Jim Babka and Perry Willis commit heresy

May 9, 2015
Featured image for “Jim Babka and Perry Willis commit heresy”

From Jim Babka and Perry Willis, Co-Founders of Downsize DC and the Zero Aggression Project
So far we’ve…

And there’s good news on that front…
A new Reuters poll finds that 1-in-5 Americans self-identify as libertarians. That’s double what a previous survey found.
So how can we make that number grow even more? We outlined a 5-step process in the last episode of our story-in-reverse

  1. Share the Zero Aggression Principle with all 300 million Americans
  2. Discover those who agree with the ZAP
  3. Recruit as many of them as we can
  4. Activate them to share the ZAP with even more people
  5. Persuade those who disagree to move in a libertarian direction

And that brings us to…
Episode #6: Jim Babka and Perry Willis commit heresy
You remember how it used to be. Arguing with people was the main libertarian activity. Then Willis and Babka came along in 2015 and turned libertarian outreach upside down. They said…
Persuasion is only the fifth most important thing you should do.
In other words…

  • Don’t argue so much, except as a way to test new approaches
  • Simply share your ideas instead
  • Don’t focus primarily on those who differ with you
  • Focus first on finding those who already mostly agree
  • Then try to recruit them and activate them to do more of the same

To foster this approach Babka and Willis commissioned software that MEASURED…

  • How much sharing you were doing with others
  • How many points of agreement you were finding with people
  • How many people were recruited and activated through your efforts

They also provided tools that could measure persuasion itself!
You remember how it was in the old days. You could never tell if you were making any progress. It was frustrating and discouraging. It often made you want to quit, but…
That wasn’t going to change anything. What you needed was a way to share information that led to “reflection rather than reaction.” You also needed feedback. The Zero Aggression Project provided all of that in the form of…
Polling Campaigns
These campaigns presented ideas about issues that you could share with others. At the bottom of each idea was a slider with seven positions…

  • Strongly oppose
  • Mostly oppose
  • Slightly oppose
  • Unsure
  • Slightly support
  • Mostly support
  • Strongly support

This allowed you to track how opinions changed as people moved from one idea to another!
In the old days your persuasion efforts worked on the basis of Pass-Fail. You either persuaded someone all the way to your position, or you failed completely. But now you could measure whether people were MOVING IN YOUR DIRECTION.
If someone moved from strongly opposing your position to mostly or only slightly opposing it, then that was still progress. This changed how you thought about outreach.

  • Sharing information was different from arguing
  • Seeing even small increments of progress in your direction encouraged you to continue

But that wasn’t the only way Babka and Willis changed libertarian persuasion. Most libertarian outreach used mainly practical arguments. Willis and Babka changed that, by putting the moral argument first, and the practical arguments second. The reason was simple but powerful…

  • Practical arguments are issue-specific. You need different, surface arguments for each and every issue. But…
  • The Zero Aggression Principle covers every issue and gets to the root. It’s so efficient!

But Willis and Babka didn’t stop there. They made both kinds of arguments more concrete and personal. They put the reader in the picture, in two ways…

  • Morally — what if you had to enforce this policy against your friends and family personally, rather than delegating that enforcement to others? Would you still feel like you were doing something good if you had to threaten people you care about with violence to make them obey?
  • Practically — if you had a choice whether to voluntarily write a check each month to pay for this policy, would you really do it, or would you find a better use for that money?

Merely asking people what they think about an issue is abstract. But putting them in the picture, where they have to enforce the policy personally, or choose whether to write a check to fund it, makes the matter concrete and personal.
These innovations changed the direction of libertarian persuasion. But these weren’t the only innovations Babka and Willis brought to the Zero Aggression Project. They also innovated in the areas of sharing, discovery, recruitment, and activation, as will be seen in the next episode of our story in reverse. In the meantime…
If you’re not already a member of the ZAP Founders Committee please consider joining before it closes on May 31st.
Founders will be immortalized on the ZAP website.
You’ll be able to say, “I was in on the ground floor of the Zero Aggression movement.”

  • Become a Founder by donating here. Or…
  • If you’re already a member, raise your current listing on the roster by donating more (the names are ranked by size, cumulative)

You can take a quick tour of the new ZAP site when you visit the contribution form. Some sections are already open, and some are behind a curtain, to be unveiled after we finish our “story-in-reverse.”
Please stay tuned for the next installment of that story. And…
If you have libertarian friends who might be interested in ZAP, please forward this to them.
With high hopes for the future,
Jim Babka & Perry Willis
Co-creators, the Zero Aggression Project


Comments (0)