Santa Claus came, and brought me an audio disc of The Art of War by Sun-Tzu. I’d already read some of the transcriptions and various interpretations, but wanted a CD with yet another run-through because when I go to pick up my son & drop him off, it’s several hundreds of miles through the most godawful boring Northern Nevada landscape you ever did see. And I had such a jaunt coming up, because we needed to drop the lad off after his service as ring-bearer at our wedding.
No, didn’t want it to practice as I made the trek. Just wanted to listen to it. Well…that turned out to be perfectly adequate for a bachelor driving solo, but it makes for dry “reading” with the wife in the passenger seat and the easily-bored teen sitting in back. So we quit halfway through disc three.
But by this point I made note of something. I’m always impressed by the style with which the essay is written. It is rhythmic, it is concise, it is structured. It is almost like iambic pentameter. This is the style of “in it to win it.” And something else impresses me about it: It is altogether different from that useless maelstrom of dodecaphonic rhetoric I’ve been hearing since November, about “Republicans shoulda done this” and “Republicans shouldn’t-a done that” and “Republicans ought to do some other damn silly fool thing.” Sun-Tzu isn’t like that. He’s a gifted writer, in his own way, that Sun-Tzu dude.
The Art of War is outrage-free. And it is absolutely, completely situational. It plays to win. There is no wrath; in fact, Sun-Tzu specifically counsels against wrath, and condemns the unwise decisions made by generals who wage war wrathfully. The introduction says it all: “The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat — let [him] be dismissed!” Pretty heady stuff, eh? It would be nice to hear of such a study guide in preparation for the “war” against liberals.
Perhaps it has been done, already, and not been brought to my attention. If so, I presume it has been engaged before my effort, and better. I am prepared to defer to the wiser counsel.
In the meantime, consider this as a prototype, upon which others may improve, or bring things to my attention so I may improve upon it. Something — something situational — better than nothing.
Overview and General Points
Firstly, it must be noted how it is that conservatives continue to lose arguments when the arguments are about arguing, meaning, when the arguments are all about “who’s a-gonna win.” This childlike sentiment of “I’m smart, you’re stupid, I’m right, you’re wrong, that makes me better than you” is a better fit with liberalism than with conservatism. Conservatism, as a general rule, is really all about finding the best solution to a problem. It is about enabling transactional exchanges. You heard what they said about “the customer is always right,” right? And so conservatives, who tend to be stakeholders and partners in businesses, are naturally inclined to say “Okay whatever, if you have some rules that I don’t like, we’ll take that into account and now let us get to business.” And so, time after time, wage increase after wage increase, tax after tax, the new expenses are built into the system and then the system continues to function. That is the “compromise”; let the machinery run, the way the liberals say it should, but let it run. You’ll note this is a tacit admission of what everyone knows, deep down, to be true: If the liberals got everything they wanted, the machinery would no longer run. That is their concession. They are anti-machinery-running, anti-human-progress, anti-go pro-stop. That we are not permitted to point it out in polite company, doesn’t make it any less true.
Well, just as Art of War is not necessarily about war, what appears below is not necessarily about winning arguments. The “general” who heeds my counsel should be prepared to lose, to acquiesce, to re-think a thing now & then, and acknowledge that his opponent might very well have had a good point to make. His sites have to be trained not on winning arguments, but on comparing proposed courses of action for an outcome most beneficial to all concerned. Let the childish liberals concern themselves with being “right” all the time.
The objective, here, is to wage effective discourse. Our target is the friend, relative, co-worker, or guy in the grocery checkout line who wants to “talk politics.” He does not identify himself as a liberal, he attaches to himself deceptive adjectives and nouns, such as “common sense” or “moderate.” But he is overly receptive to the words of the enemy and therefore, should it be possible, must be converted. The benefit we are to derive from following Sun-Tzu’s structure, is an intelligent adaptation to different situations, and the situations to which we are adapting have to do with the classification of this target. We have identified eleven of these. They are to be handled thusly:
There is a hidden rift between this type and all the other types. All the other types would be concerned about the deleterious effect of wretched liberal policy changes, if they could only be made aware of it, but they lack this awareness. This kind might or might not be aware, but doesn’t give a rat’s ass. He is a Trojan horse, an enfranchised liberal in centrist clothing. He has skin in the game. He is materially entangled in the liberal vision, being rewarded either out in the open or in secret, by way of cash, discounts, perks, votes or career advancement. He has a “job,” of sorts, to make himself and other liberals more powerful.
