Corporation bashing. Global warming. Equality of individuals. Collective guilt. Environment is good, humans are bad. The evils of capitalism and consumerism.
These and many similar ideas are what's being shoved into students' minds, in the name of education. And, by and large, young people accept them--the themes are repeated so often, from preschool cartoons to college courses, that it's hard to avoid having at least a few get absorbed to some degree. For us freedom-fighters, it can be depressing--the other side has so many powerful weapons targeted at all age ranges. They have the mainstream media, a lot of the popular culture, and in some cases, the appeal of "doing good" working for them.
Fortunately for our side, most young people go through a period of questioning just about everything--religion, social customs, the things they learn in school. If the freedom philosophy can be introduced to those questioning minds while they're challenging all the stuff they've been told, there's a good chance that at least some of the ideas will stay with them. And who knows what will happen after that--just a few pro-freedom ideas may be all it takes to completely turn a person's thinking around.
Up until now it's been really hard to counteract mainstream thinking--generally, people seem to think they're free-thinking nonconformists if they wonder whether plastic grocery bags really are better than paper. Challenge the assumptions built into the recycling movement? Wouldn't occur to them--the greenies have saturated just about everything with their pro-environment propaganda. To my delight, I've recently discovered two web sites that are designed to spark thought in young people's minds about various freedom-related issues. The way each does it is a little different, but the intention is the same: to help counteract the indoctrination that passes for education in the schools and elsewhere today.
"Are your politics hurting someone?" is the question that welcomes the viewer to the first web site, and that's the meme that's hammered home throughout the site. The Flash presentation that's available from the home page is well worth the download time. It's a powerful introduction to the idea that political ideas can have painful consequences. After the presentation, the viewer goes to an index page that has a brief introduction, along with a series of images at the top with labels like "regulator", "equalizer", democrofascist", and "eco-warrior".
Each image leads to another page that explains why that particular left-liberal position actually hurts more people than it helps. For example, on the democrofascist page, we read "democracy means the death of individuality", and on the equalizer page, "We are all potential victims of an equalizing political machine. It becomes impossible for any individual to exist on her own merit - her merit is decided by the statistical averages of her group." Other pages offer specific information to counter the liberal idea, like on the tradebuster page: "Starving third world peasants are willing to leave their local shops and dying farms to work for American companies because the wages are higher there than they had before." Each of these pages ends by emphasizing that people are hurt by the laws passed in support of various political ideas.
Right now these pages are all that's on the site that's intended to help persuade friends who have bought into these ideas. Although they're well done, they probably aren't enough on their own to really persuade anybody to rethink his or her position on an issue. But, the web site is fairly new and still in the launch phase, so maybe some other essays or links to more detailed objections to liberal ideas will be added.
For pro-freedom individuals who visit the site, there are several ideas for how to spread the meme, along with stuff to help do that. For example, the graphic that forms much of their home page is offered on another page as a graphic, with the suggestion that folks set it to be the background on public-access computers they visit (libraries, university computer labs, and similar places are good targets). Even if a person seeing the image doesn't bother to go to the web site to check it out, seeing that question in big letters--"Are your politics hurting someone?"--is bound to get people wondering.
Another terrific activist idea they suggest is to print out stickers (they offer a graphic that's all set up for this, with a few different ways to make the stickers) to be stuck anywhere folks are likely to see them, or to be placed in stores for curious shoppers to see and pick up. Flyers are also available for download and printing out. They're done in grey tones, so that a black and white copier can produce a good image, and have thought-provoking statements and questions on them. The flyers are great for posting or for handing out at counter-demonstrations, which is an activity the site highly recommends as an effective way to spread these memes.
The idea of the counter-demonstrations is to target relevant liberal demonstrations in the area, use the questions and other information available on the web site to make signs, banners, and other stuff, and peacefully but effectively refute the demonstration head-on. As they point out, the goal isn't necessarily to convince anyone on "the other side" right there at the demonstration, but to get onlookers to thinking about their political views and how they might hurt others.
Although this site is designed to help persuade young people to rethink elements of the "education" they've received, I think the meme it uses is very powerful, and worth spreading to older people too. So many liberals seem to automatically assume that their ideas and policies help people, that having their ideology challenged on that basis will probably shake them up more than other arguments might. Since a lot of the information focuses on individuality, too, that should tweak a lot of people. I'll be watching this site to see what else they put up, and the other ideas they come up with for spreading the "politics can hurt" message. I think these people are on to something really powerful, and encourage everyone reading this to take the idea and use it to the best of their ability.
Bureaucrash is an even more in-your-face web site, geared toward campus activism--or, as they call it, guerilla activism. Today's college campuses are centers of political correctness, left-liberal thinking, and intolerance for opposing views. This makes it very difficult for ideas that buck the system to get coverage, let alone any serious attention. As it says in the manifesto: "Every day new rules which stifle and control the future are added to the books and every rule has a new bureaucracy to enforce it. Every new law, every new bureaucrat is a choice we lose in our own lives. The vast network of assumptions and ideas that cause our popular culture to call this freedom, must be challenged. It must be challenged with new assumptions -- new images, new scales, new symbols, new slogans. It must be challenged by us."
Campus chapters are encouraged, which allows for different and larger-scale activism. The focus is primarily on college students, but it looks like adults are welcome to participate too. Activities that they suggest on the site range from group activities to things best done by a cell of one. They have four different campaigns—the "Are Your Politics Hurting Someone?" campaign described above is one of them--going right now. There's more information on the Bureaucrash site, although it's still under construction too, and they have links to several campus chapters. I think the University of Chicago group's site is particularly well done--it's through their site that I found my way to the Bureaucrash main site.
Along with the activism tools and information, the site offers other helpful things, like a jobs and internships page, a calendar of events, a "War Room", network chat, and information on libertarianism. It's pretty clear this movement is just now starting to gather some steam--there's lots more that could be added to the site to fill it out--but the enthusiasm and energy also comes through clearly. Lots of pro-freedom people seem fairly content to bitch about the size and scope of the state, and use it as a convenient excuse for not doing anything to create more freedom. The Bureaucrashers aren't among them--they're not about to be cowed by the size of Leviathan, and are working to end its reign.
Both of these sites are American, and understandably focus on issues important to American youth. That doesn't mean, though, that the basics of either site can't be modified and used elsewhere. I know plenty of European young people hate the EU--that's certainly a worthy target for activism and counter-demonstrations. Canada is also ripe for youth activism, as socialism continues its growth there.
There's plenty of bad education going on around the world, but it can be challenged. Visit these two sites, check out what various Bureaucrash chapters are doing, and create similar memes and activities designed to expose your local flavor of tyranny. I wish you success and lots of fun along the way to greater freedom!
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