Even one of my friends who calls himself a libertarian, believes in gun control, and I guess the remnants of the idealogical inconsistency of statism may be hard to shed off.

James:

I'm not sure what churches you're referring to offhand, but a church drawing a tithe is not the same as Caesar demanding taxes.  It's like paying to be a member of an association or club.

That's an interesting way to put it; I guess the statist I am arguing with understand this to some degree and may assert that taxation was like paying to be part of the church, but then they said it was voluntary and that the "intention" of it must still be voluntary. Or whenever I keep bringing this up to her, she always brings up the "history" of taxation, but I think the problem may be how she is defining taxation. Still though (correct me if I'm wrong), didn't the Catholic Church use some kind of force to collect money even after the Roman Empire fell? They did tons of other stuff that may be questionable such as engaging in "holy" wars and persecuting non-Christians.

Neodoxy:

The fact is that most people are not ready to actually consider another system or challenge their beliefs. Debates get hung up over really dumb and irrelevant things, sub arguments and points to distract from the issue.

Yeah, this was pretty typical of my argument with the statist over taxation; sometimes the debate got really longwinded and talked about interpretations of the bible and the history of taxation than rather the government's use of force in taxation NOW.

James:

That's just income tax.  Presumably you rely on someone else's income, and they have to pay income tax.  You will hopefully not be in high school/unemployed for very long.  High school is a terrible statist imposition in itself.

Agreed, but not just because I hate school (though there has to be a reason for that eh?), but after reading articles on the regulations on homeschooling and all the influence progressivism and government agendas had on education made me sick. Though, unluckily for me, I'll be taking a US history and a world governments class (lol) next semester, so it should be interesting or at least amusing in some aspect.

Anyways, thanks for the help; I'll definitely stick around these forums!

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Yeah, this was pretty typical of my argument with the statist over taxation; sometimes the debate got really longwinded and talked about interpretations of the bible and the history of taxation than rather the government's use of force in taxation NOW.

Gary North(HC christian) have wrote libertarian "review" about whole bible and proving  it to be pro-market, I think you might like it. And in Mises Institute many Anarcho-capitalist writers are catholic(Murphy, Woods, maybe Hülsmann), so if you have many christian friends I think you should study this field.

My point of view: If you make your christian friend to understand that taxation is theft, how about the Gods order "Do not steal"? Though I think that some kings in Bible collected money from their citizens so maybe reading Gary North would be good idea before going there.

-- --- English I not so well sorry I will. I'm not native speaker.
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JH2011 replied on Tue, Aug 9 2011 4:19 PM

So, my question is are there any good books or website links (I searched this website, but I couldn't find much) on HOW to argue?

Hoppe presents some really good points in this article.  http://www.lewrockwell.com/hoppe/hoppe26.1.html

My favorite excerpt is below.  Assuming that someone understands the bad things that come with monopolies, try asking them why they think government-run monopolies on education, law, law enforcement, or national defense are desirable. 

First off, among economists and philosophers two near-universally accepted propositions exist.

First: Every "monopoly" is "bad" from the viewpoint of consumers. Monopoly is here understood in its classic meaning as an exclusive privilege granted to a single producer of a commodity or service, or as the absence of "free entry" into a particular line of production. Only one agency, A, may produce a given good or service, X. Such a monopoly is "bad" for consumers, because, shielded from potential new entrants into a given area of production, the price of the product will be higher and its quality lower than otherwise, under free competition.

Second: The production of law and order, i.e., of security, is the primary function of the state (as just defined). Security is here understood in the wide sense adopted in the American Declaration of Independence: as the protection of life, property, and the pursuit of happiness from domestic violence (crime) as well as external (foreign) aggression (war).

Both propositions are apparently incompatible with each other. This has rarely caused concern among philosophers and economists, however, and in so far as it has, the typical reaction has been one of taking exception to the first proposition rather than the second. Yet there exist fundamental theoretical reasons (and mountains of empirical evidence) that it is indeed the second proposition that is in error.

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jay replied on Tue, Aug 9 2011 8:47 PM

1. Taxation was justified once in the Bible and its history shows that many churches issued taxation.

Taxes happened in the Bible, not necessarily approved (the OT warned strongly against taxes for Israel). Ask for specifics.

