The complete failure of political activism at shrinking the size of government is an undeniable fact backed up by centuries of historical data. In fact, if you can point out a single case in human history where a government even a fraction the size of ours was significantly, and for a substantial amount of time, reduced through political activism, I will join the Republican Party (or whatever your pet organization is) tomorrow. You’d be just as successful joining the mafia in an attempt to reduce the size of the mafia.
On the other hand, the immensely effective, and positive societal impact of raising human beings to be healthy, rational, and peaceful is backed up by decades of statistics and empirical, scientific evidence.
No Criminals, No Government
The prevailing theory is that Government exists primarily to protect society from violent criminals. Human beings who develop in a healthy, peaceful environment simply don’t grow up to be violent criminals. We must focus on the root causes of violence and criminality. Only when we eliminate these root causes can society become healthy, free, and peaceful.
Show me any evidence that political activism is significantly reducing the size of government long-term, and not just shuffling it around. Otherwise, I’ll stick to the very basic, and scientifically proven argument that to change society from violent and authoritarian to free and peaceful requires us to remove those things in society that fundamentally screw people up, and cause drastic increases in psychopathy, violence, drug addiction, promiscuity, alcoholism, criminality, suicidality, anxiety, depression, etc.
Children raised in healthy and peaceful environments grow up to be healthy and peaceful, and avoid the kinds of dysfunctions that governments use to expand their power.
This fact is irrefutable: virtually all violent criminals were abused as children. Numerous studies of family violence have found a direct relationship between the severity of childhood abuse, and later tendencies to victimize others.
In a 1988 study of 14 juveniles condemned to death in the United States, 12 had been brutally abused as children, and 5 had been sodomized by relatives.
Conversely, the more peacefully a child is raised, the less likely it becomes that they will ever become a violent criminal. It would seem that the inoculation for human violence and crime is obvious; raising children peacefully.
Christian Pfeiffer, the director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony in Hanover, noted as much in this article by The Economist:
Mr Pfeiffer has found a correlation between declining rates of children being spanked (or otherwise punished physically) and subsequent decreases in violent crime.
Parents, do you want to significantly reduce the chances that your child could become everything you don’t want your child to become—a criminal, an abuser, a depressed person, a person with temper-control issues? Start by not hitting and yelling at them so much.
The big question is, why is the government not actively working to advocate for peaceful parenting?
Without crime, the government would become obsolete and unnecessary. Asking the government to advocate for peaceful parenting is like asking Marlboro to advocate for a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle.
Not only does childhood trauma increase the chances for a wide spectrum of dysfunctions in adulthood, it also increases the chances the chances of developing several kinds of chronic diseases, according to the ACE study:
The study’s researchers came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress. You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems.
As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.
Once we have eliminated the root causes of human dysfunction, criminality, and violence, government simply becomes obsolete, and entirely unneeded. This will indefinitely free society from the never-ending cycle of government oppression that has plagued our species for centuries.
The Root Causes of Violence and Criminality
So, let’s examine these root causes more closely. Let’s work from the premise that there is a clear and proven link between early childhood and criminal behavior. There are obviously other factors, but child-rearing is by far the biggest predictor of criminal behavior later on in life, and the science supports this:
• High-crime neighborhoods are characterized by high concentrations of families abandoned by fathers.
• State-by-state analysis by Heritage scholars indicates that a 10 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17 percent increase in juvenile crime.
• The rate of violent teenage crime corresponds with the number of families abandoned by fathers.
• The type of aggression and hostility demonstrated by a future criminal often is foreshadowed in unusual aggressiveness as early as age five or six.
On the other hand:
• Even in high-crime inner-city neighborhoods, well over 90 percent of children from safe, stable homes do not become delinquents. By contrast only 10 percent of children from unsafe, unstable homes in these neighborhoods avoid crime.
• The mother’s strong affectionate attachment to her child is the child’s best buffer against a life of crime.
• The father’s involvement in raising his children is also a great buffer against a life of crime.”
Child abuse increases the risk of criminality:
“Being abused or neglected as a child increases the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 59 percent, as an adult by 28 percent, and for a violent crime by 30 percent according to one study that looked at more than 1,500 cases over time.”
Increase risk of criminality persists even in twin studies:
“Child maltreatment roughly doubles the probability that an individual engages in many types of crime. This is true even if we compare twins, one of whom was maltreated when the other one was not.”
“Juvenile delinquency studies in Great Britain indicate that the roots of delinquency primarily lie within the family.”
Another study confirms childhood mistreatment increases risk of criminality:
“Study results found evidence that the apparent negative effects of maltreatment on children’s tendency to engage in crime were real.”
Childhood abuse and neglect leads to long-term, multi-faceted consequences:
“This factsheet explains the long-term physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal consequences of child abuse and neglect.”
The studies go on and on.
What does this have to do with government, politics, and freedom? An article by The Association for Psycho History explains:
“Today both Austria and Germany have laws making hitting a child as illegal as hitting an adult. Careful personality studies recently show both Germans and Austrians reporting less authoritarian attitudes than Americans.
Psychohistory’s main discovery is that war and genocide, like homicide and suicide, is a psychopathic disorder that simply does not occur in the absence of widespread early abuse and neglect, and I hope to show you that Austrian childrearing today has advanced sufficiently so that similar genocides and racist wars have become impossible for Austria in the future.
What has happened in the past half century to literally transform Vienna from a city described as having “a sheer magnitude of antisemitic violence greater than in any other city of the Reich” to a city of exceptional freedom, independence and tolerance? That the astounding change came only after childrearing vastly improved is obvious.”
According to Psychology Today, “Psychopathy is among the most difficult disorders to spot. The psychopath can appear normal, even charming. Underneath, they lack conscience and empathy, making them manipulative, volatile and often (but by no means always) criminal.”
One of the most chilling discoveries among researchers of early childhood trauma is the link to psychopathy/sociopathy.
(Note: There is no official definition of the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath, and some say that the terms are largely interchangeable. In fact, the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists both psychopathy and sociopathy under the heading of Antisocial Personalities.)
According to Dr. Igor Galynker, associate chair of psychiatry and director of the Family Center for Bipolar Disorder at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, “These people [psychopaths] really see you as a piece of furniture and the empathy that allows us to feel others’ feelings is missing,” he said. “These people are wired differently. Their brains are different.”
About 50 percent of these neurological traits are inherited and 50 percent are shaped by other influences. Having the genetic predisposition and growing up in an aggressive environment can be lethal.
“Intimidation and bullying creates bullies,” said Galynker. “”We all do bad things, but with a true psychopath there is a predation about them,” he said. “They prey on other people.”
According to this article in Psychology Today:
“… it is suspected that serious child abuse could be an underlying factor behind psychopathy, and secondly, in neuroscience, it has been noted that many with psychopathy show a significant underdevelopment of a number of regions in their brain.
If we work with the assumption that child abuse and trauma could be behind the development of psychopathy, we have the environment in question, only it is more than a selecting factor – it is a causal factor.
…If a psychopathic parent was subjected to child abuse and trauma, then perhaps they will act violently and aggressive to their children because of their disorder – violence begets violence. “
When children suffer trauma at a young age, and grow up in violent, unhealthy homes, they are at a significantly higher risk of criminality, violence, and psychopathy. Most people believe that the solution is more government, laws, jails, etc. In reality, the violence and criminality we see are merely symptoms of a root cause that isn’t being addressed.
My proposition to you is that if we can solve these root issues, we can virtually eliminate violence, criminality, and psychopathy in society, and therefore eliminate the need for government, laws, jails, etc.
Psychologist Martha Stout, clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School for 25 years, estimates in her book The Sociopath Next Door that as many as 4% of the population are psychopaths who have no empathy or affectionate feelings for humans or animals.
4% might not sound like much, but that means that 12 million Americans are psychopaths.
Not only is psychopathy, and the resulting violence and criminality a huge drain on society’s resources, there is another enormous, and dangerous threat that psychopaths and criminals pose; their lust for power and control.
Power, especially political power, draws psychopaths like flies to manure. The more power a position has, the bigger the draw it has for psychopaths. In the case of governments, which have nearly unlimited amounts of power and weapons, and very few consequences for wrong-doing, this combination is often catastrophic.
In fact, governments are the leading cause of unnatural death in the world, with over 262 million people murdered in the last century alone; a phenomenon known as “Democide“, a term coined by political scientist R.J. Rummel.
According to Rummel, “The more power a regime has, the more likely people will be killed. This is a major reason for promoting freedom.” Rummel concludes that concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth.
The only explanation for these 262 million murders is that the world is, quite literally, run by psychopaths.
To create an organization in society called “government” that is virtually immune to it’s own laws, and give it the power to print money whenever it wants, the power to start wars, to incarcerate at-will, to create laws at-will, to bribe their friends and punish their enemies, and believe that not one single evil person will be interested in running that organization is beyond naive. And so we recognize that you can’t create this monster machine called “government,” and not end up with psychopaths and evil people driving it.
Murray Rothbard wrote, “the state is indeed the great legalized and socially legitimated channel for all manner of antisocial crime – theft, oppression, mass murder – on a massive scale.”
There is a very clear link between early childhood trauma and violence, psychopathy, and authoritarianism. Political beliefs are formed in childhood.
“Two historians have located a joint memoir by Hitler’s half-brother, Alois, and half-sister, Angela. One excerpt describes the violence exercised by Hitler’s father, also called Alois, and how Adolf’s mother tried to protect her son from regular beatings.
“Fearing that the father could no longer control himself in his unbridled rage, she [Adolf’s mother] decides to put an end to the beating. She goes up to the attic, covers Adolf who is lying on the floor, but cannot deflect the father’s final blow. Without a sound she absorbs it.”
This is a picture of a completely dysfunctional family that the public has never seen before.
“The terror of the Third Reich was cultivated in Hitler’s own home.”
If you want to make a real difference in politics and society, focus on the issue of parenting and early childhood. Again, the Association for Psycho History makes this point clear:
“Why were there people brave enough to risk their lives to save Jews from Nazi Persecution? Much scientific inquiry has been expended on this question. I was convinced that there must have been some special factor in the childhood of the rescuers that made it so fundamentally different from what the war criminals had experienced, but at first I couldn’t prove my hypothesis. For years I sought in vain for a book that would give this subject adequate coverage.
Finally I found an empirical study by the Oliners, based on interviews with more than 400 witnesses of those dark days. It confirmed my hypothesis. The study concluded that the only factor distinguishing the rescuers from the persecutors was the way they had been brought up by their parents.”
Is Spanking Child Abuse?
As people who believe in peace, freedom, and the Non-Aggression Principle, we absolutely must apply these beliefs at home first with our own children. This is how we change society. In my opinion, this is the single most important issue facing the “Liberty Movement”, and the science proves it.
The only way to achieve freedom in society is by raising children peacefully and rationally. This means means that we apply the Non-Aggression Principle to children.
Just in case I need to make it even more clear, this means you don’t yell at or spank your kids.
(If you believe in the Non-Aggression Principle, but have never thought about it’s application to parenting, please read this article entitled Does Spanking Violate the Non-Aggression Principle, written by Stefan Molyneux.)
Most people think that child abuse is some mysterious, subjective phenomenon that can be debated over. Is yelling at children abusive? Is hitting children abusive?
The truth is, trauma and abuse can be shown objectively using fMRI, and other neuro-imaging scans. These scans can clearly show damage in the brain caused by abuse, stress, trauma, violence, neglect, etc. Child abuse is no longer subjective, and cannot be hidden.
As cameras become ubiquitous, child-care providers can be easily ruled out as suspects. Aside from daycare, young children typically spend their time almost exclusively with their parents. If those parents are yelling at and spanking their children, and those children’s brains show signs of abuse, then the debate is over.
As the science and technology improves, scanning a child for abuse and trauma will soon be as easy as taking their temperature.
If I were a parent of a young child today, I would be extremely careful how far I dipped my toes into the spanking and yelling pond.
Trauma is a spectrum, and some children are far more sensitive than others. There is no one-size-fits-all demarcation between what is, and is not, traumatic to a child. Every child is different, and many children show clear signs of trauma after being spanked and yelled at, even though it is totally legal, and most people would not characterize that as child abuse..
The science is overwhelmingly against spanking children.
Tulane University study provides strong evidence that spanking leads to aggressive behavior in children:
“In a new study published in Pediatrics, researchers at Tulane University provide the strongest evidence yet that children’s short-term response to spanking may make them act out more in the long run. Of the nearly 2,500 youngsters in the study, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were much more likely to be aggressive by age 5.
