What’s on Molyneux’s mind?

Criticizing the  Bible is all to easy.
It might be  a good motivation to write for some, but I don’t find  it interesting by itself. Therefore I am rewriting a post  that I had in the make about the bible, as I want to focus on storytelling and narrative instead of what a colleague of mine called bible thumping. My aim is to try and learn about storytelling and narratives and the bible, being a source and inspiration for many (tall) tales, would be a great book to use as an angle. Perhaps too great.
A few weeks ago I started to do the rework and I decided to start You Tube because I usually have some music or documentary in the background when working on something. When it started, You Tube offers suggestions and one of these was a movie called: the end of the world.I looked at the link.
It was a podcast by Stefan Molyneux.
I did not want to watch because he upsets me, but I also wanted to give the man a fair chance.  I thought: perhaps I am biased, so let’s hear what he has to say.
He managed to annoy from the get go.
The next line is not exactly the first sentence of the podcast, but it is close and it is the sentence that sets the tone for the rest of his forty minutes podcast:

“It is hard for me[]to think of a group or a culture or a country with really divergent cultures that gets along hunky dory and integrates[].. You got Ireland, you got Kosovo and you got various places in Africa with tribal warfare. You have racial gangs in prison.”
(Stefan Molyneux, The end of the World. 12  seconds into the podcast)

And Molyneux is pretty honest about himself: he has a hard time to think. So let’s help him think:

1  Wine and water mix!

Imagine Stefan walking on a sandy beach on a balmy summer morning. The weather is pleasant so he walks barefooted into the surf. Then his big toe bumps into something. It is a flask filled with a red fluid and he picks it up. From the shape of the flask and the cork he figures that is must be wine.. He tries to pull out the cork, and with a hard twist he succeeds, but then the flask escapes his grasp and falls into the sea. He quickly grabs for it, but the waves toss the flask around and he pushes it under the water several times before he can retrieve it from the sea. Once he has the flask he tries to drink from it. But he spits out the fluid, for all he tastes is the sea water. And Stefan wonders: where is the wine?

Stefan, cultures tend to mix. If you are trying to find really divergent cultures that work together you will have hard time to find them because cultures tend to influence each other and mix and eventually flow together. It is like stating that you can not find a bottle containing a separate part of wine and a separate part of water.  You can’t Stefan, because they mix. And the sea contains a lot of salt water.. and the wine in the flask is just a tiny drop in the ocean. That is why you no longer taste it. Just so you know the next time you have a hard time thinking.

2  Sea Water is not wine!

Stefan takes his wine flask containing the seawater to a barman down the beach. He shows the flask to the barman and asks: “Is this a wine flask?”
The barman – an expert in his business – takes a close look and then nods; “That it is indeed a wine-flask. I would say – reading from the label – that it is a Pinot Noir.” (He is that good).
“Then,” Stefan concludes, “it is wine!” And Stefan takes a big swig from the flask and then spits it out again for the fluid inside still tastes like salt water.
“Sir…seawater is seawater regardless of the container that holds it,” The barman says with a suppressed smile, “seawater won’t become wine simply because a wine flask holds it!”

See Stefan, If a really divergent culture is defined as a culture that cannot abide another culture then you just made a watertight but pointless premise. For if it does tolerate another culture.. it isn’t really divergent.  And voila.. the logic is inescapable. Seawater is seawater not matter what and if it is not seawater.. it’s not seawater. Brilliant! And pointless.

3 Removing sea water from a wine flask does not make the wine appear.

“Then, ” Stefan says, “I get rid of the salt water!”  And Stefan turns the wine flask upside down and lets the water run away.
He then takes another drink, but after a moment he puts down the bottle and says, “Where is the wine?”
And the barman says, “But Stefan, removing the seawater does not make the wine appear. It just makes for an empty flask.”
“I see, ” Stefan says, “I guess I wasn’t thinking.”

Stefan, what examples do you come up with? Ireland, Kosovo and some African countries.
Let’s pick Ireland.  You mean Northern Ireland. Are we talking about really divergent cultures here? Really Stefan? Are the parties involved so really divergent culturally that it explains the conflict? Then allow me to give an example of some ‘really divergent’ cultures that do work together as you have a hard time of thinking of them.
One is called the European Union. You remember those world wars that started in Europe?  The Union exists also to avoid a war between such ‘really divergent’ cultures as say: France(mostly catholic) and Germany(mostly protestant).
You think the European Union is not a good example(and I bet you do)? Then let’s have a look at my country, the Netherlands: partly protestant, partly catholic and even partly non christian. I can not recall the last time Dutch protestants were blowing up  Dutch Catholics here.. perhaps you should remind me?  But if you are about to make your case anyway.. perhaps you could explain how it can be that the Frisians aren’t killing the rest of us, because they are defined as having their own culture and if they aren’t ‘really divergent’ culturally from the rest of the country, then I wouldn’t know who would be ‘really divergent’ culturally.
Oh wait.. not a good example either? Then your Ireland example isn’t one either. Or would you claim that the parties that oppose each-other in Northern Ireland are more divergent culturally than the Catholics and the protestants are in the Netherlands? Or the Frisians from the rest of the country?  Or France from Germany, countries that speak different languages and have their own centuries old literature?
Of course you would. The latter are not really divergent culturally because they don’t kill each other, but those in Northern Ireland are because they did once kill one another. Hence your premise remains true no matter what. If they kill people it is because they are really divergent, if they don’t, the culture isn’t really divergent.
Perhaps you might not be aware of the fact that a fragile peace exists in Northern Ireland since 2001. Maybe you forgot? You should look it up:  the troubles.
But even if they start killing each other in abundance, you should be aware that the majority of all these people live together without killing each other. Yes Stefan.. people are not so hell bend on violence as you deem them to be.

