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Samuel Marks

Turning Socialists into Capitalists — Recommended method?

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As a student, I often find myself arguing with socialists. I have organised many debates with socialists, and am holding conferences in Austrian economics.

Doing everything I can with my knowledge, in order to persuade socialists to understand economics, capitalism and rights...

I am still young however, so I'm sure there are better methods than I have used to convince people. (i.e. YouTube videos of Friedman, Sowell and Rand)

Which tools and methodology (i.e praxeology, natural rights &etc) would you recommend to undertake this task?

Thanks for all suggestions,

Samuel Marks

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As a student, I often find myself arguing with socialists. I have organised many debates with socialists, and am holding conferences in Austrian economics.

Doing everything I can with my knowledge, in order to persuade socialists to understand economics, capitalism and rights...

I am still young however, so I'm sure there are better methods than I have used to convince people. (i.e. YouTube videos of Friedman, Sowell and Rand)

Which tools and methodology (i.e praxeology, natural rights &etc) would you recommend to undertake this task?

Thanks for all suggestions,

Samuel Marks

You organize debates with them to change their mind? Really? Do you debate these folks in front of an audience or alone?

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As a student, I often find myself arguing with socialists. I have organised many debates with socialists, and am holding conferences in Austrian economics.

Doing everything I can with my knowledge, in order to persuade socialists to understand economics, capitalism and rights...

I am still young however, so I'm sure there are better methods than I have used to convince people. (i.e. YouTube videos of Friedman, Sowell and Rand)

Which tools and methodology (i.e praxeology, natural rights &etc) would you recommend to undertake this task?

Thanks for all suggestions,

Samuel Marks

Why would you want to undertake such a task?

That obligatory part said; I'd recommend actually evaluating whether you gain any value by trying to turn "socialists" into "capitalists" as if it were an evangelical mission. If you do try and distill whether that value comes from practicing your oratory or arguments, or like to litigate, or just enjoy getting together.

For tools you could play them the Stossel Show on repeat; he's mastered the art of non being confrontational with confrontational ideas. genius really. Our very own Glenn B'ck

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Samuel, out of curiosity, do you think there is a better way to "persuade socialists to understand economics, capitalism and rights..." other than referring curious and impressionable, young individuals to the artwork(her novels) of Ayn Rand and later her non-fiction?

If these individuals are really eager to learn about ideas, but they are just misguided(socialism,liberal,nihilism,etc.), then acting in a benevolent way and referring them to one of her novels can really leave a lasting impression on an individual. Later on, if they have questions then they are already interested in what she had to say.

Edited by brianleepainter

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Its very rare that anyone goes into a conversation willing to be convinced of an opinion that already isn't their own. Even if they were going to change their mind, your words will only be a small part of that process unless you are someone that he or she looks up to.

Also make sure not to expand definitions to fit all your philosophical and political opponents. The term "socialist" has a specific meaning, lets not apply it to people who have nothing to do with those movements.

Edited by Hairnet

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If somone is a socialist then it is very unlikely that you will be able to swing them away from it with an argument based on logic. Seeing as there aren't any other types of argument it can be difficult. I would have to agree with reccomending Rand though, it's what convinced me.

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My parents were socialists. They tried everything they could to get me to go along ever since I was old enough to remember anything at all. I wouldn't budge and I got the scars to prove it.

Nothing will change their minds about socialism any more than anything would change my mind about Freedom.

I don't waste my time trying to change people's minds, though I can honestly and happily say that I have changed many.

The problem with a philosophy of Freedom is that all the mind changing is done by persuasion. This is why it doesn't make as big a bang as socialism. In socialism, their power grows from the barrel of a gun, through coercion and fear, so the changes happen much more quickly.

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Nothing will change their minds about socialism any more than anything would change my mind about Freedom.

From the rest of your post, you must not mean this literally, but I hate when I hear it. Usually, it is from someone with whom I disagree, used as an argument tactic. I respond, "I'll change my mind if you give me good reason to."

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I hear you.

My parents never gave me a good reason to change my mind.

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As a general rule, it takes a minimum of 6 weeks for someone to change their mind. The process is roughly this...they must be presented with contradictory notions that explain causation in two different ways for whatever the chosen subject is. Then they need to see examples of it in the world when they are primed to notice it. Or at least have them pointed out to them Then it has to be rephrased in their own words and ultimately, become their own idea from the concrete level up.

As far as the initial part, I've had most success with getting them to articulate why they want to control what other people choose to do with their time and money. To get them to explain why they think it would be best to ram their square peg into all those many billions of differently shaped holes. Trying to understand what psychological issue drives them helps to see the foundation of their belief structure since it is almost always an emotional intuition and not clear process of reasoning at its base.

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ultimately, become their own idea from the concrete level up.

