FDR Controversy Part 2: A “brief” misrepresentation of FDR

FDRLiberated.com appears to be the most coherent collection of information regarding the “big picture” about Freedomain Radio, but judging from this “brief introduction” which I wish to respond to here, it begins to seem more like an anti-FDR web site that politely presents some rather impolite ideas about it. It is not that these ideas are impolite simply because they are critical or negative towards FDR, but because they are, at least or especially in this “brief introduction”, presented like a one sided story without much references to evidence short of a link to a mess that is the Liberated Minds forum (hosting all kinds of fragmented opinions from different people some of which I’ve addressed in part 1).

The author of FDRLiberated is quoted as saying that he “consistently [re-reads his] little articles for language [he] think is outrageous or unfounded”, but unfortunately I am beginning to suspect that these supposed advances of politeness and balanced attitude are just attempts to lend some credence to what is otherwise a thinly veiled smear campaign.

Still, given that claim one could expect that an article I am responding to right now is not gonna be the same article some time later as he continues to edit them, so I will include the current revision as a quote below, just so there is no confusion as to what I’m addressing.

He begins the article by essentially identifying his audience:

Whether you found this blog as a parent or family member wondering what happened to your loved one, or you are someone intrigued by the ideas of FDR and considering joining the community (as I once was), I offer you the big picture.

On the homepage he also identifies his audience as:

  • * family member or friend who has been defooed and looking for answers
  • * member of the press trying to unravel the mysteries of FDR
  • * someone considering joining the FDR community

Combining this with the overall tone of the article makes it hard to not see this as anything else other than an attempt to completely sway people from even giving FDR a chance, provide some additional reason to certain parents or people who have had someone terminate their relationship with them with more reason to be mad at FDR and provide the media with some additional juicy controversy to write about. Yet the article has no references to evidence, only a story, all ready to go with all of it’s conclusions hereby branded as “the big picture”.

So the baseless accusations start with:

Stefan Molyneux has long been associated with the Libertarian community. His goal has always been to be recognized as a person of importance.

As if the author knows all of Molyneux’ motivations throughout his life. This kind of a generalized statement has no place in what is supposed to be a factual article backed by evidence, but indeed this article is not such.

Upon explaining what libertarianism is, he continues to analyze Stefan Molyneux starting with concessions to his explaining ability and brilliance and then continuing with what can easily be explained as FUD.

As wikipedia describes, “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) is a tactic of rhetoric and fallacy used in sales, marketing, public relations, politics and propaganda. FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence public perception by disseminating negative information designed to undermine the credibility of their beliefs.”

This perfectly describes what is being done in this section which is filled with arbitrary conjecture. He first brings up Stefan’s tendency to not cite his exact sources posing questions which imply that Stefan may be “simply addicted to the accolades from his less-well-read followers”. He then proceeds to describe how Molyneux’ tendency to combine various fields which he names as politics, philosophy, psychology, economics, relationships, and religion must mean that in Molyneux’ head (as if the author knows exactly what is going on in Molynex’ head) all these areas are tied up into “one cohesive truth” that everyone who agrees to any of his ideas must accept as a whole.

Of course, this was all serving as the follow up to the conclusion that Stefan Molyneux is an accolades craving psychologizing manipulator who believes he has what the author terms as “the very key to existence” and an “unified theory of the universe (that only the leader knows and offers to his followers as the key to happiness)” which just coincidentally happens to be what “nearly every other cult leader has in common”. But no he wont tell you outright if FDR is a cult or not, but he doesn’t really have to because in so many words it is already utterly clear what he thinks and wants you to think as well.

To illustrate just how ridiculous this line of reasoning is consider his jump from tying politics, philosophy, psychology, economics, relationships and religion into “one cohesive truth” to calling this a “unified theory of the universe”. As anyone who has read anything about science knows, there are various pursuits of the unified theory of the universe and neither of them involve solely these areas mentioned and certainly cannot be without one crucial field which Stefan Molyneux certainly is not about and never claims to be: physics. So how can he possibly have a unified theory of the universe without physics?

