Radical Agenda S06E004 – Persuasive
Here at the Radical Agenda, we take a great deal of pride in the success we have enjoyed in exploring, and spreading, ideas.
As in any meaningful pursuit, we take measurement of our success from time to time. We analyze how it was achieved. We critique our failures, usually quietly, but never mercifully. Through such a process, we seek to improve.
Doubtless, we have much to brag about.
This show began oriented toward libertarianism. Then, something unexpected happened. Other people changed our ideas.
As we were confronted with inescapable challenges to our view of the world, we shifted rightward.
I’m not complaining, but this was no small challenge for your humble correspondent. I had built an audience and a revenue stream on the basis of ideas which I had espoused a willingness to lay down my life for, and I had transmitted to my audience that they too, ought to adopt this orientation toward the world. I reasonably feared that to alter course would alienated this audience, and see me branded a sellout and a hypocrite, not to mention a racist Nazi monster.
Sure enough, some portion of this fear came to fruition. But, I was not put out of business by it. At least, not right away. Some of you who are listening to this today, remember watching it happen. I am willing to bet I dragged some of you along kicking and screaming in resistance down a path you today view as inevitable.
I would like to think this was accomplished through the provision of facts, and the application of reason. Doubtless, these proved decisive for most of you.
But, in subsequent study on the subject of persuasion, I have come to learn that facts and reason are not what primarily move the minds of the masses. For most people, these criteria play hardly any role at all. While true information makes persuasion easier by providing the influencer with firm support for his argument, it is only to the extent that the truth fulfills some other tangentially related psychological need, that it plays any role whatsoever.
Let us pause here for a moment, to curse the Gods. Surely, none of us find this particularly appealing, and we will doubtless have our own psychological needs to fill before we can accept this. Chief among them, our own perceptions of ourselves as decent, honest people.
What I have said here seems to take aim at the value of truth. For one to accept it could be perceived as an internal devaluing of truth within oneself. To forfeit one’s own integrity so as to conform to a corrupt and fallen world. What is the purpose of our efforts if not to advance the truth? Why have we suffered as we have, if the truth is not the highest value? What kind of low creature must man be, to find the truth so unimportant? Curse the Gods! I refuse to diminish my integrity! I will insist to believe something else!
Rest assured that, if you are listening to me, you likely find deception extremely unattractive. If one were inclined to lie, and/or to be lied to, there are very appealing common lies to adopt which could earn one money and sex and social approval. There is very little sense in the sort of struggle we have collectively endured, when comforts are so readily rained down upon those who acquiesce to the immersive falsehoods which constitute the social matrix of our society. Your integrity remains intact, and the Gods care not for your cursing.
We are not devaluing the truth, we are discovering it. We are coming to terms with the word as it is, and making a decision to operate within the parameters of its design.
And this understanding is helpful in our honest mission. Our efforts to reveal the truth are aided, not diminished, by our study of how our fellow man comes to know and believe things. To know that truth is not the deciding factor in man’s acceptance and organization of knowledge, is to discard a falsehood, rather than to adopt one. Namely, we are accepting the truth that man is persuaded by other factors, and discarding our superstitious belief that he is guided by truth alone.
So there is no need to curse the Gods. Our integrity is intact.
We are only in the process of better equipping ourselves for the struggle, and whatever benefit we may derive from accepting this, we may also rest assured that we will forfeit no opportunity to better ourselves through suffering.
So, if truth is not the determinate factor in man’s assimilation of knowledge, what is? This is what I hope to scratch the surface of today.
For all the fuss I have made here, it likely comes as no surprise to any of you who have ever worked as, or with, a salesman.
When I first began podcasting, when the first iteration of this show launched as “Some Garbage Podcast”, my co-host was a man by the name of Eddie. Eddie and I were working together at a marketing company he had launched, and which I later joined in the capacity of the IT guy, and later a managing partner. The show began because Eddie and I would stay after work and talk mostly about politics, but lots of other things too. In one of the more fascinating conversations we had off the air, Eddie explained sales to me.
It is beyond the scope of our discussion today to get into the details of the services we provided, because they also bordered on irrelevant to the sales process. Eddie was a master closer. To acquire clients, a team of cold callers would, in industry terms, “smile and dial” from lists of leads which would be generated in a tremendous variety of ways. The cold callers had a rough script and some details about the people they were calling. Most of the people they called would not be willing to listen to much of this, but you make up for this in sheer numbers. Whenever they came upon a potential client who would listen to a sales pitch, the prospect would be transferred to Eddie along with whatever information on them we had available.
Eddie would quickly review the information, put on a smile, and convey through the phone the energy and confidence that constituted the real substance of the transaction. What services we provided the client in exchange for the payment, Eddie later explained to me, were primarily matters of integrity and earning repeat business. The customers weren’t buying the product, they were buying the pitch. It surely helped that we had a valuable service to provide, but we were hardly unique in this regard, and we certainly weren’t the least expensive. We got the sales we got, at the prices we got, from people who in most cases were not seeking our services, because our people understood persuasion.
This is a subject I mean to talk a lot about in the newly branded show, which you may have heard, I am calling “SurrealPolitiks”. Not to be confused with Surrealism, the theme is “Realpolitik in an Unreal World.” The name is a combination of the word Surreal, which Merriam Webster defines as “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream” and Realpolitik, which, returning to Merriam Webster, means, according to one definition, “politics based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or ethical objectives”. If you’ve ever read “The Prince” by Machiavelli, that’s one of the more notable examples of Realpolitik. I’m not going to get into that in much detail now, except to say that I’m sick and tired of running in an ideological and theoretical hamster wheel. Ideas are cool, but power is cooler. I want to know how it feels to see a country bend to my will, and thank me for the outcome.
That mission begins with mastering the art, no, the science, of persuasion.
If you can sell, you can write your own ticket anywhere. If you can sell over the phone, you don’t even need a ticket.
A good salesman can sell anything, or for that matter, nothing. The con man is little more a salesman short on product. You think you can spot these people because they make you offers that are too good to be true, but such rank amateurs usually quit before they even make it to prison, because they don’t have the talent. A guy who’s gonna sell you a winning lottery ticket for $50 isn’t persuasive, he’s just throwing lines at marks and seeing who bites. A persuasive person, a compliance technician, buys your winning lotto ticket for $50.
Another major advantage of understanding influence is knowing when you are being taken for a ride by a trained compliance technician. When you study this stuff, and you learn to spot it, life takes on a very interesting dimension. When I spot these behaviors in people who aren’t trying to sell me things, I often say “you should be in sales”. Not long ago, somebody was trying to convince me to do something I didn’t really want to do, and I recognized his technique as being straight from one of Cialdini’s books. I told them “I’ve studied persuasion, and I know what you’re doing” and the look on the person’s face was rather priceless.
There’s a tremendous amount of literature out there on this subject, and content creators who talk about almost nothing else. I’ve read a few books about it, and listened to even more audio books about it, and frankly it’s a lot more interesting, and useful, than getting bogged down in the news everyday.
Perhaps the best known author in the subject is a behavioral psychologist by the name of Robert Cialdini. He is known to have worked for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, and was suspected to have worked for Hillary Clinton in 2016. He calls himself the “Godfather of Influence”, and Scott Adams refers to him as “Godzilla”.
I’ve read two of his books, one titled Influence, the other titled Pre-Suasion. I cannot recommend them highly enough, and while I find reading the actual book to be better for retaining information, there are audiobook versions of each and short of listening to me, I can’t think of a better way to spend a car ride.
Influence has undergone a number of revisions over the years, having been updated from time to time with new information and more timely references. This book gives a really good foundational understanding of the psychology behind the art. The book is broken down into seven principles, each of which he dedicates a chapter to. Those principles are reciprocation, liking, social proof, authority, scarcity, commitment and consistency, and unity.
Notice that substance is nowhere to be found in this list. No wonder he works for Democrats…
It should almost go without saying that the human mind is remarkably good at figuring things out, comparative to other animals. When we do figure things out, we tend to believe we’re doing so in a fairly straightforward fashion, but the realization one comes to after reading Cialdini, and others, is that what we actually have are various systems for approximating reality. Not directly, but by inference from different mental systems triangulating meaning out of a variety of diverse data sets.
It is generally easier to tell the truth than to lie, because you don’t have to manipulate the systems or the data sets. It is less cognitively demanding, and doesn’t require any specialized training. You simply put into words whatever meaning your mental systems have inferred from the data, and count on the other person to observe the same readily available data, and agree with you by validating your inferences.
As we know all too well, it doesn’t always work that way. In politics, it almost never does. In race conscious circles, we tend, with no shortage of legitimacy, to sum this up to ethnic predispositions, or the corrupting influence of ethnic outgroups. One of our data sets is voter demographics, and upon observation, it is impossible not to notice that our politics take on an unmistakably genetic dimension. Genetics being stubborn things, we conclude that political stability is best served by ethnonationalism, and however substantial the merits of the theory, our practical success in the contest for power to act on this, is stalled. We stubbornly insist that our way is the only correct one, and unfortunately, unless you have the political power to coerce people, this is not persuasive in the slightest.
Persuasion is, first and foremost, a two way street. It does not matter one single bit how correct your position is, if you are presenting ultimatums instead of arguments. Only powerful people can do this, and you are not powerful, yet.
This brings us to Cialdini’s first principle of Influence, reciprocity.
Cialdini provides a number of examples of this principle in action, such as a charitable organization asking for large donations. They found that if they gave a gift as small as a packet of sweets before asking, contributions were as much as doubled. That’s a big deal, but not directly applicable to our mission.
In a political or philosophical discussion, however, it is not without parallel. One common meme about salesmen is, it’s easy to sell things to them. This is because they have become accustomed to opening themselves to persuasion, as a means of gaining influence for themselves. It is tremendously rewarding, mentally, to see a person come around to your point of view. Far more rewarding, in fact, than getting a little bag of candy.
So if you want to extract from someone the reward of bringing them to your point of view, it is to your tremendous advantage to first accept some wisdom from them. Like you, the average person has had their political ideas rejected countless times, and they want, perhaps more than anything, to convince other people. Give them what they want, and you will have established a connection. They will listen intently to what you are saying, because they are now invested in the flow of information, and according to the rule of reciprocity, which is universal throughout all cultures, it would be rude to dismiss out of hand what you are saying, after you displayed your openness to his ideas.
This also provides the opportunity to ask questions, and questions can be as persuasive as answers can be informative. Many of you have remarked on my performance in the Charlottesville trial, and while my opening and closing arguments are things I take some pride in, my greatest accomplishments were in questioning witnesses. During most of a trial, a lawyer, or in my case, a pro se litigant, does not get to make statements unless he is under oath or making opening or closing arguments. He speaks quite forcefully, however, through his questioning of others.
I was better equipped to do this for having read Trey Gowdy’s book “Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: Using the Power of Questions to Communicate, Connect, and Persuade“.
Now, you wouldn’t want to treat someone you’re trying to persuade like I treated witnesses on cross examination. That would not be persuasive, not of the person being questioned, anyway. But you can still ask leading questions, through which the answers a person is providing actually tell the story you are trying to have told. This can come across as very coercive, however, if you are not cautious in your technique. I made those witnesses sweat. I wish you could have seen their eyes darting all over the room, realizing they had been caught. That proved useful in persuading jurors, but you better believe the witnesses were no closer to agreeing with me when they left that courtroom than when they were plotting to set us up.
A more persuasive technique is sometimes called the Socratic method, but it is fundamentally the same principle. You ask questions that are designed to elicit a particular response. If you are subtle with it, you can convince the person that they reached the desired conclusion on their own, and if you can get them to do that, then you will have the opportunity to agree with them yet again.
You know, on social media, there has been this very fun game of “owning the libs” as it is sometimes called. The goal is not to convince the person you’re grinding down in this. Sometimes you might be influencing others who are watching, but that usually stems more from the unpersuasive behavior of the lib who loses their composure, than as a direct result of your ridicule. I only draw this out as a contrary example to the persuasive technique of reciprocity. You’re not convincing the lib, that’s not the goal, the goal is to get them to behave badly to make them look less persuasive, and thereby diminish their influence. Donald Trump was a master of this, and that is one reason Scott Adams describes Trump as having “weapons grade persuasion skills” in his book “Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter“, which I also read.
If you treat the person you’re trying to convince of your position, like you treat the lib who you’re trying to get to pop, don’t be surprised if you succeed in little more than obtaining some frivolous amusement.
We talked in a prior episode about what John Smucker called the “Spectrum of Allies”. By agreeing with somebody, you put yourself in their mental category of allies, quite independently of any of their decision making processes. If you are on their team, it is easier to persuade them.
Which brings us to Cialdini’s second principle in Influence, liking.
It is hardly a scientific breakthrough to note that people are more open to influence from people they like, than people they do not like. And much of what we can say here we’ve already said on the subject of reciprocity.
But there’s plenty more to liking somebody than reciprocity. Some of these things are within our control, and some are not. Some can be manipulated within the confines of a first meeting, and some develop over longer periods of time. Some are applicable over text messages, and some require an in person exchange.
Before I get into Cialdini’s analysis on what makes us like people, I’ll drop another title here. I once listened to an audiobook titled “The Attractive Man – The Ultimate Guide To Texting Girls” and while this was obviously geared towards dating, it contained some really excellent insights that are more broadly applicable in persuasion. A lot of the so called “Pick Up Artist” stuff is good for that, if you’re not approaching it as a thirsty whoremonger trying to bed women through deception. This stuff gets a bad name for good reasons, but there’s hardly anything in this world that motivates men more than sex, so it should come as no surprise that a lot of prudent research was done in that pursuit. If you can get a woman to have sex with you, you can probably get her to vote for you. I imagine that makes some people cringe, understandably, but I’m not trying to say anything bad about women here, and I recognize that there may be a better way to put this if I wanted to dwell on the subject more, but I don’t.
Also not without consequence, is the fact that the presence of women is persuasive in politics. Just look at the libertarians, and how totally unpersuasive their Grindr-esque conferences are. Men want to be around women. Men want women to be happy. Men want the approval of their mothers. Men want to be desired by women. Men want to emulate men who are desired by women. So if you can be persuasive with women specifically, you have a distinct advantage politically.
Now, somebody who understands women is screaming at their radio “No! Chris! The way you get women is by being admired by men!”
Yeah, I get it. Chickens, eggs, etc.. We’re moving on.
In the chapter of Influence on liking, Cialdini has a section titled “Why Do I Like You? Let Me List the Reasons” and lists always make for good radio, so I’ll try to slim this down for you.
Physical attractiveness, it should go without saying, is persuasive. Cialdini goes so far as to describe this as a “Click, run” response, explained in an earlier part of the book about automatic processes more broadly, and says we tend to underestimate how much we actually attribute to good looks.
The response itself falls into a category that social scientists call halo effects. A halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way he or she is viewed in most other respects. The evidence is now clear that physical attractiveness is often such a characteristic.
We automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, agreeableness, trustworthiness, and intelligence. Furthermore, we make these judgments without realizing attractiveness has played a role in the process. Some consequences of this unconscious assumption that “good looking = good” scare me. For example, a study of a Canadian federal election found attractive candidates received more than two-and-a-half times as many votes as unattractive ones. Despite such evidence of favoritism toward the better-looking politicians, follow-up research demonstrated voters did not realize their bias. In fact, 73 percent of Canadian voters surveyed denied in the strongest possible terms that their votes had been influenced by physical appearance; only 14 percent even allowed for the remote possibility of such influence. Voters can deny the impact of attractiveness on electability all they want, but evidence has continued to confirm its troubling presence.
Now, there are obviously some limits to what we can do to make ourselves more physically attractive. You’re more or less stuck with your face, unless you want to look like Madonna. Men have an advantage over women here, because testosterone is a helluva drug and it’s not particularly hard to come by, if you catch my drift.
Too many people think of physical fitness as something you do either for fighting or for getting laid. Depending on your situation, those advantages might not warrant the effort of going to the gym, but aside from those factors, and being generally advantageous to your health, it’s also useful politically.
Not only will you present as more credible if you’re in good shape, you will feel more credible yourself, and that will cause you to exude confidence, which is the most persuasive thing of all. Especially if you were fat, and then you lost a bunch of weight and underwent a meaningful transformation, that kind of thing will totally rewire your brain. If you’ve been paying attention to me for any period of time, you know that my body has undergone dramatic changes. When I started doing Some Garbage Podcast, I was like 260lbs and I had no kind of muscle mass to justify this. Either just before, or just after, I rebranded to the Radical Agenda, I did the low carb thing started walking a lot, and I went from 260lbs to 214lbs. My entire wardrobe became “fat clothes” in like three or four months.
I was getting compliments from people, which obviously did wonders for my ego, and more importantly, I found out I had tremendous control over my body. When I was in my teens and twenties I could eat anything and drink all night and nothing phased me. Then one morning I woke up in my thirties with a paralyzing hangover and was like “What the hell happened to me?”. I just concluded this was an inescapable consequence of aging and I didn’t think there was much I could do about it. I just felt like a pinball getting smacked around by buzzing and beeping things, and while I didn’t feel like it diminished my confidence because I didn’t have a whole lot to compare it to besides youth, it certainly wasn’t making me feel empowered. When I regained control over that process, I felt like the master of the universe, and from this I felt more empowered to change external factors as well.
I started lifting weights and minding my hormones, and next thing you know I didn’t feel ridiculous flexing in front of mirrors, cameras, or people. My whole entire frame of reference, my view of myself, of my place in the world, my relations with other people, of both sexes, completely reconfigured in a period of a couple of years. If you listened to the show through this time, you definitely noticed it in the audio no less than in the video, and if you do this for yourself, you’ll be happier, and you’ll be more persuasive politically.
Failing that, another persuasive quality in the category of liking, is similarity. Cialdini comes dangerously close to ethnonationalism by pointing out the obvious.
But what if physical appearance is not much at issue? After all, most people possess average looks. Are there other factors that can be used to produce liking? As both researchers and compliance practitioners know, there are several, and one of the most influential is similarity.
We like people who are like us. It’s a fact that applies to human infants as young as nine months and holds true later in life whether the similarity is in the area of opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle. In a massive study of 421 million potential romantic matches from an online dating site, the factor that best predicted favorability toward a partner was similarity. As the researchers stated, “For nearly all characteristics, the more similar the individuals were, the higher the likelihood was of them finding each other desirable and opting to meet in person.”
But it’s not just phenotypes and genotypes we’re talking about here. It’s about hobbies, taste in entertainment, clothes, food, cultural references, and especially religion. In the value hierarchy of most Americans, these things constitute far more important elements of their identities than race. When you tell them it should be otherwise, you are attacking their identity, and this is not persuasive. You are differentiating yourself from them, by expressing a foreign set of values. This is not persuasive.
The single biggest failure that stems from radicalized ideological echo chambers, is we become so different from the people that we’re trying to persuade, that we might as well be illegal aliens ourselves, so far as they’re concerned. In terms of persuasion, you’d literally be better off speaking broken English, and struggling to communicate about football, than you are by rattling off crime statistics and Telegram jargon in otherwise perfect English. At least with the example here of the language barrier, there’s a common idea between the two people, however difficult it is to communicate. There is a reason to overcome the language barrier. If there is no common idea, then there’s no communication, and no mastery of any number of languages is going to fix that.
The next thing he talks about in terms of liking in Influence, is compliments. I just mentioned how receiving complements boosted my ego, but perhaps more importantly, it made me like the people who complemented me. Now, it should go without saying that you should exercise some discretion in complementing people on their physical appearance, but praise is very persuasive., and it doesn’t always have to be about looks. Looking at someone’s shoes is more than a great way to avoid being accused of staring at their chest. If you can recognize a talent somebody has, tell them they are very good at whatever it is they are doing well. Ask for their expert advice on the subject.
