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To Any Who Were Once Apathetic: What Brought You In?

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Anarcho-libertarian Posted: Sun, Feb 19 2012 7:55 PM

I have a friend who is apathetic. She disconnects when she is in a group and politics of any stripe comes up. I'm thinking that anyone who is apathetic can be reached if they understand how there is a great amount of evil and injustice being done to them and to others. I think that a sense of outrage needs to be cultivated in apathetic people.  Maybe showing them something like a video of a child hit by a predator drone who has his lower jaw ripped off and his tongue hanging out with a look of panic in his eyes. To know that that is being done causes me to be outraged, and I don't know why it wouldn't be the same for anyone else.

I'm not sure the best way to go about this though and I'd like to put some videos/articles together for her. Does anyone have any advice? If you were once apathetic, do you remember a specific video/article that clicked with you for the first time ever?

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Bert replied on Sun, Feb 19 2012 8:05 PM

Once apathetic?  I still am.

 

I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. - Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
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In my book you're not, but I suppose you're being sarcastic.

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Anarcho-libertarian:

To know that that is being done causes me to be outraged, and I don't know why it wouldn't be the same for anyone else.

I'm not sure the best way to go about this though and I'd like to put some videos/articles together for her. Does anyone have any advice? If you were once apathetic, do you remember a specific video/article that clicked with you for the first time ever?

I know it seems like what outrages you would outrage anyone, but that's not really how it always works.

For me (and I think this is the case for a great many others) apathy was largely (if not entirely) due to a lack of knowledge.  Don't get me wrong, I'm fully aware that for many people ignorance doesn't make any difference whatsoever...not only in forming opinions, but in espousing them...even to the point of pretending (and even exclaiming) they are facts.

But there are also a great many people whose ignorance brings them in the other direction.  They feel (and rightly so) that they do not know enough on the subject to have a valid opinion.  It's entirely possible they've held an opinion or two in the past and were either put in doubt after hearing someone else's take on the subject, or put in their place quite mercilessly by someone who was much more informed than they.  This can easily allow one to come to the conclusion that they are not in a position to have an opinion...so they don't.

Think about the world from the uninformed person's perspective.  You have "really smart" people on both sides of every economic and political topic.  Hell, that fact is preciesly a tactical piece of information used by the opinionated faction of the uninformed populace whenever they want to try to discount something they disagree with.  We've all heard them.  When they're backed into a corner and have nothing left, they resort to the ol' "for every supporting paper/expert you could cite, I could find one that says the opposite".  And then if they're really stupid they finish it off with the insufferable "so I guess we'll just have to agree to disagee."

But it is true that there are smart people who completely disagree all the time.  Experts in the same fields, even.  So it's not hard to understand how someone who is not at all informed, understands virtually nothing of the subject at hand, and may not be very bright overall, could simply feel that it's hopeless...and could rest on the notion that "these people are genius experts who study this their whole lives and even they can't agree...so how the heck am I supposed to know?"

That's where apathy comes from.  The easiest thing to do is just say "well I'll just let the experts sort it out."

In the same sense that the cure for poverty is wealth, the cure for apathy is enthusiasm.  However, enthusiasm doesn't easily come from nowhere.  People have to have a reason to care.  So for the answer you might look to where people are most enthusiastic.  (Which, if you click the link, you'll see I'm talking about Ron Paul supporters).  Just do a search for "Ron Paul cure apathy".  You'll see all kinds of references and videos of people talking about how they went from "political athiest" to "activist".  (Videos like this, and this.)

For some, it can be something as simple as having someone that is trustworthy and honorable.  But for many others, (myself included) apathy began to disappear as knowledge was acquired.  I'm actually of a less common breed in that my discovery of Ron Paul largely came after my discovery of free market economics.  For me, it was largely an understanding of economics that was the understanding that allowed me to begin forming assessments and opinions about these kinds of things.

This of course was informed by a parallel study of libertarian theory as well.  Between these two things I began to become more and more politically inclined.  In my opinion political ideology largely comes along with economic understanding.  I don't think one could possess any significant understanding of economics and not have opinions regarding policy.

And I think this explains the enthusiasm for Ron Paul.  His words and expression of ideas invites others to investigate these things...both libertarian philosophy and free market economics.  And it's like he says, freedom is innately attractive.  We all have a desire to be free.  And Paul supporters (even the super young ones) tend to be extremely knowledgable (especially when compared to the average person).  Whether he piques their interest (through his consistency and honesty) and they in turn go study and become exicted, or whether they study and are in turn drawn to him because he's the personification of the right philosophy (both political and economic) and become excited...the result is the same: knowledge and enthusiasm...which is the cure for ignorance and apathy.

So my suggestion for curing apathy is to introduce these people to the idea that there is a right answer...that you can understand what's going on, and that you don't have to be clueless and throw up your hands and leave it all to the "experts" in Washington.

