My friend Mr Rohan Mehta recently made this very important comment on my recent article on what can likely happen when RBI is gone?,
I fear that the people will neither understand this nor they will support it. People in India are by nature very statist. They call the the state “Mai-Baap” or as chief patron of the people. When I ask youth about employment, majority of them respond with their desire to join government jobs. They say government jobs are more “stable, job security which gives better social status in society.” Therefore, in India, state is perceived as the ultimate benefactor of the society. How will we tackle this and change this mindset of the population?
Below is my reply to Mr Rohan and all other people who are involved in the good work of spreading the ideas of Liberty, Austrian Economics and Peace.
First of all, if we want to successfully communicate with people, and that is our only chance of making them understand the reality of the statist system and hope that they will then support the cause of Liberty, then we have to stop calling them names or stop evaluating, analyzing and criticizing them. We must understand that, no one is nothing. What qualities we ascribe to people are just products of our own brain. There is no evidence that by nature Indians are very statist. For millions of years of human evolution there was no state. What is true about all human beings is that we all have different needs and these needs are universal. Everyone is trying every bit hard to fulfill their needs. That’s what Austrian economics also informs us. We all have ends in our sight and we are using different means to achieve those ends. Now, what can be questioned is the means used to achieve those ends. Ends can never be questioned.
American psychologist Abraham Maslow demonstrated that all human beings have different but basically same needs at different levels of life. Below is figure 1 of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.
Over a period of time the concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has changed. People have added few more needs and, more importantly, as psychologist Marshal Rosenberg said, our needs are not in strict hierarchy. Different needs can present themselves as more or less important at different points of time in one’s life, and to a different degree for different people.
As we can see in the list of various universal needs that we can experience in various degrees at different points of time in our lives, two basic needs are, physiological (food, water, shelter etc) and security (safety). These two needs few of us can escape. Now when we are communicating with people about the idea of Liberty, we cannot ignore their these basic needs. Ignoring them or not keeping them in our focus will be a supreme folly. Everyone’s needs must be fulfilled for the society to be conflict free, which is the basic aim of any societal organization. In the present time because of the habit of mind and years of propaganda by the state, most people think that the only ‘means’ to achieve those ‘physiological and security needs’ is the State and so they think the government is their Nanny who will look after their needs of food, shelter etc., and so also they look for a government job which is generally perceived to be more secure. I wouldn’t blame people for that. In a given statist system of last 70 years what else can they think of doing? In fact, they have all my empathy and compassion with them. We in the camp of Liberty must understand that those needs are not a problem, but the statist means are. Why? Because our study of subjects like Austrian economics and Libertarianism informs us that the State aka government is not the proper means of achieving those basic, or for that matter any, needs. Government is the parasitic institution which deprives us of the fruits of our labor. Which makes us poor. Which takes away our livelihood and kills us in the end. Which makes us unemployed. Even government jobs are not secure ultimately because government do go bankrupt and it can’t pay their employees e.g., Modi government is busy firing government employees right now.
Now these facts an average individual, who hasn’t studied those subjects, doesn’t know or understand and it is our job to make them aware of these facts if we wish them to support the cause of Liberty. We must explain government failures to them. And for that first we must establish a communication link with them and that requires that we first connect to their heart and listen to their feelings and unmet needs behind those feelings. We must empathize with them. We must be compassionate with them. They must feel that we are genuinely concerned about their well being and are here to offer better alternatives. Only when we empathetically connect with them first, we can start the logical discussion of why government is a disaster at all fronts. Instead of connecting to their heart, if we will start calling them names like Statist or dimwits etc., then instead of listening to us carefully they will become defensive in their established mindset and hold on to their present thoughts about the government even more vehemently. That is a basic human nature that when one is attacked, he gets more defensive and perceives the other party as an enemy and counterattacks even more vehemently. That is what we see in most of the flame wars. This type of communication is a dead end. It leads us nowhere but to even more conflicts.
This is why we must remove this erroneous pessimistic thought from our minds that people will neither understand nor support the idea of Liberty. If that is what is our thinking then the cause of Liberty is already lost. The right strategy is to understand why people are acting like how they are acting. We must understand their feelings and unmet needs behind them and address people at that level. We must first respect every human being as a human being. Our communication must not be of a violent nature. We are after all the lovers of Liberty and Peace. If we will not understand peoples’ needs then who will? Once we connect heart to heart with people, we have a better chance to further explain to them why the state/government is not the proper and moral means for achieving our needs. And once we successfully explain these facts, chances are that some people will understand the cause of Liberty and actively start supporting it.