Jesus! Me and Molyneux on Mises!



So…when my alleged Quickie! is over 2,500 words long am I still allowed to call it a Quickie! ?

What, are you trying to tell me I need an editor?

Oh, just shut up. It’s free. Besides, this one is pretty cool.

For your reading enjoyment, I present to you my almost-encounter with Stefan Molyneux himself!

We did not actually speak, so as far as I know my belief that Molyneux remains unaware of my existence could still be true. And since this blog is (how shall I put this without hurting my own feelings?) um, insignificant, that’s probably as it should be.

It all started a couple of months ago, when I was innocently engaging in my favorite pastime—googling “QuestEon” and “FDRliberated” to see if anyone’s talking about me. (No, they almost never are.)

But this time I got a hit. Someone at Mises had opened a thread named “Stefan Molyneux.” The conversation was the usual three-ring circus—between Molyneux fans, people who had barely heard of Molyneux, and people who didn’t know anything about Molyneux except they had heard weird things about his psychology.

Then someone dropped in a few links to this site as a resource. So I popped in long enough to give some more specific information about the site. I got one character assassination by a Molyneux fan, gently dealt with that, made a comment to BrainPolice, suggested that everyone not get into the Is FDR a Cult?/Well, What Is A Cult? trap (for once), and then left.

(Aside: Why is it that Molyneux defenders often have one type of behavior at FDR and another everywhere else? I’d love to see them try to critique Molyneux’s thinking at FDR with the same kind of angry, ad hom behavior they use on non-True Believers off-site. I thought this whole “virtue” thing Molyneux strives for is supposed to be a full-time pursuit. Maybe I got it wrong.)

Anyway, then something amazing happened.

Molyneux himself appeared on the thread (three months after it started) to help clarify things. He doesn’t do that very often. And you certainly wouldn’t expect to see him on Mises at all, since he believes Mises is a colossal waste of time: “Writing articles in Mises.org [is] fun, interesting, stimulating. Won’t do a damn thing and hasn’t done a damn thing for the past 80 years since Mises first wrote.”

I decided to jump on the sidelines and watch the proceedings. It was interesting—there are some sharp people on Mises who do get to the heart of the matter. But there was a lot of misrepresentation, too—some of it coming from Molyneux himself.

As he began commenting, I started to get that feeling I had when I first read Molyneux’s response to the UK Guardian. I knew the real truth behind every half truth. But I kept my mouth shut as the thread careened on.

I said nothing as once again Molyneux demonstrated (as I detailed in A.C.E.ing out Dr. Vincent J. Felitti) that he misunderstood, misinterpreted and certainly misrepresented Vincent Felitti’s A.C.E. study as “a study on child abuse” (no, it’s not) and then stole and altered some other doctor’s research to back his misrepresentation of the first guy (yes, he did). What—am I the only one who reads Quickies! around here? Oh, that’s right. Never mind.

Then, finally, I cracked. Molyneux made one blindingly deceptive reply, which I’ve quoted below. Every single line was untrue—the whole thing:

FreedomainRadio replied on 03-22-2010 12:03 PM

The real tragedy here, in my opinion, this even if everyone accepts that I am some really bad guy who for some reason wants to break up families—for fun or profit, take your pick—for parents whose children have separated to take zero responsibility for their family problems, and spend months or years following me around the Internet and attacking me wherever I show up, and setting up websites where they rage against everything that I do—all of this is truly tragic, because their children are doubtless fully aware of their actions on the Web, and when they witness continual displays of extreme anger and blame throwing, it scarcely is going to entice them to return back to their parents.

Even if these parents think that I am running some sort of cult, the literature is very, very careful to subject—that parents should never attack the cult.

In other words, these parents are indulging their own destructive anger at the expense of their future possible relationship with their children—even if we accept that I’m some bad guy who is running a cult.

If these parents were to swallow their anger and pride, and go and get some counseling, and try to truly understand, with humility and taking at least some responsibility, what went wrong in their families, then there could be some real chance for reconciliation, which I think would be wonderful.

