The Power of the Meme – My Journey

I’m fairly certain the first memes I experienced were on the once famous website Ebaum’s World. I probably didn’t know what to make of them at the time but they were usually funny and I would check back to the site often. After a while I started to see that even though the people who were making them were trying to get a laugh, many were pointing people to the ridiculousness of Iraq War 2 and the prolonged Afghanistan fiasco. A few even caused me to question what I believed at the time but I didn’t consciously realize the effect memes were having on my thought process. It would take a few more years before I realized their power to inject quick blasts of truth into people’s minds.  

When I came to libertarian thought through the Ron Paul/Rudy Giuliani “moment” in 2007, I started to spend a great deal more time online. There they were again, the memes. Ones with Dr Paul’s face and a quick quote of his were probably the most attractive to me. I was especially drawn to the ones that exposed the lunacy of the U.S. government’s foreign policy. I didn’t stop at the memes though. I got Dr. Paul’s collection of House floor speeches, “A Foreign Policy of Freedom” and can point to that book as my true start down the path to becoming a non-interventionist. Unfortunately, people weren’t ready to embrace Ron’s message and he had no chance of getting elected. Yet, he changed the minds of a mass of people who went on to read the works put out by the Mises Institute and the ideas of true liberty started to spread. 

With the election of Obama, and talk that he was “coming for your guns,” I became more active in the online firearms community. By 2010 my Facebook wall was a collage of pro-2A/gun ownership memes due to most of my “friends” being either gun owners or libertarians. Those two groups were hosting the 2A meme party since both are constantly defending their individual rights on the subject. In the following years, especially after the Sandy Hook tragedy, I am confident in saying that pro-firearm memes helped to not only win converts, but stabilize those who were already pro-2A but were succumbing to the emotional arguments being bandied about by people who were either genuinely concerned, or not going to let “a serious crisis go to waste.” 

Having no confidence in the electoral process, especially given the choices between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, in mid-2016 I felt the need to get the message of liberty out there in my own way. I logged into a Twitter account I rarely used it, and started posting “anti-state” memes that I either made myself (a minority of them) or procured from other sources. Many of you reading this came along for the ride and I am grateful (I just wish I had time to post more). When I started posting in 2016, I had a total of 43 followers. In a few months I was over 1,000. Over the next couple of years that multiplied.  

The amount of people who have contacted me to confess that memes I posted caused them to become voluntaryist/anarchist, anti-war or that they changed their mind on gun ownership floors me. When someone told me that the podcast I started in 2017 had changed their mind on who the aggressor was in the Israel/Palestine “conflict,” I was almost brought to tears. Especially when he informed me that he used to live in Israel and was now a former hardcore Zionist. 

My podcast, “Free Man Beyond the Wall,” is at the time of this writing on its 344th episode. I have interviewed all of my heroes including the man who inspired my thinking, Dr. Ron Paul, 4 times now. All of this started because I decided to join in the “meme war.” 

Again, in 2017 (A busy year indeed) I decided to write a book/study guide. Years ago, I did accounting for a Christian book store and noticed that one of their top-selling genre of books were called “Daily Devotionals.” They are laid out over a specific time period (usually a month) and each day would normally have a bible verse plus a short commentary for you to contemplate. My assumption was that these were to be used in the morning.  

My work, “Freedom Through Memedon – The 31-day Guide to Waking Up to Liberty,” uses the same premise but replaces a bible verse with a meme and the inspirational commentary with cold water to your face. In my mind, the guide is perfect for any novice liberty seeker, that (L)ibertarian who needs to take the next step in abandoning faith in the State, or any voluntaryist/anarcho-capitalist/agorist that loves memes and frank commentary.  

People immediately asked me how they should read it. My response was, if it were me, it would be on the back of the toilet ready for that morning visit. Many civilized people chose to keep it on their coffee table to read with their morning java/tea/beverage of choice. I added that I would read the days “lesson” in the morning and start my day with a good “wake up call.” I chose to repeat some of the themes on different days. These are the subjects I find most vital to understanding the power the State has over us. Using a 31-day period, I believe I have laid out a concrete argument for the abolition of the State, using memes and only a few paragraphs. 

At this point in time, to argue that well-crafted memes have no power to plant seeds into the minds of people who are ready to receive their message is ignorant. We are in an age where the corporate press puts out articles where the headline states one thing, and the body contradicts it. People read headlines and that’s it. I can’t tell you how often this happens even in libertarian circles. A meme accomplishes the same purpose that our “betters” do when they release their “banner ad” articles. Our goal is to deal in facts and facts alone. If it causes someone to start asking questions and demanding more information, we’ve won. 

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Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan