No Magic Words – Part II

SeeNoEvilThumbby Brad Nelson
One of my friends, who is certainly wiser than I am, thinks there may well be some “magic words” to stem the tide of collectivism. They would be words (whatever they are) to turn one’s head and heart from, say, Mao to Madison (or from Frank to Franklin). That indeed does sound reasonable. After all, it was the free market that led to the airplane, computers, the telephone, TV, cars, medicines, cell phones, tractors, trains, washing machines, and even the flush toilet. None of these were invented by government. And this is all self-evidently so.

But freedom isn’t just a useful method for producing material goods; it is also a vast good unto itself. In wide contrast to the roughly one hundred million who were killed in the pursuit of collectivist ideals in the last century, freedom as the cornerstone of society has brought protections for the individual and the ability to have the greatest amount of choice about how to live. This, also, is self-evidently so (at least if one has read outside of the bounds of Howard Zinn).

But, alas, I had to inform my friend that there are probably no magic words to move a mind that had been indoctrinated into the Cult of the Left (“Progressivism,” if you will) to just common sense and realistic attitudes.

I don’t think he’s buying it. I’m the pessimist (although I’m working feverishly to find those magic words). He’s the optimist. And if he has the temerity, he’ll write an article in response to mine, no doubt telling me exactly why I’m full of it. But if it’s true (and I think it is) that people didn’t become a card-carrying member of the “Cult of Collectivism” overnight, perhaps it’s reasonable to expect that they can’t be brought back to America’s founding principles overnight, that there are no “magic words.”

After all, in the words of Winston Churchill, all we have to offer people as free-market capitalists who believe in individual freedom and personal responsibility is “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” (as opposed to unearned entitlements and non-stop feel-good self-exlated Kumbaya-ism). The idea of having to earn something through hard work is being severely undermined by the demagogues in government who have convinced people not only that “free stuff” is due them, but that they can think of themselves as near saints for taking it.

In addition, if you choose the “individualism” route, you’re often considered of a lower moral caliber. In the words of Obama, such a system is “everyone out for themselves” (which, to a great extent, is absolutely true — thank god you don’t have to pay my rent or come over to my place and fix me breakfast every morning, although the free market allows me to do this for myself, thank you).

In the Cult of Collectivism (at least according to their way of thinking), they don’t have selfish motives like “profit” or anything so crude. They believe in “social justice,” “equality” (of outcome), “diversity” (getting lost in the comfort of groupthink and being insulated from the discomfort of contrary opinions), and most of all they believe in “living sustainably and in harmony with the planet” (defined in such a fuzzy way as to suggest that it matters more to feel caring than to actually do something fact-based and effective).

Okay, admittedly I have yet to offer any magic words myself. But don’t you see my problem? It’s not that I’m not clever enough to come up with such words. It’s that there are no words. Even if someone is living the capitalist dream (and I know such people), many will not let go of their fanciful “Cult of Collectivism” beliefs because such beliefs offer everything that a typical religion does, even if it is of a more earthly orientation:

1) Redemption from the guilt (inculcated by the Left) for having been successful

2) The promise of redistributive “goodies” from others

3) A scapegoat for all their feelings of envy and anger — things are never their fault, it’s the fault of “the rich” or some other hobgoblin

4) An escape (if only psychological) from the pressures and feelings that we all have of not being good enough. (Freedom does come with some costs.)

5) And this one is perhaps the most sinister of all: Being a member of the Cult of the Left is a blank check for people to pursue their own quite selfish goals without really having to do much more than posture. The “Cult of Collectivism” fulfills the same purpose as the Indulgences of old that the Catholic Church used to sell. You can fly around in a carbon-spewing jet as Al Gore does, but as long as your are hawking “carbon credits,” it’s alright.

What “magic words” can I offer in the face of all this, especially when all I (or you) have to offer is “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” which is at the very heart of American-style freedom? Those who not only do not value freedom (which is the same as “choice,” as in one’s choice of health care or anything else) but who also see freedom as a detriment (perhaps an immoral one at that) are not going to be an easy crowd to convince.

Will it be sufficient to tell someone “Own your own life instead of letting Nancy Pelosi own it”? For some, it might be. But the Cult of Collectivism, like any cult, has programmed people in such a way as to resist that kind of message outright. The speaker of such words is thought to have evil motives or, at the very least, that such a person is not yet “enlightened” and doesn’t yet know how the world really works (or ought to work).

And primary to understanding the intransigence of those indoctrinated into the Cult of the Left is noting how our society has devolved to a narcissistic, therapeutic one. Dennis Prager characterizes this as many people being “nice” but not “good.” Instead of focussing on right and wrong, on productive work, on personal character, or any other traits that have been long-established as the keys to success and to being a civillized person, we now focus on a bunch of emotionally fuzzy stuff such as “diversity,” “social justice,” “multiculturalism, or “environmentalism.”

