How Not To Debate

Recently I walked past a group of folks holding curious posters depicting President Obama (I jokingly refer to this person as Captain O’Bozo) with a Hitler mustache. I tend to ignore sidewalk assaulteers as a general rule but I was feeling a bit adventurous and needed my curiosity relieved. After all, these guys have stood on corner around Seattle with the utmost dedication. They must have something important to say. And since it was beer Friday at work, I had 36 ounces of liquid courage backing me up.

The initial pitch was confusing but I kept an open mind. As it turns out, they are followers of Lyndon LaRouche whose beliefs I can’t seem to place anywhere on a political spectrum. According to the Wiki article, the views are applauded by communists, socialists, totalitarians, and fascists alike. It seems that his views are that of radical Statism resembling some derivative of socialism. Nonetheless, I did not know this, was curious – I engaged.

First there was the restoration of the Glaxy-Segal Act of 1934. I once ranted about the repeal of this act a year ago (I think on my Facebook) but have since changed my views on doing this[1]. This act perhaps patched a corrupt part of the market system in this country but since the entire system is corrupt I wonder if any layer of additional regulation in the crony system will protect anyone. After all, the crashes of 1980 and 1987 happened with it in place. The first man, whom I will refer to as Bill, was pleasant and he went on to speak about some massive system of water, electrical, and transportation bridging across the Bering Straights, and as I now know, went down the the line of current LaRouche Movement bullet points. Things like colonizing Mars, regulating everything, etc. In retrospect, it was a lot of talk about the inherent goodness of mankind and how trying to place these beliefs into some dismissive political definition was invalid for we had to look past money and gain and folks would just band together and do.

The second person, who we’ll call Mark, was supposedly well read. I mentioned Mises and Menger in the theory of money and this second man rolled his eyes and started this explanation of how Mises was funded by the Hapsburgs. I explained that he was a Jew and spent most of his time fighting the bureaucrats disproving of their policies. Later he was persecuted by fascists in Austria and later socialists in the United States. He may have had a university salary but it was definitely not something that the political elite enjoyed having a professor critiquing the Austrian State’s and Vienna’s municipal policies! I think this refutation caught him off guard because his subsequent, like his initial, responses lacked any logical or factual basis and may have embarrassed him.

The question that Mark and Bill refused to answer is how do we accomplish these great projects and feats of social and technological innovation. The answer is simple – coercion. Unfortunately for these folks and many other who believe in horrible ideas like the greater good or humankind’s progress, that answer evades them. According to them, I was trapped in social programming in my mammalian: desired behavior needing to reward. According to these groupies, if everyone just got together out of the goodness of humanity’s heart we would just do these great works. It is a very tired set of ideas based on old socialistic and fascist principles. As if bureaucrats and legislators have some sort of supreme wisdom to mold humanity into their own corruptible vision! As if one must have a degree or have a professional outlook on a matter to have one’s opinion or understanding matter!

The naivety of the arguments that humanity will transcend its own nature with inherent goodness especially without the need for money is one which I have heard before. It lacks any logic and ignores our fallibility but that is besides the point. These individuals did not want to discuss things. They wanted mindless drones to come along and accept their ideas without effort. To me its as if drone catchers waylay drones to and from work on the streets and in the public broadcasting trying to convince drones to join one collective or another completely void of of critical thinking and logical reasoning.

I asked how this effort was being funded and how do they plan on enacting laws and regulations and the answer was that people would just do this. It reminded me of Star Trek and other socialist programming but it had very fascist overtones. Mark then gave up, exasperated by my inquisitiveness and desire for answers. Having failed at proving his beliefs he resorted to ad homonym attacks calling me closed minded and brain washed. He walked off and under his breath said that he needed to find other people to get things done with.

After Mark walked off I asked Bill if that is how this supposed goodness in all of humanity will convince everyone of this belief system. I explained that Mark’s attitude and lack of persuasion proved that this system was doomed to fail and that although human beings aren’t mammals, certain societal rules of exchange have been established. That abolishing things like a gold standard have been tried and failed numerous times. I asked why would a person choose to not spend time with his wife and kids and instead choose to work on some modern day Great Wall? What goodness came from men debating so poorly? With such an attitude, it is apparent that there is no general goodness, patience, and love which would have millions of people enslave themselves to the will of a few “intellectuals”.