"The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -C.S. Lewis
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Clayton replied on Tue, Aug 9 2011 11:56 PM

As a one-time devout Christian, I can tell you that there are some epistemological problems in trying to synthesize Christianity and liberalism. There is an uncanny similarity between the Hobbesian myth (man would perish in an orgasm of violence but for the sacrifices of our protectors who are backed by an overwhelmingly powerful and wise government to prevent such a demise) and the doctrine of the sinfulness of man (man would perish in an orgasm of sin - including violence - but for the sacrifice of Jesus as ordained by an overwhelmingly powerful and wise God.) In many respects, the Christian God is the Platonic ideal to which the Western conception of government is an approximation. He is all-powerful (Leviathan). He is all-knowing (surveillance state). He is omnipresent (JMF Catalan recently had an intriguing Mises daily on Foucault's "panopticism"). He is all-wise but a dispassionate judge. In the next world, God sets right what has gone wrong by punishing those who escaped their punishment in this life and rewarding those who missed out on their rewards in this life. In this world, human governments set right social wrongs by redistributing to those who have gotten a tough break from those who have gotten undeserved wealth. Crimes are offenses committed by the individual against an abstract entity: Society. Sins are offenses committed by the individual against a spiritual being: God. Like sins, crimes are made right by punishment. Like God, the government unilaterally decides how much punishment makes right what offenses. Unlike God, however, the State cannot forgive. Jesus died for your sins but you will have to die for your crimes. I could go on but I will restrain myself.

Clayton -

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Jose Kris:
Agreed, but surprsisingly for me, a former statist/conservative as well, the appeal of anarcho-capitalism came rather quickly. Perhaps because I was seeking assurance in radical political beliefs like many people my age who side with socialism/far left beliefs or even worse, punk-anarchism. Though, I think the rationality behind it and even some of the epistemiological arguments does rather appeal to me.

Yeah this can happen.  That's why it's important to keep learning, not only so you can refine your own beliefs and have a sound reasoning (as well as a sound theory) to explain and support them, but also so that you are prepared to answer the questions of curious potential converts.  Having the answers is probably the most important factor in winning over others...especially those who are open and curious.  This is why Paul and Woods and others have said how important it is that Austrians are there to offer a sound explanation (as well as a solution for moving forward) when everything comes crumbling down.

I remember hearing one guy call in on an Alex Jones show (15 Oct. 2008, actually) saying that when he started talking years prior (when things were bubbly and rosy) about the economy getting really bad, his coworkers laughed him off...but that now they are actually coming into his office, closing the door, and sitting down and asking him what they should be doing.  It's a perfect illustration of how people will remember you when something you said comes true.  This is why it is so important to plant those seeds as early and often.  They say people need roughly 7 exposures (yes, 7) before something really sticks with them and/or they take action.  They also say that hearing an opinion repeated three times by the same person in a group has almost exactly the same impact as hearing the same opinion expressed by three different people in a group.  This suggests that we conclude how popular an opinion is by how familiar it is to us...how many times we've heard it.  As free-market thinkers we can use this to our advantage.

Don't ever think "oh they've already heard this from me, they don't need to hear it again."  Never.  Do not ever think that.  Yes, you need to be mindful of when you're beoming annoying and turning people off, but you also need to be aware that they need to hear the same thing multiple times before it will even sink in...let alone before they'll be comfortable with it.  This is why it is important that you understand the position well enough that you can speak for it in any context....that you can address the common questions people have and offer the refutations for the common objections people give and the explanations of the solutions.  And this way you are able to say the same thing in a bunch of different ways...so that the same message gets across, but not only does it not seem stale, but it makes it easier for people to grasp...as when you hear the same thing explained 4 different ways, it contributes to your comprehension.  And you never know when the opportunity to educate will arise. (Definitely read that one all the way through to the end).

And when you understand these principles and ideas well enough you can start to apply them to really any situation.  In the same way that when you have firm principles and have defined them well, you can offer your view on virtually anything, because it is simply a matter of applying the facts of the situation to your principles and seeing how it pans out...like a litmus test.  This is how Ron Paul says voting in Congress is quite easy for him.  And just as you can do this with political and philosophical questions, you can do the same with economic questions, by having sound economic reasoning.

