I have come under attack lately, by a proselytizing Stefan Molyneux fan boy who has assumed that because I don’t agree with his position that I was brutalized by my family. Whatever. Thus appeared Stefan Molyneux and Freedomain Radio on my radar screen. Long story short, I escaped the defooing process but not before watching and reading some of this guy’s stuff. Specifically, I sat through half of the video entitled “Families, Abuse and History” and it makes some extraordinary claims while providing some pretty shoddy evidence.
I am not linking directly to the video because I am a childish wench. Look it up. It’s on YouTube.
At 0:00:15 seconds in he announces that he’ll be reading from an article by Lloyd DeMause, who runs the Journal of Psychohistory. The article is a speech from the “National Parenting Conference” in Boulder, Colorado in 1997.
At 0:01:45 Molyneux cites a statistic that 300,000,000 people were murdered by governments in the 20th Century (although he doesn’t ever mention if that number is greater or less than any other century, either in a gross body count or percentage of the world’s population body count). He does not provide a source for this statistic; perhaps it’s in the article. He also plays fast and loose with the definition of “theft” (re: taxes) but that’s not really noteworthy–he’s an anarchocapitalist and they all use that term.
Extraordinary Claim (0:02:35): Parenting is the reason we have murders, wars, and genocide.
Evidence Provided: The video is basically him reading aloud from this article, which was a speech given at a conference. There are some editorial and expository comments on the article, but that’s it. Let’s look at some aspects of this article as we have been invited to do.
1. The speech was made at the National Parenting Conference in Boulder, Colorado.
2. Robert B. McFarland is the Chairman of the National Parenting Conference.
3. Lloyd deMause runs the Institute for Psychohistory.
4. The Institute for Psychohistory publishes the Journal of Psychohistory.
5. Lloyd deMause is the primary contributor to the Journal of Psychohistory.
6. Robert B. McFarland runs the Rocky Mountain Branch of the Institute for Psychohistory.
7. The online version of this speech cites four secondary sources as research; all of them were written by Lloyd deMause–none later than 1991
This isn’t scholarly research. This is some guys agreeing on a topic and presenting it as academic insight. You want to talk about some ideas you have? Fine. Are they radical and original? Fine. Even better! But don’t claim the authority of scholarly research to jazz up your point and make it seem legitimate, like lots of people have seen this but refuse to come forward because the truth is too painful. This is just some guys talking and backing each other up.
You know what else? Most of the stuff the article addresses refers to preindustrial hunter-gather societies, or medieval Europe. Somehow the abuses that have occurred among “unenlightened” and illiterate groups of people are supposed to explain why the twentieth century is so bad. I disagree with the premise, first of all, that the twentieth century (and beyond) is so bad for people with education in industrialized nations. So if you are trying to make the point that parents are the reasons people like government and government wrecks your life, at least compare two time periods that have the same amount of government. Or the same amount of education. What the Papau New Guinea tribesmen do to their kids doesn’t really tell us anything about why modern Europeans like socialism.
At the 0:33:11 mark, offers some consolation to members of the audience who haven’t had much luck converting people to his brand of freedom, reason, and philosophy, the Enlightenment fruits, that if they don’t agree with you, it’s because they likely have suffered abuse as a child, along the lines of physical abuse at the hands of their family, who has been raised with ancient, primitive, or medieval ideas child-rearing methods, which involve sexual exploitation, beatings, verbal humiliations, terror of sexuality, terror of masturbation, and/or terror of the body. Not because your ideas and claims might be unfounded or idealistic beyond the point of applicability.
He never quite gets around to explaining genocide.
And check it out: At 0:35:09, he says that anyone who doesn’t agree with his position is an extraordinarily damaged, borderline person whose ability to function is very low. This person is volatile, reactionary, without a third eye or observing ego (??) and does not experience remorse. Until all the people who disagree with him agree with him and thereby heal, society and technology will not progress. So shame on you, society and technology blockers! You know who you are.
So here we are. There’s this guy making points with spurious support, using faulty arguments and enough unstated premises to fill a book (which he has–five times). Either he doesn’t know what real scholarship is, or he is a sloppy thinker, or he is completely disdainful of his audience’s ability to reason. In any of those scenarios, he’s not presenting himself and his claims as worth taking seriously. It probably wouldn’t bother me so much if he weren’t on his website, suggesting to people that they ditch their personal connections and families of origin (the foos from whom you should de), and then providing a carefully guided community (with himself at the head) for people who have alienated themselves from their social networks–and asking for donations.
Creed Bratton once said that he’d been part of cults, both as a leader and as a follower. He had more fun as a follower but he made more money as a leader. Nice work if you can get it. But if Stefan Molyneux or one of his followers offers you a choice between pills, take the blue one.
Steaks for everybody!