“The reason for this may be that spanking sets up a loop of bad behavior. Corporal punishment instills fear rather than understanding. Even if children stop tantrums when spanked, that doesn’t mean they get why they shouldn’t have been acting up in the first place. What’s more, spanking sets a bad example, teaching children that aggressive behavior is a solution to their parents’ problems.”
Spanking teaches children that aggression is a solution to their parent’s problems. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Libertarians are always arguing against using aggression in society to solve problems, but too often, as parents, they do exactly that with their own children.
A real-time study found that, not only did the parents hit their small children (between 2-5 years old) nearly 1,000 times per year, oftentimes for trivial reasons, they often did it to discourage their children from hitting:
“Moms and dads who spank do so because they believe it’s effective, and research actually shows that it is — in the short-term. A child reaching for a tempting object will stop if he gets swatted. “It does work in the immediate moment, but beyond that, in most cases, it’s very ineffective,” says Holden. “The most common long-term consequence is that children learn to use aggression.”
Case in point: one mother in the study hit her toddler after the toddler either hit or kicked the mother, admonishing, “This is to help you remember not to hit your mother.”
“The irony is just amazing,” says Holden.”
The percentage of people who approve of spanking has fallen dramatically in the last 50 years; however, the population of parents who still spank their toddlers on a regular basis is between 70 and 80 percent. This suggests that as a society, we are practicing behind closed doors what we are ashamed to admit publicly. While most parents spank their children in private, their unwillingness to approve of spanking publicly reveals what they likely already know; spanking is objectively harmful to children:
“In 2002, University of Texas at Austin professor Elizabeth Gershoff decided to look at several decades of past research. She surveyed 88 studies that included 117 tests of the hypothesis that spanking is associated with harmful side effects. Of those tests, 110 showed such effects. Straus calls the 94 percent agreement rate “an almost unprecedented degree of consistency” for scientific research.
As Straus sees it, studies like Gunnoe’s are outliers. If you’re a parent who spanks today, he says, the vast majority of studies show that “over the long term, there are greater odds that your child could become everything you don’t want your child to become — an abuser, a depressed person, a person with temper-control issues.”
Studies have shown that spanking decreases grey matter in the brain, and causes a decrease in IQ:
“Spanking erodes developmental growth in children and decreases a child’s IQ, a recent Canadian study shows.
This analysis, conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, offers new evidence that corporal punishment causes cognitive impairment and long-term developmental difficulties.”
Recent studies have found that up to 35% of babies were spanked in the last month.
After analyzing data from more than 1,500 families, researchers at Columbia University have found that children who are spanked in early childhood are not only more likely to be aggressive as older children, they are also more likely to do worse on vocabulary tests than their peers who had not been spanked.
A study out of the University of Pittsburgh says yelling at adolescents can be just as harmful as hitting them. If yelling is harmful to adolescents, how much more harmful is it to a much more sensitive, younger child?
It is quickly becoming clear that children who are being diagnosed with ADHD are actually suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from living in violent homes with violent parents:
Brown was completing her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, when she realized that many of her low-income patients had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
These children lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and relentless stress prevailed. Their parents found them hard to manage and teachers described them as disruptive or inattentive.
When Brown looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.
Brown’s findings, which she presented in May at an annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, revealed that children diagnosed with ADHD also experienced markedly higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse. Those who endured four or more adverse childhood events were three times more likely to use ADHD medication.
It’s not clear how many children are misdiagnosed with ADHD annually, but a study published in 2010 estimated the number could be nearly 1 million.
Stefan Molyneux sums up the situation perfectly:
“The degree to which the psychiatric community is complicit with abusive parents in drugging non-compliant children is a war crime across the generations, and there will be a Nuremberg at some point in the future”
Child abuse is an absolute, global pandemic:
“Six in 10 children aged 2 to 14 are regularly beaten by caregivers.
The report, drawing on data from 190 countries, paints a picture of endemic physical and emotional violence inflicted daily on children, mostly at home and in peacetime rather than on the streets or during war.”
Rebellious children are merely conscientious objectors to an absolutely insane world they’re being introduced into. They must be beaten and drugged into compliance.
We can no longer look the other way.
If you want a truly effective, scientifically-proven, long-term strategy for achieving a free, prosperous society, simply advocate for applying the non-aggression principle at home during the most important part of a human being’s development.