And the more familiar you are with economic history, the more real world examples you have to illustrate and support your case.  You can point out how Mises and Hayek were able to predict the Great Depression using the same theory and methodology that allowed Austrians today to predict the current mess.  And the more people hear the Austrian explanation and prediction for the collapse that will come, the more apt they will be to listen when it happens.  But they have to hear it before hand.  Because there is certainly no shortage of "explanations" and "recommendations" after the fact...and people certainly lack the capacity to judge the merits of any of them.  But if they hear you beforehand, they'll come back and start asking questions, and they'll be ready to listen.  That's why it's important to have the answers.  Because they'll be looking for them, and it is times like this that public opinion is quite swayable.  This is why Ron Paul can actually win the presidency.  The perfect storm is brewing.

 

Regarding the argument, perhaps I took the wrong approach being a young, giddy, high schooler, I might've excitedly spilled too much about anarcho-capitalism and immediately went to "let's abolish government" instead of targeting the focal points of our government's failure (i.e. economy, war, regulation in food industry etc), stuff that at least liberals and conservatives can agree to argue to some point.

Exactly.  There is never really any need to bring up anarchism.  When people are open to the idea, they'll ask you about it.  But until then, you bringing it up will not get you anywhere.  So there is never really a reason for you to interject it.

You were asking about the best way to argue...and I think that is it.  Answer questions directly...as in address the specific subject that is being discussed, debunk the myths and fallacies around it using sound economic logic, point out the true source of the problem, and then offer the solution.  When someone says something that is false, address that one thing and point out why it's false and present the truth of the matter.  You cannot afford to try introducing your own concepts and positions, as they will be taken and turned into a straw man and then made to be the focus of the debate.  Leftists have to do this because their own positions are so flawed they cannot afford to focus on them too much or it will become obvious how wrong they are.  So they have to demagogue, straw man, insult, change the subject, and commit a whole host of other logical fallacies, just so that they have something to say.  It is also why so much of their effort is spent on silencing their opposition...because their own arguments are so inferior they cannot afford to have the other side heard.

This is why it is much more effective to let them set their own traps and fall into them.  They line up their positions and you knock them down.  You inject your concepts and positions not by introducing them up on your own, but instead you offer them as true solutions right after you debunk the opponant's position.  You will also find this is something else Leftists tend to do...they have no problem criticizing...they'll go on and on...but by the time they're out of breath, they've offered no alternative.  This is why Thomas Sowell says one of the three questions that destroy most arguments on the Left is "compared to what?"  They don't have anything else.  They have no alternative.  They just have their criticisms.  (It's basically the entire corner stone of Marxist "Critical Theory".  For more on that, see here).  But like Sowell says here, "there's nothing easier than to prove that something human has imperfections.  I'm amazed at how many poeple devote themselves to that task."  He's speaking of course, of basically all Leftists.  And of course the reason they devote so much energy to it, is because (a) it's what they've been conditioned to do (again see "Critical Theory" above) and (b) because they don't have any alternatives to speak of.

In other words, they can't offer any solution of their own, so the only way they have something to say is to complain about the problems (and criticize any proposed ideas).

So to get back to your question, the best way to argue is to be mindful of these things, and argue accordingly. 

1) Know what your objective is.

Are you trying to persuade the person you're talking to?  Or is your opponent just a useful platform for you to make a point so that an audience understands?  Why are you debating at that moment?  What is it you are trying to achieve?  Define what success looks like for that particular debate, because if you don't, not only will you not know if you've achieved it, but you won't even know which direction to go in.

2) Know what you're talking about

Do not presume to know about something that you in fact are not familiar with.  Do not trap yourself into a bad spot by saying things you cannot back up or that you will later have to backtrack on.

3) Know your positions

Understand what you believe and why.  Having beliefs and no solid logical reasoning to support them is a weakness your opponents will have.  One of your greatest assets is not having this same weakness.  It is much easier to persuade people of your position when you can support it.  However, be mindful that logic is not always as appealing (or as understandable) as emotion...so it is often not difficult for someone without a rational foundation for what they are saying to be persuasive...or even seem reasonable.