In the second section he describes defooing and the same style of argumentation continues. He starts with a staggering statement:

Another significant Molyneux idea–one that has caused immeasurable suffering within the afflicated families–is that family relationships are voluntary.

I am almost at a loss for words on this one. Apparently it is the idea that family relationships are voluntary which is responsible for immeasurable suffering within the “afflicted families”. From such a statement one can only conclude that for such suffering to not be present such relationships must in some way be coercive or imposed. Yet this is apparently not the position he takes as he in the second paragraph and in parenthesis states that for what it’s worth he believes in voluntary family relationships.

However, the contradictions continue alternating since if he truly believes such relationships are voluntary then he would respect every choice people in such relationships make with regards to them and not imply that they have a freedom to exit such relationship only in some arbitrarily determined “extreme cases”. Of course if he would consistently take such a position his FUD campaign against FDR and Stefan Molyneux would lose quite a bit of thrust.

Instead he refers to Stefan Molyneux’ book “On Truth: The Tyranny of Illusion” (without naming the whole title) to point out that Stefan apparently “tries to tell you that your parents are liars and bullies if they believe in government or religion” and that “your childhood was a prison and you are a victim of abuse”. Now it’s easy to see how this provides some rocket fuel to his ongoing flame against Stefan Molyneux. However, this is coming from a self professed libertarian, someone who believes initiation of force is wrong.

Unfortunately this hits on a sadly recurring theme in the libertarian movement, a problem that coincidentally Stefan Molyneux has been most vocal in targeting head on; and that is the consistent application of libertarian principles in every day life and to personal relationships where such application is possible (without threats of violence). (Wilton D. Alston has recently wrote an excellent piece on this topic aptly titled “Do You Really Want Freedom, Or Are You Just Kidding Yourself?”).

If you believe initiation of force is wrong you by definition consider someone who supports it to support something unethical, no matter who that was. Are parents somehow to be excluded from this? What about siblings or friends? If they are to be excluded then why not arbitrarily exclude everyone else whom we wish? How exactly do these libertarians plan on achieving their freedom if they are not only afraid, but so hypocritically hostile to even suggestions of applying the core libertarian principle to their own lives?

Instead they somehow find it perfectly fine for a son or daughter who discovers the moral problem with the initiation of violence to see their parents support of same violence as somehow acceptable. Yet these are their very own parents and their own family. The same reason why they decry the termination of such familiar relationships as somehow cruel is the reason why it is exactly these relationships which ought to be examined first with regards to the moral and other support of initiation of violence. It is in these relationships in which a person is most vulnerable.

What about religion? In Stefan’s view religious beliefs are defined as superstitions, beliefs based solely on faith towards certain revelations in certain mythical books. One may disagree with this exact definition, but this is the definition he seems to use consistently throughout his work and serves to understand what exactly is he condemning when he condemns religious parents.

Libertarians, those oh so principled libertarians, are also on about their opposition to initiation of fraud or cheating someone out of something or into something. Some of them equate the fraud offense with the force offense and some do not, however hardly anyone believes that cheating and dishonesty are virtues to be defended. So when Stefan Molyneux judges parents as abusing their children when teaching them certain religious beliefs he is referring to exactly the fraud that is perpetrated by such acts. The child is a natural explorer, like a little scientist. In its very early age (s)he truly has integrity. She does not escape expressions of what she feels nor suppresses what she senses. She thinks naturally and has no built in cultural or societal paradigms of thinking.

When such a child is then exposed to claims of truthful existence of that which she cannot possibly perceive and is asked to somehow communicate with (pray) or obey that something under threats of being considered evil and outcast not to mention the horrifying threats of hell and certain eternal death, that is not only a clear case of fraud given that parents whom teach a child such nonsense cannot provide the child any real evidence of what they claim, especially evidence that a child can understand, but it is also a case of emotional manipulation and intimidation that given it is inflicted at such early age is bound to leave lasting consequences.

