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Leap of faith

I comment on a few boards these days. Not nearly as many as I used to, but certain ones that have thinking people.

I used to be fairly ferocious. Very much in your face win at all costs. And I could sling insults with the best of them. I’m actually quite good, much better than most of the folks I see on the boards. And while the emotional release felt good, it doesn’t last.

My goal isn’t winning internet arguments, it’s freedom. To do that I need allies. Not friends who will tell me things to make me happy, but allies who will tell me truths and stand up for what they believe.

Statists are the people I oppose. Progressive leftwing statists want to control what I can do with my property and what opportunities I have. Lately they’ve made efforts to control how I speak and who I’m allowed to associate with. Rightwing statists want to control my behavior and ethics.

Both rightwing and leftwing have an Ideal™, an abstract something For The Greater Good® that they want to have enshrined in law so no one can deviate and all will be perfect. Like most abstract somethings, the Ideal™ means different things to different people. Because of that, they end up arguing the Ideal™ while forgetting what’s practical.

My views of liberty have changed some since I’ve started blogging. I’m not so interested in dealing with philosophical points as I am in finding allies against the statists. Many of my ideas changed after I read this Zed A. Shaw piece called The Master, The Expert, The Programmer. My own take is fairly simple.

So the Expert tries to wow you with complication while the Master will do it simply and precisely. The Expert can be overwhelmed by their own efforts while the Master just adapts. That certainly describes one part of human nature. Understanding and precision mark a Master, who "can do more with less."

After I read the essay, I spent time looking at the internet arguments I had. I spent time looking at the books that the conservatives and progressives based their arguments on. I spent time listening. And it was pretty obvious that most of it was intended to wow people with complication.

And that was the key.

If statists can’t rely on the force of law, then they rely on the Moral Certainty of the Ideal™. Question that Ideal™ and it looks like a attack on their religion or core beliefs. In fact with either/or thinking, they were pretty much conditioned into accepting that any question of the Ideal™ was a personal attack. It was guaranteed to make plenty of noise but accomplish…

…exactly…

…nothing.

So how to simplify the argument and put it out of the reach of the Ideal™?

What if the law and the Ideal™ were never on the table?

One thing that made libertarians extremely good debaters was plenty of practice. When liberty was on the table, we’d always have to justify each of our arguments again and again. We did the Expert thing with the best of them, but we couldn’t link it to an Ideal™ or we’d lose control of the argument.

We learned that our arguments were best tested through honest criticism. We’d have to convince people. We couldn’t rely on the force of law or overwhelming Moral Certainty. We couldn’t hide the gaps in our reasoning.

That was the secret. While we might have our Ideal™ we couldn’t use the law to force it on anyone else. We couldn’t use the abstractness of the Ideal™ to cover our own doubt. We had to make the reasoning work from A to Z. The law and the Ideal™ were both permanently off the table.

If argument was going to be effective, it would have to “do more with less.” Work without the law. Work without the Ideal™.

Mine have been very effective, much more so than before. And I was pretty hot sh*t then.

Oh there is still an emotional release. I had to build up to the my ideal. I could lead folks so far but they had to make the choice themselves.

That was my ideal. People choose for themselves.

A choice freely made doesn’t detract from any Ideal™, it adds because it is an informed choice. It’s the choice to accept responsibility for the Ideal™. It means honoring the Ideal™ by letting people make their own choices.

Another part of the emotional release was watching people scramble around as they realized that the debate rules changed. That’s a guilty pleasure I allow myself. I tell truths but I avoid debating their Ideal™. They build up this head of righteous anger ready to flame me into next week for daring to question the Ideal™.

Some people I share the key with.

Like you. Now. And without reservation.

Because my leap of faith is that people mostly make good choices.

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