People like people who make them feel better about themselves. If this isn’t rule number one in the pick up artist bit, it should be, but I know they talk about it. Sometimes in the context of a “push pull” strategy where you shower a woman with praise to have her up above the clouds, then you yank the rug out from under her and take her down a peg as a manipulation tactic. It’s brutal and if you screw it up she’ll never talk to you again, which I know from hard won experience, but I’ve seen this exploited to tremendous effect by scumbags.
In any case, you’re not a scumbag, so that’s besides the point. If you get in the habit of seeking opportunities to complement people, you’ll definitely find them. The people you compliment will find you pleasant to be around. They will want to talk to you, and this will provide you ample opportunity for persuasion.
The rules of reciprocity will also be engaged. You will receive more compliments as a result, and your own confidence will increase, which as we’ve established, is itself persuasive.
Perhaps the best part of this is that it’s free, and easy, and in most cases, honest. You can make a decision today to make this a feature of your lifestyle. Look for opportunities to tastefully compliment people, without any expectation of reward, and before long you will begin reaping rewards you did not expect.
The next point about liking in Influence, is Contact and Cooperation, and here you get a really meaningful indicator of the book’s integrity, because he talks about racial integration of schools.
He starts off with the fairly common sense idea, not all that different than what we said earlier about similarity, that people tend to favor the familiar. If you’re in regular contact with somebody, there’s a greater capacity to be influenced by them, or to visit influence upon them, than if, all else equal, you don’t have that opportunity. But, Cialdini explains, contact is not persuasive absent cooperation, and he gives the example of school desegregation as a poignant example.
On the basis of evidence that we are more favorably disposed toward the things we have had contact with, some people have recommended a “contact” approach to improving race relations. They argue that simply by providing individuals of different ethnic backgrounds with more exposure to one another as equals, those individuals will naturally come to like each other better.
There is much research consistent with this argument. However, when scientists have examined school integration—the area offering one test of the widespread application of the contact approach—they have discovered the opposite pattern. School desegregation is more likely to increase prejudice between Blacks and Whites than decrease it.
Going to School on the Matter. Let’s stay with the issue of school desegregation for a while. However well intentioned the proponents of interracial harmony through simple contact are, their approach is unlikely to bear fruit because the argument on which it is based doesn’t apply to schools. First of all, the school setting is not a melting pot, where children interact as readily with members of other ethnic groups as they do with their own. Years after formal school integration, there is little social integration. The students clot together ethnically, separating themselves for the most part from other groups. Second, even if there were much more interethnic interaction, research shows that becoming familiar with something through repeated contact doesn’t necessarily cause greater liking. In fact, continued exposure to a person or object under unpleasant conditions such as frustration, conflict, or competition leads to less liking.
Speaking as a former New Yorker turned New Hampshire resident, who occasionally bumps into white liberals who have no experience in being around black people, this is very humorous to me. I won’t say why, you already know.
Cialdini goes on at some length on this, citing studies that show different results under different circumstances. He notes that if the competitiveness of the environment is reduced, it reduces conflict, and this too, you already comprehend, and find humorous, I’m sure, so I don’t need to crack the jokes.
After he gets done edgeposting about race, he goes back to sales.
Before we assume that cooperation is a powerful cause of liking, we should first pass it through what, to my mind, is the acid test: Do compliance practitioners systematically use cooperation to get us to like them so that we will say yes to their requests? Do they point it out when it exists naturally in a situation? Do they try to amplify it when it exists only weakly? And, most instructive of all, do they manufacture it when it isn’t there at all?
As it turns out, cooperation passes the test with flying colors. Compliance professionals are forever attempting to establish that we and they are working for the same goals; that we must “pull together” for mutual benefit; that they are, in essence, our teammates. A host of examples is possible. Most are recognizable, such as new-car salespeople who take our side and “do battle” with their bosses to secure us a good deal. In truth, little in the way of combat takes place when the salesperson enters the manager’s office under such circumstances. Often, because sales professionals know exactly the price below which they cannot go, they and the boss don’t even speak.
This might sound familiar if you listened to Stage Six Episode 2. Not the fake argument with the boss, but the idea that it is persuasive to identify as a member of one’s team, and to be seen as working toward similar goals. Trying to move people along the spectrum of allies, by indicating to them that your allyship is a foregone conclusion. Compliance technicians manufacture these things artificially to influence outcomes, and this is by no means irrelevant in politics.
Cialdini goes on at some length about the classic “Good Cop/Bad Cop” interrogation strategy. I doubt this needs much explanation here, but I’ll briefly describe it for continuity. The idea is that one cop (Bad Cop) acts like he wants to put the guy away for a long time, or worse. The other cop (Good Cop) assures the suspect that he, by contrast, is on the suspect’s side. All he needs to help the suspect out is a full confession, and that will allow him to guide the case in such a fashion as to result in a reduced sentence, but he obviously can’t be of any help without that confession.
Now, to be sure, in this equation, without Bad Cop, Good Cop gets nothing from the suspect. It’s the carrot and the stick in concert that make the bit work, but the design is that Good Cop is the one who obtains the compliance, and that’s important to keep in mind politically. In politics, Bad Cop is built in. The opposition Party is Bad Cop. Bad Cop wants to transgender their kids and take their guns away. You are Good Cop, because you are against groomers and for self defense. So, you get compliance.
The next point of liking in Influence is Conditioning and Association. He begins by telling a story about a weather reporter who was being blamed by his viewers for the weather. The story, it turns out is not unique either, as he quotes at length a story in the Associated Press describing this to be a frighteningly common phenomenon that results in physical violence more often than a reasonable person might guess. This might sound absurd, since the weatherman is the most sincere reporter in a newsroom, even if he is wrong from time to time. Unlike political reporters, he has no participation in creating the weather, and in most cases, he’s not even the one interpreting the data. This is a clear cut case of killing the messenger, of which he provides a morbid example from ancient Persia.
But he likens it to our assigning of likeability to the “halo effect” of people we find physically attractive. If you see somebody who is good looking, you assign other positive traits to them involuntarily, and if somebody is bringing you bad news, you associate them with that bad news, and you subconsciously assign negative traits to this person and dislike them. That might not be fair, but subconscious processes often are, and we ought not be surprised by this in the slightest.
Association works in the other direction as well, which is why advertisements are full of beautiful people, and such and such company becomes the official product of the current year’s Olympic games. He cites for example a study in which men rated various perceived qualities of cars that were viewed with or without a beautiful woman in the scene, and by this point in the story you may be unsurprised to find that they thought the cars with the beautiful women were faster and better looking and more expensive, and that when confronted with the results, they vehemently denied the women had anything to do with it.
Some associations he cites were even more absurd, and I’ll just quote one paragraph at length here;
Similarly, although it made great sense that sales of Mars rover toys would jump after a US Pathfinder rocket landed the real thing on the red planet in 1997, it made little sense that the same would happen to the popularity of Mars candy bars, which have nothing to do with the space project but are named after the candy company’s founder, Franklin Mars. Sales of the Nissan “Rogue” SUV saw a comparable—and otherwise inexplicable—jump after the 2016 Star Wars film, Rogue One, appeared. In a related effect, researchers have found that promotional signs proclaiming SALE increase purchases (even when there is no actual savings), not simply because shoppers consciously think, “Oh, I can save money here.” Rather, owing to a separate, additional tendency, buying becomes more likely because such signs have been repeatedly associated with good prices in the shoppers’ pasts. Consequently, any product connected to a Sale sign becomes automatically evaluated more favorably.
This has obvious political implications, and not so obvious political implications. I’ll also directly quote an explicitly political example, which is not at all obvious, about an experiment conducted in the 1930s by a psychologist named Gregory Razran.
Using what he termed the “luncheon technique,” he found that his subjects become fonder of the people and things they experienced while they were eating. In the example most relevant for our purposes, subjects were presented with some political statements they had rated once before. At the end of the experiment, Razran found that only certain of them had gained in approval—those that had been shown while food was being eaten. These changes in liking seem to have occurred unconsciously, as the subjects couldn’t remember which of the statements they had seen while food was being served.
To demonstrate the principle of association also works for unpleasant experiences, Razran included in his experiment a condition in which participants had putrid odors piped into the room while they were shown political slogans. In this case, approval ratings for the slogans declined. Other research indicates that odors so slight that they escape conscious awareness can still be influential. People judged photographed faces as more versus less likable depending on whether they rated the faces while experiencing subliminal pleasant or unpleasant odors.
If that sounds like it has some connection to Pavlov’s dog, which is also cited in the book, it may be because Razran was the first to translate Pavlov’s research from Russian to English.
Associations are powerful, and whether we like it or not they apply to us. The easiest and most obvious example is Antifa violence. Like it or not, Antifa violence is linked to you and me. We show up, they attack us, we are associated with violence. Curse the gods if you want, but when you’re done, you might want to reconsider strategy, because winning the fight doesn’t solve the problem.
I used to think the Reds were trying to scare us, and the response I had to this was to make like a blowfish and try to seem dangerous so as to ward off threats. That works fine with common criminals seeking weak people to victimize, but it does not work with professional political strategists who are using behavioral psychology and advertising tactics against you. It was never us that they were looking to scare. The Reds who understand what they are doing don’t consider it a bad thing if their people get hurt. They celebrated Heather Heyer’s death. The tranny who bragged about giving Heyer chest compressions likely wasn’t trying to save Heyer’s life.
The strategy there was very clear. Trump = Nazis = Violence = Vote Democrat.
The common theme throughout the subject of scientific influence tactics is that the truth has almost nothing to do with it, and association may be the most powerful example of this. If people buy candy bars because of a space mission, or approve of political slogans because of what they were eating when they heard them, or think cars are faster because they saw a beautiful woman, then you can hardly be surprised if they associate anti-Semitism with mass murder and war.
Moreover, you would be a fool to think that you can use evidence or reason as a means to overcome these associations. You cannot reason a person out of an idea they did not reason themselves into.
The best that you can hope to accomplish is to understand what is happening, and navigate the situation according to an accurate assessment of your own capabilities. If you can do that, then you can navigate to a position in which your capabilities are increased.
