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Stefan Molyneux: Part One

Stefan Molyneux 2014-02-10.jpg

Insofar as any individual is THE public voice and face of anarcho-capitalism these days, it is not me (alas) but Stefan Molyneux.

Be sure to spell his first name properly when looking for information about him. Though there is a well-known Stephen Molyneux, he's different person.

At any rate, Stefan's rise to prominence has made me grateful that I am no longer editor of a publication on anarcho-cap and related subjects. Were I still at The Pragmatist, I would be expected to say something about him. And the sort of thing one can say must be either (a) ranks-closed against the mutual statist foe, or (b) shocking/edgy/pointed. My own reaction falls between the two stools.

I have had no journalistic responsibilities within the world of libertarian and anarcho-capitalistic theorising since well before 2005, the year Molyneux founded what has been his punditry base ever since, FreeDomain Radio, out of Ontario.

I fear that Molyneux, on balance, harmed rather than advanced the cause of anarcho-capitalism by mixing it up in the minds of those he reached with ideas about FOO and DeFOO which  made him sound a lot like a cult leader.

For the uninitiated, FOO stands for "family of origin," .... and the idea is that anarcho-capitalists should think of themselves as each other's real family, and should be able to DeFOO -- purge from their lives the bad influence of Mom, Dad, bro, sis, and so forth.

The idea gets special bite because it is linked in Molyneux's mind with a Freudian and misogynistic view of psychology. In 2014 TIME quoted Molyneux thus"If we could just get people to be nice to their babies for five years straight, that would be it for war, drug abuse, addiction, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, ... Almost all would be completely eliminated, because they all arise from dysfunctional early childhood experiences, which are all run by women." 

He sees De-FOOing as the proper course not just for particular individuals but as a general matter, because as he has also said, "I do not believe that there are any really good parents out there -- the same way I do not believe that there were any really good doctors in the 10th century." 

Anarcho-capitalism would be better off without any admixture of that, surely. 

What can be said in Molyneux's favor? Well ... he has a vivid way with stating the critical truth that the wearing of a uniform doesn't turn wrong into right or vice versa. I'll go back to the well for another quote:

"A man goes to a foreign country and kills someone who is not aggressing against him. In a Hawaiian shirt he's a criminal, in a green costume he's a hero who gets a parade and a pension. So that, as a culture, we remain in a state of moral insanity. To point out these contradictions to people in society is to be labelled insane." 

So can I leave it at that? Alas, no. There is a good deal more that might be said about Molyneux. He claims to be a systematic philosopher, and has offered a theory of the foundations of morality pitched at a properly abstract level.  I'll say something (though not much) about THAT tomorrow. 


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