In the FMRS of Seville, Enrique Fonseca (co-creator of the libertarian Youtube Channel Visual Politik (visualpolitik.net)) said that there is not such thing as a BATTLE OF IDEAS but there is a COMPETITION OF IDEAS. And that’s why he said that if you want to win the cultural battle, you have to think about it like if it was a marketing campaign.
And, although I agree with him, I think it's really about both things: a BATTLE of ideas and a MARKET of ideas. In this article I will try to explain this point and to convince you.
[I will us the term “liberal” referring to classical liberalism/libertarianism]
Liberals VS Non-Liberals are COMPETING to convince our audience, just like Coca-Cola and Pepsi do. Like anyone else in the market, we are competing using marketing strategies and there is no apparent coercion involved.
Unlike Pepsi and CocaCola, liberals and non-liberals stand for opposite ideas and we have to be aware that there is a BATTLE between us, both ideological and cultural.
For example, if a liberal proposes a law that wants to enforce private property, and a leftie wants to pass a law that goes against the private property principle, we are not competing between each others, we are in a direct battle.
But, as I said, I think we are in a battle but we are competing too, so maybe the first question we should do to each others is: how to have impact in the market?
It is quite easy, we just have to follow the free market principles: supply-demand, competition and added value, division of labour and specialization, some projects fail and some succeed, leadership and hierarchy... That is, as I have said on other occasions, we should "EXPLAIN CAPITALISM WITH CAPITALISM".
Maybe you are thinking: “ok, I can do that. I understand how capitalism works and I think we can apply it to spread our own principles”. But I think this is only the top of the iceberg and we should start thinking in terms of MILITARY STRATEGY.
Since I have been involved in the liberal movement I have heard the phrase the battle of ideas. But I think sometimes we do not stop to think about what it really means. If this is a battle... Are we winning? Are we losing?
During this last year, I’ve been very interested in military strategy, political communication, persuasion, power… And I have realized that we can apply many concepts of these areas to the cause of liberty. Let's learn from what these great military strategists have taught us:
- DIVIDE ET IMPERA (Julius Caesar)
In the physical and the mental battle, this quote remains unquestionable. How can we apply it in our liberal cause? The strength of your enemy remains in his unity, so we must fragment and attack the inconsistencies of our adversary. If we reveal his lack of unity, we will weaken him and vice versa.
- UNITY MAKES STRENGTH (Aesop)
Aesop was an author of ancient Greece who created an old fable that explained that thick sticks can be broken when they are not united. But when the sticks are all together, their strength increases enormously. Let's be honest: what do we see most often in the liberal world? Our messages of union, or our intellectual differences?
- PREDICTING YOUR ENEMY TO SEE YOUR INTENTIONS WILL GIVE YOU GREAT ADVANTAGE // TO KNOW YOUR ENEMY, YOU MUST BECOME YOUR ENEMY (Sun Tzu)
If you want to win a battle, you must learn how does your enemy see you: that’s the only way to identify your weaknesses. You will understand better how he thinks and you will be able to advance to his movements.
- GRAND STRATEGY: LOSE BATTLES BUT WIN THE WAR // ONLY GRAND STRATEGY CAN YIELD GRAND RESULTS (Robert Greene)
I connect this idea of the grand strategy with an old Chinese game called Go. If you want to play Go you need a 19x19 board with white and black counters. In this game you have to gain territory to the opponent and to take prisoners. The rules are very simple, but the complexity of the strategy is huge. If you want to win your opponent, you have to use the art of distraction, you have to apply pressure in different points of the battlefield and even make him believe that he is winning. So, that’s a mental game where strength doesn’t matter.
If we use this knowledge in the liberty movement, we must realize that if we want to win the war, it is better to win HEGEMONY SPACES such as gay marriage, drug legalization or the protection of private property. These are concepts that apparently people want to support. Let's make them our own! I think that maybe it would be better to have more followers before we begin to debate more complex topics such as the weight and functions of the State, regulations, monetary policies, social spending, military spending...
Creating a LIBERAL HEGEMONY means to let the opponent believe that he is winning battles when you are really PREPARING FOR WAR.
How can we do that: 1) Long-term creative thinking and 2) Helping the next LIBERTARIAN LEADERS to flourish.
- THE TRULY MEANING OF WAR IS PEACE (Sun Tzu)
Even though we have to have fun while we debate and work in the battle/market of ideas, we must not forget the higher purpose for which we work: the GOOD.
The ideas of radical left and right are BAD: they pretend to use people as cattle for their own purposes and social experiments. If we believe that we have a commitment to fight for TRUTH and FREEDOM, we must not forget that we are fighting the battle to achieve the values of PEACE, PROSPERITY AND VIRTUE.
THEY (the socialists of all parties) are prepared for the war. If we are not aware of it, we will perish in the battlefield. Is that what we want? What would a brave and virtuous person do? In Spain, in Latinamerica, in the US and especially in Europe, we the liberals must be aware of this: our enemy has a better strategy, better arguments and connects better with their audience. We can face this fact and prepare ourselves for WINNING THE BATTLE or we can do what we are currently doing: TO LOSE IT.