In an earlier post, I showed Jane Jacobs’s distinction between Moral Guardian Syndrome A and Commercial Syndrome B. I like John Hood’s terms better: “Raiders” and “Traders”. In fact, Hood – a man whose thinking I respect a lot – got me to thinking about a third possible category that Jacobs, perhaps, overlooks: “Crusaders.”
If Traders get things through exchange (commerce) and Raiders get things through expropriation (government and/or theft), then crusaders get things by trying to convince you to give them up as a gift, or arguably, as a sacrifice (say, out of religious duty).
Now, John and I went back and forth a bit on the necessity of using a third category all the time. I argued that it might be useful in certain instances to keep just the two categories in order to show people that Crusaders really are just Traders. Any value, after all, can be traded for any other value. "Preference functions" can include altruistic warm and fuzzies, which we can trade for alms. But Hood returned that people who give don’t look at it that way, particularly religious people. And if you want to communicate with ordinary people, you better operate to some degree within their framework and not let your, rather esoteric, definitions be too broad. Hood has a point.
So I got to thinking about an area in between. Turns out Hood’s perspective won me over in certain sense, but I retain aspects of my original view. Both in terms of communicating our values as libertarians and in terms of making meaningful distinctions about where folks are coming from politically, we definitely need to recognize Crusaders as a camp—and ESPECIALLY as a camp that hovers between Traders and Raiders. Let me explain.
You see, Raiders are winning over the Crusaders to their team in large numbers. In other words, Crusaders have two directions: either they can take the more difficult road of being independent advocates for social change through voluntarism (lean toward being like Traders in their embrace of non-harm); or Crusaders can take the easier road and conflate charity with government power (lean towards being like Raiders in justifying state redistribution). In the latter case, all you have to do to feel right, good and moral is go to the voting booth and pull the lever for a candidate who has promised a social program. (Low-cost charity in the short term.) But this is simply using “democracy” to justify non-voluntary (read: forced) acts of appropriation, which we libertarians call theft.
Seeing Crusaders as hovering between voluntarism and force/theft is a meaningful distinction for libertarians (who are largely Traders in their orientation). Of course, Raiders will use all sorts of obfuscating language (social justice, democracy, etc.) to justify the use of state power to take that which is not freely exchanged. They put equality of station before any principle of non-harm, despite all their pacifist language. But this is not a distinction meant for redistributive leftists, but for libertarians and freedom lovers to use when confronted with a vacillating Crusader. That is, when we come across those Crusaders who are ambivalent about whether force is justified (i.e. those who have concerns about the poor, less fortunate, etc.) we must be quick to show them that they have two paths before them: voluntarism or force. And of course, we must show them that voluntarism is superior.
(P.S. I hope I've been fair to John Hood's position here, which is probably a little more nuanced than I was able to summarize in so short a post.)
I've got a post over at The Next Right that I'll crosspost for the four people who read this blog (it's another in the Art of Persuasion Series):
Images can be powerful. Pictures can certainly communicate more than words and words can evoke mental images, even without pictures. In the freedom movement, we should not be reluctant to use imagery—as well as symbols and icons. Not only can images evoke feelings, they can be used as mnemonic cues, branding devices and visual motifs. We overlook them at our peril.
Whether or not you agree with the war in Iraq, is this not powerful? What about this?
Now, how do you find images that capture your message? Sometimes they’re not Google-able. Sometimes you have to write your own images. LIke so:
Tooth decay begins, typically, when debris becomes trapped between the teeth and along the ridges and in the grooves of the molars. The food rots. It becomes colonized with bacteria. The bacteria feeds off sugars in the mouth and forms an acid that begins to eat away at the enamel of the teeth. Slowly, the bacteria works its way through to the dentin, the inner structure, and from there the cavity begins to blossom three-dimensionally, spreading inward and sideways. When the decay reaches the pulp tissue, the blood vessels, and the nerves that serve the tooth, the pain starts—an insistent throbbing. The tooth turns brown. It begins to lose its hard structure, to the point where a dentist can reach into a cavity with a hand instrument and scoop out the decay. At the base of the tooth, the bacteria mineralizes into tartar, which begins to irritate the gums. They become puffy and bright red and start to recede, leaving more and more of the tooth's root exposed. When the infection works its way down to the bone, the structure holding the tooth in begins to collapse altogether. ... People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you're paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury. It isn't, of course. The loss of teeth makes eating fresh fruits and vegetables difficult, and a diet heavy in soft, processed foods exacerbates more serious health problems, like diabetes. The pain of tooth decay leads many people to use alcohol as a salve. And those struggling to get ahead in the job market quickly find that the unsightliness of bad teeth, and the self-consciousness that results, can become a major barrier.
(Phew. Yes it’s laid on thick.) And with it, Malcolm Gladwell writes perhaps one of the goofiest paeans to socialized medicine (at least, low copays) ever---at least from where rational argument, rigorous policy analysis and data are concerned. (More can be said about the piece as critique of “moral hazard,” a concept he clearly doesn’t get… Gladwell's slipping point, perhaps? I digress).
What he did well, however, was capture the reader’s attention with imagery—and a little of the ‘eeeeeeww’ factor. Both go a long way.
Symbols can be powerful too. Consider the Nike swoosh, the hopeful “O” and the swastika. For whatever reason, these symbols have the ability to evoke, to inspire or to enrage. The memetics of the Freedom Movement must include images to complement our titles and tropes.