What does FDR and Stef have to do with philosophy?
Notes on Stefan Molyneux and his Internet-based Freedomain Radio "cult."
Okay, maybe it is not a cult, per se, but it sure quacks like one, in my opinion.
Joe Szimhart (September 23, 2014)
Stefan Molyneux is “probably the single most influential libertarian thinker of our times" for his ability to teach young people in the digital age. <Wikipedia>
Molyneux now releases most new FDR (freedomainradio) content via his YouTube channel, which as of June 2014, has over 1,500 videos, 162,000 subscribers, and 33 million channel views. He has hosted many debates with notable figures in the libertarian milieu, as well as emceed many libertarian conferences.
What does FDR and 'Stef' have to do with philosophy?
The short answer is nothing.
Molyneux of FDR is playing a language game with philosophy, no different than aberrant preachers play a language game with the Gospel to draw attention to their personal “fifth” Gospel that ties the other Gospels all together into one totalistic doctrine with them as the living “Source” of God’s word.
Philosophy like Gospel is a loaded term, loaded by history with transcendent implications and import to wide swathes of Truth seekers and God seekers. There is power implied in calling oneself a “philosopher,” the power of being an authentic lover of wisdom, much like calling oneself a poet implies a facile and aesthetic use of words, images, and story in the tradition of Bob Dylan, Robert Frost, Emily Dickenson, and Shakespeare.
Stefan Molyneux invokes Aristotle with no small debt to Ayn Rand and
“20th century philosophical movement holding that all meaningful statements are either analytic or conclusively verifiable or at least confirmable by observation and experiment and that metaphysical theories are therefore strictly meaningless —called also logical empiricism.” (Mirriam-Webster).
Without getting overly philosophical, for my purposes, it is not Aristotle that Molyneux emulates but Platonism. Rand, a hero to Libertarians, would shudder if I called her a Platonist, yet she was. One only has to read Atlas Shrugged that clearly posits that ideal world to which the elite among mankind escape into. The ancient Gnostics, escapists par excellence, would immediately recognize Rand’s radical dualism that echoes neo-platonism. Gnostics by definition devised mythical strategies wherewith one could escape from this fallen world created by a false, evil God. William Blake, the British poet and a neo-gnostic, called this god Nobodaddy.
Now, I do not have a problem with Blake. I love Blake's fertile imagination and I read everything he wrote. I have no problem with Plato as such—whoever wrote the dialogs was a genius and no mere dualist. In all humility, I admire Aristotle’s genius as well as how he moved the dialogs into his brilliant empirical notions based on evidence. We all needed Aristotle—the Catholic Church absorbed him eventually through Saint Thomas Aquinas—and to some extent, we all still do.
We do not need Aristotle’s observation that the human brain acted as a kind of refrigerator to cool the blood. We do not need Plato’s elitist myth of The Republic as a state without flawed people and with a rare few real “citizens.” Bertrand Russell viewed The Republic as a formula for Fascism.
But Molyneux is a phraudulent philosophe. “Stef,” as his ardent devotees love to call him, Molyneux is not a philosopher but a dyed in the wool gnostic (he may have been baptized or immersed into narcissistic subjectivism during his Landmark Education days or ‘est’ training), a mystic who has bought into a myth of the anarcho-capitalist ideal state of the human being, in effect, no different that the Pleroma of Gnostic lore which is the human spirit’s ultimate state of freedom in life. Molyneux is also quite like any deceptive guru that uses an old bait and switch technique to control followers. It goes like this, and it is very difficult to find a cult by any other name that does not use this formula:
Point out that we (you, the recruit) are living a less than flourishing or miserable life in a fallen, decrepit world that is not getting any better.
Insist that you, the guru, have found a way out because like the man in Plato’s cave of shadows, you have glimpsed the Light, or like Prometheus, you have “stolen” fire from the gods and have brought it back to mankind. You have given up everything at great risk to preach the “good news” (gospel means good news). Suggest that only the semi-awakened or awakened will recognize this “truth” and be willing to do the same, take a great risk, even at the cost of being called a cultist—oh, for shame, for shame!
Now you, the new recruit, are on the hero path too. Hoorah. You are tom-cruising on the “Bridge to Total Freedom” which is what L. Ron Hubbard called his neo-Gnostic path in Scientology.
But it gets better.
Ancient Gnostics viewed mankind as three essential types:
Pneumatics or those with the full divine spark within, or those who immediately recognize the truth teaching when they hear it. Now, are they not the smartest among us? (My tongue is in my cheek here, if you have not noticed).
Next are the psychics (no, not those nice if weird people who believe they are mediums or palm readers) who have a soul with the potential for being divine with a little help from their pneumatic friends, like Stef, for example.
Third, are the hylics, literally “mud people” that comprise the vast majority of the human race. Hylics can't be saved. They have no soul. Do not waste your time. That’s correct: If you are a devotee of Molyneux’s FDR philosophy, you are among the elite few—now, come on admit it. Deep inside you really feel you are. I mean, just look around. Idiots everywhere; mindless, reactive worms crawling around in the filth of their own making. How can they possibly be saved?
So that’s the bait
Molyneux’s switch (and he beats you with it metaphorically) is pointing out the horrid parents that raised you, the “statist” meddling government that rules your behavior, and those pathetic churches and religions that brainwashed you to believe in Nobodaddy or Yaldaboath (the latter is a Gnostic name for the Demiurge or Creator; the Old Testament, Jewish God). All that upbringing keeps you from being your elite self.
The remedy? Depart from your parents and “family of origin,” shun them, shut them out, and listen to by now thousands of podcasts by Stef. Live the pure life in front of your computer screen plugged into FDR for hours on end. Be a reverse Cathar (a member of one of various ascetic and dualistic Christian sects especially of the later Middle Ages teaching that matter is evil and professing faith in an angelic Christ who did not really undergo human birth or death—Mirriam Webster) in the noble, empiricist sense as you suffer the slings and arrows of the Internet Inquisition. Hold onto the Truth even if you have to be sent to the fires with other believers by the ignorant masses. Cathars and other Gnostics practiced frequent purification rituals to keep the dirty world from infecting their pure consciousness. Always check your reality with Stef-speak.
In your case, if you worship Stef (you know what I mean), the dualism is merely reversed: Belief in Spirit is evil and matter is all that matters. But it is still a constructed dualism.
You, the FDR devotee, have now been divided and conquered. You are in the world of "us and them."*
Bow to Stef. He is now the only god whole enough to make you whole and initiate your path to secular moksha (look it up in a Hindu dictionary).
Keep in mind that Stef’s on-line therapy (free your self before you can change the world) could take a long, long, long time……….
Even Stef has not yet shown signs of healing his radical dualist split from reality. He continues to shun his family in his childish them and me language game.
*Do not take my word for it about "Them and Us." You can look to the Arthur Deikman, M.D. criteria for cult behavior: