Essay:A framework for recruiting

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So you have an opinion and you think that if more people adopted it, the world would be a better place. (Or, perhaps more accurately, your world would be a better place. Fair enough.) But the world is filled with people who don't buy it. And there are people who do buy it but aren't going to lift a finger to help make it happen. What's a poor idealist to do?

Well, let's examine all the people in the world with respect to their level of acceptance of your idea. This is a spectrum, of course, but here are some snapshots.

  • Anti-Crusaders have dedicated their entire lives to specifically eradicating your brand of evil. They volunteer and give whatever money they can to anyone and everyone who opposes your idea. They would send each and every advocate of your idea to labor camps or the firing squad if only they could get ahold of you, and to whatever extent they can, they walk the walk.
  • Active opponents aren't on a crusade against your idea, but they still hate it. They will vote against your candidate and try to shut you down in an argument, but it could be worse. At least they haven't dedicated their life's work to fighting you.
  • Passive opponents disagree with you, but they don't put any active effort into fighting it. They might argue with your view, but that's about as far as it goes.
  • Fence sitters', the ambivalent, and the apathetic don't care one way or another. They don't help or hinder you. They have no dog in the race. They are either neutral or have mixed feelings.
  • Passive supporters agree with you, but they don't really do anything of substance to help or take any personal risk.
  • Active supporters agree with you and will take steps to support you.
  • Pro-crusaders are will die for your cause, gladly giving their last breath to make it happen.

Once we know where people lie on the spectrum, it turns out that there is something you can do for each and every one, and it will still help your cause even if you don't convince them of your idea's unerring truth. What is it?

If you can stop the momentum of a crusader against you and effectively turn them into a mere passive "hater," you just advanced the cause. If you can radicalize an active financial supporter into a dedicated soldier for your cause, you just advanced the cause. If you plant a seed of doubt in the mind of a passive opponent and turn them into a member of the ambivalent, you advanced the cause.

But doing each of these things requires different tactics. The argument you use to plant a seed of doubt in a passive opponent's mind might just bounce right off a dedicated opponent. The rhetorical tools you pull out to publicly embarrass a crusader against your cause and stop their momentum, if applied to a fence-sitter might just anger and radicalize them against you. The fence-sitter might be amenable to reasonable discussion, but the anti-crusader would only see it as weakness to exploit for their cause.

One must first understand what is a victory in the war of ideas, and that victories are readily available and all around us. Second, one must understand how to pick and use the right tool for the job. Tailoring one's communication tactics to the job at hand is the job at hand.

Defensive applications[edit]

While the framework is used for offensive purposes (i.e. recruiting), the opposition will be trying to do the same for their cause. Therefore, it is important not only to take steps to protect your supporters from being demoralized and losing their place, it is also beneficial to take steps to prevent your opponents from being radicalized if you cannot convert them.

Since humans are social animals, you want to associate "coolness", social approval, sexiness, and other good qualities with participation in your cause. There should be ample social opportunities if at all possible, and if it is not possible, leaders should try to ensure that unproductive drama is avoided while continuing to permit a wide range of discourse and interests.

You also want to make sure that your passive opponents are not radicalized into active opponents if possible. It is very effective to use the media to push a narrative of inevitable victory by your side. This covers the base that even if you can't turn a passive opponent to the other side, they won't step forward and risk the penalties of being "on the wrong side of history."

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