I thought Stefan Molyneux became the leader of a cult-like libertarian “community” only because he had been a failure at everything else. How could I have known that he’d eventually fail at that, too? This is a story of a libertarian podcaster who became a spokesperson for white supremacists and misogynists. And a link to a great analysis by Stuart K. Hayashi!
Next year, this blog will be 10 years old. I’ve always been prepared for the eventuality that it might become obsolete. I just never guessed the reason why.
My earliest posts were a warning about a peculiar Canadian who professed to be a libertarian but, more than anything else, seemed to be running a dangerous therapy group.
In the pre-YouTube days of Freedomain Radio, Stefan Molyneux frequently gave one-on-one therapy over the telephone to 18-year-olds (or younger), which he recorded and distributed as audio podcasts. He would invariably blame all of the callers’ problems on their parents, who he would then condemn as monsters.
Believe it or not, the worst crimes their parents typically committed were believing in some kind of Higher Power or voting.
He even wrote an essay claiming that parents who believed in religion or the state are unforgivable child abusers and you may as well just defoo (Molyneux’s term for “taking a break” from your parents, but in practice it actually means leaving all of your family and friends and never speaking to them again).
The Molyneux you probably don’t know
In those days, it was all about being virtuous; i.e., pursuing virtue by eliminating all of the corruption in your life. And it turned out that no one was more corrupt than your parents.
He promised his followers that by defooing, they were single-handedly making the world a better place. He and his wife had already messianically led the way, transforming themselves into virtuous souls by discarding everyone:
Podcast FDR 110—But my parents were nice (2)
20:33 “…There are only two people in the known universe (who I have ever known directly) who have dealt in a powerful, positive, constructive, and amazing manner with their own corruption, and that’s myself and my wife.”
In Molyneux’s last interview on the Joe Rogan show, he told a lot of lies about himself. Perhaps the biggest of all concerned the role of defooing at Freedomain Radio. He said it was something he rarely discussed and if you know Molyneux only from YouTube, that may have sounded credible. But in his less-careful days, Molyneux was proud to admit that encouraging young people to defoo was the primary motivation for FDR!
On his website, you’ll find Podcast #589. Its title on-line is “Examining the Family,” but if you download the MP3, you’ll discover that the actual file title is more accurate—”Cracking the Family.” There are some excerpts below, but I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast. It’s Molyneux’s explanation of how FDR came to be, who the target audience is, and what it is supposed to achieve. I wrote an article about it several years ago.
According to Molyneux himself, Freedomain Radio was developed by Stefan and his wife Christina Papadopoulos as a way to convince teenagers and young adults to defoo. Supporting an American president? Pseudo-scientific racism? Misogyny? In those days, such topics could actually get you banned from his forum.
The topic was always defooing. The target audience was teenagers
Stefan told his young followers that the proper term for a families is “ABC”—Accidental Biological Cages. And since they were trapped in cages, his job was to help them break free. In this passage from Podcast #589, Stefan and Christina had already decided on Freedomain Radio’s “message” of defooing with the idea that by appealing to teenagers and young adults, they can “crack” the family.
Podcast FDR 589—Cracking the Family
15:22 “…And so, I felt, when I was working out the approach to FreeDomain Radio, I felt that I could not speak to the children directly, it’s possible to speak to teenagers I think…
16:44 …and so, how do you do it? How do you do it. How do you break the habits of 100,000 years? How do you break the oldest dictatorship? And really, that’s why there’s been this defooing thing. And this is why—although the hardest thing other than defooing is talking to people about defooing—I think it’s something that, it’s important to do because people don’t even know that they can (laughs). They don’t even know it’s an option.
And, it’s going to be a slow—at least one generation. But, people who have defooed or at least have heard about defooing, they can at least know that their authority as parents is not an absolute.
I think the parents of those who have defooed have kept it even more a guilty secret than those who have defooed—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.
But the moment that we do talk about defooing with people—yes, of course, there’ll be lots of horrified looks and people simply won’t want to talk to us a lot of times—but, there is something out there, which is that it can happen. And if it can happen, that’s a crack in the family.
That’s the only crack in the biosphere I’ve been can think of. Maybe there are others I’ve never been able to consider but…This defooing is the only way that I know to get a crack in the biosphere, widen this horrible cyst-like abcess of history—the family—and get some air into the biodome, get some leverage, right? Wedge a couple of crowbars through the cracks and see what can’t be worked out from the inside.”
Molyneux’s podcasts, his forums, the self-published books he’d write such as On Truth—they were all a constant persuasion for young adults that they were abused as children (even if they didn’t think so) and that the only proper recourse is to defoo.
So, your next question might be Why? Why break up the family? Why encourage defooing? His answer is this: discarding your parents is the first step in discarding the hegemony of the state. Molyneux praised his defooing followers as “magnificent!”
The magnificent ones who defoo would end the power of the state
In his own words—the goal of FDR was to end the state by ending families.
Podcast FDR 589—Cracking the Family
26:26 “…Obligation to the state is a mere shadow of obligation to the parents. You can take away obligation to the state in a conceptual way, but it’s always going to come back if you are obligated to your parents. Because your parents did a lot more for you than the state did—even mine.
If you get rid of the obligation to the parents, who is going to take an obligation to a state seriously? Or to a god?
But if you don’t take away the obligation to the parents, those other things, though you may push them back, are going to roll back in like a fog down a hill. Inevitiably. Inexorably.
And that’s the only way I know to inject some air—to widen these cracks. To take a hack at the root—the virtue of parents.
That’s the only way that I know, that hasn’t been tried, that I think is the fundamental…it is the fundamental underpinning of hierarchical or hegemonic, top-down power.
Certainly, opposing the state doesn’t matter. And opposing the state if we’re still obligated to our parents still doesn’t make us a whole lot more free. Our parents our older; people in the state are usually older. “Parents” is not a chosen relationship; the state is not a chosen relationship. Parents do a whole bunch of stuff for you; the state does a whole bunch of stuff for you. It’s all…you can relate this to religion as well…it’s all the same nonsense, but, it really is fundamentally all wrapped up in the assumed virtue of the parents.
And we all know how frightening this is, and how horrifying it is, and how painful it is—to question and act against that assumed virtue. Those who are doing it are magnificent.
…in their courage and in what they’re doing, what they’re actually doing, what they’re actually doing to make the world a more free place.”
Why today’s Molyneux is so startling to those who knew him when
I doubt if any of the people Molyneux successfully convinced to defoo in those days would even recognize him today.
I sometimes wonder how they feel now, knowing that the virtuous ethicist who counseled them through this emotionally brutal act later abandoned his principles without hesitation…
I sometimes wonder how they feel now, knowing that the virtuous ethicist who counseled them through this emotionally brutal act later abandoned his principles without hesitation, once he discovered the profit to be made in racism and misogyny? The anti-statist who now makes his money by working the alt-right, Donald-Trump-supporter side of the street?
Just to be clear, I’m not accusing Donald Trump of supporting any unsavory beliefs. Donald Trump isn’t the issue; however, even his most rational supporters have to admit that—for whatever reason—the white nationalist, men’s rights lunatic fringe has crawled out of the woodwork to sing his praises.
Molyneux now makes his videos for them. For angry young white men. And he talks with the same absolute certainty about racial differences in IQ and the manipulative deviousness of women now as he once did about the universal evil of priests, parents, professors, and politicians.
The big mystery—what caused everything to change?
When this blog began, Molyneux was a little-known player in the libertarian community—a man who made audio podcasts for his little Freedomain Radio “community” as he drove to and from a tech job he believed was beneath him. Most libertarians didn’t know about him at all and the comparatively few who did found the notion that he might also be a cult-leader preposterous. So joining with another forum of ex-FDR members, I did what I could to calmly provide reason and evidence. And, over the years, as Molyneux made mistake after mistake, suffered public exposure after exposure, was finally noticed by and then largely ejected from the libertarian community for his egregious actions, the blog has become a reference source for those wanting a credible understanding of his background.
…the man who consistently claims his beliefs are absolute, irrefutable, and eternal now happily changes those beliefs as easily as he changes socks.
If this blog isn’t obsolete, it’s solely for that reason: for people to understand that the Molyneux I started writing about—the one who consistently claims his beliefs are absolute, irrefutable, and eternal—now happily changes those beliefs as easily as he changes socks. His gift isn’t his beliefs or his ideas—it’s his convincing ability to mimic erudition. If nothing else, his true believers today should know that he will abandon them and their beliefs to make his histrionic videos for some other group tomorrow, if there’s enough money in it.
Perhaps on my ten-year-anniversary I’ll write a definitive history of Molyneux’s rise, fall, and racist resurrection. Most especially, my answer to the question of why Molyneux abandoned his goals as a libertarian and became what he is today. (Hint: It wasn’t his choice.)
But for now I don’t have to. There are others doing that and doing it pretty well.
Great posts on Molyneux’s transition from libertarian to hate-profiteer
One of the first outside attempts to introduce the old Molyneux to his new fans was Ben Collins in this excellent Buzzfeed article:
(A few points have to be deducted here, as the author mistook a malicious-prank doxing site loaded with harmful misinformation as the work of Freedomain Radio members.)
More recently, some fascinating new work has appeared.
Enter Stuart K. Hayashi
One of Molyneux’s hardships is the realization that his growing notoriety is causing an increasing number of people with actual accomplishments to take note of him. I mentioned in my previous post how an actual philosophy critic dismembered Molyneux’s incomprehensible UPB and the logicians who are currently crushing his inept “The Art of the Argument” in Amazon reviews and elsewhere.
Now, noted author and researcher Stuart K. Hayashi has become aware of Molyneux’s growing presence and has done his own investigation. At first, he published a blog post collecting some of Molyneux’s more outrageous claims:
More recently, he wrote a more formal article that was published on The Tracinski Letter. It is an excellent read and an accurate description of how Molyneux’s failure as libertarian leader, primarily due to his high-profile unethical behavior, essentially drove him into the arms of the alt-right. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
And, just to round things out, a related post of interest (by Peter Cresswell) can be found here:
Some the above posts have been around for a while but very worth reading if you haven’t seen them yet. Until I write my grand history, they (especially Hayashi’s Libertarian Icon’s Descent) will serve very well.
And now, hopefully, I can stave off my own obsolescence for a few more months.
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