And it’s not that conservatives don’t care about the environment, for equal good manners toward people of all colors, or equal treatment under the law (as opposed to “social justice”). It’s just that we don’t make it a fetish to constantly stroke our self-esteem about how supposedly saint-like we are in regards to these things. One does one’s duty and gets on with it. But only the superficial or the emotionally vapid need constant high-fives or back-slaps for simply doing the decent thing.

But the Cult of the Left is much more concerned with the back slap and simply being perceived as being the kindest, nicest, and — gosh darn it — most likable people on the planet. The Cult of the Left inculcates an unhealthy need to be liked all the time instead of being good all the time. And that’s a tough nut to crack, particularly because the ideology of the Left is based upon exaltedly self-flattery combined with the implicit idea that those on “the right” are all ogres.

Thus those on the Left (as any good cult members tend to do) do not even have to think about the rightness of their own principles. All they need to know is “not that,” not “the right.” And this is cult programming. Any cult worth its salt puts up imposing barriers to the assimilation of new and conflicting information.

Yikes. Find the magic words to get your way out of that trap. Cults are anti-logic to begin with which makes the problem very difficult to solve with logic. Perhaps you understand why my own words are so often voluminous. I know there are no magic words. But I keep trying. • (1442 views)

Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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18 Responses to No Magic Words – Part II

  1. ladykrystyna says:

    As usual, Brad, you are correct.

    There are no “magic words”. All you can do is continue with reason and logic and hope that it starts to sink in.

    I have said for some time that it took us 100 years to get here and it will probably take 100 years to get out of it. But we have to take that first step.

    I thought the Tea Party was that first step. Still do in many ways. But then we have to be ready for the “1 step forward, 2 steps back” that we will encounter. After the 2010 election when it was obvious that the GOP was using the Tea Party, we took a step back. We took another 2 steps back in 2012.

    But I think we have to keep trying. That’s why I like Mark Levin’s idea (hopefully I can finish the book this week and give you a review): it provides us with another peaceful way to try and fix the problem.

    Or perhaps, in the end, like a child, America is going to have to learn from her own mistakes and she’ll have to collapse so that people can see what they have wrought.

    Only problem with that is that the Left will be there to blame capitalism and right wing principles, making many people go to the Left for help.

    We have a war on several fronts: we have to try and save this country and that includes Levin’s ideas, but we also have to try and convert those who have fallen for the cult, while also preparing for what happens if all of that fails and this country falls into ruins – we have to be there to help pick up the pieces and show the way out of the darkness.

  2. pst4usa says:

    Brad, I have to agree with you that there are no magic words, but there is a method. Marketing, marketing, marketing. The battle we face as, LadyK. says, will take a long time to win, but victory will not come from a leader,or even a group of them. The only way for the magic words to work or the method of marketing, is for the pain level to become high enough for the average person to wake from their long slumber and see that they have done damage to their own kids future. And that my friend may take longer than we have before we get our own version of Stalin, Mussolini or a Hitler.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I do think pain is part of it. But there has to be a positive shaping force…an idea of what America is supposed to be about. We’ve lost that. Pain could bring that back. But it has to be about something more than just pain avoidance. Good times or bad, we need to want the idea of America and we have to want it more than the cheap snake-oil being sold to us by the Obama types.

      • CCWriter CCWriter says:

        Marketing yes, pain also. Part of the marketing is to make sure the people we’re trying to reach don’t perceive pain is coming from our side. They have to see us as the ones with the solutions. We are up against some crafty misdirection. We need to be crafty to outmaneuver the opposition. Part of that is using what we have that they don’t. And that doesn’t mean mimicking their approach.

        Pain can be in how you talk to people. Remember what you’re trying to sell. If you were one of the brainwashed, would you be inclined to listen to someone who said “Hey, libtard! You’re stupid! And your role models are evil! Now vote for our candidate.” No, you’d see that as proof of the accuracy of the left’s caricature of conservatives as haters. It’s a trap, using our outrage to trip us up, and we keep walking into it. Why do some of us spend so much time trying to un-sell the competitor’s product when we have a whole line of our own that could be talked about? Is it any wonder that some claim we’ve got nothing?

        Sure, the other side pretends to be friendly, and of course it’s frustrating. That’s no reason for us not to be truly friendly and genuinely respectful. This is not posturing or self-congratulation, it’s living what we believe. The contrast may show more than we can tell in words, in fact it might take people by surprise. Start by cultivating some empathy with those who have been conned, with those who have caught on to something and changed their minds. Have we not all had that experience in life?

