Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Intellectual Ammunition Department: Good Books for the American Samoan Libertarian

Stuart K. Hayashi

There are so many great books out there for the libertarian free-market advocate from American Samoa.

On Persuading People of a Pro-Freedom Ideology

* The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell -- Excellent primer on how mass movements form and its ideas are spread. It explains the sort of people needed to spread a self-replicating, self-perpetuating, "viral" love of liberty. That sort of "virus of the mind" is known as a "meme" (which also happens to be a word that snooty pseudo-intellectuals often like to say because they think it makes them sound smart). The book rocks, despite its blindness to the many flaws of the Game Theory that its thesis replies upon.

* The True Believer by Eric Hoffer -- A classic that explains the psychology of mass movements. We free-marketers have our work cut out for us, since, as this tome shows, the most effective social movements are collectivist in both thought and practice. In many ways, a collectivist attitude is essential for keeping a social movement alive. This raises the question of how we can spread an ideology of individualism among the masses.

* Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. -- Exposes the many dirty marketing tricks of businesspeople and cults, explaining how such tactics succeed in persuading people. All of the conclusions in this book are backed up solidly by scientific experiments complete with control- and experimental groups. This is important reading for those concerned about spreading one's ideology through ethical means instead of using the manipulative hard-sale approach taken by famous cults and pushy salesmen alike.

* Changing Minds by Howard Gardner, Ph.D. -- A Harvard psychologist explains the qualities an individual needs to induce a long-term change in politics. He even uses a great free-marketer and privatizer -- Margaret Thatcher -- as his example of a highly prolific persuader and tells you how you can duplicate her success.

* Also, despite the overheated and pedantic verbiage about it "stigmatizing" and "pigeonholing" and "stereotyping" people, it helps to read up on Type Psychology here, just as long as one keeps in mind that Type Psychology is extremely far from being a panacea.

A Must-Read for Every Libertarian Soldier:

* Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry by P. W. Singer -- This is actually written by a leftwing author with a very shallow understanding of libertarianism. What makes this book relevant, however, is its in-depth investigation of the little-known phenomenon of the U.S. Army increasingly outsourcing its operations to private, for-profit companies . . . even for combat!

Because of the author's left-wing ignorance, the book does make many false assumptions. For example, it points to all of the corruption involved when a represive government contracts out its operations to a private military firm and pays it with tax funds . . . and then has foolishness to assert that this is the laissez-faire we-should-abolish-all-taxes ideology taken to its logical conclusion. The author doesn't even catch the contradiction in its implication.

Despite the author's many misunderstandings and equivocations, however, his case studies about entire countries being taken over by private, for-profit hitmen still manages to raise questions about the "anarcho-capitalists'" assumption that a domain could never be more oppressed under an anarchy of competing private "security firms" than under a single State.

This book has been reviewed by Libertarians (including "anarcho-capitalists" and U.S. soldiers, but I have yet to see it read by a Libertarian soldier interested in "anarcho-capitalism." And yet that kind of person is the one most qualified to judge its merits and shortcomings.

Besides, for many years, "anarcho-capitalists" have only discussed the private sector replacing the military in only an abstract sense; it is this book that has added actual life to the debate by providing empirical data on the consequences of this actually coming about -- empirical data on private firms that much more closely mirror the players of an actual "anarcho-capitalist" economy than the example of Medieval Iceland, in which peasants had the right to choose which landholder they wanted to dictate over them.

Talking about "anarcho-capitalism" without being exposed to the information in this book is like talking about dogs without even knowing what a dog is.


The Most Important Issue Widely Neglected By Libertarians Is...

* Global Warming -- Libertarians will not be taken seiously in the twenty-first century until Libertarians address this century's most pressing issues. Haven't you heard that America Samoa will be underwater in a few decades if something isn't done about this? This is indeed a problem that will not vanish, and is in need of a solution.

The proponents of regulation demand that the United States join the Kyoto Accord. And what alternative do Libertarians present? As of yet, none. Until such time as Oceanian Libertarians can offer a free-market alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, this issue will remain a trump card whereby Big Government advocates win the debate and Libertarians in the Pacific lose.