4 Are there traces of divergent cultures living together?

Well, point 1 and 2 makes it hard to find them, but let’s have a look at the biggest melting pot in the history of the world: the US of A. You know that country next to yours? If you take a look at the history of the United States you will find people and groups from diverse cultures and backgrounds work and live together without trying to blow each-other up. But then these are not really divergent cultures because they are not killing each other. Except for the gangs in prison of course, those are really divergent cultures because they kill people(mostly among their own kind of people(gangs).. so how would that fit in your picture?), while those not in prison and not killing each other are not really divergent. A water tight case: if they kill people they are really divergent, if they do not kill others, they are not.

Stefan, we are all living in various social constructions were various cultures live together. And perhaps you might have forgotten that we all live on a one planet with seven billion people of which most are not blowing up other people. Perhaps you should not only focus on the items that are in the head lines or on the front pages. These are by nature sensational and usually limited in background information. Just repeating them without thinking makes you look shallow.

But it doesn’t really matter does it?

It doesn’t, because the statement is just an angle to argue your case against state(and family and women). It is a rhetorical device. Like Cato used. You know Cato? I bet you do. And if not: you should look him up. He used the tactic you use: repeating the same thing over and over regardless of  whether it was appropriate to what was talked about:
Carthago must be destroyed.
Carthago must be destroyed!
And that is what you do: repeat the same thing over and over regardless of context or logic: the state must be destroyed!
For the state sucks! And it sucks because you claim that taxes are blackmail and gets used to line the pockets of  the parasites that use the state to enrich themselves and who mismanage everything and hinder progress.  And that is why the state should go: so you don’t need to pay them taxes. For you hate taxes. Yeah, for paying taxes sucks! Get over it.

Stefan Molyneux! Because paying taxes sucks!


Philosophy is like lighting a room with cigarettes: not very practical and possibly unhealthy(and it makes you smell bad).  It is a bit of a forced statement, but it reflects how I feel after having seen some philosophical discussions. These discussions tend to become quoting contests in which the one who can quote the best or the most wins the contest. And I suck at remembering quotes, that is why I prefer to make them up myself.

I guess that philosophy might have it’s uses, but it can be used to reason the non-existent into existence and that is why it sucks as well. The apologist William Lane Craig gives a showcase example of reasoning a fictitious being into existence.  It his god of course, not yours(because only his god can be reasoned into existence). A philosopher isn’t required to give proof, he is just required to string words into sentences that sound okay. It is why religion likes to don the cloak of philosophy, because in philosophy, like in religion, anything can be said and nothing needs to make sense because nobody can agree on what sense is..

Another example is the ‘philosopher’ Stefan Molyneux. He is styled as an anarcho-capitalist or styles himself that way. Molyneux strikes me as a spokesman for the disgruntled members of the lower middle class and those teens who think Ayn Rand’s writings are pearls of wisdom. While the teens might eventually grow out of their fantasies, the disgruntled ones are condemned  to perpetual wailing because they have to pay taxes each and every year and everyone knows: paying taxes sucks..

In anarcho-capitalism the state is evil because it amasses wealth and power and gives that to a selected group of people who use it for their own selfish goals. These people are called politicians and they are as dangerous as the Illuminati are and probably in league with them! Therefore the state should be abolished. Those who hold to Ayn Rand’s writings will readily agree because Rand sees the state as parasite limiting progress.. And of course a lot of tax payers agree as well, because they don’t want to pay taxes and without a state you don’t need to pay no taxes. Cause you know: paying taxes sucks!

Of course, someone must have asked at one moment: “but who is going to take care of all the stuff that the state does?”
“Like what?” (insert condescending tone).
“Like education, research, exploration of the universe(nasa), firefighting, policing, health care, the furtherance of the common good, protecting the weak, feeding the poor, disaster relief, providing justice, maintaining the infrastructure, settling disputes, sponsoring art, protecting the environment, protecting historical sites, making sure that the coin in your hand is worth something tomorrow and..”
And there is the solution. The free market will arrange everything through the never failing system of supply and demand all perfectly organized and overseen by companies who are, of course, pinnacles of talent promotion and efficiency. And so the people don’t have to pay taxes anymore because the free market will take care of everything that you paid taxes for. So you don’t need to pay taxes anymore cause: paying taxes sucks!