4) Understand your opponent's position

It will not take long for you to become familiar with the most popular Leftist arguments, so it will also not take long for you to notice a pattern for how your debates tend to go.  This will also inform you as to how the person will argue, as in what fallacies they will use, et cetera.  Before long, you will be able to know how someone will respond no matter what you say.  As Ayn Rand said, "every challenge you examine will strengthen your convictions, that the conscious, reasoned rejection of false theories will help you to clarify and amplify the true ones, that your ideological enemies will make you invulnerable by providing countless demonstrations of their own impotence."

5) Do not get angry or insulting

As I've said, there is almost never a need for this, and it almost never helps get you closer to your goal.  It doesn't really further your position and really just makes you look weak, as though your arguments are not strong enough so that you must attack the person.  Besides, odds are if you stick to your guns and follow 1-4, your opponent will be the one to resort to this anyway.

6) Do not waste your time

Never forget your objective.  It is often easy to get sucked into a useless argument that before long loses any hope of being useful for any real purpose.  Early on, it may be the case that every argument provides some value, if nothing else than for the experience, but when you are seasoned enough you don't want to waste time engaging in debates that you cannot achieve anything.  This means, for example, arguing with someone who has absolutely no interest in what you have to say and doesn't respond to you but instead talks at you.  If there is no audience that you may be able to educate through your discussion with the person, there is no use in engaging in it.  Your time would be much better spent with someone else, or furthering your knowledge, or doing something else you enjoy.  It's kind of like if someone took you into a room with gold coins all over the floor, and told you you had 15 seconds to pick up as many as you could...but some of them were glued down.  You're not going to sit there and pick at a glued one...you're going to test it, and if it doesn't budge, you move on.  You'll have much more success that way.

Granted, not all people are the same, and you may have a personal investment in some people...as in, it may be important to you that a relative or close friend be persuaded.  So it will have to be up to you to determine how much time you're willing to invest in picking at that glue.  You just have to remember why you're doing it, why it's important to you, and that there are always opportunity costs...as in, if your real goal is persuading people and spreading the ideas of liberty, you can be much more successful at that by not spending as much time with the ones that are glued down so tightly.

 

For real world examples of useful arguing technique, I would recommend watching Peter Schiff.  Check out the YouTube channels listed here.  They post most of his news appearences.  Or just do a search for his name and watch whatever you find.  He's excellent at proper debate of this kind.  He never comes off rude or crazy...but he's not a robot either.  He knows how to make his point effectively and is quite engaging.  Plus he has a talent for explaining the concepts in a way laymen can understand.  Hearing his explanations may help you understand yourself, as well as be able to present the concepts to other people.

Also as you can see in this interview, he understands what his objective is:

Tim: When you have analysts suggesting that the destruction caused by natural disasters and the destruction caused by wars are good for an economy what keeps you from taking off your mic and calling it a day?

Peter: I am driven by the fact that my words will resonate with some viewers who will ultimately seek me out for investment advice. I realize that I can not save everyone, but I will do my best to extend my hand to those with the good sense to reach for it themselves.

That's keeping your eye on the ball.  Here is another great resource for ideas on how to conduct yourself in debate: "How Should Ron Paul Handle Himself On Television With Hostile Interviewers?" (as well as the article that inspired that one, which is linked in the intro there).  

 

Yeah, unfortunately many conservatives I know believe he is strictly a constitutionalist or worse, an actual republican, and when anarchy is mentioned (not that I've spoken to them about anarcho-capitalism yet, but when we are discussing other things like anarcho-communism), they immediately disregard it. Even one of my friends who calls himself a libertarian, believes in gun control, and I guess the remnants of the idealogical inconsistency of statism may be hard to shed off.

This is why you need to speak the language they can actually understand.  The audience is just as important as the message itself...because if they don't hear it, what good is it?  Look around on YouTube for some great Ron Paul clips that showcase what he's really about.  Those are usually the most effective way to get people's attention.  (A coupld of good channels with some examples are aravoth and TheChannelOfLiberty).  Then you might ask specifically what it is they don't like about him, and then you can address those specific concerns (again, you'll have to be familiar enough to know what you're talking about.)

 

Anyways, thanks for the help; I'll definitely stick around these forums!

Please do.  Get involved, join debates, and ask questions (even if you think they're dumb.  If you're asking because you don't know, and you don't presume to know, you'll get plenty of genuine, helpful responses.  Only trolls get shoved around).  Also explore the main site.  A wealth of knowledge here just waiting for you.