Once we apply the non-aggression principle to our own lives, only then can we be philosophically consistent, and raise a generation capable of accepting the non-aggressive philosophy we espouse.
To achieve a healthy and peaceful society, this also means staying home with your child, and not funneling them off to a daycare or government school for 8-10 hours per day.
Multiple studies have proven that young children and infants who are put in daycare for more than 20 hours per week suffer from severe attachment disorders which have long-lasting negative effects on the child. The length of separation is the determining factor, not the quality of care:
“Belsky (1988) determined, after reviewing two longitudinal studies, that infants exposed to more than 20 or more hours per week of child care displayed significantly more avoidance of mother on reunion and were more likely to be classified as insecurely attached than children with less than 20 hours per week of care. This is not surprising since fear, according to Perry, Runyan, and Sturges (1998), is a major impediment to a healthy attachment.
In a recent study (NICHD, 1999), the length of the daily separation appears to be the important determinant of infant-mother interaction. NICHD (1999) found that the breakdown they observed in mother/ child interaction was the result of the long hours of separation, not the type or quality of care.”
The more time a mother spends at work, away from her child, the worse the effects on the child:
“Four- to six-year-olds whose mothers worked a significant number of hours each week tended to exhibit more socio-emotional difficulties and problem behaviors than other peers. Early and extensive maternal employment was the strongest predictor of socio-emotional functioning, exceeding poverty and maternal education. Early and extensive maternal employment was associated with increased behavioral problems, less compliance, and insecurity.”
More devastating effects of putting children in daycare; approximately 40% of children lack a secure attachment with their parents:
“The approximately 40 percent who lack secure attachments are more likely to have poorer language and behavior before entering school. This effect continues throughout the children’s lives, and such children are more likely to leave school without further education, employment or training, the researchers write.”
The average wage of daycare workers in the US is $9.48 an hour; slightly above minimum wage. If you hired a stranger to take your spouse out on a date for $9.48 an hour, would your spouse consider that a suitable replacement for you?
Then what makes you think a daycare worker is a suitable replacement for you as a parent to your children?
When the first studies about the harmful effects of BPA on children came out, there was no scientific consensus at all. Some studies were inconclusive, and some showed BPA as harmless. Yet, the mere possibility of harming the endocrine system and healthy development of children caused an absolute frenzy among parents who began demanding BPA-free products en masse.
Now, it’s hard to find plastic cups or food containers that do contain BPA. “BPA free” has become the new standard.
The science backing the harmful effects of spanking on children is as conclusive as you can get, yet parents still disregard it.
Taking a risk with BPA isn’t worth it, but spanking apparently is.
Political Activism: The Great Time-Waster
You can’t do anything about the Federal Reserve, endless wars, domestic spying, or the growing police state. What you can do is apply the principles you espouse in your own home to raise a generation of healthy people who value peace and freedom.
Can it really be that simple? Well, at least it’s one thing that hasn’t really been tried yet. The same can’t be said for political activism.
The reason I call political activism into question is simply because I see it as an inferior use of time and resources. If I can prove, scientifically, that there is a more effective use of time and resources than political activism, then I feel the obligation to make that case.
Peace, and human freedom in society starts from childhood, and no amount of logical arguments or political activism will convince psychologically damaged people on a large scale to choose peace, smaller government, or more liberty. There is only one scientifically proven strategy to achieve peace and freedom in the world, and that is to advocate non-aggression toward children. If we took all the time and money that was given to the Ron Paul campaign, and put it into advocating for this, the world would be a whole lot closer to outgrowing the state.
Ron Paul wrote in his newly-released book, The School Revolution:
“To limit the work of liberty to politics is to play into the hands of numerous political interests groups and agendas that all boil down to this: social salvation by legislation. I simply do not believe in that agenda.”
When you consider all of the things that we, as the “Liberty Movement” could be doing with our time and resources, we must also consider all the alternatives. Should I go door-to-door campaigning for this candidate? Should I hold a sign at this rally? Should I argue with this marxist on Facebook? Should I tell this war veteran that he lost his limbs in vain? Should I attempt to convince this lady on welfare that the organization she depends on to feed her kids is immoral and should be abolished?
What if, instead, you convinced a parent to stop hitting their child?
As responsible individuals who are out to make the world a better, more free place, we must be very rigorous with the use of our time and resources. If we claim to hold the truth, then we have an obligation to spread that truth in the most effective way possible.
