Some tips for MA activists.

I have already discussed decon strategies at length, but in this entry I want to give some specific tips borne from experience: a number of things that should always be trotting in your mind when you’re approaching people- online or in real life- and trying to decon them or persuade them of a specific point.

1. Never defend, always attack.

It’s very easy for a statist to engage you into a labyrinth of objections and hypotheticals. And no doubt you can answer all of those. But that’s not the point: by the time you’re done, your main points will all be forgotten, and weak points in your rebuttals are all that the statist (and other people watching) will remember. Such a tactic is pointless, regardless of what side you argue.

Instead, you must never be afraid to take the initiative. Let them answer your objections. After all, their position is a lot more questionable than yours. Leave the questions hanging on their side, not yours, and use the results to drive home your main points, which brings me to the next tip…

2. Always come back to morality.

Coming back to moral principles should be an integral part of every answer you give or every point you raise, especially if you are talking about peripheral issues. You should always be thinking of using what you’re saying to prove a point about morality. This will make the overall ideas behind your position more salient and keep you from getting mired into side issues (thus reinforcing tip 1 as well).

Here is an example. You are making a case for MA, and someone asks you “Well, in an Anarchy, wouldn’t a new State just emerge anyway? So what’s the point?” Of course you should discuss the fact that natural monopolies have never happened, that there’s no realistic scenario by which that would happen, that we need to teach people to overcome their brainwashing and fulfill their own values, and so on. But you always need to think of a way to come back to moral principles, and you can do this by pointing out all the evils that supporting the State entails. The point is that we must make a stand to eradicate war, legitimized crime, extortion, and so on and so forth, which you can then bring back to the universality principle.

3. Never attack groupthink.

Unless you want to waste your time, never try to decon against groupthink, because it is utterly and completely useless. Groups of believer reinforce each other’s prejudice, and will not permit you to get far. Only when talking to them one-on-one can we get them to stop relying on this reinforcement and to be a little more honest (if not completely).

4. Know the arguments.

If you’re going to stick to theory as much as possible, you need to know your theory. You need to be especially familiar with the universality argument, but a good knowledge of the others is also very useful. Here is a list of arguments that I wrote, and here is a list of quotes by past Anarchist thinkers detailing these or similar arguments (scroll down to “Arguments for Anarchy”).

5. Never mislead or claim to know what you don’t.

I hope I don’t need to tell anyone this, but thanks to the Internet anyone can find data about anything, so if you make any claim about real-life results, make sure you’re saying something backed by data.

6. Practice.

Come join us on the board or on Skype and practice, practice, practice! After all, it does make perfect. The more you practice, the more effortless your arguing will be.

4 thoughts on “Some tips for MA activists.

  1. kentmcmanigal March 28, 2008 at 14:15

    If you have the time, I could use some help:

    If the link doesn’t work (I don’t know what I am doing) just go and look in news and politics in the MyMag tab and find my post of yesterday’s blog “For the Anarchy-phobes” (It may be a few pages back by now). If you don’t have the time or inclination, no problem.

  2. Francois Tremblay March 28, 2008 at 14:36

    … why do you argue with insane people?

  3. kentmcmanigal March 28, 2008 at 15:20

    Because I get tired of preaching to the choir. Maybe I think I deserve to suffer.

  4. Francois Tremblay March 28, 2008 at 16:08

    There is a vast difference between preaching to the choir and talking to insane people.

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