 

 

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Jose Kris replied on Wed, Aug 10 2011 3:02 PM

John James:

...Then you might ask specifically what it is they don't like about him, and then you can address those specific concerns (again, you'll have to be familiar enough to know what you're talking about.)

Well, actually I meant that they like Ron Paul and support him, but they are not libertarians. One of my friends, in particular, said his desire was Ron Paul 2012 with Herman Cain as his running mate, which baffles me because the two are quite different and probably incompatible in many idealogies.

Also, I have been keeping up with those Youtube channels you mentioned and the proof that Ron Paul supports the voluntaryist movement or is at least a libertarian minarchist is pretty abundant. Though, he mentions the Constitution a lot and some (I forgot who) have said he uses this to create a firm target that many conservatives are more likely to support (limited government according to constitution), rather than plainly advocating small government and heavy deregulation. A negative result is, however, that some (like my friends) see him strictly as a constitutionalist and can't see the foundation upon which he is drawing his ideas despite the obvious clues (i.e. pointing to the Austrian school in his books).

Clayton:

 Unlike God, however, the State cannot forgive. Jesus died for your sins but you will have to die for your crimes. I could go on but I will restrain myself.

This is a pretty interesting, but I guess obvious, comparison between God and government. The main argument I used (please correct/advise me if this a bad approach) was that God's authority was the only objective authority according to the Bible and, thus, it superceded all human forms of government, which are run by humans, who are intrinsically sinful (according to Christianity; most non-Christian anarcho-capitalists would probably say self-interested instead of sinful and I guess there is a distinction between the two, but it doesn't change the fact that government will NOT be "for the people" in either idealogy), and, thus, all human governments are inherently sinful in nature because they are collection of human actions that self-justify using force (committing sin) to rule. There are numerous verses in the Bible that refute "end justifies means" and the basic conclusion is that only God can "justify" something such as sin whereas sinful/self-interested humans cannot justify it. Of course, many atheist ancaps may be annoyed at this type of argument and say that NO authority is better than God's, but I believe this may be an important deterring argument to turn Christians against government by using their own idealogy.

jay:

Taxes happened in the Bible, not necessarily approved (the OT warned strongly against taxes for Israel). Ask for specifics.

Taxes by the Israelites' rulers such as the Assyrians or Babylonians or the Romans? Or do you mean taxes in general; I would like to know.

 

 

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Jose Kris:
Also, I have been keeping up with those Youtube channels you mentioned and the proof that Ron Paul supports the voluntaryist movement or is at least a libertarian minarchist is pretty abundant. Though, he mentions the Constitution a lot and some (I forgot who) have said he uses this to create a firm target that many conservatives are more likely to support (limited government according to constitution), rather than plainly advocating small government and heavy deregulation. A negative result is, however, that some (like my friends) see him strictly as a constitutionalist and can't see the foundation upon which he is drawing his ideas despite the obvious clues (i.e. pointing to the Austrian school in his books).

If they read what he writes, or what he suggests, or even just listen closely to what he says, they'd see it.  But again, send them this video if you'd like to shove the truth directly in their face.

Also check out his reading list.

 

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"So, my question is are there any good books or website links (I searched this website, but I couldn't find much) on HOW to argue? I looked at some of Stefan Molyneux's argument tactics and they seemed interesting..."

Only by doing is when you can really learn it. It's one of those "learning experiences."

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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"If they read what he writes, or what he suggests, or even just listen closely to what he says, they'd see it.  But again, send them this video if you'd like to shove the truth directly in their face.

Also check out his reading list."

I think he is sympathetic but politicians are certainly capable of saying and suggesting things to gain support from different voting elements so I don't think it is there for all to see. At least according to my impressions. 

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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Andrew Cain:
I think he is sympathetic but politicians are certainly capable of saying and suggesting things to gain support from different voting elements so I don't think it is there for all to see. At least according to my impressions.

Did you watch the video?

 

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1. Where in the bible? Do you mean "Give unto Cesear what is.."?

That does not mean to pay taxes. Consider the situation. Jesus was trapped and being baited, with the goal of jailing him. He does not mean we should all go to jail.

