Sunday, 27 September 2009

With friends like Molyneux, who needs enemies?

According to Canadian anarcho-capitalist Stefan Molyneux, the election of any Libertarian political administration will be a "disaster" that will set back the cause of liberty by decades, if not hundreds of years.

If one thing is obvious from this video, its that Molyneux loves his Straw Men. He has to draw an absurd caricature of Limited Government advocates in order to convince us to give up politics and start wagging our fingers at politicians instead.

As we all know, finger wagging and saying "YOU'RE EVIL" in a really stern voice is the best way to combat the police state.

He admits candidly that we are "not going to see anarchy in our lifetimes". So far, so good. If you he would just admit that we are not going to see anarchy anytime before the sun expands into a red giant and scorches the Earth into a burnt cinder we would be in complete agreement.

In order to arrive at absurd conclusions, Molyneux needs to start with some absurd and counter-factual premises:

1. Limited Government advocates want to use government to reduce government.

Apparently, Molyneux has never heard of the Militia Movement in the United States.

He chooses to ignore the fact that private citizens in America are arming themselves at record levels since Obama was sworn in. They are not planning to initiate force against the government, but they are ready to actively resist any dictatorial measures imposed.

Molyneux forgets that the militia and "WE THE PEOPLE" are specifically mentioned in the US constitution as THE check on government abuses. The separation of powers within government is only a minor detail by comparison.

As Thomas Jefferson pointed out, when the people fear the government there is tyranny, but when government FEARS THE PEOPLE there is liberty.

Resistance to government itself must lie OUTSIDE government and translates itself into civil disobediance (e.g. nonpayment of taxes), peaceful protest (demos) and (in extremis) armed resistance.

2. Government hasn't got any smaller anywhere, ever.

Strangely enough, there was no mention of the Soviet Union and its east European satellites in Molyneux's rant. I wonder why?

In terms of "big government" you can't get much bigger than 100% of all legal commerce, right?

Yet the almighty Soviet Bloc collapsed. The state actually GOT SMALLER.

It is also really odd that Molyneux never mentions Somalia in his diatribe. If any country has come close to having "no government", the post Siad Barre chapter in Somalia's history is a fascinating study of what happens when a power vacuum arises.

3. "Kindergarden Ethics" is a guide to human behaviour.

Don't initiate force against others. Don't steal. If only everyone would live by those two maxims, there would be no need for a state, opines Molyneux.

Quite so, and if my uncle was a woman, he would be my auntie. What does that prove?

Anarchists forget that Kindergarden Ethics didn't even work in Kindergarden. Ethics is the benchmark of human behaviour, not an analysis of how people actually behave.

MOTIVE and OPPORTUNITY are the key principles for understanding human behaviour. Not ethics.

If I am determined to steal Molyneux's wallet, no ammount of moralising will persuade me not to.

He can wag his finger at me, tell me not to steal, look me in the eye and call me "EVIL" all he likes, but unless he PHYSICALLY PREVENTS ME from stealing his wallet or there is some other form of SANCTION or countervailing THREAT, I'll do it.

For all the flaws in this video, he does make ONE very good point. That point is that the existing state institutions have embedded themselves so deeply in society that reform is no easy task.


Roger Thornhill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Citizen Stuart said...

He's very long-winded, isn't he? He also seems completely ignorant of successful privatisations of the past which haven't led to the kind of large-scale Doomsday type violence he imagines. So he thinks if the US government privatised the post office, they'd go on stike and people wouldn't get their welfare cheques? I imagine private courier companies would be queueing up to fill that gap!

sound money man said...

Good point Stuart. British Telecom was privatised and its monopoly withdrawn with barely a murmur. The Army simply weren't required.

Pep said...

"I imagine private courier companies would be queueing up to fill that gap!"

There is some irony in that.

There is legitimate reason to question his projection of 'Ron Paul Supporters' as this is a generalization/stereotype.

Stefan's points on principle are correct. At any given point, there will be more of a task ahead to create individual liberty.

To the extent that he argues against expecting someone else to free you via some political solution, or argues against the notion that some specific level of government is the limit at which one should fight for liberty, he is correct.

Stefan is incorrect for suggesting that privatization will automatically lead to failure: His entire point is predicated on conflicting arguments, because he truly wants to make the individualism argument but gets snared by looking at the 'mess' associated with such an action and decrying the effort altogether.

If you're offended by what he says, I think that's a good thing, but you should understand why it offends you rather than using ad hominem attacks like 'long-winded'.

Challenge and dissent are core values for true advocates of libertarianism.

dvide said...

You only argue from a utilitarian perspective and miss the important principles involved. A state of any size is illegitimate because it must initiate force on peaceful people. Your own party website links to the philosophy of liberty video; don't contradict it.