Yet of course, this type of abuse is so common and widely accepted today that someone suggesting it is actually a very real type of abuse worthy of critical examination, the whole world frowns and libertarians, the very ones who are supposed to be understanding towards these types of things, join in the chastisement.

Typically, I myself may be now accused of falling for some sort of a cult manipulation for saying such things. Of course, no way that I could actually be telling what I see as an honest truth that I understood on my own volition. I must be intellectually inept and susceptible to manipulation. Everything, just don’t let me be right.

And this really seems to strike at the very core of this controversy. It is really pitifully said that there are libertarians who would rather engage in a smear campaign on the basis of these ideas considering them somehow sick and twisted rather than try to understand what is it that they are getting at.

In any case, this “brief introduction” article continues with more conjecturing telling an interesting story about a straw man he names Stefan Molyneux, a person whom, rather than for the above explained reasons, wrote the things he did in “On Truth” because he wishes to portray everyone who doesn’t believe in anarcho-capitalism as an abuser. A person who wishes everyone to break all of their relationships with anyone except other FDR members and singlehandedly guides them through this painful process. And a person who never devoted any podcasts to developing healthy relationships with your parents (yet he wrote a whole frakking book on exactly that topic; Real Time Relationships, which after identifying the problematic things about modern relationships offers a constructive framework of what truly loving relationships could and should be).

Ultimately, Stefan Molyneux is portrayed as nothing more than an entrepreneur whose goal is to manipulate people with his podcasts, books and conversations into buying his “truth package”. And apparently another piece of evidence is this hearsay I’m just supposed to take his word on, that most of this manipulation is happening, guess where? Where YOU and most people cannot see it and from where he coincidentally cannot provide much evidence. How convenient.

The final characterization of Stefan Molyneux may be most interesting of all – that he is the most loyal member of his own cult. He is supposedly somehow accidentally creating this cult without any real plan and deliberation because he truly believes in it. One could say Mr. QuestEon just “proved” his own theory wrong, for if there truly was no deliberate attempt on Molyneux’ part to create a cult that pretty much automatically blows most of the FACTnet’s cult warning signs out of the water since they depend on exactly the deliberate, dishonest and sinister manipulation.

At any rate this article is completely void of evidence and completely consisted of biased conjecture and unfounded claims. It effectively amounts to an interesting story to sell to the media and disgruntled mothers like Barbara Weed who supposedly love their children so much that they cannot respect their choices enough not to put their names and reputations through metaphorical mud that is the media hungry for the next scapegoat.

This article puts a bitter taste in my mouth and discourages me from addressing any of the other ones presented. However, I may still try, for the sake of being balanced. There are certain issues to be addressed and perspectives to be expressed with regards to one case to which critics have some shred of credible things to say; the UPB (not that they completely blow it out of the water).

Below is the quote of the entire article I was above responding to.

A brief introduction to FreeDomainRadio

Whether you found this blog as a parent or family member wondering what happened to your loved one, or you are someone intrigued by the ideas of FDR and considering joining the community (as I once was), I offer you the big picture.

Stefan Molyneux has long been associated with the Libertarian community. His goal has always been to be recognized as a person of importance.