2. I'm old, and you're undoubtedly smarter today than I am. But that's no reason at all not to debate.

3. Our taxation is not at all voluntary. If you don't pay, they fine you. If you don't pay then they try to confiscate it. If you don't pay then they put you in jail. What's voluntary about that. Also although some people centuries ago may have agreed, I did not.

4. What ever are you saying here. I can live fine with out any of your taxes, or mine. I assume you are living with your family and that you will continue to do so.

By reading more of the books, articles and media on Mises you will learn how to argue.

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Jose Kris replied on Thu, Aug 11 2011 11:26 PM

cryptocode:

1. Where in the bible? Do you mean "Give unto Cesear what is.."?

That does not mean to pay taxes. Consider the situation. Jesus was trapped and being baited, with the goal of jailing him. He does not mean we should all go to jail.

Yeah, she used that verse as one of her arguments, but I find that verse kind of ambiguous and possibly even supporting of the fact that taxation is theft. Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is his and unto God what is His, but then you have to think about WHAT does the government truly own and not own? If one considers ownership of things beside self to be attained when one puts labor into it (kind of like homesteading land and resources), then the money you obtain (which is primarily used to exchange for other goods) from income is from your labor and, thus, yours despite what the coin/federal note may say. In my view, the government cannot claim YOUR money and assert that it is the only allowable form of money because that would be like claiming everything else that the money can buy as well is there's, in which case those other goods/resources would most likely derive from God's creation (thus, it is God's) or it could be left to individual ownership. Thus, taking something that is yours by force is theft... I think we can agree to that?

The statist I am arguing with claims that taxation is not theft because the money isn't really yours. She doesn't try to "justify" it like other statists who say "end justifies means", instead creating her own definitions of ownership and property.

 

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Wheylous replied on Fri, Aug 12 2011 8:58 AM

Who, if I may, owns "my" money, then?

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"Did you watch the video?"

I've watched a lot of videos that you have posted on here. Can you be more specific? 

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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Andrew Cain:
I've watched a lot of videos that you have posted on here. Can you be more specific?

Uh...the one that was linked in the three-sentence post you quoted and were responding to.

 

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"Uh...the one that was linked in the three-sentence post you quoted and were responding to."
 

Oh that one, yes yes I did. I thought you meant one of the videos that Conza88 put up. I found the quotes in that video fragmented. I'd really like to get around to reading Ron Paul's new book but I don't think I will be able to any time soon since grad classes are starting up again. I speculate he will say a lot of what he has been saying, perhaps with new examples and present day situations but like I stated previously I think he is sympathetic to actual anarcho-capitalism, voluntaryism, whatever you wish to title it. I don't think he is an actual full supporter of it. He is like a Mises instead of a Rothbard in that respect except like I said, a little more sympathetic. 

He did do well in the Ames strawpoll. I'm wondering and I hope actual realistically minded supporters are wondering what it means even though Romney wasn't there. I don't need to hear fan boys raving about how it doesn't matter, Ron Paul beats all. Also what is the strategy for Bachmann? Fight her or make her your VP? Or become her VP? 

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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Eric080 replied on Sun, Aug 14 2011 9:07 PM

Andrew, I read about 3/4 of Liberty Defined.  It is basically something of a paleolibertarian primer.  Not anything special, especially if you have already read For A New Liberty or something like that.  But the audience is definitely mainstream America and not libertarian junkies.  The most fun part about reading it for me was to see the references and the literature that Paul mentions and comments on.  For us, it was mostly the usual suspects:  Rothbard, Hoppe, Spooner, etc.

"And it may be said with strict accuracy, that the taste a man may show for absolute government bears an exact ratio to the contempt he may profess for his countrymen." - de Tocqueville
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JH2011 replied on Tue, Aug 16 2011 9:19 AM

Jose... another thing you could potentially bring up...  I must first say that I disagree with this person's logic that "Taxation was in the bible, therefore it is justified now.  However, since she is using that as reason for justification, would you consider asking her the following?

How do you justify your support of taxation and wealth redistibution when faced with commandments such as: 

You shall not covet your neighbor's possessions

You shall not steal

 I'd really like to know how she thinks she is obeying these commandments while simultaneously supporting taxation / wealth redistribution.

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Wheylous replied on Tue, Aug 16 2011 9:34 AM

Or simply 

http://GeorgeOughtToHelp.com/

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