How do we reinstill the benefits of the free market, of liberty and personal responsibility, into a generation that have been told the government will provide for their every need?
At 2018’s LibertyFest, Dr Markey-Towler spoke about how the brain processes information, which has significant implications for how we can effectively promote the benefits of the free-market.
Signals from the eyes and ears first travel to the hypothalamus, and then to the amygdala before travelling to the frontal cortex, the section responsible for logic. The amygdala is responsible for processing emotions. We feel before we think.
In forming arguments, we should be appealing to people’s moral foundations:
- Care / harm
- Liberty / oppression
- Loyalty / betrayal
- Authority / subversion
- Fairness / cheating
- Sanctity / Degradation
Jonathan Haidt’s theory suggests that, while people of different political beliefs emphasise different parts, everyone forms their political opinions around these six foundations.
If your political opinion fails to appeal to a person’s moral reasoning, namely the care / harm paradigm, it will elicit an emotional response and the person you’re talking with will perceive you to be cold and inhuman. They will not logically process your argument.
Libertarian debates often focus on the economy and how certain policies result in net costs rather than net benefits. This fails to appeal to people’s moral foundations. Rather than saying, “We should reduce welfare because it costs the economy X amount each year”, he suggested we should say something more along the lines of, “Our poor are suffering, we should stop treating them like criminals.”
Dr Markey-Towler stressed the importance of engaging people in conversation and justifying your view with a sufficient knowledge of economics and philosophy. I agree that we need to be more compassionate, but I believe our efforts are better directed at producing easily digestible content.
There is a portion of the population that are actively engaged in political debates and follow political issues closely, but the vast majority of people don’t devote much time to researching issues before forming an opinion. It’s only rational, why spend so much time researching something that you have almost no influence over?
If we’re to cause a shift in young people’s political beliefs, we need to put a greater emphasis on our marketing efforts. It’s much easier to influence millennials with short ‘feel-good’ Instagram clips and 50-word twitter posts than explaining the intricacies of objectivism.
There is a time and a place for complex debates, but if we want the general public to see the merit in our ideas we have to be more compassionate and ‘feel-good’. We need to actively engage with the younger generation, even if we have to ‘water down’ some of our content.