If they continue to take no responsibility, blame my podcast for everything, and act out their anger in such a public way, there is very likely no chance whatsoever that their children will view this behavior with admiration and respect, and wish to start up relationships again, because I imagine that their sons and daughters will simply find their decision to take a break from such relationships to be continually reinforced.

It’s time to get some real help and break the cycle.

I am the host of Freedomain Radio, the most popular philosophy show on the web, and a Top 10 Finalist in the 2007 Podcast Awards. http://www.freedomainradio.com

That was it. My steely resolve to remain an observer crumbled like a 17-year-old being convinced by Molyneux her parents are the apotheosis of evil. I just had to pop in to show how Molyneux uses rhetoric to hide what he believes.

So I did. Long reading ahead, but if you’re interested to see how really nice half truths can be used to hide really tragic whole truths—read on.

QuestEon replied on 03-22-2010 6:10 PM

I was trying so hard to be Switzerland here. I really was. Would you mind if I compared some (and by some, I mean all) of your statements from this post to previous statements you’ve made?

FreedomainRadio:

The real tragedy here, in my opinion, this even if everyone accepts that I am some really bad guy who for some reason wants to break up families — for fun or profit, take your pick –…

With respect, I believe your logic dictates that people must discard their parents. Here’s my argument.

The following are your words taken from your essay, which can be read in full here. (I wouldn’t want to appear to be taking your meanings out of context) I wrote my own little essay on this piece because I think it is the foundation of FDR and therefore profoundly important. It can be found right here.

So face it: your parents were bullies, or weak curriers of favour, or manipulative emotional infants themselves. You have no respect for them, for respect requires courage, and courage requires logical morality. You do not love them, since love demands virtue, and manipulating children into blind obedience is not at all virtuous.

You end this essay with these words:

Either the world is not sick, or parents are. Because, as my wife says, it all starts with the family. If you want to perform the greatest service for political liberty, all you have to do is turf all of your unsatisfying relationships. Parents, siblings, spouse, it doesn’t matter.

So, point #1. It’s not a matter of accepting or not accepting that “I am some really bad guy who for some reason wants to break up families.” I know when someone sets up a logical argument and yours, per this essay, is this:

  • Your relationship with your parents is unsatisfying.
  • You should “turf” all of your unsatisfying relationships.
  • Therefore, you should “turf” your parents.

There are no qualifications that you are talking about a few abusive parents. In fact, you clearly end the essay with the words “Do you think it extreme for me to say that almost all parents are horribly bad?”

I don’t know if you personally “want to break up families”—I can’t know your intent and desires. And I’m not saying you’re a “bad guy.” I don’t know what’s in your heart.

But your logic is absolutely inescapable.

Let’s consider your position on parents who may openly criticize you. You said:

FreedomainRadio:

…for parents whose children have separated to take zero responsibility for their family problems, and spend months or years following me around the Internet and attacking me wherever I show up, and setting up websites where they rage against everything that I do—all of this is truly tragic, because their children are doubtless fully aware of their actions on the Web, and when they witness continual displays of extreme anger and blame throwing, it scarcely is going to entice them to return back to their parents.

Even if these parents think that I am running some sort of cult, the literature is very, very careful to subject—that parents should never attack the cult.

For the record, I’m not saying FDR is a cult. [ed., I knew Molyneux meant a “destructive cult” and I responded in kind.] However, there is only one parent Web site that I know of: www.molyneuxrevealed.com. It was created by a man you once interviewed as a “good” parent. Then after the podcast was produced, his son defooed.

Let’s compare your statement above to another one you made in a podcast:

I think the parents of those who have defooed have kept it even more a guilty secret than those who have defood–it’s a very hard thing to talk about. It’s like saying, “hey, here’s my porn collection, let me spread it out over the dinner table while we’re dining out in this fine restaurant.” It feels sometimes like that to talk about defooing with people.