The magic words, indeed.

One must grasp the philosophy and make it their own. It's the only way.

*******

I had been a Freedom Lover and Laissez-Faire Capitalist all my life, but when I first read "Atlas Shrugged", by accident, at age thirty-one, it only expanded and excited that which I held dear to begin with. It put a whole new twist on my life in its entirely, to say the least. Knocked me for a loop.

It took some time to grasp all the new information and make it my own. I was eventually transformed.

Never at any time have I held any socialist philosophy dear.

I got into a ferocious argument with my social studies teacher in my senior year of high school and got kicked out of the class and was granted a request to take the course with another teacher. The argument started when I had read a chapter in one of the required reading books that said every one of us had a right to food, clothing, shelter and all other basic necessities of life. I did not understand where in the world all these material goods were supposed to come from in the first place; and in the second, if everyone had a right to all of these basics, then why would anyone want to go to a job day-in-day-out and work their arse off when they had all their basics covered as a matter of doing nothing at all but kicking back and receiving them?

It was a cheap and stupid argument which she could not win and which I resented her lying to me and posturing in front of the entire class. When I accused her of not being able to win her own argument and we were finally shouting at each other, she directed me to the principals office. When her class was through, she came to the office for more posturing and lying in trying to ram her socialist garbage down my throat, just like my parents always tried to do. But I wasn't frightened of her or of the principal or my parents -- or anyone else, for that matter -- and my course wasn't changed by their threats and lies and nonsense. I was put into another class for the remainder of the year. Thank goodness.

Socialism sucks and so do socialists.

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When trying to do things like this, keep in mind that people aren't going to change their minds right in front of you (it usually happens in private). If you do make an impact on how they think, they may not even want to admit it to you later. And be friendly, for Pete's sake!

Edited by FeatherFall
spelling

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I don't know. These are such disparate concepts. Two principles are held implicitly by the 'socialist' (however he is defined.):

that the weight of numbers (the collective) is of highest value - the false principle of Utopianism; and that the good is accomplished by duty to others.

To switch such thinking around would have to include convincing arguments that all groups begin and end with the individual, instead of the masses downwards; that men can only deal together from mutual respect, the opposite of coercion and obligation; and that, almost ironically, it's the entire society that benefits from freeing the market (which socialists are mainly ignorant of.)

Combining moral and practical arguments just may have an effect with a few.

Essentially, it is all about exposing and demolishing their self-sacrificial mindset, and that's not easy. I go with Featherfall's remarks - be gentle!

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One does not need argue to see that the whole of the socialist construct relies ultimately on the point of a gun, i.e., the seizing of the machinery of government to force those under its jurisdiction to bend to their will and give them what they want. It's really that simple. Government is force. Period.

There is still enough wealth remaining the United States to give the looters the illusion that their system can work. But eventually the wealth will run out and their game will be exposed and they will have to rely on the literal point of their guns, i.e., the cops and military, to keep their slaves under control. And when this finally happens, and it will, American citizens, being the largest armed camp existing on the face of the earth, will become a bloodbath; unless of course the looters manage somehow to get the guns out of the hands of the American people before their complete economic collapse -- and even then the blood will pour.

There can be no rational argument for socialism. This is one of the things I like to point out to socialists. Their whole program begins and ends with coercion, with a gun. They simply legalize coercion -- and let the looting and the killing begin -- and it so it goes, so their system runs until all the wealth runs out.

I have a little respect for the few socialists I have met who are willing to admit, even reluctantly, that I am correct in my argument against them. I have zero respect for those socialists who refuse to face the fact that they can't have what they want unless there are goons with guns willing to go out and loot and kill for their ideas.

As Rand so eloquently pointed out, there can be no right, no justification to initiate the use of force against other men except in self-defense.

For me, the argument is always at the root of things. And the bottom line here is the use of government force being initiated against men and making slaves out of them.

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do you think there is a better way to "persuade socialists to understand economics, capitalism and rights..." other than referring curious and impressionable, young individuals to the artwork(her novels) of Ayn Rand and later her non-fiction?

I would recommend four books:

The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible

The Invisible Heart-An Economic Romance

The Bastiat Collection (the law, government, etc. being part of that along with his economic sophisms etc.)

Uncle Sam The Monopoly Man (this is out of print,so you need to buy it used off of someplace like Amazon.com, which is what I did)

I have had a large degree of success using these four books in tandem, and, I used to be a socialist, so that helps me to understand what needs to be undermined to convince these people, and how best to go about undermining those ideas they have accepted without the necessary level of skepticism and inquiry.

Edited by CapitalistSwine

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Well, first you have to convince them that socialsim and capitalism are trully opposing, isolated concepts. The problem with teaching some one to accept your position lies in interpretation. Many will find socialist concepts in the ideas you present as capitalism.

