The video was very successful. It received more views in the first week it was up (50,000+) than all of Graham’s 22 other videos combined received in the many months they have been up. As I write this, “Government Explained” has been up for almost two weeks and it is now approaching 150,000 views. Also, it has been mirrored several times, adding on at least another 20,000-30,000 views.
At first it was not clear to me why “Government Explained” was so popular. Many of Graham’s other videos are of top quality as well—some are even better, in my opinion. So why was this video so popular?
For one you could say that it appealed to a much larger audience. You don’t have to be an anarchist or even a libertarian to agree with or like the message in the video. Rather, “Government Explained” appeals to the most general notion that there is something flawed about the governments that rule over today’s societies. With so many people disappointed in “their” governments’ actions today, one can understand why this video spread so far.
What else can we say about why “Government Explained” was so successful? I would add that the video effectively communicated to the typical person who believes in government that which it is often so difficult for the anarchist to communicate. That is, it effectively communicated the anarchist’s view that governments are unjust, immoral, violent, and unnecessary institutions. As an anarchist I know that when I usually share this view with others, the initial reaction that I generally receive tells me that the person I am talking to thinks I am crazy. I typically have a whole list of objections spewed at me all at once.
My guess is that there are others, including people who are not anarchists, but nevertheless are opposed to some aspect of government, who also experience similar reactions whenever they attempt to explain their political views to others. My guess is that there are a lot of people like this who also have difficulty explaining to the person who thinks that government “solutions” for everything are great that cutting government out of the equation on those issues is the best thing to do.
I think it can be said, then, that one of the reasons that “Government Explained” became so popular likely is the fact that it does such a good job portraying government as the barbaric institution of violence that it is. This is not an easy thing to explain to someone who supports government involvement in nearly every aspect of peoples’ lives. Anyone reading this likely knows this from experience. Thus, my guess is that many people saw this video and understood that if so effectively communicated thus idea, and thus decided to share it.
So what can we learn from this and how can we apply this idea to other videos? I would like to propose a sequel video to “Government Explained,” but before doing so I will examine what exactly it was about the video that managed to achieve the feat of effectively communicate the fact that government is an unjust, immoral, violent, and unnecessary institution.