The Democrats would very much like to associate you with the Republican Party and Fox News. Help them do it, and while you do, make this less painful for Fox News and the Republican Party, by minimizing your association with concepts they associate with losing advertisers and elections, in order to diminish their conscious and subconscious resistance to the project. By associating ourselves with powerful institutions, we will derive social if not political power from those institutions, and we can apply this power to change other people’s mental associations. This will occur even if we do not obtain official positions within those institutions. Even if those institutions try with all their might to disassociate from us, as you can expect them to do,
Simultaneously, use what voice you have to associate the media with the Democrat Party, and the Democrat Party with Antifa, transgenderism, and racial conflict. Will this empower Antifa? Yes. But Antifa already has power, as evidenced by the fact that they can commit crimes on camera and brag about them and not go to prison.
The reason the Democrats want to associate the Republicans with extremism is because extremism is unpopular by definition. If it was popular, it wouldn’t be called extreme. The Republicans run from this in part because they understand the truth has very little to do with people’s voting patterns, and in part, yes, because there are nefarious people within the GOP who see us as a threat to their positions. Our activity, to be effective, must conform to these facts and use them to our advantage.
Associating the Democrats with extremism will cost the Democrats more than it will gain Antifa, because Antifa already enjoys all the benefits of Democrat power, and calling attention to this fact is part of the association we’re trying to make. The Democrats are already in too deep to back away from the association, because they have been running cover for these maniacs while the country burned on TV, and they did this because they were associating Trump with chaos in the streets.
It is not a huge lift to change that association from Trump to the Democrat Party. Democrats destroyed the country to turn the country against Trump. That’s a very simple message that conforms to people’s experience of the world, and which powerful institutions like Fox News and the Republican Party will assist us in making.
Accept the association that the Democrats make of you with the Republican Party, and you can become law abiding Republicans who were attacked by Democrat criminals. This is a flow of ideas that benefits our likeability and public perception in a manner that will improve our conduits of influence to power.
The next principle chapter of Influence is Social Proof, and Cialdini opens with a powerful example of restaurants increasing the sales of certain menu items by labeling them “most popular”. In another example, people were 55% more likely to buy a McFlurry at McDonald’s if they were told it was “our visitor’s favorite”. These are examples of marketers simply conveying accurate information, and more examples are provided throughout the chapter.
He provides other examples in which social proof is manufactured artificially, and I’ll quote one set directly from the book here;
Certain nightclub owners manufacture a brand of visible social proof for their clubs’ quality by creating long waiting lines outside when there is plenty of room inside. Salespeople are taught to spice their pitches with invented accounts of numerous individuals who have purchased the product. Bartenders often salt their tip jars with a few dollar bills at the beginning of an evening to simulate tips left by prior customers. Church ushers sometimes salt collection baskets for the same reason and with the same positive effect on proceeds. Evangelical preachers are known to seed their audience with ringers, who are rehearsed to come forward at a specified time to give witness and donations. And, of course, product-rating websites are regularly infected with glowing reviews that manufacturers have faked or paid people to submit.
The implications are obvious. People crowd source information all the time. The world is too complex for any individual to figure out entirely on their own, and so we all have a certain natural and entirely appropriate tendency to do what others are doing and adopt popular opinions. Real and artificial social proofs are thus provided by compliance technicians to achieve desired outcomes in a limitless number of examples.
The word Bolshevik means Majority. Their opponents of the time, the Mensheviks, had been saddled with the name of minority. The Democrats are not enamoured of democracy because they actually believe the majority makes wise decisions, but because saying so makes them appear more popular than they otherwise would be. People accept democratic governments because the implication is that most people do, and we daily witness the horrific consequences of this innate tendency.
While this is obvious, there are less obvious components of it that are interesting to discuss.
One example given is that of religious cults. A group of researchers infiltrated a small and secretive group that prophesied the end of the world. In the lead up to the event, this group did not spread the word, they were entirely devoted to their ingroup preparing for their ride to salvation by space aliens.
However, as one might predict, the end of the world, and their ride to outer space, failed to materialize. The cult leader had a word with the aliens, and told the followers that they had saved the world. Some of the group members walked away immediately, but others became more fervently devoted to their fanatical faith, and began to spread the word. While they had previously refused to speak to reporters, they now proactively reached out to the media. They proselytized and recruited.
In this case, in the wake of a devastating hit to their faith, the group members went about trying to produce social proof, as a means of validating their beliefs.
Perhaps more interesting is what Cialdini says about our being on guard against this source of influence. Namely, being aware of when we are most prone to it.
In Cialdini’s telling, he identifies three circumstances that make social proof most persuasive. We are most prone to this when there is maximum uncertainty, when a great many people are providing the influence, and when the people providing the influence are similar to us.
This gives us a great deal of politically useful information.
For one, it explains why Democrats love chaos. It frustrates the individual’s capacity to comprehend the world on his own, and thereby makes him more prone to suggestion.
We can also see this manifest as a tactic in the manipulation of social and legacy media. The Democrats have to suppress some messages and promote others in order to maintain their narratives, and I don’t need to spend a great deal of time explaining that to this audience. The Alt Right was gaining such tremendous influence at such a rapid pace prior to August of 2017 because the social media algorithms were actually doing a good job. We had quality content that prompted engagement, and it spread like wildfire. People began to realize that the things they always knew were true but were afraid to say, were far more widely understood than they had previously comprehended. They lost their fear of speaking out, and this had to be, and ultimately was, crushed by force and deception.
We have discussed similarity in another segment, and this should come as no surprise to us that information from people we see as part of our ingroup is more persuasive than information from outgroups. The old “fellow huWhites” meme stems from our adversaries’ understanding of this phenomenon as well, as does their targeting of women and trying to make an interest group out of them.
For our purposes, it provides helpful hints on subverting popular groupthink.
Chaos serves the Left. This should be viewed as axiomatic and obvious by our people, and it is discrediting to accelerationists. Terrorism, street violence, and political instability, reinforce, rather than undermine, popular narratives. If you want to be able to get people to think rationally and to question the forms to which they have become accustomed, work to stabilize the environment, so as to provide them with the spare cognitive bandwidth requisite of serious contemplation.
We presently lack the capacity to engage in the sort of mass media manipulation that Democrats have made their stock in trade. We are, however, capable of conducting targeted, coordinated influence campaigns designed to immerse an individual or group in a narrative. Carried out on influencers and audience members of influencers, we can generate perceptions of social proofs which will be self reproducing once the narratives are accepted. Done in a systematic fashion, moving from intelligently chosen target to intelligently chosen target, such narratives will become self reinforcing across groups, shifting the Overton Window more broadly.
We can also undermine narratives by pointing out the dissimilarity of narrative purveyors, and by making ourselves appear more similar. The idea that necessarily rushes to many listeners’ minds is J Naming, which obviously has its merits, but cuts against the other imperative of making ourselves seem more similar. In my view, this is a later stage of the project. Calling out ethnicity is a social taboo associated with pain response, and it is not the behavior of most people’s ingroup. Identifying the purveyors of certain narratives as “gender groomers,” to use my favorite example, puts those people into a category of predatory weirdo, and member of a cultural outgroup. Identifying yourself as an opponent of the gender groomer, makes you similar to the vast majority of people, thus making you more persuasive.
The next principle chapter of Influence, and perhaps of greatest interest to us, is Authority. The perception of authority is very powerful, and comes from many sources. Not just political power, but doctors, lawyers, subject matter experts, trusted news sources are all in this sense sources of authority.
In its simplest form, authority is similar to social proof, a weighted version, essentially. The world is too complicated for any individual to fully comprehend on his own, and he outsources that cognitive burden to those better equipped to make the decisions. Understanding some limits on the wisdom of crowds, another signal to discern from the noise is transmitted by what we perceive to be authoritative sources.
Beyond simple receipt of data, we allow authority figures to directly instruct our actions, and absolve ourselves of responsibility in their name. One of the more famous examples of a study in this phenomenon is cited at some length by Cialdini at the opening of the chapter, known as the Milgram experiments. I imagine most of you have heard of this, so I am not going to spend a great deal of time discussing it, but the thrust of the story is that in 1968, people were told they were participating in an experiment, but mislead as to its nature. Participants were instructed to ask questions to an individual connected to a machine designed to deliver electric shocks, and to shock the answerer if he failed to answer correctly, with increasing levels of voltage that at some point in the experiment had the answerer begging for mercy. The scientists conducting the experiment instructed the test subjects that they were to ignore the pleas for mercy and continue. Two thirds did as they were told all the way to the end, with the remaining portion complying to various stages beyond the initial screams for help. While we are generally relieved to find out the answerer was a paid actor who was not actually subjected to electrocution, the takeaway is perhaps more troubling than the thought of a few people being tortured for science. When asked to choose between the directions of an authority figure and their own conscience, most people will choose the authority with frightening reliability, even if it means hurting other people.
Since the study was conducted, it has become quite famous, the results have been reproduced to control for variables like the sex of the test subjects (women as well as men exhibit essentially the same compliance rate), and today it is more or less undisputed that people adhere to authority in this fashion. It is interesting to note, however, that this is not what experts in the field predicted before seeing the data. Milgram himself asked his peers what they thought the outcome would be, and the highest estimates were that 1-2% of people would make it until the end.
And of course, we should note that the researchers conducting the experiment did not purport to wield a coercive sort of authority, like that of a police officer or President. One who is responding to threats of punishment by government officials is typically considered to be excused from all moral dilemmas in the eyes of his fellow citizens. The researchers in this case portrayed themselves as “scientists,” and their subjects had volunteered. The researchers dressed in white lab coats, in order to drive home the point, and of course many of you will recall this same theatric portrayed in various forms of political theater, not to mention commercial advertising. Had they also brought a stethoscope, there is no telling what horrors the subjects might have assented to.
Democrats understand this, and thus we have the familiar refrain to “follow the science”. Anthony Fauci, revered Prophet of the COVID Cultists, says “I am the science” and to criticize him is to commit blaspheme. Long after the policy positions cease to correspond to scientific research, the call to the authority of science still remains, because its persuasive power is independent of facts and reason.