Are you really attempting to convert a socialist, however, or are you attempting to convert some one who you believe to be a socialist. These are two different things.

If it is the absence, or presence, of government in the market that divides a socialist from a capitalist, then this is little more than a symmanitc game.

But what is a government, other than a group of people who assume control over a population. A government governs, so whoever is governing in the government. Can a corperation that acheives a monopoly over a highly valued resource, acquire the power to govern men? How does one ensure that a new king does not rise by means of monopoly?

Many actually believe a democratic government protects capitalism...and they may see you as the one who is destroying capitalism. How much is too much ownership? Is there a limit?

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Since you are still a student, I’d assume the “socialists” you are speaking about are other students. One of the best cures for socialism is getting a job. It’s easy to wax eloquent about the supposed virtues of socialism when your basic needs are being provided for by your parents, but when one has to start counting their own pennies the mind is often changed. I’ve observed this with my nieces and nephews and students I’ve had.

Another way to influence them is to simply ask, “what do you mean by socialism?” and then “how did you come to your conclusions?” Few will be able to give you any cogent answer to those questions. A reductio argument should be easy to construct.

As far as those who actually are supposedly mature adults but adhere to socialism, I’d simply challenge them to live in their own world by emigrating to a socialist country. I view these folks as mentally handicapped.

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Though politics is not a primary, I've found that arguing with socialists on the following level works.

Point out that any point that they can point to a truly unjust, unfair practice being perpetrated by a business without reaction from the market, you can find the hand of government involved. And alos, many progressive laws were supported by businesses, because they knew it would lead to less market competition. Take antitrust laws. Many large businesses lobbied and still do lobby for antitrust laws and support antitrust suits against competitors. This part takes some knowledge of economic history.

Your socialist friend is angry about low wages paid to laborers? Point out that businesses can take advantage of artificially low wages because of an artificially smaller market. Businesses could not afford to get away with the low wages they do now in a free society. The blights of a free market are usually nothing more than the fault of government intervention. Sometimes the consequences are intended and sometimes they are not, but they always lead to the unfair treatment of some individuals.

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As a person who once was a socialist, and is now a capitalist, I feel I should say something here.

Note:

If you are trying to convert socialists to capitalists with debate alone, God help you. The people who debate regularly or formally are often the people who are the most convinced of thier ideas, and least likely to make a complete philisophical 180.

However, ifyou have any personal friends or aquaintences you want to accept capitalism, the best advice I can possibly give is this: Lead by example. If you are leading a happy and productive life, people will notice it, including socialists. If you go a step further, and remain as friendly as possible, (without bending over for people) It demonstrates that capitalism isn't just for heartless bussinessmen and pirates, as socialism holds.

Additionally, if you give someone a with illogical ideas a video or book demonstrating logic, it is likely they will simply reject it. If you provide an example of the benefits of a proper lifestyle, more people will be willing to consider your philosophy. Advising Atlas Shrugged or the Fountainhead too early can be detrimental in this way. I would recommend begining with something a bit more easily digested. A shorter novel, (Anthem for instance, was the first thing I read by Ayn Rand) a movie, an album, or a video game with a good moral can be great ways to introduce a new concept. There is a lower chance this way that a socialist will immedietly dismiss the ideas put forth, and remain open to capitalism in this way.

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Which tools and methodology (i.e praxeology, natural rights &etc) would you recommend to undertake this task?

 

I very much like the thread 2046 linked to; it should prove helpful.

 

 

I think the thing to bear in mind is that, in order to show someone the truth, they have to be interested in the truth.  I always assume this at first (innocent until proven guilty) but it's important to remember throughout.

The other big thing is to ask people why they think what they do.  When someone declares that we have a duty to provide for the poor, simply ask them why; this serves two purposes.

 

1:  As in the linked thread, it forces them to stop and reexamine their reasoning at least momentarily.  It makes them remember what led to their belief in X and, simply by recalling and concentrating on that for a few moments, check their own premises.

In a worst-case scenario, this will throw a self-righteous evader off-guard; best-case scenario, they may realize that they're wrong and simply call their own convictions into question.

2:  Once they explain their reasoning behind it, you can begin to get some idea of their conceptual structure and where the problem truly lies.

A self-consistent altruist won't accept capitalism until they accept rational selfishness; a self-consistent mystic won't relinquish altruism unless they accept existence as an absolute.  Most collectivists can't be convinced by purely political arguments; you have to get down to the root of it.

 

And if they're interested in the truth then, eventually, they will come to see it.  If they aren't then they'll twist themselves into semantic pretzels in order to oppose everything you say; if so then they're evading reality and persistence is futile.

Although, to be honest, sometimes it can be fun to continue such a conversation with a known evader; like poking dead things with a stick.

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