Richman on How to Break the Catch-22
By Bryan Caplan
From Sheldon Richman’s review of my book:
Caplan’s solution is to “rely more on private choice and the free market.” Good idea, though you’d have to get people to vote for that, so I’m not sure how effective that will be. Economic education for the public also would also seem in order. But just straightforward teaching won’t be enough, for as Caplan elaborates, people hold fast to their errors through “emotional commitment.” “A good teacher could change some minds, but the best teacher in the world would be lucky to convince half,” he writes. Dogma dies hard.
At the very least, this implies that the case for liberty must be pressed across the entire cultural front, especially in movies and novels where emotions as well as reason can be appealed to. We must find emotional commitments in the population that are consistent with freedom. Libertarian strategic wisdom may well begin with Jonathan Swift’s insight: “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”
So what do you think? Could the average intellectual do more for the world by switching from creating new ideas to injecting old ideas into the arts?
Personally, I suspect that even heavy-handed didactic art rarely changes people’s minds; they either miss the point, or say “it’s just a movie.” What do you think?