I know there are a lot of market anarchists and ancaps on here, but even if you are one, bear with me. This is not meant as an attempt to stir up debates on capitalism vs communism or anything like that, though I would appreciate people on both sides to express what values are inherent in the issues and society they advocate. What this is meant to be is a general proposal of a theory to be used by anarchists of all stripes in garnering support for our cause. If you disagree with the characterization of any phrases or ideas proposed or recycled here, please point out why they contradict some moral value. Anyway, without further ado:
There can be a tendency for each individual organization involved in the Anarchist cause to be isolated from the next in a blind search of solving "issues" without ever getting to the heart of what will bring people to our cause
. It's for that I think we need to both think about why we are doing what we are doing
and how our various activities are related
, because only then can we begin to tell people what we stand for
and thus bring them onboard our cause.
When we ask ourselves why we are doing what we are doing
we will come up with a list of moral values. We can then compare them and modern Anarchism will be on it's way to have a real, undeniably relevant moral framework. Then when we need to explain what values are in our Anarchist movement today, we will have a list of them and
examples of how we are acting on them, living our values. This is crucial, because when people can't counter our point they will decide to take the low road and just say "you're hypocrites."
An example of finding out how activities are related could go as follows: if we value fairness we might say that people deserve to be tried in front of a jury of their peers and also deserve to be free from having a capitalist expropriate part of their wealth when the capitalist is not subjected to that to the same degree. However, if we just say that "people deserve to be tried in front of their peers" and "the worker should keep the product of his labor" we are distilling values from the issues, thus weakening them. If we say "it is unjust and unfair that the worker should not keep the product of his labor and a man should not be tried before a jury of his peers" we are using values and it comes across more powerfully.
It's also important to understand that people act on their values
their interests. And we have to know what values we have before we go about making a framework. For example if one of the values is equality
we can use a metaphor like "an even playing field" in our argument for whatever our doing that involves fighting for equality. This should eventually lead us to develop a lexicon of Anarchist issues and phrases that reflects our values, and will serve to counteract deceitful advocates of immorality as we will soon see.
Not only should we know what we value and what our metaphors and associations are, but also the ones used by those we seek to persuade. If we are going to use a phrase it should also obviously be in accordance with how we
define the value, not how others do. But until we take back our language from the wealthy and powerful by introducing changes to the associations of words in people's heads, we have to clarify each and every time how our take on, say, freedom differs from capitalists or other advocates of illegitimate coercion. Otherwise, people will be stuck in old ways of thinking and we won't be any closer to getting them onboard with our cause. So for example, we might want to stop using the term "free market" when referring to capitalism, since its loaded in the capitalist's favor. Who could possibly be against allowing freedom? Why, an advocate of slavery of course! A way to counter this would be to use phrases like "restrictive market" or "free-for-some market."
We also obviously want to frame the opposition as against our values. Proudhon's classic line, "property is theft" is an obvious re-framing. If we say that under Anarchism we are free from government, free from markets, and only without government and markets are we truly free
. then government and markets are framed as opposing
freedom. Capitalism can be called a "fixed game" or more subtly, as Ralph Nader likes to say, "casino capitalism." (By the way, you don't want to look to Nader for much else on framing, I saw him debate the Libertarian Party guy last year and he was laughably terrible.)
If we say "We're against the War On Terrorism" we are still connecting "war" with "terrorism" and saying we don't want to "fight" terrorism. That is letting them win the argument by submitting to their language (and being Anarchists, we should know how to feel about submission). In other words, negating a frame still supports it. Anyway, to dissect it further, terrorism is a tactic, with no real ground to be won or lost, as is the case in a war. And the terrorists fought by governments are pretty much invisible. So there is no definable victory against it. This results in people being in a state of constant fear, which can then be used to manipulate them. On the other hand if we say "We are against the killing of the Afghan people because we believe in peace" we have re-framed the debate in a way that closer reflects reality and stated one of our values.
If we want to talk about ending capitalistic exploitation the underlying values would be things like liberty and personal sovereignty as well as responsibility. An issue-based approach would look like this:
"Do X because it is good for you. Here are a bunch of facts proving so."
A values-based approach would look like this:
"Do X because it is the right thing to do. It would be foolish to stand by and do nothing while our brothers and sisters are suffering. Rebel against the capitalist masters because they are crushing our liberty."
A historical example of framing was the Anarchists' rebranding of themselves as "libertarians" when too much negative associations had been made with "anarchists." Over time we should take this word back by talking about anarchy as peaceful and organized, to help counter the current bomb-thrower-advocate-of-chaos associations.
Remember, this isn't trickery. And framing isn't just riffs and puns either. It's expressing ourselves in the clearest way in accordance with our values. If we use words that are loaded in the opponent's favor we lose because we entrench the mental ties between the frames that the opponent wants. So call the "Defense Department" what it really is, the "War Department." Even a silly word framed with our values is better than an "acceptable" word that isn't. And I'd like to defend riffs and puns. They engage the brain differently than a simple statement of facts: they use more of it. If we're using a laundry list of benefits and our opponents are using metaphors and values, they're going to connect with people more every time. For early proof of this, check out the 1980 Carter-Reagan debates. Carter states facts, Reagan uses narratives and values like cooperation and responsibility. To take a more recent example, even before the Obama-McCain debates the frames were set: it was "change," not the status-quo which is a hallmark of neo-conservatism. Palin in the debates was caught saying we needed "oversight" and also to cut regulations. She was caught trying to appeal to different frameworks in the same debate.
Anyway, this is going to be hard because the wealthy and powerful have had years to repeat their phrases that twist the truth and therefore their frames' networks of association are much more entrenched in people's minds. It's a war over the domain of minds and every word is a battle. They have spent billions over the years on infrastructure to make sure we hear their phrases on every TV station, news or sit-com. Our advantage is that we do have reality on our side. That means people will be reminded of our frames more often. Frames become stronger with repetition. So it might take time but progress will snowball if we do it right.
Values are what bring us together. Issues on the other hand are isolated from each other and can only be brought together when values common to each are pointed out.
"In propaganda it's always necessary to strike a chord which resonates in the human heart." -Luigi Fabbri