He therefore cannot be dissuaded.
The rift between this type, and the other ten, is the most precious asset we have. Do not engage this sort of poser in any direct way.
Accentuate, for the benefit of any bystanders, the differences between his interests and everybody else’s.
Example: The smaller paychecks that came out the first of this year, as a result of ObamaCare and the “fiscal cliff” deal. Our friends the democrats think that’s what a victory looks like. And they’re not afraid to say so. So that’s perfect.
He self-identifies as a “moderate,” “centrist,” or “nothing at all, fed up with both parties.”
He is concerned about the plight of the less fortunate and wants to do right by them.
However, he has no problem with raising the taxes of strangers to achieve this. Often, the lodestar to his journey is “it won’t have any effect on me” and he is not the least bit shy about admitting this. He is not prepared to make a personal sacrifice. He wants others to do the sacrificing. He sees nothing out of kilter with this at all.
Examine, with him, the long-term effects of these programs. Example: Inspect the situation of “families” that have been raised within multi-generational “dynasties” of poverty and government dependence.
If kids require positive role models for living in a legal way — which is to say, if their statutory transgressions are to be excused, in whole or in part, because they lack a background by which they could’ve known any better — they must require a positive role model so they can live in a productive way, as well, yes?
Contemplate, with him, the ramifications of diminishing benefits for a family when a man lives in the home. Can you get him to acknowledge the obvious, that people respond to incentives? How, therefore, can a benefit differential not exert a force toward greater occurrences of single-parent homes, with all the burdens attendant to such a tragic situation?
He has friends, or relatives, or both, who are registered democrats.
He wants to go along to get along. He is invested in the benefits of group membership, and this motivates him more powerfully than any ideological leaning. He is chasing a bandwagon. He wants to get on and stay on. Association is his primary motive.
You are dealing with a disadvantage because this person will “hook” into whichever argument he has heard first, and your points are not the ones he has heard first.
You cannot win this person over at one sitting. But you can get him started on the right path.
Give him an offering of the relevant information they have been missing.
Offer a few examples of liberal policy changes, accomplishing something remarkably different from what they were supposed to.
Include in these examples, anecdotes of goods and services becoming more expensive and harder to obtain as a result. This person, although he will not admit it, is motivated by self-interest. Connect some dots. Concentrate on extreme examples, like Jimmy Carter screwing up the economy. Show how bad things can get, how bad they have already been.
The Idol Worshipper
He is in love, not so much with the ideology of liberalism, but with its imperialistic vision.
His optimistic exuberance is recharged, inexplicably, by stories about a noted celebrity receiving greater authority, and perks of power. He celebrates Barack and Michelle Obama’s latest vacation, even though he does not know them personally and this does nothing for his situation, or to ease the suffering of anyone he personally knows. It is as if we are all better off when the sovereign can put another concubine in his harem.
He thinks, if only we can find the most wonderful individual within our midst and elevate him to the loftiest position of uncontested authority, it’ll all work out.
Has no appetite for details, let alone the working strategy to use against the stated problem, that would rely on such details.
This person is a f*cking whackjob.
Do not engage.
The Pie Person
He is convinced — somehow — that every time one man makes a dollar, it becomes an unavoidable consequence that another man somewhere must lose a dollar.
Some fall short of being deceived in this way, but nurture a powerful hatred against financially successful people.
Educate him about some examples of businesses being started that helped everybody.
Remind him that businesses, as a general rule, must offer a good or service that will be consumed only with the full consent and intent of the buyer. Businesses therefore work according to voluntary transactions, as contrasted with governments, which work according to coerced ones.
Ponder, with him, how things might be if the businesses had never been formed.
If he rejects this, prepare to re-classify as Classist (see below).
The Treasury Raider
Many among their number think work is for suckers.
However, many others believe in hard work, and show it. Give due credit.
Their argument often is that you are the ignorant one, since you are failing to “vote your interest.”
They tend to see issues as one-sided, concerned only with what they will get out of the deal.
He thinks an election is a poll, by which you’re supposed to tell the government what kind of help you need.
Ask him what he thinks is the source of the money that pays for all of this.
From his answer, you need to arrive at a decision point.
