When confronted with the ineptness of the State, or one of its apologists, it is tempting to respond with frustration or anger. After all, it is absurd that in the 21st century we still have to explain to people why government sponsored theft is wrong or why peace is better than bombing kids, and don’t even get me started on the roads. The State and its agents works through violence, fear, and corruption so it is our job to present the alternative and it would be monumentally hypocritical (not to mention inefficient) to fight the State by embracing their methodology. When we are promoting the ideas of liberty we have limited time to share a vast philosophy so by sprinkling a healthy dose of tolerance and optimism in our arguments we get twice the bang for our buck. On top of putting forth our ideas we are showing that living outside the State can emancipate people not just from the evils of government but also from the hatred and intolerance that is its life blood.

So what exactly does it mean to Smash the State with Style? How do you fight evil with optimism or war with love? I’ve collected a list of the top five things every lover of liberty should keep in mind when they are faced with the State or its defenders.

1) A smile is worth a thousand statistics

You could have the best ideas in human history (which hey, we do) and have all the economic models and statistics behind you but man cannot live on statistics alone. Bombarding someone with facts, figures, and Rothbard quotes will only turn them off to you and your ideas. Remember we are selling a product and they are the customer so think like a business owner, is someone more likely to buy a car from a salesman that keep hitting them with facts and figures or from the salesman that takes the time to listen and answer their questions? Make jokes, tell stories, be happy, and most importantly listen to what they have to say. Even if you’ve heard the same argument against private police 100x and have the perfect rebuttal, let them share their ideas so they get involved in the conversation and are invested in your answer. Next time you’re talking to a stranger about liberty take your foot off the gas, smile, and listen and you’ll be amazed at how much further you get.

2) The individual isn’t the institution

Next time you fly, ship a package, or walk past a police officer take a second and look at the people in those funny costumes. Now you and I both know that these institutions are inefficient, inept, and riddled with corruption, but as you look at the individuals that actually do the jobs you will quickly find that the vast majority are good, kind people that honestly think they are making the world a better place. How can this be? And how can we respect these people while fighting the institutions they work for? When working or talking with agents of the State it is important to remember that the individuals doing the jobs are not the institution, they are just people trying to make a living and that have different ideas. While part of our task as free people is to dismantle the institutions of the State it also falls on us to help change the hearts and minds of the people, and that includes the TSA agents, the mail men, and even the police. So next time you’re faced with one of these people with the silly costumes don’t dismiss them off hand, give them the same respect you would give to anyone else, and you might just be surprised to find how much anti-authoritarian sentiment rests in the hearts of those most acquainted with the State.

3) Ignorance doesn’t equal stupidity

When you are talking with someone about liberty you really must keep in mind the fact that not everyone reads Mises for fun. We are the outliers who spend their free time on Liberty.me and go to conventions to debate which school of anarchy would bring about the best post-State society. For the general public these are new and radical ideas and they might not understand it right off the bat. The average person on the street might think labor theory of value and central planning are “just common sense” because they are intuitive and their ignorance doesn’t make them a bad person, but if you judge their ignorance to be general stupidity you are doing them a terrible disservice and will never convince them to work with you to learn more. When talking with people you have to gear your discussion to their level of understanding, if they are new to these ideas start at the beginning, answer any questions they have, and soon they will start to look into these ideas on their own. Remember the person you’re talking to might one day be the next Ron Paul or Jeffery Tucker, so treat them with respect and don’t dismiss them just because they haven’t read Human Action.

4) Burn down some straw men

You know what’s real fun? Breaking stereotypes. Trust me; I’m an anarchist that prefers a nice suit and tie to a bandana and a molotov. Breaking stereotypes is the activist version of breaking the ice; it gets you past the pleasantries and into the heart of conversation. When most people think of libertarians they imagine neck bearded jerks in their parents basement, so when you are promoting liberty try to break the mold. Show that you are a kindhearted person, show that your love for liberty stems from compassion towards the poor instead of a worshiping of corporations, and show that you and your ideas are working to save the world. Break some preconceived notions and show that liberty is as diverse as the markets we so love and people will be much more open to the ideas.

5) Optimism is sexy

Have you ever talked to someone that was all doom and gloom? It really sucks the energy right out of you and doesn’t help anyone. The State is good enough at breaking people’s hearts; it’s our jobs to show them the bright side of markets. Focus on the liberating aspects of free trade, the life saving features of peace, or the wonderful technological advances making the State obsolete; show people that we don’t just disagree with the government, we have solutions. Optimism draws people in, it puts a smile on their face and hope in their hearts, it’s the most important tool in the kit of liberty and if you’re not using it you just spinning your wheels.

In the March 2014 issue of the Freedman, Max Borders had this to say in his article Libertarian Holism. “So if we think using violence is wrong, we’d better become master persuaders – libertarian holists – willing to stare through other lenses and find a way to connect with their values before the people with guns, jails, and jackboots do.” This is the perfect summary of these ideas, if we are to effect change and achieve our rather lofty goal of saving the world we must step out of our comfort zone and bring the message to the people in a way that they will find interesting and engaging. We have the right philosophy, we have the solutions to the ills of the world, we just don’t have the people, but that’s starting to change as more and more people learn to Smash the State with Style.