To further illustrate the unreasoning of the authority response, Cialdini calls attention to this in discussion of an advertisement for Vicks Formula 44 cough medicine, which I will quote at length from the book;
Whenever our behaviors are governed in such an unthinking manner, we can be confident there will be compliance professionals trying to take advantage. Returning to the field of medicine, we can see that advertisers have frequently commissioned the respect accorded doctors in our culture by hiring actors to play the roles of doctors speaking on behalf of a product. My favorite example is a TV commercial for Vicks Formula 44 cough medicine featuring the actor Chris Robinson, who had a key role as Dr. Rick Webber in the popular daytime TV drama General Hospital during the 1980s. The commercial, which began with the line “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV” and then offered Robinson’s advice to a young mother regarding the benefits of Vicks Formula 44, was very successful, lifting sales substantially.
Why should the ad prove so effective? Why on earth would we take the actor Chris Robinson’s word for the health benefits of a cough suppressant? Because—as the advertising agency that hired him knew—he was associated in the minds of viewers with Dr. Rick Webber, the role he had long played in a highly rated TV series. Objectively, it doesn’t make sense to be swayed by the comments of a man we know to be just an actor who played a doctor; but, practically, because of an unthinking response to felt authority, that man moved the cough syrup.
As a testament to the effectiveness of the ad, in 1986, when Chris Robinson was imprisoned for tax evasion, rather than end its run, the Vicks brand simply recast the ad with another famous daytime TV actor (Peter Bergman), who played a physician on the All My Children series. Except for the switch of TV doctors, the ad was a near duplicate of the earlier version. It’s notable that, despite his criminal conviction, Chris Robinson was allowed to continue his role on General Hospital under a prison work-release program. How can we account for the grace he was afforded that would have been denied almost any other actor serving a prison sentence? Perhaps it was that he played a doctor on TV.
Cialdini goes on to identify three of the components we use to identify authority, titles, clothing, and trappings. For example, a man with the title “Doctor”, wearing a lab coat, and carrying a stethoscope.
But the examples are by no means limited to medicine. A group of security researchers was hired by a banking industry group to test the security of various systems, and managed to compromise roughly 96% of the systems they targeted. This was not done by guessing weak passwords or exploiting buffer overflow vulnerabilities written by weak coders, but by dressing up as fire inspectors, pest control professionals, and government safety monitors. Simply by identifying themselves as service professionals there to conduct some ostensibly important function, the hackers were allowed into controlled access areas of the banks where they went to work downloading confidential files to prove their work to the group that hired them.
The title alone, be it officer, judge, doctor, Senator, or President, conveys the authority of its position. But obviously clothes help us determine the legitimacy of titles. In addition to the white lab coat, the blue police uniform, the army green, the black robe of the judge, the white collar of the priest, even the yellow reflective vest, the hard hat, letters screen printed on a cheap t-shirt or baseball cap, even, in some contexts, a jacket and tie.
Cialdini sites one study in which a man puts on the uniform of a private security guard, and makes demands of passersby which have no obvious connection to such a role. He makes the same requests in plain clothes, and measures the results of compliance.
In one especially revealing version, the requester stopped pedestrians and pointed to a man standing by a parking meter fifty feet away. The requester, whether dressed normally or as a security guard, always said the same thing to the pedestrian: “You see that guy over there by the meter? He’s overparked but doesn’t have any change. Give him a dime!” The requester then turned a corner and walked away so that by the time the pedestrian reached the meter, the requester was out of sight. Nonetheless, the power of his uniform lasted, even after he was long gone. Nearly all the pedestrians complied with his directive when he wore the guard costume, but fewer than half did so when he was dressed normally.
It is interesting that, later on, Bickman found college students guessed with some accuracy the percentage of compliance that occurred in the experiment when the requester wore street clothes (50 percent versus the actual 42 percent); yet the students greatly underestimated the percentage of compliance when he was in uniform, 63 percent versus the actual 92 percent.
Trappings largely follow the same rules of clothing, but Cialdini goes on to cite studies that show increased compliance rates for people with, for example, expensive cars. A man with tools is a man here to build or fix something, and he tends to get compliance. I know from experience, that almost nobody even hesitates to fulfill, much less refuses, the requests of a man carrying a ladder, and a clip board is your all access pass to basically anything.
I have many anecdotal experiences from my prior profession in IT. At one point I was a project manager for a company that installed networks, phone, and security systems in new construction. I’d show up at construction sites where our installers were running cable in the sort of attire you would expect to see construction workers wearing. I’d typically be wearing more businesslike clothing, and carrying a briefcase, or a laptop bag that resembled one. You would expect in this circumstance that the men from my company would recognize me as management and alter their work according to my orders, but some might be surprised to know that I could make similar demands of men from other companies in other trades, and often with less resistance. They did not think I had any authority over them, just that I was a person with authority, and on that basis, gave me their compliance. In contrast, the guys from my company in some cases resented my authority over them, due to the fact that they had been at the company longer than me, and that I, a new face, had gotten the position they hoped to be promoted to. They knew with absolute certainty that I was endowed by the issuer of their paychecks with specific authority over their work, and to report them for insubordination. Yet they resisted my orders a greater percentage of the time, than complete strangers from whom I could only request professional courtesies.
Cialdini spends little time referencing religious authority, which I find curious. Perhaps he is, like your humble correspondent, not immersed in this culture, and, unlike me, underestimates its potency. But it seems malpractice that I should conclude this portion of the discussion without addressing it, if only for its political implications.
There is no higher authority than God, and one need not believe in God to know this. People who doubt God’s authority due so on the basis of doubting his existence, but, save perhaps for Satan, none who accept this part as the ultimate given, dare to challenge the authority that necessarily follows from the assumption of that existence. If God shows up one day, the expectation is that every knee will bend and every tongue will confess, and a lot of people, not least of all your humble correspondent, are going to stutter with fear and embarrassment in the process.
Even if one assumes the entire concept to be the most malicious sort of fiction, God is endowed with all the characteristics which constitute authority, and it is instructive to think of it in these terms.
God is the Creator. He is First. He is Source. Recall the resentment of my subordinates at the construction site, who questioned my legitimacy due to their longer period of employment with the company. God suffers no such challenges to his authority, being the creator of all things. As the creator, God is endowed with the authority of a Parent over a child, but since God created all things, one cannot simply get a job and move out to escape his power. With a few exceptions in the course of history, such as after revolutions, governments similarly claim their authority to have began prior to the existence of their subjects.
God is omniscient, or all knowing. He is the ultimate subject matter expert. He knows not only what did happen, but what will happen, and this makes him the ultimate possessor of strategic information. Democrats tried to endow Anthony Fauci with these qualities, and from there it was hardly surprising to see people selling Anthony Fauci prayer candles.
God has the power to destroy. Whether he is flooding the Earth, depriving Adam & Eve of their immortality, smiting the first born of Egypt, or destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, God claims and exercises the rightful power to destroy repeatedly throughout the Bible, and doubtless similar authority exists throughout other religious traditions. It almost goes without saying that governments make near identical claims. In the final analysis, every government proves and maintains its authority through force of arms.
God is the ultimate moral arbiter. His will defines the parameters of moral action. A prominent example of this is briefly cited by Cialdini in the case of Abraham, whom God commands to plunge a dagger through the heart of his young son, in Genesis 22. No explanation of the purpose is provided, save for being a test of Abraham’s obedience to God’s command. Abraham demonstrates his willingness to comply before, at the last moment, God rescinds the order, and spares him the morbid task. Abraham’s willingness to do what God and Man alike would otherwise condemn as among the most unconscionable evils, is praised by God as a measure of Abraham’s faith, and God promises to reward him with “as many descendants as the stars in the sky”.
Governments make near identical claims. Lawmakers define murder as killing without government approval. Soldiers in war, executioners, and police acting in the course of their duties, are among those absolved of moral judgment for their taking of human lives. Theft is defined by lawmakers as a wholly separate category of action from taxation, fines, and civil judgements. Slavery is defined by lawmakers as a separate category of action from imprisonment, compulsory community service, and court orders of specific performance. The will of the State, however constituted, defines the parameters of moral action, in which one category results in rewards, and the other in punishment.
Depending on your preferred translation and interpretation, God is commonly understood to endow governments with their authority. In Romans 13:1, the King James Bible reads “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” The English Standard and other versions are more explicit, using the term “governing authorities” in place of “higher powers”, but in either case, the existence of the power on Earth is evidence of God’s having ordained it.
Religious leaders, in some circumstances, claim to speak with, and/or for, God, and to derive their authority therefrom. In other circumstances, they claim to be subject matter experts on God’s will as a result of research, revelation, or contemplation, and endow their own words with similar authority on this basis. Whatever the theological premise, their followers perceive the authority of the religious leader as an extension of God’s authority on Earth, and organize their thoughts and behaviors accordingly.
This conception of a power beyond man’s capacity for direct observation is summoned by an infinite variety of compliance technicians. Whether it manifests the form of an oath taken with one’s hand upon a Bible, a cult leader ordering his followers to end their own lives, or a radio host instructing his listeners to be kind to one another, there is scarcely imaginable a more persuasive concept than the will of a deity. For God, men will defy the State, disbelieve scientific consensus, and end lives, including their own.
One who discounts the relevance of such authority, forfeits his right to participate in serious discussion.
There are obvious and not so obvious political implications here, many of which would be repetitious of what we said on social proof.
The perception of authority is among the most persuasive perceptions of all, and is wielded in politics to great effect. Whether it is Democrats claiming to speak on behalf of science, or Republicans claiming to speak on behalf of God himself, political actors summon the influence of other sources of authority to bolster their own claims to sovereign jurisdiction. The alignment of multiple sources of authority can confer legitimacy on any act, and anyone seeking to exercise sway over future events, would do well to find himself so aligned.
Apply this to what you have seen in our political circles. While none of what I’ll say in this paragraph is universally applicable, we have variously seen so-called far right leaders declare the State itself as illegitimate, condemn police officers as mindless tools of an unjust system, announce their opposition to Donald Trump, designate scientific subject matter experts as fools and liars, deny the existence of God, specifically condemn Christianity as a uniquely wicked falsehood, vow futile opposition to the two party political system, declare eternal enmity against “the media,” and align themselves with the most hated man in history, who also happens to have lost the war that came to define the current world order, to name just a few. Depending on your point of view, any collection of these tactics might seem ideologically or strategically desirable, perhaps most obviously, the hostility towards established media outlets. On the other hand, what I have here described is a near exhaustive list of sources of authority, and if one cannot make any alignments therein, if he instead asserts the mere correctness of his ideology as the ultimate and singular source of sovereign claims, he forfeits any right to be taken seriously in political contests.
The next principle chapter of Influence is Scarcity. This concept is familiar to any student of economics, and, in combination with demand, is the basis of all economic value.
Cialdini opens the chapter discussing several examples of the principle in action, including the experience of a divorce lawyer, who dramatically increases the efficiency of her arbitration services by way of a seemingly minuscule change of terminology. She begins by telling her clients “All you have to do is agree to this proposal, and we will have a deal.” After consulting with Cialdini, she begins telling them “We have a deal. All you have to do is agree to this proposal.” She later reports to Cialdini that this works every time.
Cialdini appropriately expresses some skepticism at the 100% success rate in something so contentious as divorce negotiations, but is unsurprised that the language changed outcomes significantly. He cites the work of Daniel Kahneman’s prospect theory, which asserts that people generally weigh the potential for loss more heavily than the potential for gain. This tendency gives rise to the sunk cost fallacy, which, however fallacious, is no less common a feature in human behavior. By stating “we have a deal” as opposed to “we will have a deal”, the mind is primed for compliance by the prospect of losing a perceived existing deal, whereas prior, the mind was more inclined to persist in the negotiating process in the hopes of improving the conditions of a deal not yet established.
Cialdini goes on to cite specific examples of phenomena you see in action all the time, in which scarcity is implied by marketing practices. Going off the top of my own head instead of citing the book, every ticking clock in a TV commercial instructing you to call now before the offer expires, Balance of Nature comes to mind, and Mike Lindell’s ceaseless warnings of limited quantities, followed by the instruction to “Please order now,” will be familiar to any Fox News viewer. In the section discussing social proof, we mentioned long lines outside of night clubs which were actually the result of intentionally slow door work, leaving passersby with the impression that their opportunity to enter the seemingly popular venue might be running out. Such a display is periodically visible outside an Apple Store, as well to do enthusiasts compete to be among the first to possess the soon to be sold out new releases. Such lines similarly form outside “door buster” deals on Thanksgiving, so as to get first crack at the “Black Friday” sales that invariably result in violent confrontations between customers. These clashes are captured on video, which are dutifully aired by media outlets no less as free advertising for the stores, than as bleeding leads for the newsroom.
Advertising is persuasion distilled. Cialdini makes no mention of diamonds in the book, which is peculiar given the amazing story behind them, and its being so prominently featured in so many works on the subject of sales and marketing.
Diamonds are not nearly so rare as most people think. They were first widely known to have come primarily from India, where they were featured as jewels for the ruling class and traded abroad during the 1700s. During the 1800s, diamond deposits were discovered all over the world, and especially in South Africa, at which point they ceased to be rare in any meaningful sense of that word.
De Beers, in the early 1900s, bought up all of the South African diamond mines. This gave them control over about 90% of the world’s diamond production. They ruthlessly went after competitors, and bought them out when they could. By artificially restricting supply, they were able to control prices, but only within a certain range. The next step was to increase demand.
De Beers sent free diamonds to prominent women all over the world, including the wives of heads of state and celebrities. They then arranged for 125 newspapers to do stories on the diamonds of these prominent women.
Surely by now you have heard the phrase “A Diamond is Forever”. This slogan was coined by the N W Ayer & Son advertising agency for De Beers, as part of a ubiquitous marketing campaign to associate diamonds with marriage. Prior to the coining of this slogan, diamonds had no greater association with marriage than any other gem.
But that’s not all. At the time, it was not uncommon for women to choose their engagement rings, because surprise proposals were hardly the norm. In marketing research, De Beers discovered that women would tend to opt for cheaper rings than men. So, as part of their marketing campaign, De Beers popularized surprise proposals, so as to shift this purchasing decision to the big spending males.
And so it came to be that, almost by persuasion alone, and by the illusion of scarcity specifically, diamonds went from a common gemstone of no major significance, to among the most sought after minerals on the planet. They are today seen by many as a prerequisite of mankind’s most sacred institution, and making a small number of people fabulously wealthy as a consequence.
The political implications of scarcity’s use in persuasion are anything but obvious. Politicians tend to promise plenty, and scarcity is what tends to result in their replacement. The principle, however, is no less in action under either example.
To call attention to actual scarcity, even as a means to thrust an incumbent from power, risks bringing negative feelings to the surface, and harming one’s likeability. Despite this, Nationalists have had great success in radicalizing the few by calling attention to the scarcity of our people, and the continued threats to our existence by the abundance of other peoples in our territories. There can hardly be any starker example of the principle’s use in political persuasion, as the permanent elimination of a given population is commonly referred to as genocide, which prompts the most base survival instincts in anyone who comes to recognize it. Faced with the prospect of the end of one’s own kind, a man will forfeit his own life with gratitude for the opportunity, and a woman will make similarly generous use of her reproductive powers. From this perspective, a vote is easy to obtain for the party credibly promising salvation.
But the grim, morbid, and startling nature of this recognition is extremely difficult for most people to tolerate. The soft, soothing whisper of “it will be okay, we will all live as one, in harmony, if you submit to our demands” is near universally preferable to the intense, primal scream of “They will eradicate us if you do not immediately forfeit your comfort!”. This hit to likeability synergistically impacts the capacity for social proof, and renders Nationalist fervor unpopular.
This tends toward a rejection of democracy in Nationalist circles, and consequent ideations of political violence, occasionally manifesting itself as uncontrolled mayhem and terrorism. A small number of radicalized young men ready to lay down their lives does not an electoral majority make, but in sufficient numbers it will suffice just fine for coup or a revolution. These occasional outbreaks of violence are encouraged and promoted by our political opposition as propaganda to favor still more of the policies creating the trouble that provoked them.
Aiding in the Nationalist radicalization drive has been another form of the scarcity principle in action, which Cialdini addresses in the book. That of censorship.
The tendency to want what is banned, and, therefore, presume it more worthwhile, is not confined to commodities such as laundry soap; it also extends to restrictions on information. In an age when the ability to acquire, store, and manage information increasingly affects access to wealth and power, it is important to understand how we typically react to attempts to censor or constrain our access to information. Although much evidence exists concerning our reactions to observing various kinds of potentially censorable material—media violence, pornography, radical political rhetoric—there is surprisingly little evidence on our reactions to the censoring of this material. Fortunately, the results of the relatively few studies that have been done on censorship are highly consistent. Almost invariably, our response to banned information is to want to receive the information and to become more favorable toward it than we were before the ban.
The intriguing finding within the effects of censored information on an audience is not that audience members want to have the information more than before; that seems natural. Rather, it is that they come to believe in the information more, even though they haven’t received it. For example, when University of North Carolina students learned that a speech opposing coed dorms on campus would be banned, they became more opposed to the idea of coed dorms. Thus, without ever hearing the speech, the students became more sympathetic to its argument. This raises the worrisome possibility that especially clever individuals holding a weak or unpopular position can get us to agree with the position by arranging to have their message restricted.
The irony is that for such people—members of fringe political groups, for example—the most effective strategy may not be to publicize their unpopular views but to get those views officially censored and then to publicize the censorship. Perhaps the authors of the US Constitution were acting as much as sophisticated social psychologists as staunch civil libertarians when they wrote the remarkably permissive free-speech provision of the First Amendment. By refusing to restrain freedom of speech, they may have been trying to minimize the chance that new political notions would win support via the irrational course of psychological reactance.
Astute observations, but of little practical use to us at this juncture. We have managed to capitalize on bad press, and for those curious enough to make the effort to find out what we have to say, the results have surely been impressive. The phenomenon Cialdini describes in North Carolina however, hardly applies to us, and to the extent it does it inflicts more harm than its benefits warrant. When we are censored, all people are told is that hateful violent monsters were censored, and the public knows little else unless they put in the effort to discover otherwise. The people who purport to agree with us because they think we are hateful violent monsters, do not, in fact, agree with us, and yet their terrible behavior is held up as a shining example of the reason we were censored in the first place.
We know from experience what the limits of the “capitalize on censorship” strategy are, and that those limits are effective in their design to render our ideas incapable of directly penetrating the vast apparatus of deception that stands between us and power. Censorship might fail to extinguish an idea in its entirety. It may fail to eliminate a hard core base of support, and even to prevent that base from growing in numbers. But with the help of a vast disinformation apparatus, and a corrupted legal system, it works well enough to render democracy almost pointless.
Persuasive scarcity has helped us about as much as I can imagine it will, all else remaining the same. Our goal today has to be to overcome it with other levers of influence.
The next principle chapter of Influence is Commitment and Consistency. Cialdini opens with some anecdotal examples of situations where people face a choice of some sort, and having made that choice, become psychologically invested in making that choice the correct one, seemingly independent of the actual merits.
One of the more interesting examples is an Amazon program that offers employees $5,000 to quit. A company spokesperson says the purpose of the program is to make an amicable separation from employees who don’t really want to work for the company anymore but are sticking around just for a paycheck. Jeff Bezos, separately, says that the purpose of the program is to make employees choose between the payout and the job, so that those who choose the job will appreciate it more, and be more dedicated to it. Clever, I’d say.
Consistency fills deep psychological needs. Without consistency in our environment and the people around us, there is chaos, and planning becomes impossible. If there is frequent inconsistency between an individual’s words and deeds, that individual is rightly seen as unstable or dishonest, and consequently undesirable as a friend or partner. Social animals that we are, our predisposition toward behavior that improves our social status is a survival mechanism, and since our behavior is informed by our ideas, it is psychologically important for our thoughts to be consistent.
We see this in action all the time in politics. Among the most hazardous things a politician can do is change his mind. Such is to confess to being prone to error, which is an undesirable quality in a lawmaker or executive.
