Why I was wrong about Stefan Molyneux

For several years I have been taking an interest in the thoughts and theories put forward by Stefan Molyneux on his YouTube channel.

Initially I found much of his work and arguments to be highly enlightening and looked forward to his videos as they emerged on a weekly basis.

Now, however, I’m not so sure.

After looking into the matter further, I discovered some who even go so far as describing him as a cult-leader.

He certainly strikes me as being someone who enjoys attention and I’m always a bit sceptical when it comes to people like that.

Perhaps the best example of Mr Molyneux’s need to receive attention can be seen in his own voracious on-line presence. I for one do not believe this is entirely due to a high work ethic but rather perhaps an insatiable need for public recognition.

Some would argue that my own published writings could be construed in a similar light, however, I would beg to differ as I have very little interest or expectations in whether people agree or disagree with the assertions I put forward. Indeed, being conscious of my own shortcomings and areas of ignorance, I would find it extremely disconcerting to be lauded and approved of in totality.

Mr Molyneux, on the other hand, appears to thrive on the attention he receives from his followers.

At times he puts forward arguments which originate from ambiguities dressed up as axioms, inevitably leading to outcomes that do not always stand up to close scrutiny.

Take for example his attitude towards the welfare state:

Molyneux has argued that the welfare state originated, in no small measure, from the franchise being given to women who he has asserted generally only vote for ‘free stuff’.

His rationale is founded upon a belief that the safest place for a woman to be in society is found within a marriage and that the breakdown of traditional family structures has created an over-reliance from women upon the state.

The result of this process being the continual growth of the welfare state, coupled with a necessity to borrow more and more money in order to fund it, with the debt accrued being a leading cause for armed conflict between nations.

While I understand the reasoning behind this argument, I don’t believe it stands up to close scrutiny when taking into account certain historical precedents.

Victorian England, for example, had no established welfare state (apart from the Parish System and Friendly Societies) and its economy was almost entirely driven by the free-market. It was also in a fairly continuous process of war-making and imperialistic global endeavours in competition for resources and vital logistical trade routes; operating within a climate of tremendous technological and industrial advancement, with the vast majority of its citizenry also happening to experience a level of violence and poverty seldom seen in recorded history.

So the absence of a welfare state, coupled with a largely free market driven economy, does not necessarily create a better society.

While I accept that using purely historical precedents is not an argument in itself due to the unique mitigating factors of differing eras, I still think it’s fair to say that this line of comparison casts a certain level of ‘reasonable doubt’ on the merits of Mr Molyneux’s desire to completely abandon the welfare state model and adopt an entirely free market economic system.

But let’s for a moment accept Mr Molyneux’s argument that the safest place for a woman to be is in a marriage; this position is entirely dependent on there being an inexhaustible supply of virtuous men ready to be fathers, and we all know this is simply not the case.

As with any theory based on a fundamentally flawed supposed axiom, it eventually goes into the ‘wouldn’t it be lovely’ category.

There are also some quite glaring inconsistencies in some of Mr Molyneux’s political assertions.

He strikes me as being a big fan of Trump and advocates the building of a wall along the border with Mexico, yet at the same time spends an enormous amount of energy railing against centralised power and the coercion of the state.

All I can say is that I don’t believe one can be an anarcho-capitalist and a nationalist all at the same time. It seems incredibly ironic to me that Mr Molyneux’s views on the decentralisation of power are more in line with the socialist global agenda than any shady totalitarian elitist motivations he publicly and very vociferously attacks.

The more I read and hear of Mr Molyneux’s assertions the more convinced I am of his unfortunate devolution in the minds of many to cult leader status. After all, he does appear to share many characteristics of this type:

  • Exhibiting a high level of charisma and personal charm.
  • Someone who gains financially from their followers/adherents.
  • Believes they are on a crusade or divine purpose against an evil and ever present threat to humanity.
  • A seeming inability to take on the criticism of others.
  • Is able to convince large numbers of people that they are the victims of a vast and sinister regime which is focused upon and profiting from their subjugation (that sounds like the same argument some feminists utilise regarding their use of the word ‘patriarchy).
  • Is unwilling to take responsibility for the individual actions and consequences of those that adopt his or her ideas.
  • Encouragement for certain individuals to abandon their own families or interpersonal relationships (defooing).

At the heart of all of Mr Molyneux’s arguments their appears to be a conviction on his part that he has been able to develop an implicit understanding of some universally accepted and ultimate truth, however, like anyone else’s perspective this is only predicated upon his own unique and somewhat limited experiences and culturally biased upbringing. While I’m willing to accept that his beliefs and thoughts on better living are relevant and helpful for some, I don’t believe he has cornered the market in universal objective morality.

Criticism of Mr Molyneux’s philosophical arguments has also emerged from some fairly reputable sources such as David Gordon’s critique of ‘Universally Preferable Behavior: A Rational Proof for Secular Ethics’ which was published in 2007. Quote.

 He fails, and fails miserably. His arguments are often preposterously bad.End quote. 

I don’t believe the entirety of Mr Molyneux’s output is misleading or harmful though.

His videos and writings on ‘peaceful parenting’ are well worth a look at and I still find much of his musings interesting and thought provoking. I am, however, incredibly relieved that I’ve never donated any money to him and drunk from the Cherry flavoured Kool-Aid.

In conclusion, a good rule of thumb whenever we encounter someone who believes they have all the answers is to take what they say with a pinch of salt, as they are most likely either lacking in sanity or just trying to sell you something they think you need.

 


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