Is this someone to emulate? Dismiss? His views are very challenging but he has a big following on the web. Seems very smart, but also weird in places. I like him, but can’t make up my mind. I heard him bashing Ron Paul and that almost made me dismiss him outright. Your thoughts?
Stefan Molyneux is one of the most interesting people I’ve found on the web over the past few years. He’s an entrepreneur, philosopher, economics and political researcher, author, speaker and a leading libertarian (anarcho-capitalist) activist. His radio podcast at FreeDomainRadio.com is almost certainly the world’s #1 most listened-to PHILOSOPHY show whose aggregate downloads are somewhere between 50 and 100 MILLION (!) at the time of this writing. He’s also a frequent guest on radio and TV shows as well as an in-demand speaker at various events and universities. He’s known for his incredibly incisive and humorous-but-dead-serious commentaries on everything from parenting to politics, while his economic research and hyper-rational conclusions won him respect from a number of “professional” economists and historians, among them even some in the mainstream.
To say he’s an internet “phenomenon” would be something of an understatement. In a recent poll of the most influential libertarian thinkers of our time (The 2012 Liberty Inspiration Award) he beat out not only the likes of Tom Woods, but also – incredibly – Ron Paul (which I would NOT agree with for the simple reason that neither he nor Woods, nor any other libertarian would have a leg to stand on – in “popularity” terms – without Ron Paul’s incredible worldwide influence).
But he is also not without some controversy. Some of his authoritative pronouncements have ruffled many feathers, even among his supporters.
- At one point he embarked on an attack on Ron Paul for being inconsistent, pointing out that while he decried government subsidies as a Congressman, he always brought home the bacon to his constituents anyway! Many of his libertarian followers got tremendously put off by that, especially because Ron Paul has addressed that accusation head on some time prior, making it clear that he had to operate within the system in order to get re-elected and continue being able to spread the freedom message on the national platform. It’s one thing to be idealistic, and another to be impractical. Molyneux stance on Ron Paul has since softened greatly, but I have yet to find a retraction.
- Another Molyneux position which has upset a great deal of his followers (not enough to make most of them abandon him, though) is his uncompromising, some would say self-righteous, stance on non-violent upbringing of children. While just about everyone who hears and absorbs his argument “must” agree that it makes perfect sense and should indeed be embraced, his scathing and UNCOMPROMISING critiques of parents who might only have raised their voice without ever even resorting to spanking, have often been perceived as FANATICAL to the point of revealing his own unresolved childhood issues. Some of his followers are also mystified by what is sometimes perceived as his love-hate relationship with women. In one breath he praises and elevates them, and in another he makes them out to be unreasonably villainous, as if lashing out against his own childhood experiences. The fact is that his critiques actually target the Nanny State’s role in perverting the role of women (and men!) in our society, but this is often lost on his critics.
- His attacks on religion and near-fanatical defense of science are also sometimes seen as too dogmatic and selective. Also his philosophical credentials are those of a self-taught philosopher (nothing wrong with that, of course, but critics will always point this out). While he has no problem rejecting “some” mainstream positions on grounds of manipulated or politicized inputs, he embraces others, seemingly without question. While insisting on “evidence” for any position, he appears to entirely dismiss available evidence for positions he doesn’t support. For example, his rejection of “God” equates to his rejection of ANY non-material phenomena, right down to the point of criticizing agnostics for sitting on the fence about all things spiritual, which in his world, have no rational reason to exist.
Like each and everyone of us, he’s flawed. But unlike most of us, he’s also a brilliant and incisive thinker, who devotes his life and endless energy to tireless research, education and selfless spreading of the values of FREEDOM. His influence is, quite simply, profound. Considering his unassuming background and his limited means of communication, it is nothing short of mind-boggling just how influential he has become without ANY support from the mainstream establishment. And his message of freedom and non-violence resonates with increasing numbers of people. While not in the same “popularity league” as, say, Ron Paul, he’s one of the most likely modern intellectual leaders to carry that torch forward.
“Philosophically” speaking, Stefan’s knowledge of the subject is extensive and his arguments are very logically sound (save for the occasional hint of dogmaticism). On balance, and without any reservations, I would recommend him to anyone, and strongly suggest supporting him with your donations as well (everything he does is offered for 100% FREE with no strings attached!)
Stefan Molyneux’ Free Domain Radio