If you’re an entrepreneur with $10,000 to grow your business, how would you go about spending those hard-earned dollars? Keep in mind that all of your competition is asking themselves the same question. Would you spend the money on things that make you feel productive, or would you do all the research you could, consult all the experts, and spend each dollar as slowly and deliberately as you possibly could?
We must consider our limited time and resources with the same level of rigor, skepticism, research, and diligence. Changing the future is a much more important task than growing a company. We must be fact-based in our analysis of how to spend our time, otherwise it’s just self-indulgence to make ourselves feel good.
The biggest vote count the Libertarian Party ever got in a national election was in 1980. They attained an earth-shattering 1.06% of the vote. Ever since then it’s been around 0.50%. In the most recent Presidential Election, the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got 0.99% of the vote.
No progress whatsoever in 40 years (technically, that is a net loss).
If this was a government program, that’d be considered a rousing success. If it was a business, their shareholders and investors would have executed them in the streets.
However, because it’s “political activism” and “working for liberty”, somehow this is acceptable.
Libertarians and “Liberty Republicans” treat political activism like a government program; dump a ton of time, energy and resources into it with no regard to the actual results.
I’m not speaking negatively about the individuals involved, I am simply pointing out that political activism is almost the least effective method to achieve the goal of liberty, and as a movement based on facts and reason, we should be the first ones to admit this. Again, it’s like joining the mafia so you can shrink the mafia. Am I thankful that someone is “working” to shrink the mafia? I guess. Joining the mafia is about the last thing I’d recommend doing in order to achieve that goal, though.
We must constantly be asking ourselves, “what’s the best possible thing I could be doing right now?”.
Libertarians pride themselves on their knowledge of economics. What they seem to miss is that economics is simply the study of how to get the most out of life. To get the most out of life, to think like an economist, you have to be know what you’re giving up in order to get something else. These are known as”Opportunity Costs”. Getting the most out of life means using that precious time wisely, and examining your opportunity costs.
In order to vote for Rand Paul, you have to give up the time, energy, and gas it takes to drive the polling location (assuming you don’t mail in your ballot). Because we know Rand Paul won’t change anything at all, and government is just going to balloon further like it always does, you’d have been better off making a nutritious smoothie with that time and gas money.
If you want to grow a business, you study how to grow a business. Likewise, if your goal is to change people’s minds, you must study the science of how people make decisions. It is thoroughly irresponsible and self-indulgent to pursue something without examining the facts and science behind all the alternatives.
Unconscious childhood trauma is the single biggest indicator for how people make decisions. People don’t change their minds based on facts, reason, logic, or better arguments. If that’s all it took, we’d have already won. Reason and evidence are already on our side, yet it’s done nothing. In fact, the proportion of people who vote libertarian is actually declining.
The bottom line is, people will listen if they have processed their childhood trauma. People with unprocessed childhood trauma will almost never listen to reason and evidence. Trauma interferes with capacity to process reason and evidence.
If we say we want to change people’s minds without researching how minds are changed, we are snake oil salesmen and frauds. I don’t want to be a fraud, or waste my short life in petty self-indulgence, spinning my wheels, and rearranging the political deckchairs on the Titanic. I want to spend my few, precious days as effectively as possible.
How Childhood Trauma Prevents Rational Thought
The science shows that childhood trauma causes permanent changes in the brain, and limits development of the regions of the brain responsible for reasoning:
“The main implication of the research, says study co-author Carmen Sandi, is that it links two previously observed phenomena: the higher rate of aggression among those experiencing early-life stress, and the blunted activation of a brain region known as the orbitofrontal cortex among people with pathological aggression. Social learning, it seems, may not be the only thing that makes abused kids more likely to grow up aggressive.
“Our work is novel in many ways, particularly because it provides concrete neurobiological pathways that link early trauma with pathological aggression.”
Why would early traumatic experiences crave permanent changes in the brain? Evolutionarily, such brain changes may have helped us to survive a harsh and cruel environment, by keeping us on edge and ready to confront any possible threats, Sandi says. Today, however, those same changes may do more harm than good, leading some victims of abuse to slip into a vicious cycle, seeing threats where none exist, and overreacting to situations, often with violence.”