If you’re new to all this, it’s easiest to think of Libertarians like the US Republican or Democrat parties–in that within each party you’ll find a range of liberal-to-conservative view points. In general, Liberatarians believe that government is never a solution to the problems that face us. Like US President Reagan, Libertarians believe the nine scariest words in the English language are, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

As I mentioned, however, there are a range of beliefs. On one end, you’ll find Libertarians who believe in small government (however they define that) and at the opposite end are those who believe in no government (anarcho-capitalists)–and everything in between. Some are atheists. Some believe in a Higher Power. Within Libertarianism, you’ll find many different views on economics. It’s a single word that covers a broad area of thinking.
On Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux is an atheist anarcho-capitalist. He received early notoriety as a great explainer of already existing concepts. Many of these early podcasts are downloadable from his site and from YouTube. In addition, some of his early papers are still on-line at reputable Liberatarian sites. Make no mistake, Molyneux is a brilliant man and an extraordinary teacher. He is very engaging and many people tend to connect with him on a personal and emotional level. While he has not made many original contributions to Libertarian thinking, the few he has made are typically grandiose (and usually preposterous).

Unfortunately, Molyneux often ignores the need to cite his influences or give references. As a result, many of his followers today–who came into FDR as a result of his podcasts–mistakenly believe that most of the ideas discussed originated with Molyneux. Is it plagarism? Well, Molyneux doesn’t specifically claim to be the author of those ideas. He simply discusses them–unattributed–with great passion and lets his acolytes draw their own conclusions.

This troubles me because there may be some deception or self-deception occurring here. In his passion, does Molyneux simply forget to attribute his sources? Or is he simply addicted to the accolades from his less-well-read followers?

Molyneux has a unified theory of the topics (politics, philosophy, psychology, economics, relationships, and religion) that he discusses on FDR. He expresses his views on each of those topics with great authority.

What’s important to know is that in Molyneux’s head, he has them all tied together as one cohesive truth. In other words, to accept Molyneux’s beliefs, you must accept his conclusions in all of these areas. If you do not, he typically attempts to demonstrate that some psychological flaw is preventing you from understanding the truth he is revealing. His critics often accuse him of psychologizing any detractors.

As a result of this unified truth, his followers don’t believe he’s just teaching them ideas about Libertarianism or philosophy–they believe (and he believes) he is giving them the very key to existence. Now, one can say he is a cult leader or one can say he is not a cult leader, but I know one thing–a unified theory of the universe (that only the leader knows and offers to his followers as the key to happiness) is something nearly every cult leader has in common.
Defooing and the break-up of families

Another significant Molyneux idea–one that has caused immeasurable suffering within the afflicated families–is that family relationships are voluntary. For example, you owe your parents nothing because you didn’t get to choose them. They freely accepted the positive obligation of birthing you, caring for you, teaching you about ethics, and sending you out into the world as a healthy adult.

That idea might be difficult for some to accept. (I believe it, for what it’s worth). But–in and of itself–it’s not the real problem of FDR. The problem is how Molyneux subverts it.

He has introduced into the FDR community the idea of defooing. In this case, FOO is the abbreviation of a common psychological term meaning “family of origin.” As you can imagine, a great deal of study in psychology is devoted to understanding how your family of origin shapes you.

Defooing, on the other hand, is purely a Molyneux term. It refers to completely leaving your family behind and having no further contact with them. Now, most psychologists do agree that a few family situations are so toxic, the most mentally healthy course for a patient is to separate from them. However, they also quickly point out that these are extreme cases and typically a great deal of counseling with the family is suggested before such an act.

Not so with FDR.

If you read the book “On Truth” by Molyneux, you’ll begin to understand how he truly views families, using arguments that (I believe) are without merit or substance both philosophically and psychologically. He tries to tell you that your parents are liars and bullies if they believe in government or religion. Your childhood was a prison and you are a victim of abuse.

Got that? If your parents believed in any kind of religion or government, you were a victim of abuse. Also, if your friends believe in either of those two concepts (which they nearly always do), they are corrupt and should likewise be abandoned. So, defooing really means getting rid of everyone.

He believes that the reason you struggle with accepting the truth and beauty of his version of an anarcho-capitalist society is a direct result of this abuse. You have accepted the role of slave. Only by throwing off the shackles will you find your way to freedom and happiness.

In this case, of course, the “shackles” are your current family and your current friends.