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Mona Charen has a good article up at NRO talking about the emasculation of Scotland. I agree with you, CC, that we could do a better job. But we sometimes put too much pressure on ourselves. The loopy libtards in Scotland are not going to be talked out of their insanity by sweet words.

          • CCWriter CCWriter says:

            If the job is to persuade the voters, then what kind of words do you think will get it done? How exactly will those words work on their emotions and their reasoning? You already said you don’t know what words will work–but you seem to be turning down any words that are anything other than negative and do have some psychological strategy behind them. As far as I can make out, you don’t like anything that’s too “sweet” or “friendly” etc. to the person whose mind you are attempting to change, I’m not sure why. So, what then do you suggest? How would you define “appeal”?

            And if you don’t think the job is to persuade the voters, how exactly do you see elections being won?

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              CC, we’re gotten to that bad place in America where what is right is not popular. I was just looking through some Clarence Thomas quotes for the sidebar and I found this one:

              I don’t know one of my friends who is considered a conservative who has not had to go back and thoroughly think through everything. You do a lot of soul-searching – ’cause we are not going to win any popularity contests.

              Unlike many at National Review, my main interest isn’t on how to win elections. My interest is in how to change the hearts and minds of the American people. And we might not win any popularity contests in doing so.

              And to do that, it’s not going to be by a flow of sweet-and-friendly Kumbaya-ish words. To some extent, we have to mock Leftism, for it is a ridiculous cult, and a dangerous one too as mankind has seen.

              We are in this position where the average American believes some really stupid stuff. And no human being is able to make choices unless you offer them some. And simply buying into and adopting the “nice” Kumbaya-ish ways of the Left isn’t going to get that done. If people are in the market for smarmy “nice,” the Left already has the monopoly on that brand.

              They want to “save the planet,” after all. Only by showing people how stupid those notions are can we make any inroads into just a common sense approach to life and politics.

              I’m not personally selling any political party, or even conservatism. But I think we must be cultural crusaders in the sense of puncturing the pomposity and ridiculousness of the self-righteous and loopy Left.

              Even so, at the end of the day, we have an electorate that is powerfully shaped now by the power of money, as in entitlements and other goodies. I know many conservatives who talk the talk. But when it comes down to it it’s “Don’t touch my Social Security,” even if you explain to them that they will be taking far more out of it (and Medicare) then they ever put in. How can you demand that other people pay for things that you haven’t earned?

              We used to have an ethic of leaving this country better than we found it. Now if it’s not the goofball ideology of Leftism turning people into squishy sponges of smarmy saccharine BS, it is entitlements turning people into parasites on their own nations and the generations not yet born.

              This should be pointed out and mocked and ridiculed. We Americans have a great legacy to draw from. We don’t have to put up with this Leftist bullshit. And if drawing stark contrasts is too much for the American psyche, then that just goes to show the nature of the problem.

              • CCWriter CCWriter says:

                If “mockery” and “stark contrasts” and all the nasty names you can think up are called for, how exactly do you propose to fling them without making individuals feel they themselves are the target? Is there no ground between that and what you call “smarmy”? How do you get people to separate themselves from identifying with the left so that they don’t merely take your strong words personally instead of getting the point behind them? If you don’t do anything to change their identification, then your attacks are certain to backfire, which IMHO explains why we are not making any headway. You can sit there and say they shouldn’t react that way, but that is just wishing and excuse-making, and it hasn’t worked, has it? What is the definition of insanity, again? Adding force won’t do it–what you need is leverage. I am not talking about the “American psyche,” for there isn’t just one. I am talking about the individual psyche of the person you want to win over. That is the nature of the problem. Or do you see results coming about in some other way?

                P.S. I would remind you of the fable of the sun and the wind making a bet as to who could get a man’s coat off.

        • pst4usa says:

          Right on the money CC, we must win them over. Brad, I don’t mean to imply that pain is or should be a tool. I just think that it is the catalyst for waking people up.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            That’s fine, Pat. Both you and CC are now under honorable obligation to present that kind of approach in article form.

            We can engage in this meta-speak all day long. In fact, many sites get bogged down in the “talk about the talk.”

            So let’s see some action. Submit to me an article that has the kind of persuasion that you think would work.

            • pst4usa says:

              Brad, If I could come up with them,(the magic words), you would be the first to know. Well second actually.

            • CCWriter CCWriter says:

              I’ll put it on my list, but first I must complete my promised review of Kevin Williamson’s book. I think there’s some magic there if we know how to decipher it. This magic may be more about developments and experiences than words, though.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Starting up this thread anew with CC. We ran into the seven layer of quotes limit.

    CC, I think you’re shadow boxing with yourself. You’re free here to write an article that persuades in the way that you think would work best. Me, it’s difficult to look at some of this truly ridiculous stuff and not mock it. If that’s too much for some people to handle, then too bad.