This, of course, is quite a separate matter from the prudence of changing one’s mind, which is more often the case than most people would care to admit.
So goes the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson;
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
However prudent a revision may be, it will doubtless be seized upon by one’s opponents. This is the consistency principle put to persuasive use. It is almost invariably put to use yet again, when it inevitably emerges that the critic too, once changed his mind, rendering his criticism inconsistent.
Who can forget the 2004 Presidential race, in which George W. Bush supporters labeled John Kerry a “flip flopper” and began showing up at events waving giant sandals around as if this proved the wisdom of the Iraq war. His famous “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.” line, has become one of the most well known in American political history. Kerry’s support for the war should have washed him out of the Democrat Primary, were it not for the near unanimity of his error. His later revision of his position could have been seen as prudent, but then he “flip flopped” again and said he only wanted to pay for the $87 billion in question by rolling back the Bush tax cuts, but that had he been president, he would not have gone to war with Iraq.
Changing one’s mind is an expenditure of political capital. Properly executed, it can contribute to likeability, and demonstrate prudence, humility, and character. Such a proper execution would make it a wise investment of said political capital, but as we are warned in many a television commercial, all investment carries risks. Kerry earned his silly nickname, and lost his shot at the presidency. Today he demonstrates his inconsistency by flying around in private jets lecturing poor people about their carbon footprint.
In our experience, activists and media personalities are ever fearful of pivoting toward more prudent strategies out of concern they will be attacked for inconsistency. Should they make such a pivot anyway, the fear comes to fruition, and they are then tempted to abandon this and return to the familiar. Like Kerry, this too is seen as inconsistent, and the damage is only multiplied.
As a prominent example of the polar opposite outcome, we have Joe Biden. He repeatedly promised to ban fracking and do away with fossil fuels entirely, until he got called out on this by Donald Trump on the 2020 campaign trail in Pennsylvania and other energy producing swing states. Were it not for a servile and corrupt media, Joe Biden would have lost his third presidential race in 2020, and thus maintained his consistency in at least one feature of his political career.
Let this be a lesson to you when someone you support pivots. In the case of men with character, their strategic pivot is most likely consistent with an overarching goal, if not some prior statement or other. There is great value to being nimble in politics, and one ought not let himself be haunted by the “hobgoblin of little minds” if to do so would obstruct his path to power. Axiomatic program statements that produce predictable patterns of rhetoric and behavior are invitations for political opponents to set traps. They dare you to “say this unpopular thing and alienate the masses, or say otherwise and alienate your base!”
For those of us on the Right, we know all too well which choice our electoral candidates too often choose. Our candidates consistently choose to screw us over, secure in the knowledge that we have no better options. We are appropriately infuriated, if equally unsurprised, each time, and more than once this has prompted Republicans to sit out elections, handing control over to Democrats.
There’s a coherent line of thinking to this, of course. If a politician chooses to alienate his base to broaden his support, and the base does not punish him, then this invites repeat performances and defeats the purpose of being the base. On the other hand, being governed by the opposition party has yet to produce more satisfactory results, and leaves one with the distinct impression that they are damned, do or don’t. Met with such an unappealing choice, we opt to punish the treachery, if only to maintain our own internal consistency.
In my view, we on the Right need to find better means of influencing primaries, and holding the winners to account not for what they say, but for the outcomes they produce, on balance. We need to identify, influence, and nominate viable candidates whom we are certain understand the issues that drive us, but who are not so flamboyantly ideological that they scare the rest of the electorate. Once they are nominated, we have to support them almost no matter what they say or do, because modern political contests are nothing if not an aptitude test for professional deceivers. They need to be given room to operate, to be nimble, to be flexible, and to say whatever needs to be said, in order to win.
Even while in power, they require the flexibility to stay there, and to expand their own influence. If they are to probe with their bayonet, they must be able to withdraw when they hit steel. If they know what we know, it hardly matters how much of our program they manage to implement, or in what time frame it is implemented. What matters, first and foremost, is keeping the other side out of power. Only after this is accomplished can we even contemplate getting our way. If the other side is in power, we are not merely disappointed by a lack of progress, we are terrified and persecuted and bankrupted. With our side in power, we then work to increase the power of our faction.
That brings us to the next and final principle chapter of Influence. The principle of Unity.
Cialdini distinguishes this from the earlier principle of liking for similarity with the following;
Automatically and incessantly, everyone divides people into those to whom the pronoun we does and does not apply. The implications for influence are great because, inside our tribes, everything influence-related is easier to achieve. Those within the boundaries of “we” get more agreement, trust, help, liking, cooperation, emotional support, and forgiveness and are even judged as being more creative, moral, and humane. The in-group favoritism seems not only far-ranging in its impact on human action but also primitive, as it appears in other primates and in human children as young as infants. Clique, run.
Thus, successful social influence is often pivotally grounded in “we” relationships. Still, a central question remains: What’s the best way to characterize such relationships? The answer requires a subtle but crucial distinction. “We” relationships are not those that allow people to say, “Oh, that person is like us.” They are the ones that allow people to say, “Oh, that person is one of us.” The unity rule of influence can thus be worded: People are inclined to say yes to someone they consider one of them. The experience of unity is not about simple similarities (although those can work, too, via the liking principle). It’s about identities, shared identities. It’s about tribe-like categories that individuals use to define themselves and their groups, such as race, ethnicity, nationality, and family, as well as political and religious affiliations. For instance, I might have many more tastes and preferences in common with a colleague at work than with a sibling, but there is no question which of the two I would consider of me and which I would consider merely like me. A key characteristic of these categories is that their members tend to feel “at one” with, merged with, one another. They are the categories in which the conduct of one member influences the self-esteem of other members. Put simply, the “we” is the shared me.
Consequently, within “we” relationship groups, people often fail to distinguish correctly between their own traits and those of fellow members, which reflects a confusion of self and other. Neuroscientists have offered an explanation for the confusion: asking someone to imagine the self or a close other engages the same brain circuitry. This commonality can produce neuronal “cross-excitation” of the two—whereby a focus on one simultaneously activates the other and fosters a blurring of identities. Long before the neuroscientific evidence was available, social scientists were gauging the feeling of self–other merger by asking people to indicate how much overlap in identity they felt with a particular other person. With that measure in hand, researchers have investigated which factors lead to greater feelings of shared identity and how the factors operate.
One way you know this book is above board is that Cialdini goes on at some length about the role that ethnicity plays in this. Though notably, with the exception of briefly mentioning an Italian immigrant to the United States who ripped off other Italian immigrants, he doesn’t describe White people as engaging in this ethnocentric behavior. He goes on at some length about an Arab used car salesman in Dearborn, Michigan who sold cars to other Arabs. He describes Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme, and how he used his Jewish identity to rip off other Jews, then promptly reminds us it is not specific to any ethnic group with the singular and vague mention of one Italian immigrant.
I do not need to spend much time telling this audience about the role shared ethnicity plays in persuasion. Race is a constituent element of identity, and identity determines the line between self and other. Individuals who come from a common environment, with a common gene pool, develop common interests, and common means of pursuing them. They develop ties which are unburdened by the differences that attend to genetic and cultural distance.
It is felt more intensely in some than in others, and at at different times under different circumstances. Much to our dismay, White people tend to be less moved by this than other groups, at least until we get to prison, or otherwise feel some shared threat to defend against. Cialdini has little to say about this phenomenon. We can at least consider ourselves fortunate that he isn’t filing the book up with nonsense about white supremacist conspiracy theories, but we won’t learn much from him about how to awaken White identity.
Not directly, anyway…
Cialdini offers an interesting analysis of political identity, from which I do suspect we can derive some useful information.
He begins by describing three kinds of lies. White lies, which are intended to protect others’ feelings. Black lies, which are intended to harm others’ interests. And Blue lies, which are intended to protect or aid the ingroup at the expense of the outgroup. Within identity merged groups, our typical preference for honesty can take a backseat to group interests, and such “Blue Lies” are consequently deemed morally superior to telling the truth at the ingroup’s expense.
Cialdini identifies this phenomenon as problematic, and one is tempted to agree with him, if only to maintain our own internal consistency. But years of experience in dealing with Leftists leaves your humble correspondent willing to ponder otherwise. If the other side is willing to abuse power, lie, threaten, riot, steal, burn, kill, and do every disreputable and illegal and degenerate act for the singular purpose of undermining my interests, then why should I put the truth above those interests, only to see the other side do violence to both?
I would go so far as to say that I should not do this. I should rather determine that a lie which undermines the interests of the Democrat Party is the greatest service to the truth that one can perform. The Democrat Party means war with Christian Russia in advancement of Ukrainian corruption. The Democrat Party means transgender propaganda for children who are too young to read. The Democrat Party means revisionist history, COVID cultism, climate worship, economic voodoo, child sacrifice, afrocentrism, and the inversion of all values, to the point where truth and lies cease to exist as concepts, because our language becomes so debased, that it is incapable of sustaining any meaning at all. With Democrats, there can be no truth, and in the final analysis, there can be no life. So anybody who is willing to forfeit power for the sake of truth is in the same position as the man who would forfeit his liberty for security. He will lose both and deserve neither.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Cialdini notes that “This kind of lying [for political gain] seems to thrive in an atmosphere of anger, resentment and hyper-polarization. Party identification is so strong that criticism of the party feels like a threat to the self, which triggers a host of defensive psychological mechanisms.”
Well, yeah. The Democrats want to open the borders and empty the prisons, only to fill them back up with anyone who complains. That is a threat to the self, and if you don’t form a group to confront that threat, then the threat wins. That group is called a political party, and just like you don’t burden yourself with moral philosophy when confronting an enemy in war, you don’t let the other side destroy you in politics just because one of your guys contradicted himself on the campaign trail.
But that’s not all, says Cialdini;
Besides approving of lies that promote and protect one’s party, additional defensive mechanisms are triggered by such fervent party identification. Individuals who possessed “fused” identities with their political party reported greater willingness to hide evidence of tax fraud by a politician from the party. Shown evidence of equivalent political inputs to their cities’ well-being, ardent party members convinced themselves that their party had made the stronger contributions. When asked to rank-order a waiting list of patients suffering from kidney disease as to their deservingness for the next available treatment, people chose those whose political party matched theirs.