Bill must have realized the conclusion I came to and started talking to me along some more general Movement ideas. That FDR was a great man to which I retorted that he was a dictator who packed courts, subverted our sovereignty and rights, and pulled a 9/11 except with encouraging and then allowing Pearl Harbor. I also explained that people may interpret his intentions as good but the reality is that none of his actions brought us out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. This is what Frederic Bastiat[2] and other writers constantly warn us about: most legislators especially those promising to help one group inadvertently or eventually end up taking from another group or causing greater problems than which were solved. But we do not need the writings of sages from prior eras to come to these conclusions. Simply observe events and understand history.

I had made up my mind that these guys are truly lost, ill informed, and convinced of things which have no logical proof. Mr. LaRouche seems to have some sort of credibility because he predicted a couple events in history. The reason I brought up Austrians like Menger and Mises was to show that actually, unlike the statisticians of the Keynesian, Monetarist, etc schools, are quite apt at predicting and understanding markets. Contemporary Austrians are quite good at predicting boom and busts, business cycles, and other economic and political outcomes. These are ignored because they do not fit the current Keynesian climate which fuels the symbiotic relationship between government, central banking, and corporate cartels. I thanked Bill for talking to me and walked off. In that moment I noticed Mark “getting something done” by ensnaring a young, impressionable woman with his ideas of Utopia[3].

If one is going to try and convince people of one’s point of view, the facts must be straight. Circular logic or comparing the incomparable must be avoided. Avoid making assumptions. Consider the unseen. And most importantly, do not use ad homonym attacks. It is difficult to get an honest debate on a side walk on a crowded street. And I see that I have not proven my points at times either. But I gladly cherish any debate and opposing views. I see many folks espousing their socialist, globalist, humanist, or fascist views supporting some version of State control or another. So far, from what I’ve seen, all their evidence, truths, logic, facts are exaggerations, out of context, sometimes downright false, presumptuous, illogical, circular, simplistic assertions and suppositions that parrot the mainstream media or some form of programming with ties to an ever present State. I hunger to hear or read not rhetoric but truth. Facts. History. I am willing to change my mind. I do not claim to have some sort of authority on this subject. When I watch folks like Michael Moore take on someone like Milton Freidman with their ridiculousness and somehow they have an audience today, then I feel like there must be room for the opposite.

Some people have made up their mind. No amount of facts or reasoning will convince them otherwise. Their view points may be completely off base with no basis in fact. They will pander to emotionalism and strike philosophically ignoring reality. The basis of their claims may have been disproven historically, statistically, or otherwise countless times; but all to no avail. At some point your part, cited the relevant points, squashed all points and still no progress. Not even an iota of humility admission of disjointed or unclear world views or beliefs. You have to move on. You have to accept that reality isn’t for everyone. At some point you pack your self up and realize that eventually, as the saying goes, you’ll just be casting your pearls before swine. The most troublesome aspect is that these folks exist and there is a large number of them droning around believing what the previous folks make up to believe. Their numbers grow and eventually the lessons of totalitarianism fall on deaf ears. All I can hope is that if there is ever a decided move to restructure things one way or another those few of us fervently working on the most precious and rarest of realities of freedom and liberty may continue to carry this torch on.

It is obvious to me now, having read up on what these LaRouche guys believe, that they are truly lost. Mark had announced he had read Mises’ book Liberalism proudly beating his chest with his self congratulatory intellectual prowess. Perhaps he did in fact read the entire volume. Obviously, he had not understood it.

  1. Government should be creating level playing fields and making sure private property is respected while allowing entities to operate within well defined charters. Since government fails on these basics at many levels something like the act didn’t do anything to stave off the current wave of financial crisis and foolhardy to think that the act, although perhaps well intentioned, would have prevented anything. The amount of corruption and corporatism that is in our system is staggering when we read about the flow of individuals between office and position and the volumes of money in exchange for various privileges and bending of rules.
  2. We can, for simplicity’s sake, assume here that FDR was acting out of what he interpreted as the most honest, just, and proper courses of action in respect to the law as he could. However, any person in a position of power can arguably act in this fashion. Unfortunately, that individual’s drive and interpretation suites whatever design and ends they see fit which often disregards the sovereignty of other nations and people.
  3. I believe that people are generally good. I think that people have an innate sense of justice. That is to say that people generally want to live in peace and harmony. Unfortunately, a small group of people or a vast majority can never be trusted to administer their interpretation of those ideas on everyone else.
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