But even the likes of a Molyneux realize that unbridled capitalism might not solve everything and so they start reasoning things into existence. First they come up with voluntary organisations that will regulate the market based on voluntary participation and arbitration.  Next they give limitless self healing properties to the free market in which the consumer, well informed through the internet, will punish those companies that  fail to meet standards by no longer buying from them. Companies will deliver these services off course against cut-throat prices thanks to the power of the internet and all will be well, so we don’t need to pay taxes. Cause you know: paying taxes sucks!

Happiness becomes a commodity and profits and margins become the main principles for making decisions. And if you  fall by the wayside because you happen to be too poor to pay for education, too ill to work for your money, too crazy  to make sense or just someone who can’t keep up with the rat race: though luck, live is a bitch. I don’t  care as long as I don’t have to pay taxes! Cause paying taxes sucks!

“But uh…, what happens if  that someone then is going to get a gun and rob you or goes on a killing spree? To get the things through violence?  Who is going to prevent him or her from doing so?”
And now Molyneux turns into an advocate of the  extreme interpretation of 2nd amendment: everyone gets to have a gun. And he sees firms and organisations of armed people protecting each other, protecting of course, not robbing or blackmailing or racketeering.  Not like those gangs do, but benevolent voluntary organisations of the kind that you have never seen in the course of history.  Thus society becomes an armed society in which anyone can be shot by anyone, especially when they suck or nobody is watching or they are outgunned a hundred to one. Is that the wild west? Yes.. But who cares… as long as I don’t have to pay taxes. Cause paying taxes sucks!

“But what happens when a foreign country makes use of the now largely disorganized organisation of this country?”
“We have an army of volunteers to protect us against foreign aggression.”
“Just like they had at the start of the American Revolution?”
“Like that army made up of local militias that was unable to defeat the English until it was reformed into the continental army?”
“So why would that work now?”
“Because of the internet.”
“Say what?”
“Because the internet makes everything different.”
“I see.”
Of course anarcho-capitalists will play the internet card again and again.
“Who will prevent those abuses that unbridled capitalism caused in the 19th century such as working days of 14 hours or more?”
“The internet!”
“What about the abuses that now occur in some countries where some people and even children are treated as no better than slaves?”
“The internet!”
“What if a company pollutes a place and pays off people or just moves elsewhere rather than cleaning up or changing their production methods?”
“The internet!”
“What if companies form a monopoly?”
“The internet!”
Monopolies are a cause for reasoning things into existence. Both Molyneux and Ayn Rand follow two tracks:  they attack government and babble. Rand goes on a tangent arguing that it is governments that cause monopolies and she finds ample proof in history.  Of course she does. History is full of bad behaving governments(and companies). When however she has to argue how this not will happen  with a truly free market economy she has only on thing to offer: trust me on my word.  And so does Molyneux. You see, as much as Rand and Molyneux give examples of how monopolies were caused by states or the law,  they can not give you any proof that a free market prevents them, because there has never been a free market economy such as they want: one without state interference, and therefore they have no proof to offer. And if they can argue a perfect system into existence based on zero proof then any system, including those that did exist and failed(communism, absolutism and fascism) can be declared to be perfect by downplaying the parts that are not.  So just take their word for it because when you do you no longer need to pay taxes. Cause you know….Yeah, you know the drill.

It is funny that the internet actually started out as a government project. Would a company have been able to do it? Let’s have that answered by Neil deGrasse Tyson when he is talking about space exploration.  He is asked in his reading about his book on the video: The History and Future of NASA and Space Travel: Neil deGrasse Tyson – Space Chronicles (2012) whether private enterprise could have done it and he answers that private enterprise requires investors who want to see a return of investment that can be quantified. And the frontier of (space) exploration poses unquantifiable dangers to investment and therefore will scare away investors.  Exploration has always been something  that governments have done and  companies come in after to reap the benefits.  Nothing wrong with that, but that is the way it has worked and not the other way around. Be sure that anarcho-capitalism will not be a way to the stars: there is no profit in it. But who cares about the stars anyway.. as long as you don’t have to pay taxes.
Would the internet have come about without the state? It might have, but it also very likely it wouldn’t.

There is no perfect system because every system can be abused, twisted and corrupted because every system is a system made by fallible humans, but people want to find this self-healing perfect system(so they don’t have to pay taxes) and the likes of Molyneux  cater to that desire by dreaming up perfect systems out of thin air. It is perfect, because it hasn’t existed and thus has not been tarnished by reality. And it will never exist. It is a philosopher’s stone.  That is the power of philosophy. It creates things that do not exist: gods or stateless non coercive societies based on market capitalism.  And history be damned! For history sucks. Just like paying taxes does.

Did I tell you I was an historian?