People not only favor members of their political parties but also believe them more, even under bewildering circumstances. In an online study, participants were shown some physical shapes and asked to categorize them according to a set of guidelines. The more shapes they categorized correctly, the more money they were paid. When deciding how to best classify a shape, participants could choose to learn what another participant, whose political preferences they knew from previous information, had answered.
To a significant degree, they elected to see and use the answer of a politically like-minded participant, even when the individual had been performing relatively poorly on the task. Think of it: people were more willing to seek the judgment of a political ally on a task, no matter that (a) the task was irrelevant to politics, (b) the ally was inferior at the task, and, (c) consequently, they would probably lose money! In general, these findings fit with emerging scholarship indicating that political-party adherents base many of their decisions less on ideology than on loyalty—born of feelings of “we”-ness.
The phenomenon extends to seemingly far less dire matters, such as sports. Though, arguably, it isn’t the sport that is actually at issue. Here again, Race and Nation come into the foreground, says Cialdini.
In international football (soccer) matches, players from a referee’s home country obtain a 10 percent increase in beneficial calls, and the favoritism occurs equally among elite referees and their less experienced counterparts. In Major League Baseball games, whether a pitch is called a strike is influenced by the racial match between the umpire and pitcher. In National Basketball Association games, officials call fewer fouls against own-race players; the bias is so large that, researchers concluded, “the probability of a team winning is noticeably affected by the racial composition of the refereeing crew assigned to the game.” Thus, “we”-group bias corrodes the judgments even of individuals specifically selected and trained to be able to banish the bias. To understand why this is the case, we have to recognize that the same forces are operating on sports officials as on infamously one-sided sports fans.
As distinguished author Isaac Asimov put it in describing our reactions to contests we view: “All things being equal, you root for your own sex, your own culture, your own locality . . . and what you want to prove is that you are better than the other person. Whomever you root for represents you; and when he [or she] wins, you win.” Viewed in this light, the intense passion of sports fans makes sense. The game is no light diversion to be enjoyed for its inherent form and artistry. The self is at stake. That is why hometown crowds are so adoring and, tellingly, so grateful to those responsible for home-team victories. That is also why the same crowds are often ferocious in their treatment of players, coaches, and officials implicated in athletic failures.
Cialdini goes on to cite a study of romantic couples, in which the pair agreed to discuss an ongoing problem in their relationship and try to find a resolution in the presence of the researchers. These researchers noticed a pattern, in which one of the partners emerged as trying to persuade the other, and in doing so adopted one of three identifiable strategies.
In the first strategy, the partner tried to demean and coerce the other, which had the predictable effect of making matters worse.
In the second, the partner tried to lay out the facts and reason with the other, which proved nearly as useless.
In the third, the partner would often succeed, by raising the merged identity with words like “we” and “us” and focusing on the bonds that formed their relationship and shared interests.
Of this, Cialdini remarks;
Besides the demonstrated effectiveness of this unity-elevating approach, two more of its qualities are worth noting. First, its functional essence is a form of evidentiary non sequitur. Stating, “You know, we’ve been together for a while now, and we care for one another” in no way establishes the logical or empirical validity of the communicator’s position. Instead, it offers an entirely different reason for change—loyalty to the partnership.
The second remarkable quality of the partnership-raising route to change is that it provides nothing unknown. Typically, both parties well understand they’re in a partnership. But that implication-laden piece of information can easily drop from the top of consciousness when other considerations vie for the same space. True to its name, the partnership-raising approach just elevates one’s awareness of the connection. This basis for change fits well with the way I have lately come to view much research on social influence. The thing most likely to guide a person’s behavioral decisions isn’t the most potent or instructive aspect of the whole situation; instead, it’s the one that is most prominent in consciousness at the time of decision.
More examples are provided throughout the length of the chapter, but we have more or less made our point. Unity based in identity will outcompete truth and reason near every time because, as we’ve seen with other factors, persuasion is less about substance than about the way our minds process information. We make decisions because those decisions serve psychological demands, and while we are fortunate in that these psychological demands tend to closely approximate truth and reason, a compliance technician can skip truth and reason almost entirely if he can placate to those psychological demands.
Nationalists who stubbornly insist that race subsume all other constituent elements of a person’s identity, are not persuasive. One who asserts the primacy of race, and on that basis proceeds to attack a person’s cultural norms, country, religion, political party, or even sports teams, is headed solo to a gang fight. The outcome is predetermined, and unless he wants to play the rightly mocked conservative strategy of “losing with dignity”, he is going to have to behave like a white man, adapt to the reality of his circumstances, and do what is necessary to accomplish his goals.
Even accounting for the copypasta, this is one of the longest things I’ve ever written, and even at that we have only barely scratched the surface of this subject. While I’ve included a few things from other sources, I’ve used one book as a guide because I think it makes a really good introduction to this topic. There is plenty in that book which we haven’t discussed, and there’s an endless amount of literature and other media about the art and science of persuasion. I plan to make this one of the central topics of discussion on the new show when I start putting that out, and I think you’ll find it both interesting, and impactful.
For all these years that I’ve been involved in media and politics, I’ve been frustrated, at times to the point of feeling hopeless, at the progress we have made in spreading our ideas and influencing the course of human events. It was for this reason that I started studying persuasion before my arrest in 2020. Realizing that it doesn’t matter how right you are, is a difficult thing to swallow when you get caught up in philosophy. Ideology can be exciting, but it became obvious to me a long time ago that it wasn’t what made the world turn.
Early on, I knew money was inseparable from politics. That is why I never was ashamed of trying to get paid in the course of my media and political activity. I was the first Alt Right paywall. I used to have accounts on every affiliate advertising market on the Internet. I pushed crypto, solicited donations, and sold Radical Agenda themed merchandise. When I went to Virginia in 2017, my revenues were going up every month. I had what I considered to be a pretty nice car, and my apartment was respectable.
When things hit the fan in Virginia, everything I had built was either destroyed or badly damaged. I had the truth on my side, but I saw that truth was not the determining factor in what was happening to us. Goodwin, Ramos, and Fields all went to trial and were convicted and sent to prison. The guilty pleas, including mine, followed. The Sines v. Kessler civil lawsuit, a complete and absurd fraud, dragged on for years, depleting resources and applying unbearable pressure to a political movement that had only just gotten started.
I kept saying to myself “How can this be happening? We’ve got the whole thing on video!” I thought the whole point of courts was to prevent this from happening!
But what is a court proceeding, ultimately? It’s a contest of persuasion. People who don’t have experience with the system, they might get the idea that it is very mechanical. The law is the law. It is written down voluminously, and if you follow the law, you win.
Nope. Sorry to tell you, that is not how it works at all. And for that matter, I don’t think that is how it would work even if we weren’t living in a cesspool of Leftist corruption. The goal is to convince the judge, and ultimately, a jury, that the law is on your side. The opponent is doing to same thing. The more persuasive story, or perhaps more accurately, the more persuasive story teller, wins.
It is the same in politics.
Money helps in both situations, for sure, but making money is no less a contest of persuasion. Nobody is going to pay you to be right, and for that matter, they aren’t going to pay you for a product or service, unless you can persuade them to do so. If you can persuade, then money will come, power will come, and victory, ultimately, will come. But not otherwise.
Artistically, I should now drop the mic and play the outro, but there are still a couple of things I want to talk to you about before I call it a day.
For those of you listening at the time of release, I’m sorry that it took so long for me to get this to you. It’s been two weeks since I last published a podcast, and I don’t usually take this long, but for the conclusion of the Radical Agenda, I want to make sure I am leaving behind something I can be proud of. I also, frankly, underestimated how much work it would take to do the show in this format, having gotten so used to phones filling up the airtime.
I’ve got my equipment set up to do live streams again, and I’m going to begin testing with Odysee and Entropy. I’ve got payment processing for SurrealPolitiks.com, and I’m looking at software to limit live audience participation features to paying customers. I think that can reasonably be expected to cut down on the disruptions, and make sure that your time isn’t wasted with dumb pranks. It will also allow me to produce on a more regular schedule, because it’s a lot easier to talk to people live than it is to write a two hour long script, record it, edit it, and then publish it.
While waiting two weeks to publish a podcast I doubt inspires many of you to shower me with dollars, I’ll let you know, if you haven’t already heard, that I set up a new GiveSendGo campaign that will allow you to make a monthly recurring contribution, if you would like to do that. You can find this at https://GiveSendGo.com/spm and you will see that it is trying to raise $5,000 per month to fund the new show. There’s also a lengthy pitch there, at about 1400 words, describing what I envision for the production, if you would care to read that.
You can send me stuff in the mail, too.
497 Hooksett Rd
Manchester, NH 03104
I love the cryptocurrency, and all my crypto public keys are available at https://ChristopherCantwell.net/donate
You may have seen a couple of posts I published about Substack. I signed up for it, you can find me there at https://Substack.com/surrealpolitiks if you’re into that system, but you probably won’t see anything there that I don’t publish on ChristopherCantwell.net, so, whatever works for you. I tried to set up a new Stripe account to use with that system, but less than 48 hours in they shut me down, so, you’re limited to the payment methods I’ve just mentioned for now.
SurrealPolitiks.com is live, and I have the payment system configured, pretty soon I’ll put up the last of the RadicalAgenda merch for sale. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know when that happens.
I’ll also do my best to get you another episode faster this time. You might have noticed that there’s no smoke alarm beeping in this episode. Sorry about that. The thing was out of my control because I live in a shared building and had to wait for management to deal with the issue. The beep wasn’t coming from my space, it was coming from a common area and I’m not supposed to screw with the system, so I put in a maintenance request and they finally fixed it.
Little by little, we’re making it happen, folks. Thanks for your support and your patience, thank you very much for tuning into the Radical Agenda, have the best weekend with the ones you love, and happy Valentine’s Day, I should add.
That’s all for now, go forth and persuade.
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