This kind of damage alters the human brain permanently, and leads to the following phenomenon:
“Democrats and Republicans alike are adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way, a new study shows. And they get quite a rush from ignoring information that’s contrary to their point of view.
Researchers asked staunch party members from both sides to evaluate information that threatened their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects’ brains were monitored while they pondered.
“We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.”
The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.
“Notably absent were any increases in activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning.”
Not only does childhood trauma greatly diminish the ability to reason through political decisions, it also causes people to react out of emotion in response to moral dilemmas. Childhood trauma greatly limits the ability for people to come to well-reasoned moral principles that are the basis of a free society:
“In a study that combines philosophy and neuroscience, researchers have begun to explain how emotional reactions and logical thinking interact in moral decision-making.
The results suggest that, while people regularly reach the same conclusions when faced with uncomfortable moral choices, their answers often do not grow out of the reasoned application of general moral principles. Instead, they draw on emotional reactions, particularly for certain kinds of moral dilemmas.
The researchers also measured how long it took subjects to respond to the questions. In the few cases in which people said it is appropriate to take action in the personal moral questions — like pushing a person off the footbridge — they tended to take longer to make their decisions. These delays suggest that this subgroup of people were working to overcome a primary emotional response, the researchers said.”
These “primary emotional responses”, unconscious reactions to perceived threats, and rejection of facts that contradict deeply held beliefs are all unconscious effects of childhood trauma, and prevent people from thinking rationally and logically.
The biological reasons for why people panic when confronted with new information, refuse to listen to opposing viewpoints or think critically, and react out of emotion and violence, are easily explained:
“Early exposure to trauma — extremely fearful events — and high levels of stress affect the developing brain, particularly in those areas involved in emotions and learning. The amygdala and the hippocampus are two brain structures involved in fear and traumatic stress.
The amygdala detects whether a stimulus (person or event) is threatening and the hippocampus, the center of short-term memory, links the fear response to the context in which the threatening stimulus or event occurred.
These two brain structures also play an important role in the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, influencing the capacity of the prefrontal cortex for regulating thought, emotions, and actions, as well as keeping information readily accessible during active learning.
In response to overwhelming stress in young children:
The brain drives the “fight or flight response” and release of stress hormones,
The young child has limited capacity to manage this overwhelming stress and experiences increased arousal — fear and anxiety (physical and emotional sensations).
Excessive fear and anxiety and excessive cortisol (stress hormone) can affect the capacity for stress regulation as well as development and higher functions of the brain, and
Significant early adversity can lead to lifelong problems (physical and mental health).”
When you present alarming information to someone that threatens to unravel their deeply-held beliefs or worldview, and they have unprocessed childhood trauma, you are lighting up the parts of their brain responsible for fear and stress; the amygdala and the hippocampus. You are effectively putting them in a fight or flight scenario, and they will react accordingly; not with reason and logic, but with emotion, bias, stress, and defense. To learn and incorporate new information, your brain must be in a state of “attentive calm”, a state traumatized people rarely achieve.
The evolutionary primacy of the brain’s fear circuitry makes it more powerful than reasoning circuits. When people become anxious or afraid, the reasoning centers of the brain shut down. They react on instinct, whether it be evasion, anger, avoidance, contempt, etc. They are reacting to what they perceive as a threatening situation.
It is very easy to tell if someone has unprocessed childhood trauma. If you tell them that taxation is theft, or that the government is monopolized violence, both very logical statements, and they react out of emotion, instead out of intellectual curiosity, then they are traumatized.
People with unprocessed trauma are too busy managing their stress and anxiety to be able to think clearly and rationally. Unless you resolve childhood trauma and early difficult experiences, you will never be able to access the reasoning centers of the brain, or potentially become rational or wise.
You experience this in almost every political debate you enter into. It is evidence of trauma. This is what the science tells us. When people attempt to debate something, deep-brain impulses drive emotionality, fear, anger, “fight-or-flight”, etc. When you tell someone taxation is theft, or that welfare is immoral, they get angry, the reasoning centers of their brain shut down, the negative emotional centers light up, and the information is rejected in order to calm the brain storm that is wreaking havoc inside their skull. It is not a rational process, which is why more reason and evidence gets you nowhere.
The brain has been permanently altered by traumatic and stressful experiences during early development, and the default instinct when that person feels that their beliefs or worldview are being threatened is to shut down in order to survive the encounter, not to calmly and rationally examine the situation.
