'Like it or not, we have placed our destiny in the hands of the experts. A politician is, after all, a kind of expert, if self-styled. Even the fact that competent experts must serve under politicians of mediocre intelligence and little foresight is a problem that we are stuck with, because the experts themselves cannot agree on any major world issue. A logocracy of quarreling experts might be no better than the rule of the mediocrities to which we are subject. The declining intellectual quality of political leadership is the result of the growing complexity of the world. Since no one, be he endowed with the highest wisdom, can grasp it in its entirety, it is those who are least bothered by this who strive for power.' -Stanislaw Lem

Is Darryl Perry Making Ideological Progress?

by Ethan Glover, Wed, Feb 07, 2018 - (Edited) Wed, Feb 07, 2018

Darryl Perry has been one of those few libertarian activists who stick around Keene, NH. While others leave after recognizing the movements poor and destructed state, a small few Free Keeners won't quit.

I was both pleasantly surprised and confused when I saw Perry's latest post to Free Keene. 'An Open Letter to Libertarians.' It's a short, disjointed four paragraphs. The text is contradictory and meaningless. But it might be a good sign for the mindset of Darryl.

Each of the four paragraphs can be summarized as such:

  1. On the internet anyone can express their views, but this opens the door to fake news and click bait.
  2. Getting into every argument that comes your way may not be a good idea.
  3. Arguing doesn't do a lot of good when considering the backfire effect.
  4. Use physical means of activism, instead of online, to educate voters about your beliefs.

Darryl is on, or near, the same track I was when I wrote a few pieces for Free Keene. I wrote about how to solve the image problem of libertarians. How to win an argument online. How to persuade others with moral reframing. And how to cure bias with curiosity.

The intention of Darryl here doesn't seem to be learning. Rather, it's more about increasing the status of libertarians. Paragraphs three and four recognize the problems with arguing. But the tone set by paragraph one, and the conclusion made by four don't take these revelations into consideration. Darryl makes ideology more important than education.

But this post makes me hopeful. It suggests that at least one person in Free Keene is beginning to separate ego from ideology.

When you begin to apply things like deep canvassing, moral reframing, and curiosity to the way you speak to people, it changes the way you think. It changes the people you're speaking to. It doesn't help you "educate" people on "your beliefs." It helps you learn from others, and others learn from you. There's a major difference in mindset there. And there's a major difference in value it brings to all parties.

"Libertarian," "alt-right," "liberal," "conservative." If you're fighting for a team, you're not learning anything. If you think your label has the answers, you have the wrong answers.

Darryl and other current Free Keene followers have an isolated viewpoint on the world. They live and breathe on instant reaction. Using oversimplified views of a complex world to act like they know everything. Running to Murray Rothbard, the Karl Marx of the right, for every answer to every question.

I'm surprised to see the slightest recognition of something so basic, yet so important as the backfire effect from this group. I also fear that Darryl is only trying to use it as a weapon. As a way to talk about 'others' and not considering the self.

"Don't bother arguing libertarianism on Facebook because of the backfire effect." ... is very different than ... "We need to consider how much of what we say and do is the backfire effect."

Understanding cognitive biases and heuristics, like understanding logical fallacies, is only good for self-improvement. The second you begin to use them against others, to point the finger, you become the problem.

It's OK to establish clear guidelines for yourself to make sure you can get your point across. But to use those guidelines as a weapon against others is cowardly. -Online Civility

Maybe Darryl is making progress. Or maybe he's so entrenched in that cult that it would be too emotionally harrowing to go against it. If he continued down the path of ideological self-improvement, he would have to cut ties. Extremist cults do not allow for open minds.

My prediction is that this post, this one small hint of growth, will fall into the nether. That Darryl is only browsing available weapons and can't tell that this one is aiming right at him. On the other hand, I had no idea what I was talking about when I wrote Online Civility. But I still found my independence.