Sunday, September 28, 2014

Persuading the Left

I have been thinking about how to persuade those on the left to see my point of view on at least some individual issues.  Because I don't "speak their language," it takes some research to understand their outlook.  For example, in doing research on the minimum wage, I tripped across some great examples of the left's thinking.  A scholarly paper from the left (by economist Bruce Kaufman) arguing for increasing the minimum wage argues that there is an imbalance (and implies a large one) in the bargaining power of businesses and workers.  Kaufman argues explicitly that for the unskilled, the purpose of a minimum wage is to protect the underdog and to level the playing field.  Arguments over the value of contract between two parties are given short-shrift because the unskilled workers are deemed incapable of entering into meaningful contracts because of their lack bargaining power (see p. 437).  I admit to a certain sympathy to the argument, except that the solution is not force employers to give workers more pay; but to examine and correct the causes of workers having no differentiating skills.

Even when I find an issue where common cause with the left might be possible, conservative or libertarian participation is rejected. The reasoning is revealing.  Writing in Salon in an article persuading those on the left to not ally with libertarians on the issue of NSA surveillance, Tom Watson had this to say:
That’s because libertarianism is a form of authoritarianism disguised in a narrow slice of civil liberties. In trumpeting the all-knowing, ever wise wonders of the totally free and unencumbered market, it bestows all the power on those with access to capital.
This was the purest exposition I have found of why the left thinks that libertarians and limited government conservatives are some sort of crypto-fascists.  The whole article is worth a read because of the insight it gives into the left wing mind set.  Now, my strongly held belief is that mere access to capital in a free market economy is made dangerous only because of the influence that money can wield over government.  The worst abuses of Wall Street getting rich, monopolies ripping off Americans (like my cable provider) are facilitated by government power, through the Federal Reserve and monopoly granting powers, respectively.  Reducing the size of government would certainly reduce the scope for abuse.  The left will not countenance such an outcome, because the government exists to do Good.

The left is invested in the idea of government as a countervailing force to undo the ill-effects of free enterprise.  In general, the leftist identifies with victims and the powerless.  My evidence in this area is Israel.  In the aftermath of World War II, the Jews and Israel were seen as victims.  Israel was surrounded by enemies and in danger of a second holocaust.  In general, the left supported their cause.  Over time, as Israel prevailed over the Arabs and become more and more successful militarily the left gradually shifted to outright hatred and its sympathies to the Arab losers.

I have speculated in the past on the psychological roots of such reasoning, but knowing the cause is insufficient to deal with the problem.
His [the leftist's] feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identifies himself.
I think that quote is an over-generalization, but points to a way to talk to the left.  What little success I have had in communicating with the left has been to show them how government becomes the oppressor regardless of structures put in place to make it the liberator, if you will.  Understanding that the leftist argument comes from an assumption of victimhood and powerlessness is the best way to proceed in persuading.  Ordinary Americans do not feel this way, so exposing the left's assumptions are a good way to dissuade the average non-political person not to buy the left's solutions.


  1. This is always a difficult exercise. As you point out, the idea of leftism is to control the power of government for their own ends, which leads to an exaggerated misrepresentation of free markets as the complete lack of any government. However, when government is shown to be the source of corruption, very nuanced rationalizations emerge to justify or minimize the threat posed. If there is no valid rationalization, then renaming and misdirection are used.

    A recent example of this rename and misdirect strategy is President Obama's sudden identification of Al Qaeda as "the khorasan." This "new" threat, allows that "Osama is dead and GM is alive" and misdirects the public from our involvement with the Al Qaeda offshoot ISIS. It is rhetorical nonsense .

  2. First mistake is thinking in terms of "the left." Democrats aren't "the left." They are as much the pawns of Corporate power as the Republicans. The "left" is a collection of squabbling voices.

    I've always thought it interesting that the "libertarians" see the risk to liberty as strictly coming from government overreach while the left fears the power of big business and money. I suggest that you can't separate the two. They are two sides of the same coin. Both have to be tackled.

    The loss of privacy by the militarization of the police and the domestic NSA spying are natural points of alliance. Why the parties involved can't see that is puzzling.

    But take this example of a no knock raid by police gone wrong as an example why isn't the NRA and the gun rights folks coming to the support of this man? A guy in Nevada with some cows gets an Army of support, but someone defending their castle from unknown intruders faces capital murder. Something like this is a place to start building bridges.

  3. Kelly, I generally agree with you, but specifically there is one thing to point out. Democrats get far more money and support from big business. Case-in-point, the Koch Brothers donate to both Republicans and Democrats, mostly Republicans, but they are # 59 on the list of largest political contributors. Most big contributors are Big Corps or Big Labor.

  4. Kelly, thanks for the link on the no-knock article. I do distinguish between the left and Dems. But left leaning academia provides the policy justifications for Democrat corporatism.

  5. This is all irrelevant in the face of the law. Article 1 Section 10 of the US Constitution defines lawful tender as gold and silver coin. The 'government' is in violation of the tender law by using a devaluing private bank's debt note as tender. Others need minimum wage increased because the fraudulent tender is devaluing. If the 'government' wasn't lawless then the tender would have gained value over time while prices would fall from increasing productive efficiency. Speaking in terms of only law reveals that there is no right vs left only the law abiding vs the lawless.

  6. Some comments are too lawfully correct and too damning for those who actively stand in breach of the US Constitution for such comments to be allowed for all to see. Very revealing B-daddy.

    The on-going breach of the US Constitutional tender law is the death nail of the Republic and shows the intellectual bankruptcy of those who wish to play to politics as a nation of men instead of a nation of laws.