Which leads me to Point #2. If you compare your two statements, what you are telling us (but, far more important, what you’re telling your members) is that when parents speak out against you they are displaying “extreme anger and blame throwing” and when they do not speak out against you they are hiding a “guilty secret.” I believe in Star Trek they refer to this as the Kobayashi Maru.

On to the next.

FreedomainRadio:

….If these parents were to swallow their anger and pride, and go and get some counseling, and try to truly understand, with humility and taking at least some responsibility, what went wrong in their families, then there could be some real chance for reconciliation, which I think would be wonderful.

There are two aspects to this statement that I’d love to get clarification on, if you could, please. Regarding the first, you are on record as saying the following:

I don’t think that it is particularly honorable to remain ‘friends’ with someone who is unwilling to renounce the use of violence against you, but that is everyone’s decision to make of course…

This statement was made in reply to someone asking about being friends with someone who is a statist and/or religious. You told the person that if his friends believed in either of those things, they are advocating violence against you. (I believe it has since become known as your “against me” argument.)

Point #3. Are you saying now, categorically, that one can reconcile and have a good relationship with parents even though they are statist and/or religious? Are you now saying definitively that such a relationship is not dishonorable? What is the likelihood for me and anyone else on this board to have a great relationship with religious and/or statist parents?

The second aspect of your “reconciliation would be wonderful” statement that I’m curious about is this. You say that if parents took some responsibility, there would be some real chance for reconciliation. But reconciliation requires forgiveness and understanding all the way around. That doesn’t compare with this statement from the essay I quoted previously:

You are told to repair things with your parents, but that is an impossible task – a complete waste of time that will also make you crazy. Since they hurt you when you were young, you cannot fix the relationship. To make the point with an extreme example, if you are raped by a man, you cannot cure him of his desire to rape. Maybe someone else can, but you cannot. Since your parents bullied or bribed you into blind obedience, you cannot help them become better people. Maybe someone else can. A therapist perhaps. But not you. You have no hope, since their guilt about how they treated you will always muck up any attempt at honest communication.

And really, it is impossible to forgive someone who has bullied a child. Forgiveness is for repairable events, like being distracted or breaking a vase. A bad childhood cannot be repaired or returned intact. Where restitution is impossible, forgiveness is impossible. Don’t even try.

Does this sound too radical? Do you think it extreme for me to say that almost all parents are horribly bad?

Point #4. You seem to be saying here on Mises that reconciliation is possible and would be wonderful, yet in the above statement you are saying it is an impossible task. Again, this statement is taken from the essay I linked to above, the one that is not talking about a few parents, some parents, or violently abusive parents, but nearly all parents. How is this “wonderful” reconciliation going to occur, when you’ve already said “Forgiveness is impossible. Don’t even try?”

In fact, you have categorically stated that any yearning for reconciliation is futile. As you say in this podcast:

Your yearning for a good family (in the past, I’m not talking about the family you can create in the future)…Your yearning for a good family is a destructive fantasy because it is completely and totally impossible. You will NEVER have had, or have, or will have, a good biological family of origin (or non-biological). It will never happen that you will be well parented. It will never happen, that you will have a good siblinghood, relationship when you were children with your siblings.

If your parents had their brains exchanged by space aliens, those Luxembourgers–if your parents had their brains changed tomorrow, and become wonderful parents, you will never have been well parented, because it’s too late.

It’s too, too, too late.

So, if I follow your logic, yes, such a reconciliation would be wonderful. It is also impossible. It is a destructive fantasy. You will never have a good biological family of origin. It is too, too, too late.

Your words. Your logic. I’m just quoting.

FreedomainRadio:

….I imagine that their sons and daughters will simply find their decision to take a break from such relationships to be continually reinforced.

I certainly agree with the last sentence. Their decision will be continually reinforced.

But by whom?

Molyneux never returned to the thread. I’m going to assume that he just got sidetracked with a lot of more really important stuff and just never saw my post.

Yes, I’m sure that must be it.