Saturday, July 31, 2010

Old comment on waging the war of ideas

Here's a comment I left at Zenpundit back in May 2005:

The spread of ideas is a fascinating topic worthy of much study. In today's world, with the challeneges we face, getting a grasp on how ideas spread is necessary to not only winning the war on terror but also in opposing anti-Americanism and the continued popularity of leftist views. Hayek in his essay "Intellectuals and Socialism" says that proponents of liberty need to articulate a vision of their ideals that can inspire and motivate people. He said that socialists had been very good at this and thus saw their ideas gain dominance whereas the proponents of liberty concerned themselves with technical policy issues that were not capable of inspiring people.

Today we face the challenge of defending the ideals of liberal democracy from various anti-liberal (classical that is) ideals. As we know the revolution in comunication technology over the past 15 years presents us with a vast new paradigm for the spread of ideas. One of the major characteristics of this revolution has been its decentralization. We are now able to bypass all the previous communications gatekeepers. This offers tremendous opportunities for the spread of ideas that in the past would have been marginally significant. For those of us who support liberal democracy, who are inspired by the vision of a free society that guarantees individual liberty through the rule of law, we need to take advantage of this new communications paradigm to create institutions to compete on the international stage. We cannot rely on the government's public diplomacy, we have to take matters into our own hands, bypass gov't and flood the zone with our ideas and visions to oppose Islamist fundamentalism, anti-Americanism and socialism.
"I just thought that Phil was pointing to a need not being filled by our elite which has become, over the last couple of decades - somewhat removed from the rest of us in terms of self-identification."

Yes. 9/11 revealed to us the massive failure of our public diplomacy; and now several years down the road it doesn't [seem] that there has been much improvement. We are faced with an entrenched PD bureaucracy that seems to be resistant to the kinds of changes that need to be made. So what to do?

Domestically whenever the liberal/left propose yet another government program to solve some problem what is it that we limited government types (whether conservatives, libertarians whatever) say? We say "Let civil society institutions (churches, charities etc) and the market solve the problem." So I am saying that this should be our solution to the problems of public diplomacy.

We need to be entrepreneurial and
create the kind of enterprises that can effect a change in how people around the world perceive America and our ideals. The left is already very successful at this. Michael Moore is the best example. But where is the pro-liberty, pro-American film director who can inspire people with our ideals?

We recognize that there are all manner of non-state actors operating within and influencing the strategic landscape in the war on terror: Hollywood, MSM, soldiers blogging from the frontlines etc. Our strategy in the war of ideas does not have to be led from above. We can become non-state actors too, operating on our own initiative, independent of gov't, and we can influence the strategic landscape to counter the effects of Moore, Newsweek, and the anti-American Arab and European media.

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