    But I think there is great power in mockery. After all, consider that this was one of the powerful techniques used by the left to de-legitimize (at least in the eyes of their often captive audiences) traditional American and Western ideas.

    Well, we can play that game too. But we can do it with a tongue partially planted in our cheek and a twinkle in our eye. I’m not talking about balling up my fists and screaming bloody murder, as the spoiled brat narcissistic red diaper doper baby lunatics on the Left do. I mean do it with some good cheer, good humor, and perhaps a Bob-Hope-like sense of style and wit.

    And let’s admit it. There is some really goofy and stupid stuff that is part and parcel of the Left. To not mock it is to basically than accept their premises. And I don’t accept their premises. I laugh at many of their premises because that’s exactly what they deserve.

    Political satire is a very effective means of changing opinions.

    • Kung Fu Zu says:

      And I don’t believe we change many minds in one discussion. It is well known that change over a period of time (chronic) is more effective and lasting than something that happens quickly (acute). Think diet.

      Sarcasm works on some people and in certain situations. I am not sure one cannot maintain the same about reasoned discourse. Frankly, I suspect reasoned discourse does not work as often as sarcasm as, in my experience, there is not a great number of reasonable people out there. Of course, there is a huge number of people who believe they are reasonable, but who are in fact completely emotional.

      Have a look at NRO posts and they appear to have gone from unreasoned to completely irrational.

    • CCWriter CCWriter says:

      Brad, you may be right that there is power in the mockery, but I hope you get my point that it has to be aimed well so it doesn’t backfire. If you understand that, you didn’t make it clear before. I would just like you to be sure you’re honest with yourself at any given moment about whether your aim is to change opinions, or satisfy your need for emotional catharsis, because face it, you may not be able to have it both ways. I have run into many on our side who seem to be the second. Like you, they’re frustrated, can’t understand why what they’ve been doing isn’t working, but aren’t interested in trying anything else because it just doesn’t have enough “Grrr! Grrr! Grrrrr!” to make them feel good. (And feeling good is supposed to be what the left is about?) Now, I don’t mind people letting off steam just among ourselves, but for goodness sakes think about who’s hearing it and how it comes off! You say “Too bad”–what does that even mean? And you still wonder why the needle isn’t moving! Get real! Get strategic or get out of the way!

      Absolutely, a lot more real, positive style and wit would be just the ticket for our side. It would contrast so well with the negative, sourpuss, PC kind that the left puts out, that relies on fear and loathing and a pose of superiority. Disarming people, sneaking past their prejudices, getting them to let their guard down, allowing them to see themselves as in on the joke and not the butt of it, is the first step to changing minds. Again, we’ll never have another Reagan, but for gosh sakes why can’t more of us study him and ask “WWRS” (or “WWTGS” if you like)?

      BTW do you ever listen to Dennis Miller? I think he sets a good example in his mixture of humor and argument. Depending on whose version you believe, Miller is either a convert, or else changed his political identification to match where he was all along. Possibly that’s what changing minds actually amounts to!

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I would just like you to be sure you’re honest with yourself at any given moment about whether your aim is to change opinions, or satisfy your need for emotional catharsis, because face it, you may not be able to have it both ways..

        Oh, I think it’s always going to be some of both — and hopefully to good effect. I take my cue from Woody in his assessment of Buzz Lightyear. “That wasn’t flying; that was falling with style.”

        I don’t expect perfection. And I realize that for every one word that we put out there in the blogosphere, it is matched by a million that are reinforcing the “Progressive” religion. I think we’d all go crazy if we sat here behind our keyboard and actually expected to find those “magic words” to reach those who have been indoctrinated into Leftism.

        We can be positive and as sweet as pussycats. But at the end of the day, with the Left controlling the media, the education system, and a large part of the entertainment industry, we will always be spitting into the wind to some extent. So let’s do so with style — and more than a bit of irreverence.

        Yes, I occasionally listen to Dennis Miller. I like him. But I think you’re dreaming if you think the way to convert liberals is to sweet talk them and to make sure that they never hear a disconcerting word. And besides that, I’m not going to live inside of that kind of box.

        Now, if you want to take a stab at that, then do so. Write that article, or series of articles, that are full of the right “magic words” and I’ll be more than glad to eat my hat if you find a way to convert liberals. In the meantime, I’m going to have a little fun with this. I have no plans of living my life walking on eggshells so that some of these narcissistic nitwits out there are so not-offended that they suddenly see the light.

        I don’t think that’s how it works anyway. And even if it did work that way, I frankly haven’t the energy to be that concerned about not offending a cult which is a cult in large part because it has made being offended an art.

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