As I said before, one can say he is a cult leader or one can say he is not a cult leader, but I know another thing–convincing one’s followers of the need to separate from their family and friends and associate only with other members of the group is something nearly every cult leader also has in common.

One more thing about this defooing business. No one ever seems to pick up on the fact that Molyneux’s first two philosophy books are clearly targeted to late-teen to early twenty-year-olds. Whoever heard of targeting a philosophy to a specific age group?

Since Molyneux believes that most family relationships are bad, he’s doing his followers a favor when he convinces them to defoo. That’s the danger and destruction of FDR. If you are a victimized parent, that’s what probably led you here.

His goal has always been to separate kids from their parents, a goal made easier by the fact that nearly everyone in his target age range is already in the difficult struggle of finding his/her independent self. To many of them, Molyneux is the pied piper.

Molyneux has defooed his family and speaks often of his rage for his mother and brother. He convinced his wife to defoo after they were married.

Despite his claims of innocence, most assuredly if Molyneux removed all of his defoo “therapy” podcasts (such as the one he did with Tom) from the board and promised he would never counsel another potential runaway again, I believe there would never be another defoo.

In other words, although Molyneux’s book “On Truth” sets the hook, it is only a recruiting tool and not persuasive enough to allow him to achieve his goal of family breakup. Based on the many hours I’ve spent listening to his “counseling” podcasts, watching him interact in the chat rooms and on the main forum, I believe nearly every defoo is heavily, personally influenced by Molyneux in one way or another.

Amazingly, each of his followers who suddenly decided they were the victims of abuse believe they came to that conclusion of their own free will with no input or influence from anyone.

Sometimes Molyneux offers the weak excuse that he is only interested in building healthy families. He probably has hundreds of podcasts that are about or mention defooing at one point or another. Would you like to know how many podcasts he has devoted to developing a healthy relationship with your parents?

The FreeDomainRadio Community

FDR is a financial enterprise and Molyneux’s sole source of revenue. He receives money in the form of contributions or subscriptions. Molyneux does not simply preach the truth–he packages it and sells it.

Despite Molyneux’s defensive responses to media inquiries, FDR is as far from being “simply a Web site” as you can imagine.

It is a complicated system of video and audio podcast outreach, on-line forum, chatroom, media library, books, and a distribution of members into a hierarchy. There is continual development of technology to allow for immediate and one-on-one counseling and discussion.

Few people realize how much of what is “FDR” takes place within the chat room and during Skype chats. It is through those means that FDR members get the personal attention from Molyneux that they crave, as well as (since many are now alone and without family and friends) the ability to socialize with others. All the necessary work of indoctrination, love-bombing, and social control gets done here.

There is clearly a social system on display: at the highest level in the hierarchy is an inner circle that enforces behavior and thoughts posted to the site. Critics of the site or Molyneux are swiftly purged.

FDR members have vacationed together, attended annual BBQ’s at the Molyneux home together, attended philosophy and psychology seminars conducted Molyneux and his wife, and more.

But above all–more than anything else–FDR members are intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally invested in a utopian worldview based on Molyneux’s unique approach to anarcho-capitalism. Even though they understand at some level that the utopian society they hope for is at minimum generations away, their investment is powerful enough for many of them to live lives in near-isolation, each one a modern-day Diogenes, hoping to find “honest and virtuous relationships” based on Molyneux’s definition of such relationships.
Okay–so is it a cult?

You’ll have to decide that for yourself. In my opinion, the answer is yes. I think of it as a baby cult. It’s relatively new and I’ve been watching it with the same fascination that an astronomer would watch the birth of a star. I don’t think Molyneux has a master plan. I think he is, in fact, the most loyal cult member of all. FDR seems to be springing up organically around his need to be revered.

In this blog, we’ll examine specific issues of FDR. I’d be very interested in your input. One of my favorite sites is Liberating Minds. Many of these issues are discussed there as well. Why not drop on by?


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