Political Communication (1, 2, 3.5 hrs (half day) or 7 hrs (full day). Half and Full day versions include activities and practice exercises. Fully day version includes “Culture Precedes Politics”, below ).
Typical titles, chosen to suit goals of booking organization: The Art of Political Persuasion/The Art of Libertarian Persuasion/The Prison of Political Paradigms – and How To Break People Out of Them/Winning Supporters, Not Arguments.
The power and incommensurability of paradigms. What people believe determines what they are able to perceive – not just how they interpret. (Goethe: “You See Only What You Know”.) How Political beliefs /commitments are formed: neurological/psychological basis. The nature and experience of political commitment. Why political persuasion involves rewiring someone’s brain – and how to do that. Why logical arguments don’t work: judgment vs. justification as (entirely) different mental processes. Selling and marketing political ideas. The need for finding common ground – and where to find it. The need to sell a direction rather than a destination. Taking down an old paradigm before offering a new one. Techniques: meeting objections upfront, subverting expectations, using opponents vocabulary, understanding before being understood, telling someone what they think vs. what they should think.
The six dimensions of moral psychology as they apply to politics, including variations among conservatives, progressives and libertarians, and how to exploit them according to target group. Why nearly all politics are the politics of identity, and how that affects how you change someone’s mind. Getting opponents from the resistive “Must I Believe This?” to the open “Can I Believe This?” Gays and guns: why most political disagreements are really differences in cultural identity, and the implications for political persuasion. Shared “cultural” identity as common “political” ground. How and what political groups sacralize issues/words/symbols. Why what you talk about is more important than what you say about it: how reordering an argument, without changing its content, can completely change its power to persuade.
The difference between winning arguments and supporters. Using empathy. Non-dogmatic/anti-dogmatic argument.
Speaking to the Left – all the above with a focus on Liberals and progressives, especially for libertarians, Constitutionalists and liberty-orientated conservatives. The persuasive power of of consequentialism vs. the philosophical fragility of deontology. The impossibility of libertarian orthodoxy. Conservative / libertarian weak spots in arguing to the mainstream and how to handle them. Why methodological purism is not philosophical purism in an imperfect world – and why that matters in changing people’s minds.
The Craft of Political Writing (2-3 hrs) (aimed at writers of articles who seek to influence debate): especially for bloggers, journalists etc… Writing to persuade: engage, educate and elevate. Establishing trust with readers who don’t identify with you. Selling an idea using written words. Why do readers “buy”?. The Value-added of an article: intellectual (useful), emotional (empowering), immediate (entertaining). Writing as effective payload with effective delivery mechanism. The most important skill in writing isn’t writing. To what should a persuasive writer be committed? Making it beautiful.
Culture Precedes Politics (1 or 2 hrs)
Large-scale, long-lasting political change invariably follows significant shifts in the culture. Activists all too often focus too much on the political game and not enough on shifting the dial of the cultural mainstream. Accordingly, this seminar takes a historical look at how the ideas of liberty have actually grown in the cultural mainstream, leading to practical politics, over a thousand years of the Anglo tradition, of which the establishment of the USA was a part. Lessons for liberty activists today. What causes these cultural shifts that lead to political change? Answer: political over-reach into the culture. Can we accelerate these shifts? If so, how. Where and how should big-picture activists apply pressure to move the mainstream of culture and politics? Importance of mainstream media as reflecting prevailing culture, establishing new cultural and political norms and, most importantly, activating the human sense of injustice as a catalyst of political change. Major political change almost never comes from educating the electorate in a new political idea or philosophy. So what does it come from – a particular part of our human nature…