As I often say: morality runs the world.
It is easy to underestimate this principle. I think people have this implicit idea that force runs the world, because it is so showy and flagrant in its application and results, but what they forget is that behind the violence is action, and behind the action is beliefs. People kill and hurt each other for a reason.
Force doesn’t rule the world. Ideas rule the world because ideas determine in which direction people point their guns.
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
The principle that morality runs the world applies equally to statism. People believe in the State because they believe in morality. As I’ve said before, people know very well that politicians are no better than anyone else, that politicians are liars, that politicians are corrupt, that politics is a pointless struggle that never accomplishes anything, that the State is inefficient, and that the State is a tool of the exploiter class. Most people believe all of these things to some degree, and yet they still firmly believe in the State and in democracy, because they firmly believe that the State is necessary for morality.
If we accept this as correct, then it follows that empirical evidence alone is useless in deconverting people. If they already observe and accept all the devastation and hurt caused by the State on a daily basis, and still aren’t against the State, then what’s the point of giving them some more? That seems to me like someone standing right next to a giant pile of excrement and think that maybe he’ll acknowledge the smell if you add a bit more to it. Anyone who does not stand against all the evil things the State does as part of its very nature, like war, kidnapping, extortion and murder, will not be impressed if you point out that our roads are not well-managed or that the police uses non-violent force as an excuse to hurt people.
The only thing that can change flawed moral premises is arguing from morality. From childhood, we are all bombarded with indoctrination from the State on all sorts of topics and concepts. It is no wonder that most of us are morally corrupt. But many people still respond to our message of freedom and equality because they know what they value (freedom, security, peace, family, love, society, religion, the environment…) and they see the State isn’t it, by a long shot. While this generally leads one more to apathy than action, those people are lucky to be that self-aware, and we should just leave them alone in my opinion.
Now, it is true that every issue in this debate is an issue of morality in some way, as we are talking about social institutions and constructs, which are made and sustained by human beings. But look at it this way. You can argue to some guy that taxation is undesirable because the money isn’t spent wisely or the burden is unequal, but why would you do that? He already knows that, and that doesn’t convince them because he believes that taxation is a necessary instrument of the State. But if you argue that taxation is extortion and morally wrong, regardless of any good he thinks may come of it, then you’ll get somewhere. You can argue that war brings bad effects into the world and destroys lives and livelihoods, but he already knows that. Arguing that war is murder and an attack on our freedoms will get you somewhere.
People who can see through the propaganda can easily see that the State does not help fulfill their values. The State “solves” problems by hitting you on the head and taking your money, by sucking resources from the poor to give them to the rich and powerful, and by allowing exploitation on a grand scale. Democracy, of course, is a lie through and through, and you only get the options they give you. That’s not security, merely the illusion of security, and some people don’t like illusions. Yes, you can life your life with the State, as long as you don’t get kidnapped or killed by its agents (which is never totally out of the question), but it’s not in your interest to live in a society thus exploited.
In order to be effective at deconverting people, it’s essential to be clear on what people know and do not know. Of course, everyone knows it’s not moral to help perpetuate suffering. But they believe that the State and its infliction of suffering is necessary in order to perpetuate order and thus prevent more suffering. We need to show people that this is a a lie and that they have been indoctrinated into false moral premises which they may not be aware of.