Hey there! Pull up a chair. Today’s Quickie! is a fun little story about boring old stuff like ethics and character.
It starts, as usual, with the men we know as Stefan Molyneux.
Men? Yes, that’s correct. You see, for several years now, Stefan Molyneux has been living a double life. On one hand, there is the Stefan Molyneux that the True Believers of his forum see. That Stefan Molyneux is the one who believes nearly all parents are horribly bad and your only hope for a virtuous life is to leave them and never speak to them again. (Yeah, yeah, I know, but it’s true).
And then there is the other Stefan Molyneux. That’s the one everyone outside the Freedomain Radio “community” is supposed to see—the happy and witty libertarian gadabout who can make an argument against government so compelling, he can almost convert you to libertarianism on the spot.
And as long as he can find venues that know only the fun Molyneux (and not the Molyneux who may-or-may-not be a destructive cult leader), a splendid time is guaranteed for all.
Lately, one of those venues has been the Joe Rogan show. Rogan has many talents—comedian, actor, host, commentator, etc. But he was also one of the first in his field to see and capitalize on the potential of internet broadcasting. And, as such, he is host of the popular-and-becoming-more-so Joe Rogan Experience.
Rogan is the perfect interviewer for Molyneux. Molyneux is so facile-minded and rhetorically deft, most interviewers can only nod their heads in appreciation as he pontificates. Rogan, however, is no slouch in those departments and easily matches Molyneux step-for-step.
So, Molyneux no doubt hoped for another robust, freewheeling interview where he would hold forth with equal authority on things he knows a lot about and things he doesn’t.
Problem was, the interview would turn out to be the capper for a very bad day.
Stefan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
[Ed. Note: Since this post was published, the article mentioned below was deleted from Buzzfeed, who has declined to explain why. Fortunately, Free Keene resurrected Doyles article here: Stefan Molyneux Jumps Shark, Uses State to Silence Critics]
Out in the real world, the worst possible thing was happening.
…a man with such bizarre and overreaching self-importance that he records himself even during the most mundane encounters, with the justification ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if you could hear Socrates having a conversation with his barber?’
The two Molyneuxes were colliding in view of everyone. A former member of the Freedomain Radio “community” had been interviewed by Paulie Doyle, who painted a picture of a man with such bizarre and overreaching self-importance that he records himself even during the most mundane encounters, with the justification “wouldn’t it be amazing if you could hear Socrates having a conversation with his barber?”
Elsewhere, one of Molyneux’s agents had managed to silence a very noisome critic known as Tru Shibes through a blatantly false DMCA charge. Tru Shibes had been making life miserable for Molyneux—exposing the logical flaws, frightening misogyny, and overall general weirdness in Molyneux’s on-line rants.
Eliminating Tru Shibes should have been simple—Molyneux had tried it before with another rival forum and most people outside Freedomain Radio barely noticed. But this time it had gone terribly wrong. A lot of people noticed both the act and the blatant hypocrisy and malice behind it.
And making videos about it:
Now, this very public exposure of the “hidden” Molyneux should have been more than enough to concern the forum leader but the worst was yet to come. As Molyneux channeled his public persona in preparation for another fun back-and-forth with Rogan, there was something he didn’t realize.
Rogan knew it all.
Rogan now had background information about Molyneux’s true beliefs. And about Tru Shibes.
He also knew that Molyneux’s wife, Christina Papadopoulos—a practicing therapist in Mississauga, Ontario—had recently been severely disciplined by the College of Psychologists of Ontario for her participation in Freedomain Radio.
In the early days of FDR, Papadopoulos had been frequently cited as the intellectual architect behind Molyneux’s strange connection between anarchocapitalism and family. (Shortest possible version: “You’ll never be a truly virtuous anarchocapitalist as long as you are still speaking to your parents. And the rest of your family. And pretty much all of your friends.”)
The clever brand name that Molyneux or perhaps his wife created for this practice is “defoo.” And that was one of the main reasons the College investigated Papadopoulos, eventually finding her guilty of misconduct. Papadopoulos’ discipline was severe. Perhaps the only thing that saved her license was when they pulled her files—they found that she never recommended defooing (neither by that word nor any other) to any of her own patients.
So much for her husband’s grand theory.
Yep—Rogan had done some research. And he had questions.
Suddenly, the public Molyneux found himself in the very uncomfortable position of answering questions about the hidden Molyneux. Rogan peppered him with questions about defooing. About the DMCA takedown of Tru Shibes. About his wife’s discipline for professional misconduct.
Unprepared, off-guard, Molyneux did something that is still reverberating on the internet.
He lied a lot. And he lied about some very big things. As Rogan questioned Molyneux about defooing, which Molyneux either minimized or denied altogether, Rogan showed him a video in which Molyneux dramatically ridicules his followers who are not willing to cut off all ties with anyone who supports a state’s ability to make and enforce laws. (which is basically what defooing is all about, except the first people you cut out of your life are your parents.)
Even after watching the video, Molyneux denied his stance on defooing. Molyneux’s defense almost sounded like the old joke about the cheating husband caught in bed with his mistress: “Who are you going to believe? Me, or your lying eyes?”
He lied about his wife’s discipline by the College of Psychologists of Ontario.
Did he lie about Tru Shibes? That’s a little less clear, but consider this. When Rogan, who knew about the Tru Shibes incident, began asking about the DMCA takedown, Molyneux appeared to misunderstand—quickly switching the conversation to a relatively unknown YouTube poster who had released comparatively few videos. What Rogan didn’t know is that FDR had conflated the two—using a potentially legitimate grievance against the almost-unknown person to simultaneously take down Molyneux’s highly effective critic. Molyneux’s employee had submitted lists of multiple Tru Shibes videos over several bogus DMCA complaints to YouTube—a tactic to get the necessary “three strikes” needed to remove the Tru Shibes account as quickly as possible.
In order to believe Molyneux’s performance on the Rogan show, you have to accept the notion that while he knew about the virtually unknown poster and FDR’s actions against him in great detail (as he demonstrated on Rogan’s show), he apparently knew nothing about the same actions against the well-known, frequently referenced, and highly subscribed Tru Shibes.
Does that sound plausible to you?
In the end, Rogan gave his audience a window into the hidden Molyneux in a way that hasn’t happened since The Guardian’s Kate Hilpern first exposed Molyneux in 2008.
Everyone is arguing about the wrong things.
This time, the libertarian corner of the internet exploded with people writing and making videos about the lies that Molyneux told. (I’ll link to some of those below).
Much of the talk has been about the specifics of the lies, perhaps because most of us have a mindset that appreciates precision and accuracy and maybe that’s one of the things that drew us to this philosophy in the first place.
However, everyone is arguing about the wrong things. Things that are beside the point. It isn’t about establishing precisely what the lies were or precisely how bad they were (since it is already clear there were several and they were bad).
It’s about what the lies mean.
The point is this: Molyneux is an ethicist.
Yeah, he tends to change his titles as often as most men change socks but, if you listen to him long enough, you know that at the heart of it he describes himself as an ethicist. And he’s not just any ethicist; he’s an ethicist who believes—a point he has made emphatically and repeatedly—that ethics is as ethics does.
This is a guy who says his entire raison d’être is about truth. Not only defining it but also living it every single day.
I mean, he’s really, really serious about it.
Wow, he’s got to be like 300 pounds – I wonder if a philosopher should not be able to at least control his own appetite…
Did you know he once denigrated a philosopher over the man’s weight? Apparently, he considers even overweight as an outer symptom of a moral failing. This is what he said about the man: “Wow, he’s got to be like 300 pounds – I wonder if a philosopher should not be able to at least control his own appetite…”
That’s just calories. What about an ethicist who can’t control his desire to hide the truth?
Molyneux reserves his most intense disdain for those people—especially philosophers—who act in a manner inconsistent with their spoken beliefs. Any of his True Believers who would follow such a person are, in his view, fools.
That’s what it really meant, the day that Joe Rogan discovered the real Stefan Molyneux. Because it was also the day that Molyneux was forced to drop a little Kobayashi Maru challenge on his followers. If you truly accept Molyneux’s stance on ethics, well then, what do you do now?
Dozens of Philosopher Kings immediately cancelled their subscriptions to Freedomain Radio
April Fools! Of course they didn’t, you big silly!
You might think , after all this, that a bunch of hands would have shot up at Freedomain Radio, with their owners saying “check, please.” After all, it was suddenly revealed that they’d been following an ethicist whose unvarnished instinct, when cornered, is to lie.
But that didn’t happen at all. In fact, in a synapse-defying act of cognitive dissonance, some of them actually went to their Facebook pages after Molyneux’s performance to express their pride that he had proven his innocence on Joe Rogan’s show. One of them said this: “Stefan Molyneux faced the Indictments of his accusers and answered them openly and honestly. Even with all the Lies and manipulation his integrity shines through it. Point for point he defended the arguments he has tirelessly worked to put forth.”
I am not making this up.
It’s almost as if they have a connection to Molyneux that is deeper and more emotional than ethics and philosophy. But to discuss what that might be, we would have to bring up the “C” word. And that is another story.
For today, here endeth the tale.
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References and stuff (More will be added as they appear)
The original Joe Rogan interview:
Joe Rogan, Stefan Molyneux Lied To You About DeFOO!
Stefan Molyneux Lies to Joe Rogan
Stefan Molyneux lies to Joe Rogan About His Wife’s Licence Suspension
Hey! You know where I said everybody was missing the point? The one about how Molyneux is an ethicist who believes you can invalidate what an ethicist says if his actions aren’t consistent with his theories? Well, I was wrong. PhilosophyLines not only made the argument first but also beat me to it with the proof, to wit: “…thus, proving moral inconsistencies in the life of a moralist is sufficient cause to reject his arguments as a whole.” Way to go, PhilosophyLines. Smarty-pants.
Joe Rogan & Ana Kasparian Discuss Stefan Molyneux’s Insane Comments
(This video was released the day after Rogan’s interview with Molyneux (although it may have been recorded prior to that interview. Rogan’s opinion of Molyneux? “If you listen to him, you’re dumb.”)
Other lies (hat tip to Anarchist and plateofshrimp on the FDRL Forum):
Molyneux told Rogan that he has mentioned the idea of defoo “only 3 or 4 times. It is not central.”
From Molyneux FDR Podcast #589, “Examining the Family…”:
19:29: And so defooing is a very core part of achieving freedom. It is the ultimate secession. It’s the ultimate emancipation. For bad parents, I mean everyone knows that, right*?
And if achieved and talked about—not immediately, it takes a long time—but if achieved and talked about, it is, I think, the most powerful way to begin to crack this biosphere, this diamond hard biosphere of the family.
*Every so often during his podcasts, Molyneux will throw in a qualifier like this. However, as you’ll see in the quotes from his essays below, he considers nearly all parents to be “bad parents”!
Same podcast, Molyneux talking about his ultimate solution for converting the world to anarchocapitalism. The “oldest dictatorship” he is talking about is the family:
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 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.
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.
Excerpts from Molyneux essay “Why The World Is Sick”
So – my wife is right, and I am right. The world is sick because of the family, and the family is sick because fantasies have taken the place of philosophy. To save the world, we need better parenting – and to save parents, we need true philosophy
Like all bad people, the only thing that parents have to offer their children is: relief from a pain that the parents themselves are inflicting. In other words, like priests, parents provoke guilt, and then offer relief from that guilt in return for slavish obedience.
Excerpts from Molyneux essay “Are People Just Stupid?”
So face it: your parents were bullies, or weak curriers of favour, or manipulative emotional infants themselves.
There are only a few possible responses to modern parents:
- Empty conformity
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.
Does this sound too radical? Do you think it extreme for me to say that almost all parents are horribly bad? Perhaps it is. However, if you look at the state of the world – the general blindness and the slow death of our liberties – the challenge you take on by disagreeing with me is this: if it’s not the parents, what is it?
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. If you can do that, you can speak honestly about freedom.
If you can’t, well, then you have no right to complain about the government. You can’t ask people to give up their illusions about remote political tyrannies if you can’t escape your own domestic tyrants.
Molyneux denied recommending defoo to others, and denied ever comparing childhood to prisons!
From Molyneux FDR Podcast #211, (Childhood Prisons [yes, that’s right. He made an entire podcast about it]):
28:50…Our childhoods—our collective childhoods were prisons. And I know I’m going to get even more emails about this…’Oh, I had a good relationship with my mom and dad.’ ‘Oh, they were fine.’ ‘They were this’ and ‘They were that’…
No. I’m sorry. I gotta tell you, and I hate to say it because I don’t mean to be a bully, but you’re wrong.