Ways to go about this are mentioned here:

Beginners' video list

A model of the liberty message...this is what you can be

This is what you can do with OccupyWallStreet

 

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Feb 19 2012 9:05 PM

@Anarcho-libertarian

As much as I want to believe that video, and I'm not saying that I necessarily don't, but that video doesn't provide proof that it was predator drones that killed/maimed those civilians.  It may have been done by the NTC which is the National Transitional Council of Libya.

I'm not saying it isn't true, but just giving a warning to people that it may not necessarily have been the US or NATO that did the murdering/maiming in that video.

Also, on wikipedia, the articles that are sourced have Libyans (whether civilian or military) saying it was US/NATO.  The problem with this is that nationalist conservatives tend to assume that anything a foreigner says is false.  So, unless there are Americans/Europeans providing the evidence, chances are you will not actually get through to a conservative.  And, of course, what are the odds the American State or NATO is going to admit that they are guilty of warcrimes...

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Groucho replied on Sun, Feb 19 2012 9:11 PM

Collateral Murder - Wikileaks - Iraq

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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Bert replied on Sun, Feb 19 2012 9:29 PM

I'm apathetic, but I'm not unaware nor unaffected.  It seems the work it takes to make such a change dwarfs that of Sisyphus, except instead of a boulder we are rolling the world.  For some people you have to find something that strikes more at home with them, something that is directly affecting them, something slowly crippling their life, or another way expose a complete lie they've been led to believe, and if it works they'll begin to unfold the veil themselves.

I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. - Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
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I started looking into the meaning of life. I realized politicians are all liars. I started listening to Alex Jones circa 2007. Then I started following Ron Paul. Then around 2009 I looked into austrian economics. In 2010 I started questioning the state and then civilization.

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Thank you John James. I was hoping you would respond with one of your long and definitive answers. I'll start her out with that beginner video list. And thank you gotlucky for the heads up on that video.

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Anarcho-libertarian:
Thank you John James. I was hoping you would respond with one of your long and definitive answers. I'll start her out with that beginner video list.

Glad I was able to offer some help.

Take care though to present it steadily.  Don't just give her the link to the playlist.  Send her a couple at a time, spaced out.  For one, she's much more likely to watch them that way.  (I guarantee, if you send a newbie you're trying to convince a playlist of 50 videos, making up 8 hours of content, it's too daunting.  People like to be able to feel like they accomplished something, and they don't always have a lot of time (or motivation) to do that.  (And don't forget, your whole goal is to get her motivated).  This is part of the reason magazines are so popular.  You don't have to read it all together, all the way through, and all in order.  You can just take one easily digestible piece at a time.  This is how you need to present these ideas.  I would say it's like spoonfeeding, but that's more for helpless, stationary infants.  This is more like leaving a trail of Reese's Pieces for someone to actively follow on their own.)

Two, it gives some time to sink in.  Three, it allows you an opportunity to hear feedback and have some discussion.  And four, at some point it may very well leave her wanting more.  (As you could see, this was the case with Heather's protege's right away.)  And that's what you always want.  But even more so with something like this, because you don't want to be leading her forever.  You can always be a mentor, but the goal is for her to get that spark of her own.  She needs to have her own fire beneath her, and an interest in these things for herself...to at the very least start thinking about things in a slightly different way.  Or even just be a bit more questioning.

This story provides one of the best illustrations of this I've ever heard.  It's what every libertarian needs to be doing.

The narrator is a great inspiration for anyone wishing to share these ideas (which should be everyone who's familiar with them) and provides an excellent model for how these things can be approached.  Think of your discussions in the terms with which he frames the conversation.  See if you can achieve a similar dynamic.  (This won't always be possible.  Your own abilities do play a role, but it is largely a function of the person you're trying to reach.  Obviously the more versatile you are and more attune to different personality types and interest levels, the easier it will be for you to adapt your strategy and discussion style to the person, so that you might communicate in the most affective (and therefore effective) way possible...i.e. a way that the person understands and is most impacted by.  (But bear in mind, this won't always be the way they are necessarily used to being spoken to...or possibly even how they want to be spoken to.)  Often times a change of pace from what they're familiar with can help make the message louder.)

So drop a few Pieces and let her follow.  Then engage some discussion and see how it goes.  This will help you understand where she's at and what might be a good next step.  The list is arranged in a helpful order that will provide one of the more smooth transitions to this area of thinking.  So just start with the first 2 or 3 and wait for a response.  Make sure she views them.  When she's ready, send a couple more.  Pay attention to the video lengths to gauge how many should be sent in one package.  Obviously the longer ones should be sent solo or maybe with one or two short ones.  At the very most, two long ones, but you don't want that to go often.  But it will also depend on the person.  There are some who it seems they have been waiting for this their whole lives, and they can't get enough.

I'm sure there's a few here who can relate to that. wink

 

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Once apathetic?  I still am.

 

I'll second that notion.   I just find the language, and to a degree the consequences, of the science of Weber/Menger interesting and a better description of positive reality than the British / traditional systems.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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