If he says it comes from rich people and that’s how things should be, consider reclassifying him as a Pie Person (see above).
If he ignores it or brushes it off, try reminding him “there’s free cheese in a mouse trap.”
Rationale being, people who lust after free gifts, generally lust after power as well.
Perhaps he has not put much thought into the power he will be asked to relinquish, in exchange for these free gifts.
The Newsletter Subscriber
He is buried under an enormous printed mess of liberal propaganda, and he does not realize it.
He is often heard quoting some bogus study that says The Daily Show viewers are the best-informed, and Fox News viewers are the least-informed.
Educate him with some facts that he does not yet have.
Point out that when the Strategist (see above) has “debunked” an “urban myth”…no such debunking actually took place.
Do not tell him that he needs to find more diverse sources of his information. Allow him to conclude this on his own.
Watch for signs of anger or negative feeling. Help him to change the subject if he starts to show embarrassment.
Your own information can benefit from sending him some of your own sources, through the e-mail. If he comes up with poor excuses for ignoring this new information, such as “that’s from Fox News” for example, then you know that he is very far gone. In this case, be ready to re-classify him as a Pleaser (see above), and handle accordingly.
Try to inspire him to think, on his own, how they might end up embarrassed if they don’t take in more information. But do this without actually embarrassing him, or by directly pointing this out.
The DS Sufferer
He is emotionally invested in personality-hate-campaigns, ready to cast a vote to manifest loathing against some notable individual.
S/He suffers from RDS (Reagan Derangement Syndrome), GDS (Gingrich Derangement Syndrome), BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome), PDS (Palin Derangement Syndrome), or the like.
Seems to think, if the person in question would just shut up and go away, and perhaps meet with an unfortunate accident as well, life will become wonderful for everybody.
Make pointed inquiries about the overall strategy; the target of hatred is banished, or injured, now how do things get better for others? Specifically?
Challenge the idea that the identified personality has “extreme” ideas. You might start by asking the Palinophobe exactly what the most extreme policy position of Sarah Palin has ever been, for example.
Point out that, as a practical matter, you don’t have anything against this person, because that person hasn’t done anything to hurt you. Use the phrase, “I don’t wanna be a hater.”
This has the effect of bringing shame on the Palinophobe as the more negative participant in the discourse — which is quite accurate, actually.
He is eager to show off his superior intellect, his loftier altitude of thinking. He does this by pursuing exotic, impractical ideas, in such a way that he can be easily observed by those he seeks to impress.
He wants to be thought-of as capable of appreciating fine “nuanced” details of pressing situations, and of objects within them.
He places a disproportionate amount of thought energy into identifying these hidden facets, visible to him but unnoticed by others.
Since his argument often ends there, make inquiries about their long-term plans, objectives and visions.
For example: What is the objective of holding up construction on a dam, for sake of some dumb fish that’s in the way?
How will we know when or if this objective has been realized?
Also, what benchmarks can we use along the way, to make sure the plan is on the right track.
He views our society as a vertical arrangement of impermeable classes layered on upon the other.
He looks forward to some revolutionary event, upon which “social justice” will somehow be done.
He labors under the misconception, or seems to labor under it anyway, that people are born “rich,” “poor” or something in between, and toil from cradle to grave confined within that particular layer.
Point out that in America, classes exist but they are fluid.
Offer some examples of people who started out with very little and made lots of money.
It also helps to offer examples of the reverse, people who started out rich and lost everything.
Also, use statistics to show that on average, as people go through life their financial situations change.
You are likely to find that you are dealing with something entirely emotion-based, in which case you will have to re-classify.
He describes a lot of problems in terms of industries/activities not being adequately “regulated.”
He seems to think that a few more laws in the books will fix everything, with no ill side-effects.
Nobody ever says “I want more government,” but it comes easy to these people to say things like “there ought to be a law.”
Seriously question what force there is that makes a regulator wiser or more benevolent than those he regulates. (Be sure and shoot me an e-mail if you EVER get a decent answer to this, I haven’t.)
Point out some anecdotal evidence about regulatory efforts gone wrong.
Ponder, with him, the true ramifications of the idea being proposed.
Example: A minimum wage of ten dollars an hour doesn’t “raise wages”; what it does, is outlaw any jobs that fall outside the parameter specified (greater than or equal to $10 per hour), leaving the person who would otherwise be hired, unemployed.