(If you are a “Libertarian” or “Liberty Republican”, and you are angry or upset by what you have read so far, and are not able to rationally consider the facts and evidence being put forth, you are exhibiting the exact signs of trauma that the science predicts.)
A Measurable, Attainable Solution
Simply put, political activism and education are not going to change society, or lead to long-term freedom. The only way we can change society is from starting in the home. Traumatized people simply cannot process the facts, and neither can we hand freedom to a society that is fundamentally dysfunctional. Instead of arguing with crazy people, we must be working, and advocating for raising sane people.
Fundamentally, people believe we need government to protect us from violent criminals. If we want freedom from government, the obvious answer is to simply reduce violence and criminality in society to the point that government is no longer necessary. In order to do that, humans must be raised peacefully and rationally, and society as a whole must be convinced of our arguments.
The best way we, as the “Liberty Movement” can convince society that our philosophy is the most beneficial is by modeling it first in our own homes and communities by working to overcome our own trauma and dysfunction, raising our children peacefully, and helping others in our community overcome the dysfunction in their own lives. It’s simply not going to happen by trying to philosophically bludgeon people’s brains with the ideas of liberty.
Even if you are able to convince a lot of people of your political beliefs, advocating for liberty in the political realm will not bring about the deep changes in society necessary to sustain peace and liberty. Human dysfunction is the primary enemy of liberty, and we have to deal with this root issue first. Peace and freedom are the natural results of healthy individuals raising other healthy individuals.
No amount of political activism will be able to sustain peace and freedom in a society full of violent and psychologically damaged people. Ideologies like ours, that are based upon reason and evidence, threaten society. Only ideologies that cater to society’s vanity, violence, superficiality, and emotionality will flourish.
This is why liberals, conservatives, and statists of all colors can effectively use political activism to achieve their goals while we’re left spinning our wheels. Their messages appeals to the emotions without confronting anyone with hard truth that will threaten their beliefs or worldview. They sustain the status quo, and promise to comfort and take care of everyone who goes along with them. Our ideology is seen as a direct threat to the beliefs, worldviews, and way of life of the majority of society. Because they are traumatized, they will only react out of emotion and self-defense.
No wonder liberty, peace, free trade, and voluntaryism can’t find a seat at the table. We can’t use these same methods that the other political players use. We must have a different approach.
We must regard children as highly, if not higher, than the rest of the human beings. We used to regard slaves as sub-human. It used to be acceptable to “discipline” your wife with corporal punishment, including hitting her with wooden spoons, paddles, and leather straps.
Once a minority starts fighting for equal treatment, it generally takes around 100 years for society as a whole to consciously regard these sub-groups of people with the same level of respect as they do the rest of humanity. We are just beginning the battle to bring children up to the same level.
“Physical punishment is considered too severe for felons, murderers, criminals of all kinds and ages, including juvenile delinquents, too demeaning for soldiers, sailors, servants and spouses. But it remains legal and acceptable for children who are innocent of any crime.” – Adah Maurer, Ph.D. and James S. Wallerstein
This is a multi-generational approach to achieving freedom, and not a quick solution to the problem. However, scientifically, and statistically, the data is clear. If we raise children peacefully, do not spank them, do not hit them, do not yell at them, and do not aggress against them, the result will be a tiny fraction of the violence, psychopathy, drug addiction, promiscuity, alcoholism, criminality, suicidality, anxiety, and depression we would otherwise see. Again, children raised in healthy and peaceful environments grow up to be healthy and peaceful, and avoid the kinds of dysfunctions that governments use to expand their power.
70 to 80% of parents in America admit to hitting their kids regularly. We cannot have a free society if children are growing up being hit by authority figures, thereby learning that aggression and violence from authority are solutions to our problems. When people are raised this way, they will be accustomed to surrendering control to a violent, central authority to solve problems in society.
The state makes no sense logically or morally. The only way it makes sense is if we have had experience with something like it before. If we learn aggression, subjugation, and a bizarre, irrational respect for power and authority as the only solution to our problems as children, then the state will make perfect sense to us as adults.
Political beliefs are formed in early childhood.
If we raise children peacefully and rationally, the state will appear as bizarre and repulsive as a murderous cult to us as adults. The mere suggestion that we need this cult to rule us with violence will be absolutely ludicrous.